A new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality dissects salary schedules from across the nation’s biggest school districts to find where and how teachers can maximize their salaries.
The NCTQ, a Washington-based research and advocacy group, found that when a salary grows slowly, that creates an adverse effect on retirement; the more money you make earlier in your career, the more you can invest for the future. In that regard, teachers are much worse off than doctors or lawyers, the report indicates: By age 42, a teacher is earning about half of his or her highest income. Lawyers and doctors are making 80 percent of their top salary by that age.
Districts showed wide discrepancies in how quickly teachers could reach a $75,000 salary, which is the average district maximum, according to the NCTQ’s calculations. On average, the report says, it takes teachers 24 years to reach their maximum pay. In Boston, it takes just seven years. In Oklahoma City, it takes 31 years—or almost the entire length of a teacher’s career.
Cost of living also affects how much teachers get for their salary. For example, the actual starting salary for a teacher in San Francisco, which is known for being expensive, is $47,425. The NCTQ uses a cost-of-living adjustment to make that only $18,165.
The report authors, meanwhile, praised Columbus, Ohio, schools for giving teachers the most “bang for the buck,” with the highest adjusted salary, $100,400, that teachers can earn in the shortest amount of time, 10 years.
A version of this article appeared in the December 10, 2014 edition of Education Week as Teachers Face Slow, Uphill Salary Climb, Study Finds