Teaching is a career that is considered to be pursued not for good pay but because there is a true calling for the profession. Despite that calling, which is certainly a key factor to follow a teaching career, it doesn’t justify the lack of an appropriate compensation for their important profession. And most of the time the payment teachers receive is just not enough.

A study from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) published on December 2014 provides a good idea of the pay rates across the country and, not limited to it, also what is the performance of the salaries that teachers earn compared to the living cost in the state where such salary is earned.  Through a thorough analysis of those variables we can infer that the buying power of the teachers is not as big as it is for other professions.

For example, the NCTQ points out in this study that, on average it takes teachers 24 years to reach their maximum pay. This timeframe is much longer than for other professions. The speed of income growth has a dramatic impact on how much a teacher will take home over the course of a career, which is a little-considered feature of teachers’ pay packages that accounts for tremendous disparities in teachers’ overall earnings. The range of time it takes to reach $75,000, which is roughly the average maximum salary, ranges from 7 years in Boston to over 30 years in Wichita.”

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Infographic from NCTQ with a comparison of salaries throughout the whole career of a teacher.

This is not something that started to happen just recently, another article from EducationNext also points out the difference that exists for teachers to reach their maximum pay compared to, in this particular case, to doctors and lawyers. They reach, on average, their maximum earnings around their early 40’s while teachers get to their maximum earnings when they reach their mid-50s, which is very close to retirement.

After all this information, the road to reach a pay comparable to other professions and that can be enough to cover comfortably the living cost may look extremely long and could contribute to teacher shortages, but not everything is lost: Changes in some districts’ payment structure, starting with substitute teachers, are giving a bit of hope on a major and lasting improvement in the compensation for teachers, who deserve to be recognized accordingly for their very important labor.