• Student Ambassadors

Teacher Salaries: How Much You Really Make

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

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.

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 2020-2021:

Provo: $45,000 – 186 days

Wasatch: $50,000 – 187 days

Canyons: $50,625 – 186 days

Alpine: $45,946 – 185 days (extended day)

Nebo: $44,867 – 185 days

Jordan: $48,625 – 185 days

Salt Lake: $50,000 – 185 days

Davis: $44,916 – 185 days

Murray: $50,734 – 189 days

Granite: $50,380 – 190 days

Ogden: $47,000 – 181.5 days

Park City: $51,775

2020-21 average: $48,322

The average for these 12 districts along the Wasatch Front for the 2020-21 school year is $48,322 - considerably more than $38,499! Starting teacher salaries are steadily climbing, and we haven't seen the end of it yet! We have a salary race on our hands!

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.

Most people only consider yearly salary when deciding on a major. 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.

Finally, have you thought about your benefits?!

An important part of considering any job is to review the benefits it includes, such as retirement packages and medical and life insurance. Rest assured that teachers get stellar benefits! For example, the average private sector employee in the United States will have their company match about 4-6 percent of the person's salary which is then placed into a 401(k), so the employee loses money in monthly take-home pay to put into the 401(k). In Utah, teachers have 10 percent of their income put away into their pension plan automatically. In other words, teachers always know that their retirement will grow yearly without affecting their take-home pay. Many teachers choose to contribute more to the retirement plan, but having a baseline of 10 percent contributed each year is considerable in comparison to retirement plans in the private sector. Districts also offer affordable insurance plans. In some districts, such as Wasatch School District, the entire cost of medical and life insurance is covered before salary is paid out to their teachers. Most other jobs simply cannot compete with the benefits that teachers receive.

More questions?

We've covered quite a bit of information here, but for even more info on salary, check out our other salary blog posts or Teach.org. There is 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 or email us at mckayambassadors@byu.edu

This post was updated on December 14, 2020.

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