Teacher Salaries: Myths vs. Facts — Part 2
Updated: Oct 8
In our last post, we addressed starting salaries, days worked per year, and summer breaks. In this post we are going to tackle the earnings disparity between careers in education after five or ten years when compared to those in the private sector. We will also explain how salary schedules work and why teacher benefits are some of the best in the nation. Let's jump right in!
Long-term salary prospects
By now, many of you may have already asked the question, "Don't STEM careers offer more money in the long run?" Engineers, accountants, and workers in other STEM careers offer the promise of making more money as they gain experience and climb the ladder within their field. The private sector which fuels these careers results in a wide variety of salaries - some low, some very high. With some careers you are likely to make more money, but you must consider that what you gain in possibility, you lose in career stability. Teachers are in high demand across the nation, which is not always true for all careers that are subject to market variables and recessions. Teachers will ALWAYS be needed, and because of this, you will be able to find a job and keep it. Supporting a family heavily relies on this factor.
So, how much can teachers make as they gain experience?
The way it works currently, teachers get paid according to their district's salary schedule. Every school district's salary schedule is public and can be easily accessed. Each year worked always correlates with more money earned; so you steadily climb the ladder. The private sector is much less stable, as you could face unexpected pay cuts at a moment's notice. On a salary schedule, a teacher's pay moves up and it is very clear what you will be payed, offering unmatched security.
Here's an example of the Nebo School District Salary Schedule for 2019-20.
As you can see, there are "steps" on the left. For each year worked, you move up one step. But that's not the only way to make more money. When you earn "semester hours" through programs offered either through the district or at universities, you can qualify for a jump to the next column over. Master's Degrees will offer around $4–$5K salary boosts, evident in the example above.
There are also other career opportunities within education. In almost every case, the more education you receive, the more opportunities are available to you — and these opportunities correlate with higher salaries. Higher level jobs, such as school administration, have higher-paying salary schedules. We will be addressing these opportunities in our upcoming blog post! In the meantime, check out teach.org for other education career paths.
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.
Beyond insurance and retirement, there are government home-buying programs, such as TeacherNextDoor, which help teachers qualify for buying homes. There are also a wide variety of grants and tax deductions available to teachers who are seeking funds to outfit their classroom.
For more on teacher salary info, check out our previous blog post, or go check out Teach.org. This site also has more information regarding national salary trends. And as always, we would love to chat with you! Reach out to us to set up a casual appointment in our office (McKay Building 175E).
Our email is email@example.com
We wish you the best!
— The McKay School Ambassadors