The True Salary of a Teacher!

Caution: These startling truths may be disturbing for any teachers out there that have not done the math…


Let’s just jump into this teacher salary thing.  I will use averages to compute my salary numbers and not every school district or state will have the same numbers.  I live in North Texas in the DFW area and for this I will use the numbers in my area and from the my experiences in three school districts in the last 14 years of teaching.

The average teacher salary in my area is around $56,000 a year for a beginner to mid range teacher.  Most school districts have these teachers on 185-187 day contracts working 5 days a week for 8 hours a day.  That means that a teacher before taxes or anything makes $299.47 a day or $37.43 an hour on the higher end.  However, the average teacher must hold at least 2 hours minimum of tutorials a week dropping the hourly wage to $35.65 an hour.  Then teachers on average plan for another 5 hours a week and grade papers at home, at our kids practices, or stay longer at the school grading, adding another 5 hours a week.  This drops the hourly wage down to $28.79 an hour after we figure in the 52 hours a week the average teacher puts in or 10.4 hours a day if they take the weekends off (most to the grading and planning is on the weekends).

Now let’s look at that rate after taxes, mandatory teacher retirement deductions, medicare, and all the other mandatory things taken out of a teacher’s paycheck.  The average in my area is around $9,904 for taxes another $4,008 for teacher retirement, or $13,912 a year gone before I even get home.  That’s $42,088 a year in take home teaching money or $21.64 an hour after taxes and our 52 hours a week are put into our teaching schedule.

After doing a few searches online for jobs that pay $20 an hour, I found that I can make more as a plumber ($27 an hour on average), a welder ($35 an hour on average), a carpenter ($23 an hour on average), a bartender ($23 an hour after tips), or a commercial driver ($26 an hour plus bonuses).  These jobs also pay overtime after 40 hours a week and they all work more than 187 days a year allow most of these jobs to make a person over $60,000 a year after taxes.  Also, all these jobs require much less training, less college, and less college expenses.  I have a commercial driver’s license and it cost me about $120 for all the certifications and they trained me for free on how to drive class B vehicles.  My cousin’s kid is a welder’s apprentice and he can make $20-$30 an hour plus over time each week working on the pipelines.  Is teaching getting paid for all their training?

But, lets get even more real for teacher’s.  Most teacher’s get extra pay for extra job titles, or extra work they put in.  I for one, am a coach with a $4,036 stipend. I also work sporting events at the school as a game manager for $75 a game, and I drive buses for about $50 a drive to my own games that I coach.  So, on an average year I can bring in another $7,000 doing some extra duties and coaching.  However if you add that work up hourly it doesn’t look very good.  So, lets do this!  For basketball I put in an extra 20 hours a week during the season (November though February), and about 5 extra hours a week out of season for open gyms, and leagues we play in.  We play 16 week seasons which breaks down my stipend hours to $12.61 an hour in season only.  Out of season I have another 16 hours so my stipend drops again to $10.09 an hour and this is all pre tax, pre retirement.  The $75 for a game manager is about 4 hours a game and the $50 for the bus is basically free money because I have to go on the bus anyways to go to my games.  This extra money can vary depending on how many games to choose to work or how many times I drive the bus to my games.  So, I can’t really calculate this money down to the hour very well.  But it will vary between $1,000 – $3,000 a year depending on many factors.

So when it comes down to what a teacher actually can bring home for having a college degree after 14 years of experience it isn’t better than a plumber or a welder.  I have a Master’s degree and many of my colleagues also have one as well, so the math gets even worse for us.  I do get an extra $1,500 a year for my master’s degree, but I won’t break even until my last 5 years before retirement, and then it’s all profit from there!  $7,500 in profit for my $14,000 Master’s degree isn’t the best pay off.  Good thing I just enjoyed my time getting my Master’s degree, and I met many interesting people in my courses that have helped me over the years.  Networking was really my biggest pay off, and the ability to teach more AP or IB courses helps me get into better classroom situations.

I’m not complaining though.  I get to be on the same schedule as my children, I get extra time off, I get to change my students yearly (In case they are just bad), and I get to save to become independently wealthy.  As a household of two teachers we bring in plenty of cash for our family of 5 to live a solid middle class lifestyle.  But, we both know that we volunteer a lot in our profession and we aren’t paid for doing our job all the extra hours adequately for our educational attainment.  Would we quit teaching over this?  I don’t think we would unless we got a crazy good offer and one of us could just stay home again while we still accomplished our financial goals.  Teaching is still one the best and most rewarding jobs that you can do in our society.



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