Improving the lives of teachers is an investment into the future of a community, state, and the entire country as a whole. As the mentors of the next generation of citizens, they are given the responsibility to pass on to their students the right knowledge, skills, and attitude to succeed in an ever-changing world.
Yet, teachers themselves are confronted with various challenges, most notably of which is the relatively pay for such a vital profession. Like the average income-earner, most of them carry the burden of raising their own families while paying off their student debt, 30-year home loan, credit card bills, and other obligations.
Teachers are among the most underpaid college graduates in the US, and as other surveys would show, in the rest of the world. While none would doubt their commitment and passion for teaching, they do struggle with the income gaps in their profession.
For example, for the school year 2018-2019, the State of Mississippi reported the lowest pay for a public school teacher at $45,574 or a little over $3,790 a month. New York gave out the highest teacher salary at $85,889 or $7,157 per month.
Of course, these rates depend on state spending on students and the costs of living per geographical area.
The average age of teachers is also an essential factor to consider concerning their earning capacity, health care, and retirement plans. Today, one out of three teachers in America is at least 50 years old. Teachers who are below 30 years old comprise only 16 percent in private schools, 14 percent in public schools, and 24 percent in charter schools.
Altogether, there are at least 3.7 million public and private school teachers who serve 56.6 million students across the United States. These students are in elementary, middle school, and high school levels.
Despite their apparent vital impact on the lives of these students and to the nation’s economy and socio-cultural growth, teachers remain one of the most under-remunerated professionals in the workforce.
The data on teachers’ age and salaries are essential to know, especially for the younger generation of educators that will enter the academe. Knowing the trends, options, and opportunities for career development will help them better prepare for the challenges, as well as benefits of what many refer to as “the noblest profession.”
There are, of course, ways to move forward and move up in this field. The younger teachers will do well to consider these steps as they live out their personal and professional lives:
1. Identify States the Offer Better Pay
As shown in the income data above, some states pay more while some areas could do an upgrade of their compensation plan.
The information about teachers’ salaries and benefits can be found online. It only takes a few clicks to see which states could offer more. Moving to another state does need a little preparation since it would entail travel and relocation costs, as well as emotional readiness owing to possible separation from family and friends.
A teacher with long-term financial plans and goals need to consider relocating for better pay. The higher income would allow him or her to pay off debt, save more, and probably even invest in stocks and bonds. In time, the teacher could also purchase a home and be more prepared to start a family, if they choose to.
2. Pursue a Higher Degree
Going back to school to get a master’s degree or a doctorate is always a good career goal. Having a higher degree or academic qualification makes a teacher gain more access to opportunities for higher pay and promotion.
3. Learn a New Language
The US is a multi-lingual country, given its long history of immigration. It is a cultural melting pot that brings people from all continents to its shores. Having a second or even third language is very strategic and practical for a teacher. In many places like California, New Mexico, and Arizona, knowledge of the Spanish language is a premium aside from being a beneficial skill. At the college or university level, there is also a demand for professors who can speak Mandarin, German, and other languages needed to accommodate international students.
4. Move Up to Administration
Earning a higher degree and pursuing additional in-service training will position a teacher for a school administration job. Jobs in school administration will offer higher pay and a broader space for career growth. From being a classroom teacher, a tenured educator can move up to become a principal, director, or superintendent.
5. Get Financial Advice from Experts
A teacher is often regarded as a “fount of knowledge,” but everybody can benefit from good advice. Getting the insights and technical information from financial experts is a good start, not just for an educator, but for every single person who cares for their financial future.
One needs to understand how to make balance sheets, see cash flow, distinguish assets from liabilities, and how to leverage and grow money via investments.
In the 21st century, it is no longer enough to rely on a single paycheck. A teacher who can maintain a high level of competency in their profession while developing new abilities, specifically in business and investments, will surely go a long way.
Teachers, given all the sacrifice and hard work they put into the art and science of teaching, also deserve to have the opportunity for career development and the benefits of financial security. Learning these will equip them with the knowledge and tools for a good life for themselves and their family during their career and beyond.