- A teacher was making six figures in her previous teaching job in California.
- She expects to make around $40,000, excluding extra pay or overtime, in her new job.
- She talks about teachers’ pay and what she wishes students and parents knew about teaching.
Sarah loved her six-figure teaching job and the school she was working for in California. However, she decided to move to Florida because she’d liked the state ever since she was younger.
But her new teaching job at a Florida school came with a big pay reduction. Based on her monthly rate and excluding overtime or extra pay, she will be taking a pay cut of more than $80,000 unless anything changes. That’s based on documentation shared with Insider showing her amount of taxable income in 2022 and documentation for her new job.
While Sarah — which is a pseudonym for privacy reasons, but whose identity is known to Insider — said she’s still considered a teacher, her day doesn’t involve teaching students in a classroom anymore and instead is mainly about helping other teachers.
Sarah likes her job but thinks better pay is needed for teachers.
“I think if school systems would pay their teachers appropriately, you would see a lot less people quitting the profession and more people coming in,” Sarah said. “I think school districts and states who make the rules on teacher pay do not fully understand how important that is to retaining teachers.”
Elementary and middle school teachers made an annual median of $61,730 in 2022, more than the median of $46,310 for all occupations, but lower than other jobs, such as physicians or mechanical and civil engineers.
The pay penalty between teachers and comparable college graduates has been getting worse over the last several years, per an analysis from Sylvia Allegretto, a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute.
“It’s rough knowing that other people are making a lot more money doing what they even claim is less work,” Sarah said, who also said she has a master’s degree. “It’s frustrating, and I’m seeing teachers leave left and right.”
Sarah has thought about quitting at times the last few years because teaching has been rougher, she said. Her love for the job has kept her from resigning.
“I love being in the school system and being with the kids and helping them just grow as people, but it would be a lie if I said I don’t consider it sometimes,” Sarah said.
While she expects to make less than her previous role, she was fine with accepting a lower pay than what she was used to given she wanted to try something new, plus “the equity in the house from California paid for the house in Florida.”
“Had it not been for that, there’s no way I would’ve been able to do it, and I would not have been okay with it then,” she said.
What parents and students should know about being a teacher
Sarah noticed other problems as an educator beyond pay and retention.
“A lot of discipline problems are running rampant in school districts all over the country,” she said. “I’m hearing it consistently. It happened in California. It’s happening here in Florida.”
Another is the long hours the job requires. She said teachers end up working beyond the school day. Teachers, she said, will have to do work in their evenings, weekends, and the summer despite people thinking teachers have this time off.
“I wish that were true. That’s not true,” she said. “We go to trainings, we work, we plan, we prep. We’re in school, we’re doing all kinds of things that people just don’t see.”
One person who left teaching said in an as-told-to essay for Insider that she “loved working with kids and seeing them get excited about learning. But there were also a lot of challenges in teaching.”
“It might be more succinct to say what’s not wrong with it than what is,” the former teacher said in the essay.
Sarah wishes parents knew just how hard and emotionally draining teaching can be and all the work they do.
“We genuinely love these kids and we’re working hard for them, and I don’t think parents see that,” she said.
She said because most people have gone to school, they think they understand the challenges teachers face.
“When you’re kids, you see what happens in front of you, but you don’t necessarily see what happens in the background every day,” she said.
She said she wished students knew how much teachers also care and stress about them.
“We have sleepless nights worrying about them, and I think a lot of them think that we’re out to get them and we’re not,” she said. “We just want the best for them. And I think the kids think, well, they gave me a bad grade and they don’t like me. That’s not true. We want them to flourish and become their best possible selves.”
Sarah said while teachers “really aren’t paid what we’re worth” it’s amazing to watch “watch a child grow not only academically but emotionally” and that’s why they do this work.
“To see that aha moment, to see a kid become what they’re going to become, that’s amazing,” she said. “How many jobs do you get to do that?”
Did you take a pay cut after a job change? How much do you make as a teacher? Reach out to this reporter at [email protected].