First-Year Teacher Salary: What to Expect Financially
by Seth Sosebee
Congratulations! You've earned that teaching degree, and you're ready to get to work. Before you start sharing your knowledge with future generations, though, there are still a few more things for you to learn.
We've done our homework and have come up with some helpful tips to determine the negotiables — and the non-negotiables — during your job search. We'll also share advice on how to plan a budget and manage those school loans.
Financial expectations for first-year teachers
If you're searching for a teaching job, you probably have a lot of questions regarding the financial piece of the puzzle. What is the starting salary for a teacher? Can I negotiate my pay during the hiring process? What about benefits? Should I take on an extra job? Let's take a look at answers to each of these questions.
1. How much do first-year teachers make?
The average starting salary for teachers differs from state to state, and between rural and urban areas. While schools in cities tend to pay more, it's usually more expensive to live in the city.
To help you find the right job in the right location with the right salary, we've broken down the data on which states pay first-year teachers the highest and lowest salaries. This data is something to consider when deciding where you want to live and teach.
2. Can I negotiate my salary?
Public schools uniformly pay teachers based on their experience within public school districts. Unfortunately, salary negotiations are not possible. Teachers with the same level of experience and education will earn the same amount, according to the annual salary schedule.
However, the type of degree you hold makes a difference. If you have a master's degree along with a National Board certification, your salary will be higher than those with a master's and no certification. Likewise, if you have a master's degree, you'll warrant a higher salary than those with a bachelor's degree.
Private schools set their own hiring practices and may allow for negotiation — but this is entirely at their discretion. It's worth noting, however, that because private institutions decide how they'll compensate employees, benefits packages may or may not be available. Consider benefits when thinking about your total compensation package.
3. What about my benefits?
Retirement accounts, health insurance and dental plans also vary between states and districts. Employees enrolled with an insurer through their school typically choose the coverage that best suits them and their families. Fees for those services will then be deducted from their paycheck.
4. Should I supplement my income?
Many teachers supplement their income through second jobs or summer work (learn more about how to survive on a teacher's salary). As a new teacher, you may want to avoid taking on additional work until you gain a better understanding of your primary teaching responsibilities. If you decide to apply to a summer position, be sure to update your resume to include any student teaching and full-time classroom experience.
Budget strategies for new teachers
For young educators living on a teacher's starting salary, financial concerns can be as difficult as the stresses of the job. A salary of $35,000 may seem substantial to someone accustomed to being paid hourly while working part-time as a student. However, you need to factor in rent and other living expenses, along with only being paid ten months out of the year. This reality can be challenging for many first-year teachers.
Here's some sound budgeting advice for first-year teachers:
- Manage your student loans
According to the Federal Reserve, the average debt for those who took out student loans is $32,721; however, that number does not account for the total amount they will ultimately pay. Interest adds up, which inflates the total long-term figure. Get on your loan provider's payment plan to ensure your loans are paid every month.
- Budget and save
A 2019 poll of 1,000 Americans conducted by Debt.com revealed that among the respondents, 67 percent used a budget to manage their finances. First-year teachers are encouraged to do the same. Accounting for expenditures and income at the beginning of a school year is crucial, especially given that most teachers receive pay for only ten months out of the year. As a new teacher, you must not only consider your monthly expenses, you must allow for those two summer months without a paycheck.
- Be frugal
Want a new car? Wait a year to determine if a car payment makes sense. Eat in. Last year, Forbes calculated that it's five times cheaper to buy ingredients and prepare them yourself than it is to order meals with the same ingredients at a restaurant.
- Avoid impulse purchases
Impulse buys deplete funds you could otherwise spend on things you want or need. Avoid racking up $200-per-month restaurant tabs so necessities like car repairs, a new suit, or a vacation are possible.
Ready to apply for a teaching job? First, you have a homework assignment — build a top-notch resume and cover letter. Use our Resume Templates and Cover Letter Templates to easily craft both documents in no time at all. Before you know it, you'll be teaching at your school of choice.