School & District Management

To Make Ends Meet, 1 in 5 Teachers Have Second Jobs

By Madeline Will — June 19, 2018 4 min read
Stefanie Lowe, a teacher at Tuscano Elementary School in Phoenix, Ariz., stands next to her car after joining other teachers, parents and students at a "walk-in" for higher pay and school funding last April. Lowe also works as a Lyft driver to supplement her teaching salary.

Nearly 1 in 5 public school teachers have second jobs during the school year, a new analysis of federal data shows.

Half of teachers with second jobs are working in a field outside of education, while 5 percent of teachers are taking on a second teaching or tutoring job outside of their school districts. And 4 percent of teachers have a job that is not teaching, but is still related to the teaching field.

Across the country, teachers who work a second job earn an average of $5,100 to supplement their incomes. And teachers who moonlight in a non-education field earn about $1,000 more on average than teachers who work a second job related to teaching—$5,500 compared to $4,500.

These figures are from the 2015-16 National Teacher and Principal Survey, a nationally representative survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education.

The National Center for Education Statistics has been periodically publishing new analyses from the NTPS dataset, which was released in August. Previous analyses showed that teachers spend an average of $479 on classroom supplies, and that 55 percent of teachers say they are not satisfied with their teaching salaries.

The new data points may shed light on what seems a growing sense of discontentment among teachers across the country. Educators in six states this spring staged mass demonstrations, protests, and walkouts over low wages and cuts to school spending.

“Working two jobs and trying to maintain a balance with teaching, it does take a toll, especially when you have a family,” said Joe Reid, who until recently was a middle school language arts teacher in Hebron, Ind.

During his 12 years as a teacher, he has had second jobs more often than not—including answering phones at Best Buy, cooking chicken at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, coaching, and tutoring at a private company. The extra funds help him pay for child-related expenses like daycare.

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In Oklahoma, where teachers walked out of the classroom for nine days this spring, having to work multiple jobs was a rallying cry among educators. Kara Stoltenberg, a high school English teacher in Norman, Okla., who also works at a clothing store, pointed to her second job as one reason teachers needed a raise. Oklahoma teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation.

“I think most of us can live day to day, month to month just fine,” Stoltenberg said in a March interview with Education Week about the walkout. “In terms of being able to save, in terms of your car needing some work ... those extra expenses are where it starts to [hurt].”

More Than Other Workers

Previous research has found that teachers are about 30 percent more likely than non-teachers to work a second job, according to an analysis of a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey.

“There’s only limited evidence on the why question,” said Dick Startz, a professor of economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who recently analyzed the BLS data. “Presumably, the big issue is money. ... What we know is that [teachers] do it more than other similarly situated, college-educated workers with full-time jobs do.”

Startz found that secondary teachers are more likely to have second jobs than elementary teachers, and male teachers are more likely than female teachers to work outside the school. About 20 percent of male teachers report working a second job, according to Startz’s analysis, which was published in March by the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution.

Teachers are also more likely to report that they have an outside job during the school year, rather than the summer, Startz found.

The NCES analysis also found regional differences among teachers who worked second jobs. For instance, more teachers in the Northeast and Midwest worked second jobs than teachers in the South and West.

The type of second job that teachers worked varied by region. For example, 11 percent of teachers in the Midwest worked in a non-education field, compared to 8 percent of teachers in the West.

Second Jobs Take a Toll

Working an extra job during the school year has consequences, researchers and teachers themselves say. For more than three decades, researchers at the Sam Houston State University in Texas have conducted a biennial survey of Texas State Teachers Association members about working outside jobs.

The survey is not representative of teachers in the state: It’s voluntary and doesn’t always have a large sample size. But Startz said there are still lessons to be learned from it: Two of the survey’s main findings are that teachers who work a second job are more likely to say they’re considering leaving teaching, and that teachers say that working an extra job negatively affects their teaching.

“People don’t normally stand up and say, ‘There’s something going on that’s making me worse at my job,’ ” Startz said. “So I think that’s a real concern.”

Working after school hours cuts into time for lesson planning, grading, and other responsibilities, said Reid, the former teacher in Indiana.

“You wish you could do more—whether it’s more planning or preparation or whatever—and it just limits you in general,” he said.

Reid resigned from his teaching job at the end of this school year. Now, although he hasn’t ruled out getting another teaching job, he’s looking for other positions that pay more. He’d like to stop working a second job so he can spend more time with his three children.

“I remember quitting that job [at Popeyes] and thinking, ‘I’m never going to have to work two jobs again,’ ” he said of the experience during his first year as a teacher. “And I was wrong.”

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