Friday, October 08, 2010

Just how much are teachers paid???

When first reading statements like:

In the 2000-01 school year, the average teacher made $43,250, the AFT's most recent salary survey says. By comparison, midlevel accountants earned an average of $52,664.

Many feel a sense out outrage. But comparing how much teachers make to other workers in the United States can be a bit tricky. One important factor to remember is the average American worker spends about 2000 hours a year on the job. In contrast the average teacher spends closer to 1500 hours.

When compared on an hourly basis it turns out the pay is better than many professions. In a nationaly study Michael J. Podgursky and Matthew G. Springer found that:

Generally, teachers earn more on an hourly basis than other educated professionals, including accountants, computer programmers, engineers, and architects.

I have long know the above. Depending on the situation I'll often try to gently teach people that teachers make pretty good money. But I hadn't realized the extent of their benefits.

In Just How Much Are America's Teachers Getting Paid? Business Insider reports:

The average teacher in the state of Illinois makes $61,402. Illinois teachers work around 176 days, 300 minutes, or 5 hours, per day. That's just over 35 weeks per year. On average, they make $348.88 per day, $1.16 per minute, or $69.60 per hour guaranteed. Teachers in Illinois work an average of 12 years. They can retire at age 55.

In order to find out what they really make though, you should take their pension benefits, net present value them and amortize them over their career. As of 2010, the average pension for an Illinois teacher is $43,164. It compounds annually for life at 3% per year.

Now it's time to do some math and make some assumptions. Assume that the lifespan of the teacher is no different than the average American, 78 years. If they start teaching at age 22, on average they will quit at 34. This means they will wait 21 years to collect their pension. The discount rate for the cash flows is a conservative 5%.

When you crunch all the numbers, the net present value of that pension is $290,756. Amortizing that over a twelve year career adds $24,229.64 to their average salary, making their actual salary before health benefits are added in a tidy $85,631.67, or $97.31 per hour.

Wow! I hadn't realized just what a good deal teachers were getting. The article goes out to point out that few private sector workers get anything like this kind of benefit.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)


Homeschooling versus Public Schools said...

Very interesting indeed. I always thought that teachers worked way more than other people--grading papers long into the night, coaching on weekends, staying after class for hours sometimes working with students, etc. Maybe because I'm a homeschooling mom, my stereotype is off.

Henry Cate said...

Everything I've read indicates that the teacher unions work really hard to maintain the stereotype of the hard working teacher who puts in long hours.

The reality is the vast majority of teachers just treat it as a job. They show up in the morning, work seven or eight hours, and then go home.

A said...

I wish it were only 1500 hours a year! LOL...but between the school day, meetings, before- and after-school make-up tests, grading papers, creating lesson plans, etc., it's a good 10-12 hours a day during the school year. :)

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Henry Cate said...

A - that may be true for you, but every study I've read about found that the average teacher is working around 1500 hours a year. For every teacher like you who is working 10 or 12 hours a day, there are a couple teachers who are working six or seven hours.

I'm glad there are teachers like you who go the extra mile.

kat said...

Compare that to the average doctor who is treated like dirt these day by the federal government, working 100+ hours a week with the potential of getting sued and being transformed into a wage slave by Obamacare. They train for 9+ years after college and are considered "overpaid" by the same people who think teachers are underpaid.

Guess who is going to get home first this evening, the Friday before a 3 day holiday- the teacher across the street or my husband? You are right, because he has to care for some poor soul who just found out he has cancer. But who is getting paid more and more every year and getting their pension bailed out by Obama? The teacher.

Public school teaching is a great gig economically if you can stand teaching "other people's horrible little children" (as a public school teacher told me on more than one occassion).

My Boys' Teacher said...

One thing I've noticed is that most studies that start talking about "teacher's real salaries" eventually add in their pension and/or health benefits when they compare them to other professions. We didn't get to hear about the mid-level accountant's retirement benefits did we? I understand that many people don't have or have lost their pension or health benefits. However, I have an accountant friend with both of those things.

If the teacher's benefits are included, then the other profession's benefits should be also.

I know a lot of teachers, and I don't know any of them working the scant hours listed in the the "studies." Five hours in Illinois? Really? A solid eight hour day would be typical, plus take-homes and extras. The take-homes and extras vary greatly of course. I haven't dug through any of the "studies" in depth lately, but if memory serves me they usually get those numbers from the number required by their union contract which is a very different story from the the actual hours they work.

I am not a fan of public schools, or of unions. But I do think in their zeal to expose the waste in the public school system these reports generally don't compare apples to apples.

Luke said...

Interesting stuff...


Arby said...

This homeschooler says:

Teaching is not as lucrative as this article purports. Teaching salaries vary greatly by district and by state, as do the benefits that are offered. Low pay and expensive insurance drove me out of teaching. This article deals in averages, and averages, like any other statistic, can be massaged to support any claim. Average teacher salaries do not reflect the amazingly low salary that many beginning teachers earn. My first teaching contract was for $18,000 a year in 1995, with a $500 stipend for hosting a speech tournament and directing a play. The $250 I earned for the tournament could be broken down into $25 an hour for the ten hour day of the tournament ($250.00/10 hours). It could be broken down into $12.50 an hour if you include all of the prep time involved ($250.00/20 hours). It could be broken down into $8.30 an hour if you include the time I spent coaching my students to participate in the tournament ($250.00/30 hours). It could be broken down into $6.25 an hour if you include the time I spent taking my students to another speech tournament ($250.00/40 hours). Which hourly salary reflects the amount of money I earned? Was the $250.00 I earned for the play reflective of the hours of the performance only or does it include the hours of rehearsal? If you add the time I spent in rehearsal, make-up, setting up and breaking down the set, and arranging for equipment rental, I worked for far less than minimum wage. You cannot calculate my pay based on classroom time only without including prep time at home or paper grading time. I suggest you think twice before judging teacher pay based on classroom time only. You would be amazed at how much worse education would be if teachers only worked during classroom hours.

Henry Cate said...

My Boys' Teacher - You make a very valid point that it is hard compare teachers' salaries with those in other industry.

On the issue of pensions, none of my friends have a pension. The trend over the last thirty years has been for most companies to stop offering pensions and to push 401k plans. I think the reason most studies don't mention pensions in the private industry is because the vaste majority of jobs no longer have pensions.

For me the single biggest issue on teachers' salary is that on average they only work 1500 hours a year in comparison to most other jobs where people work 2000 hours.

For everyone like A or Arby who work extra hours, there are plenty in the private industry who also work extra hours. There have been many weeks when I've worked fifty hours and a few times when I've worked 80 hours in a week.

Rebecca said...

Oh my god. I am shocked and angered. First of all, where is the author of this article getting his/her statistics? What teacher works five hours a day? This is simply ridiculous.

However, that's not what frightens me....what is the purpose of this website? To encourage homeschooling because teachers don't do their jobs? I don't understand. Teaching your children at home when you are not a trained teacher is one of the greatest disservices you can do to your children on so many levels. Would you also set your own child's broken bones? Fill their cavities yourself?

I have worked as a teacher and I have also helped homeschool students. Please, please, please don't continue posting ignorant, biased, and unsupported propaganda on your website at the risk of our children's futures.

Henry Cate said...

Rebecca here is the math:

The average professional in the United States work around 2000 hours a year or about 40 hours a week.

The average teacher works as a teacher about 1500 hours. This is full time for nine months and then a break through the summer.

This works out to six hours a week.

This is exactly the point this post is trying to make. When worrying about how much teachers make you have to factor in the three month vacation.

Your claim that only profession teachers can teach children flies in the face of facts. Several million children are being homeschooled in the United States. And as a group they do just as well as children who have gone through public schools on SAT tests, in college and in jobs.

Anonymous said...

5 or 6 hour days? I am a teacher who puts in 11 or 12 hour days on average during the school year. Most teachers in my District and school put in that amount of time as well.

Anonymous said...

The article fails to mention the required on-going education classes teachers must take each year in order to maintain their certification. These courses are at the teacher's own expense - sometimes as much as 2,000 a pop (for graduate level courses) what other profession does the government demand such requirements?

Christina said...

don't factor in 3 months for summer break. we have multiple trainings, meetings, and planning that we attend. in fact, if you factor in all the days that i had to work during the summer, my summer break would really be 2 weeks!

Henry Cate said...

Is is fascinating to me that study after study finds the average teacher works around 1500 hours a year and yet there are always a few teachers who complain that they work more hours. If the average is around 1500 hours a year, then of course there will be techers who work above the average.

Anonymous said...

There is much more to consider than how many hours a teacher is inside the school building. Most spend their evenings and weekends, and summers, taking graduate work, staff development classes, writing lessons, learning new curricula, grading, writing recommendations, interpreting data, writing student learning objectives, calling parents, and a myriad of other responsibilities. Few professions require the "homework" that teaching does.

Henry Cate said...

I'm sorry, but that has not been my experience as a software engineer. I constantly have to learn new technologies and programming languages, often on my own time.

And I know doctors have to spend time brushing up on their skills.

Pretty much every profession requires effort outside of the normal working hours.

For me the issue isn't that teachers have a cake walk, but that in comparison to other professional it is easy to misrepresent the salaries but ignoring the huge summer break that many teachers take.