Congratulations to Pittsburgh teachers, who are able to make annual salaries of more than $100,000 by the end of their career (adjusted for cost of living) and can make more money than other urban teachers over the course of a 30-year career—more than $2.7 million.
Unfortunately for teachers in the other 112 districts from this comparison, number like these aren’t always attainable.
In fact, it turns out that the average maximum annual salary a teacher can earn over a 30-year career is roughly $75,000. In Pittsburgh, it only takes eight years to reach this average salary. Everywhere else, it takes an average of 24 years.
A report released yesterday from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) points out that there are, in fact, a number of problems with the structure of teacher pay systems, which tend to be backloaded to benefit more veteran teachers. For instance, while in Milwaukee it may take 15 years for an educator to reach her maximum salary, it will take a teacher in Rochester as long as 48 years. While Rochester boasts an impressive $120,000-plus maximum salary, a teacher there who starts her career at 22 years old will be 70 years old before she’s able to earn that much.
Because of this structure of back-loaded salaries, teachers in Rochester are paying the price. NCTQ takes the Milwaukee-Rochester comparison even further showing that despite higher salaries at the beginning and end of their careers, teachers in Rochester earn about $125,000 less over their lifetime than teachers in Milwaukee. And Milwaukee and Rochester are just two of the districts NTCQ examined.
The report takes a look at teacher salaries across 113 districts and asks three important questions:
- In which districts will teachers rise to the top of the salary ladder the fastest?
- Over the span of a full career, where can teachers earn the most money?
- After adjusting for cost of living, which districts provide teachers the most “bang for the buck”?
The report also looks at pay-for-performance systems, ranks and maps out each of the 113 districts based on educator earnings (adjusted for cost of living), and provides recommendations for how to improve compensation to make teaching a more sustainable career. The need to improve teacher pay is more urgent than ever given that many new teachers hired are Millennials, a generation reputed to leave jobs faster.