If you’re thinking of becoming a teacher for the money, please, do not pass go, do not collect the teacher salary. First and foremost, teaching is a noble art, a calling to shape the next generation of our nation and world. Master teachers and all teachers who make a positive difference do what they do for their students. They come in early, plan lessons, stay up late grading, and attend games because they love their students. I say this out of my own 15 years of teaching and leadership. Administrators want teachers who love their students and subject in that order. The best teachers receive the best training and earn their Bachelor’s in Secondary Education from great schools. Online options are becoming increasingly popular, making it easier to become a teacher.
As for what high school educators earn, there are strong opinions that teachers are paid to little or that teachers are overpaid. According to this article in Forbes, both are wrong in some way. That said, there is variation from source to source and state to state regarding teacher pay. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean salary for secondary teachers is $58,030 per year. This is above the average for all occupations of $49,630. Furthermore, the BLS states, “the lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,180, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $92,920.” There is variation according to the state you teach in. States with the highest pay for high school teachers, in order, are (click here for source):
- New York
- New Jersey
In addition to salary, teachers in public schools do receive benefits such as healthcare and retirement. High School teachers work about 10 months a year and have Christmas and Spring Break every year in addition to National holidays. According to the Forbes article, when taking these into consideration one could argue teacher pay is pretty good. Furthermore the article says, “If we compare these salaries to other professions, we find teachers earning a little more or a little less than plumbers and pipefitters ($53,820), chemical plant system operators ($54,690), real estate appraisers and assessors ($57,040), forensic science technicians ($57,340), police officers and sheriff’s deputies ($58,720), and electrical and electronics drafters ($60,350).”
Job growth for high school teachers is six percent, the average for all occupations through 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This will vary according to the region and state, so we recommend becoming familiar with the state you live in or want to teach in. Click here for a helpful resource to do that.
When it comes down to it if you are drawn to teach it’s probably not for the money. When looking to earn a degree, there are affordable options available, like these 10 Most Affordable Bachelors in Secondary Education. The debate about teacher pay will continue in our political culture and opinions will remain divided. We believe that teacher salaries, benefits, work schedule, and holidays make it something respectable and that you can live on; and most importantly, teaching is a calling for the common good. Calvin Coolidge said, “Teaching is one of the noblest of professions. It requires an adequate preparation and training, patience, devotion, and a deep sense of responsibility. Those who mold the human mind have wrought not for time, but for eternity.”