About Teacher Pay

This post is a result of a comment by one of my regular readers on a recent “Sunday This N’ That” post. I mentioned that colleges have a shortage of qualified computer-related professors. But in a reply to a comment by a different reader, I mentioned something about teacher pay. Here is my comment and the and the resulting reaction.

Before I start here, I want to make it absolutely clear that I am not attacking what JanBo said. In fact, I agree with the underlying message that teachers are underpaid according to their professions. But, what I am saying that if you look at it as a pay/hour thing that difference more than disappears. Here is what I have to back that up.

Let’s compare engineers to teachers. They both generally require a master’s degree. I know that engineers must take rigorous studies into their chosen profession but I really don’t know what the academics for being a teacher entail. Maybe someone reading this post can clue me in. I would imagine it is pretty heavily laced with the humanities. Especially teachers at the primary school area.

But, let’s get down to the pay difference noted in JanBo’s comments. According to statistics, the average teacher starting salary is $50,000/year while an engineer is $63,000. I realize that since most teachers salaries are controlled by the State where they live so regional variations exist. The above are national averages but looking at State levels the spread is about the same for both professions. Let’s look at the hours involved to try to get to a dollars/hour income.

Engineer’s Work Schedule

ActivityDays/YrHrs/DayTotal Hrs
Basic Work schedule250102500
Weekend Work20480
Weekday work at home 1502300
TOTAL Hours/Year2,880
(hrs based on my personal experience)

Teacher’s Work Schedule

ActivityDay/YrHrs/DayTotal Hrs
Basic work schedule
(allowing 7 class hrs & 1 prep hour)
18081440
Weekend Work25375
Weekday work at home1501150
TOTAL Hours/Year1665

Starting Engineers: $63,000 / 2,880 hrs = $22.00/working hour

Starting Teachers: $50,000/1665 hrs = $30.00/working hour.

I will let you draw your own conclusions about this.

Jan is certainly right when it comes to top 1% cases, teachers will never make what a successful entrepreneur will make no matter what his education level is. Bill Gate was an engineer who is now worth $91billion. You will never find a teacher who even comes remotely close to that! But, I don’t think there are very many teachers who go into that field to become financially rich? They do it for the good of humanity, so in the end yes, the teaching profession is the much nobler of the two and probably deserves a larger annual salary than they presently get. And they will get it once we do away with the archaic school schedules still in place that were dictated by our agricultural society of a century or more ago.