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Teacher Salaries: Myths vs Facts - Part 1

June 13, 2019

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 2018-19, as well as some new exciting updates for 2019-2020:


Provo: $40,500 – 186 days

Wasatch: $41,144 – 187 days

Canyons: $41,835 – 188 days (soon to be $50,000)

Alpine: $42,997 – 185 days (extended day) 

Nebo: $42,388 – 185 days

Jordan: $42,800 – 185 days

Salt Lake: $45,001 – 185 days

Davis: $40,684 – 185 days (soon to be $43,798)

Murray: $43,039 – 189 days (soon to be $50,000)

Granite: $41,920 – 187 days (soon to be $43,500)

Ogden: $41,293 – 181.5 days (soon to be $45,472)

Park City: $50,700


2018-19 average: $42,858

2019-20 average: $44,858



The average for these 12 districts along the Wasatch Front for the 2018-19 school year is $42,858 - considerably more than $38,499. But here's the kicker: with the new updates to salaries for the 2019-20 year in these 11 districts, the average becomes $44,858 - a $2,000 boost in just one year. 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 entry-level accountants in Salt Lake City is $48,231 - not too far ahead of the average Wasatch Front first-year teacher. But Park City School District pays their starting teachers $50,700 and Canyons School District (Sandy/Draper area) just approved a bump to $50,000. Murray School District also just followed suit and will be matching with $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. For example, Ogden, Granite, and Davis School Districts will also be raising teacher salaries for the upcoming 2019-2020 school year. 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 most 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 185 days earn $270.27 per day -- a slim, yet surprising, $1.56 more per day than starting 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 $37.25 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.




More questions?


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 here 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 casual appointment in our on-campus office (174E MCKB).


Our email is mckayambassadors@byu.edu


We wish you the best!

-The McKay School Ambassadors



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