Teaching Profession

Are Teachers Underpaid? Around the World, People Say Yes

By Sasha Jones — November 12, 2018 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

By Guest Blogger Sasha Jones

Americans think that U.S. teachers are underpaid by an average of $7,500 a year, according to a new global survey.

The Global Teacher Status Index, conducted by the Varkey Foundation, a global charity that supports teachers, surveyed more than 1,000 people from each of 35 countries. To examine differences in perceptions between teachers and the general public, the researchers included an oversample of 200 teachers in 27 of the countries.

In determining how much the public believed teachers should be paid, the survey asked participants what they thought a starting career teacher salary is in their country, and what a fair wage would be. After being told what the actual average wage for teachers is, participants were then asked to judge whether they thought the level of pay was too little, about right, or two much.

Overall, in 28 of the 35 countries surveyed, teachers are being paid less than the amount the general public considers to be a fair wage for the job. The countries in which teachers are being paid more than the amount the public considers a fair wage are Finland, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and Singapore.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, teachers in the U.S. are paid just over $44,000 a year on average. But U.S. respondents said a fair wage would be $51,500.

Half of U.S. respondents were in favor of performance-related pay; however, support has fallen considerably compared to the earlier 2013 survey, which saw 80 percent of Americans in favor.

The survey also found that Americans underestimate the number of hours that teachers work. While teachers estimated they worked 50 hours per week, the public assumed teachers worked an average of 45 hours per week.

Compared to other countries, U.S. teachers worked the sixth highest number of hours, according to the oversample of teachers. New Zealand and Singapore teachers were surveyed as working the most, with 52 hours a week. Teachers in Malaysia worked the least with less than 30 hours a week.

Additionally, respondents were asked to rank 14 occupations, all of which require some sort of higher education, in order of how respected they are. Teachers were on average ranked as the seventh most respected, placing them directly below management consultant and local government manager, and above web designer and social worker.

Still, according to the survey, American’s faith in the education system seems to be rising. On average, respondents ranked the quality of the U.S. education system to be a 6.7 out of 10, an increase from 2013’s 5.9 average ranking. Forty-two percent of respondents also said they would encourage their child to become a teacher, the fifth highest percentage of all countries surveyed.

Graphic by the Global Teacher Status Index

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Opinion ‘A Culture of Care’: How Schools Can Alleviate Educator Stress This Year
It takes more than deep breathing to alleviate the stress teachers feel. Here's how to get to the root cause.
Sean Slade & Alyssa Gallagher
6 min read
shutterstock 740616958 resized
Shutterstock
Teaching Profession Reported Essay Students Aren’t the Only Ones Grieving
Faced with so many losses stemming from the pandemic, what can be done to help teachers manage their own grief?
4 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Teaching Profession We Feel Your Grief: Remembering the 1,000 Plus Educators Who've Died of COVID-19
The heartbreaking tally of lives lost to the coronavirus continues to rise and take a steep toll on school communities.
3 min read
090321 1000 Educators Lost BS
Education Week
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor Educators Have a Responsibility to Support the Common Good
A science teacher responds to another science teacher's hesitation to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
1 min read