You love being a teacher. You love having such a significant impact on the present and future of your students.
You love learning, and you love developing new strategies to help others learn. What you probably don’t love, though, is the frustratingly low salary that comes with being an educator in America.
There are dozens of excuses for why teachers are paid so abysmally in our country, from the sexism experienced in female-dominated careers to the supposedly excessive “vacation time” educators enjoy throughout the year. The truth is that you work hard year-round, and you deserve a wage that reflects the time and effort you put into the success of your students.
Aside from voting for government representatives who will fight for better funding for education, there are a few things you can do to increase your salary as a teacher.
1. Select a High-paying Specialty
Subjects like science and math tend to be highly technical, which makes them much more challenging to teach than more subjective fields like the humanities and arts.
Unfortunately, this means a notable dearth of experienced and capable science and math teachers, so schools are more than happy to pay instructors in these specialities higher wages in the hopes of keeping them around.
You can shore up your science or math comprehension with a few individual courses online or at your local community college, and you can start in grade levels that require less in-depth knowledge to develop your foundation in these fields.
2. Take on More Responsibilities
A teacher’s work is never done, but if you have any free time in your weekly schedule, you might try to fill it with additional paying positions at your school.
In many academic environments, teachers assume roles as coaches, counsellors and tutors, which earn them additional wages to their standard teacher’s salary. You might inquire about opportunities to increase your earnings, such as substituting for other instructors during your breaks, serving as a chaperone during school events or taking on leadership roles within the staff or administration.
Of course, you should only take on responsibilities that you can manage; if you find that your effort to increase your income is out-balancing your ability to manage self-care, you might need to make more drastic changes to your career.
3. Earn an Advanced Degree
One of the most straightforward ways to permanently increase your teacher’s salary is to earn an advanced degree.
A master’s degree or higher will provide you with enhanced skills and knowledge for managing a classroom, improving student outcomes and bringing greater prestige to your school. Thus, most schools are eager to hire and retain teachers with advanced education credentials.
You can pursue an online master’s in education without taking a break from work, so you can continue gaining real-world experience and real-world pay as you improve your earning potential.
4. Gain Tenure
In academia, tenure can require decades of work toward developing a professional reputation. Fortunately, most school teachers can gain tenure after just a few consecutive years at the same institution.
Tenure often provides a modest pay increase — enough to encourage teachers to stick around for a few years — so if you are happy with your current administration and district, you might as well continue teaching until you receive tenure and enjoy your higher salary from them on.
5. Work in a Wealthier School District
Schools in wealthier areas tend to have better funding, whether it be due to higher property taxes or more substantial donations from benefactors. As a result, teachers who work in wealthier school districts often earn higher wages than teachers working in disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
To many teachers, this seems incredibly unfair; after all, it is often poor students who need more and better education resources, as they will typically lack academic support at home.
Suppose you want to make a positive impact on disadvantaged youth while still earning an enviable teacher’s salary. In that case, you might work in a wealthier school district while volunteering as a tutor in lower socio-economic spaces.
How can teachers increase their salaries?
Here are some tried and tested ways teachers can use to increase their earnings:
- Select a high-paying speciality.
- Take on more responsibilities.
- Earn an advanced degree.
- Gain tenure.
- Work in a wealthier school district
There are dozens of ways we could work to improve our education system, and paying teachers more for the substantial work they do is merely one of them. Until voters can make a difference in education funding and teacher salary, you will need to hustle to increase your earnings as a dedicated educator.
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.