It's a well known fact that college graduates working in information technology, business and finance probably earn more than their peers choosing careers teaching in a classroom. Yet, every day people are leaving jobs in the business or IT world and returning to college to earn their bachelor’s or master’s degrees to become a teacher. No matter what the average salary looks like, ask any teacher and they will tell you it is hard work, but it is good work. They often enjoy perks their peers in other industries do not. It is worth noting that while teacher salaries vary across the U.S., all states offer pay increases for teachers when they go on from their initial licensure undergraduate programs and earn a graduate degree.
There are a wide variety of concrete perks and benefits teachers enjoy, from having a schedule that matches the school year, to a pension. However, the number one reason they say they love their jobs is because of the profoundly positive effect they can have on students’ lives. Seeing a struggling student suddenly find their voice and succeed is a moment that lasts a lifetime for teachers. From elementary school to high school, teachers impact change for their students, and that makes everything much more worthwhile.
Most public school teachers enjoy the substantial benefit of a pension. Pension plans are usually backed by the state and offer assurances that after a defined number of years of service, coupled with a certain age, a teacher can qualify for monthly checks sent straight to their bank or mailbox after they retire – every month! Most teacher retirement programs or pensions include a small contribution each pay period by the teacher, and a matching or greater contribution by the employer. Sometimes the state also contributes an amount monthly. While teachers can, and often do retire early and get their pension, there are fiscal advantages to staying employed longer because the longer they work the greater the pension check is each month. It’s worth noting that monthly pension checks are much greater than the small monthly contributions teachers invested with checks often in the thousands of dollars a month, ranging from $2500 a month in Texas to an average of $4,000 in California according to the teacher retirement systems for each state. Additionally, depending upon how old a teacher is when they start in their state teacher retirement system, they can often qualify for the pension well before age 65.
While 401(k) plans are an option in the private teaching sector, in general, public school teachers invest in their pension instead. They may also want to invest in their own retirement savings fund, opting for a 457(b) plan, which is available to state and local government employees, or a 403(b), which covers public school employees (this plan is specific to employees of the government or private nonprofits).
Yes, in most states teachers do get social security benefits. This is a teacher benefit that is fairly standard, and only 10 of the 50 states exclude teachers from the program. Check with your state to see what your plan benefits are.
School districts often offer substantial health care benefits packages, another reason many teachers choose the profession as self-pay has become expensive. Benefits usually include dental, health, and vision. Like all plans, the employee typically makes a small contribution while the employer contributes the majority of the monthly cost. Premiums and other details of health care benefits will vary based on where you teach.
Vacation and paid time off is little different for teachers than their peers in other industries. Teachers get a defined number of personal leave days and sick days. They will work to get a substitute for their classroom on those days so their students still have an instructor.
Do Teachers Get Paid Holidays?
Teachers work under contract for their schools, and their contract stipulates the number of days they work during a school season. Because teachers are paid for the time they work as agreed upon in their contract, they typically don’t receive holiday pay.
Teachers can typically work with their school district to take their 9 month teaching annual contract and spread it over 12 months of pay periods. This allows them to still receive the same paycheck every month while they enjoy the entire summer off with their families or friends. For many teachers, summer is when they choose to do professional development or pursue additional education to advance their education. I
Time off can be crucial to spend time with family, prepare for next year, or work to advance your education. Earning higher education like a master's degree can drastically improve your salary opportunities, as can exploring other opportunities for professional development, or finding other ways they can elevate their careers.
So when you’re considering whether or not to pursue a career as a teacher, remember to look beyond the base pay to the benefits that present themselves in numerous ways. They could give you a more rewarding and enriching career in the long run.