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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Quitters rarely prosper: Most ex-teachers earn less


Most teachers who leave their jobs don't earn more eight years later, reports Sarah D. Sparks in Education Week. Most who left a large urban district made about $10,000 less per year, on average, than teachers who had stayed with the district, concludes a new study.


"Despite persistent concerns that educators are leaving the field to obtain higher incomes elsewhere, we find that the median employed leaver makes less than before they left teaching and their earnings do not recover nearly a decade after exit," researchers wrote. Those who stayed in education earned more than those who switched fields.


The median pay for public school teachers today is about $61,000 per year for the elementary grades and about $1,000 more for secondary grades -- significantly less than those with similar education working in other fields, according to federal data.

Nearly 60 percent of the teachers who left the district took other education jobs. Those who chose to leave education averaged less than $40,000 seven years later, writes Sparks.


That doesn't include the 20 percent who were not in the workforce eight years later: Many were raising children, especially women married to high-earning men.


"Leaving education entirely did pay off in a big way for about 10 percent of early-career teachers, who as much as doubled their salary within four years," she writes. "Teachers of science, technology, engineering, and math courses made upwards of $100,000 within a few years of leaving education." 


The study looked at teachers in a high-poverty, high-minority district that paid teachers more than the state average. Still, 17 percent of teachers left, on average, each year.






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9 Comments


Richard Rider
Richard Rider
Mar 14

This is a welcome, much needed comparison. That being said, it grossly understates the pay disparity. * Teachers work 8 months a year -- any other job requires 11 months a year. * The public school teacher benefits are terrific compared to most private sector jobs. Great health care and a VERY generous pension with a limited COL built in. * Teacher job security is damn near guaranteed after 2-3 years on the job. There are no performance requirements. In the private sector, being laid of at least once in one's career is the rule rather than the exception. As a CFP, I had 3 teacher clients decide to quit. I talked all three into taking a 1 year leave of absence rather then…

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superdestroyer
Mar 14
Replying to

As teachers point out, the bills arrive in all 12 months out of the year. If the teachers are only paid for 9 months, then how do they pay their bills.


The benefits are partially paid out of their pay with deductions.


And the first three years are usually a hazing where the teacher has to ensure teaching in the worst schools or the worst students or at schools with the worst infrastructure and the worst commutes. Image how many times someone says that they would love to teach AP calculus or AP physics at a high school but entry level teachers do not get those classes no matter their qualifications.


Most teachers quit because it is a lousy job…

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John Ogden
John Ogden
Mar 14

What these studies never seem to account for is that teachers contracts are not even a year long. 180 days in our district.

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Richard Rider
Richard Rider
Mar 14
Replying to

Neither. He's simply pointing out that teaching is a part-time job.


Three additional months leisure time per year is a terrific teacher benefit. Most disgruntled teachers don't take that factor into consideration -- usually because all their lives they've been used to having summers off.

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Steve Sherman
Steve Sherman
Mar 14

Teachers think the law of supply and demand doesn't apply to them. You can go back and forth with what the social value of teaching is but the employment market value seems spot on.


I have a friend who worked at Gillette Stadium for a long time. One time she told me the reason she worked there is she was a big tall woman and she had to deal with the drunk women at the Patriots games. She said anyone who asked for a raise got put at the bottom of the call list and the list was a mile long, She said she would occasionally work a soccer game because it was the same money and she never ha…

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John Lewocz
John Lewocz
Mar 16
Replying to

No, there is no shortage. I was certified in math/physics and had to move 400 miles to land a job. If there was a shortage my voice and email would be flooded with offers for interviews since I had applied all over the country. Not a peep in 15 years.


Interestingly, I was asked if I was interested in a coaching position even though I have nothing to do with sports.


The fact that there are s***y teaching jobs that aren't filled is not evidence of a teacher shortage. Does the fact that incels exist evidence of a woman shortage?


I'm convinced that "teacher shortage" is a ploy by colleges to keep the teacher certification pipeline filled.

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