Teacher Salaries: Myths vs Facts - Part 1
Updated: Oct 8
One of the biggest roadblocks that prospective teachers face is the question of salary.
Questions like "don't teachers get paid next to nothing?" and "how will you be able to support a family?" are very common. Before you believe these commonly held notions at face value, let's take a closer look at the facts.
As we begin with this two-post discussion on teacher salary, let's be frank: teachers salaries have been lower than other post-bachelor's degree careers for a while. This is no secret. But there's much more to consider.
For example, teacher salaries are on the rise.
Let's take a look at STARTING salaries. In Utah during the 2017-18 year, the average starting teacher salary was $38,499. While there are enough exceptions statewide to bring down the average, here's a list of updated Wasatch Front School Districts' starting teacher salaries for 2019-2020:
Provo: $41,350 – 186 days
Wasatch: $43,000 – 187 days
Canyons: $50,000 – 188 days
Alpine: $45,491 – 185 days (extended day)
Nebo: $44,274 – 185 days
Jordan: $48,000 – 185 days
Salt Lake: $46,846 – 185 days
Davis: $43,798 – 185 days
Murray: $50,000 – 189 days
Granite: $43,483 – 187 days
Ogden: $45,472 – 181.5 days
Park City: $50,700
2019-20 average: $46,034.50
The average for these 12 districts along the Wasatch Front for the 2019-20 school year is $46,034.50 - considerably more than $38,499! Starting teacher salaries are steadily climbing, and we haven't seen the end of it yet!
By way of comparison, according to Payscale.com the average salary for accountants in Salt Lake City is $49,075 - not too far ahead of the average Wasatch Front first-year teacher. But Park City School District already pays their starting teachers $50,700 with Canyons and Murray School Districts tying for second place with starting salaries of $50,000. This salary war has taken root along the Wasatch Front (and Utah in general), causing all districts to compete with one another for the best educators. This is very good news for future teachers in Utah, as these raises will continue to percolate through the entire education system.
Another thing to consider is the comparison between yearly salary and work days per year.
Utah School Districts officially contract their teachers for 185 days (some give or take a few). Most jobs outside of the field of education require around 235 work days per year (after subtracting weekends, holidays, and vacation days). Given this knowledge, let's do the math.
Here is the only information that many people use to pick a major: yearly salaries. In the following graphics, we've included entry-level mechanical engineers and accountants, just to give some examples.
With Canyon and Murray district's new raise to $50K, they've already outrun the average SLC first-year accountant, but engineers seem to be a lot further ahead in the green game. But when we take days worked per year into consideration, some surprising differences are evident:
All of the sudden, teachers starting at Canyons School District working 187 days earn $267 per day -- a slim yet surprising $3 more per day than average starting Salt Lake engineers who work 235 days a year. Where our average starting teachers in the Wasatch Front earn less than starting SLC accountants per year, they earn a startling $40 more per day.
Many teachers don't have their summers off completely because they normally spend time preparing for the upcoming year, but we can safely say that teachers do have a lot of extra time during their summers than other careers offer. Because of this fact, teachers often work during their free summer months to supplement their income. Schools will often offer extra opportunities to bump up their teachers' pay, such as teaching summer school, manning booths for events, teaching driver's education, and other opportunities.
Would you like to learn about long-term salary prospects? And what about the many amazing benefits offered to teachers? Check out our next post about teacher salary to learn more!
We've covered quite a bit of information here, but for even more info on salary, check out Teach.org. They also have more information regarding national trends. And as always, we would love to chat with you! Reach out to us here to set up a Zoom meeting.
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We wish you the best!
-The McKay School Ambassadors
This post was updated on May 19, 2020.