No one goes into teaching to get rich — the stereotype of the overworked, underpaid teacher buying classroom supplies out of their own pocket ensures that those who go into the field do so out of a legitimate wish to make a difference. The reality is that teaching salaries, compared to other degreed professions, is fairly competitive. And teachers, unlike many professionals, can improve their salaries through various means.
Many teachers take on extra duties to increase their salaries. A mathematics teacher may double as an athletic coach, or supervise an after-school program. Qualified teachers might be able to take administrative positions, such as assistant principal or even principal, which conveys a salary boost.
Incentives, Awards, and Grants
In the age of No Child Left Behind, many school districts maintain incentive programs which tie teacher salaries directly to how well students do, and to how well the school as a whole performs on standardized tests. In addition, teachers might be eligible for monetary incentives if they agree to work in underserved areas or under-performing or understaffed districts.
There are also award and grant programs which reward teachers monetarily for exceptional performance. The Milken Educator Awards, as an example, rewards outstanding elementary and secondary school teachers with cash awards of $25,000. To date, Milken alone has awarded over $65 million to exceptional educators.
Continuing Education and Advanced Degrees
Teachers, like most other workers, generally receive period raises as they gain experience. In most school districts, teachers’ unions negotiate teachers’ salaries, or the state board of education sets the salaries, and earning more certifications or degrees is a common means of expanding salary possibilities. An advanced degree such as a masters or doctorate can add thousands of dollars per year to a teacher’s salary.
This would have once meant spending summer vacation immersed in college classes, but today programs like NSU Online make pursuing a degree easier. Earning continuing education credits may also be beneficial, and is required in some areas. Some school districts, especially larger ones, offer their own professional development programs, completion of which can lead to pay raises. Finally, teachers who have an acceptable portfolio and have taught for at least three years can apply for national certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Many schools reward this certification with higher pay.
Multiple Teaching Jobs
Many teachers choose to supplement their income by teaching summer school. Those with advanced degrees may also teach on multiple levels; for instance, a teacher may teach high school English by day, and teach college courses in the evening. This is especially common at community colleges and in rural areas with satellite campuses.
The things most likely to boost your salary are the things which will further your own education. Knowledge is its own reward, but continuing education can expand your earning possibilities both by making you more marketable and possibly making you an even better teacher than you already were.