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Difference in Pay for HS Teachers vs Private Sector Job

  1. Nov 26, 2014 #1
    Is anyone familiar with the difference in pay for high school teachers vs. applying your skills in private sector workforce?
    For instance, are there tax benefits that teachers receive that can be quantified vs. those of say some analyst (if they make the same pay)?
    What about pensions? Are these built up independent of your check? For instance, are pension benefits paid aside from gross salary? Or are they built up through some matching scheme of gross salary?
    My company matches 6%. Yet this requires me reducing my annual salary up to $5,500 per year.

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 26, 2014 #2


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    Staff Emeritus
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    In the US, HS teachers (at least those who teach in the public schools) are usually covered by union contracts, which define the salary and benefits paid to the teacher.

    Obviously, the compensation of a typical HS teacher in New York state or California is going to differ from a teacher in Montana or Arkansas.

    It's going to be hard to answer your question without knowing more specifics about your situation.

    In the private sector, defined benefit pensions (where the employee and/or employer makes contributions which are then paid out in fixed increments after the employee retires) have largely been phased out and replaced by 401k type plans or IRA plans, where the employee makes contributions to his own retirement plan and manages it to give returns.
  4. Nov 26, 2014 #3
    I've read that in the US, once you're a teacher, you can't be fired, so at least you have that. They actually keep incompetent teachers in dummy offices and make them do nothing instead of doing damage because they're so difficult to fire.
    You don't have that in the private sector.
  5. Nov 26, 2014 #4


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    Don't believe everything you read.

    While in some districts it is difficult to get fired, it is not absolutely impossible. There is growing dissatisfaction with the lack of accountability in some districts, and the laws governing teacher qualifications are being changed to make teachers more accountable.

    In any event, this appears tangential to the information requested in the OP.
  6. Nov 26, 2014 #5
    I was surprised how much my fellow classmates who became teachers make. 50, 60k+

    Private sector can mean a lot of things and can have pay varying from 30k to 100k depending on your ability, the location, etc.
  7. Nov 27, 2014 #6
    You won't starve as a teacher, but you will have to put up with a lot of ugliness from all sides (students, parents, administration) that you wouldn't see in most private industry jobs. The positive side? Good teachers will be remembered by their students for generations to come. I will never forget Ms. Anna Fort who taught me the joys and wonders of Shakespeare. I will never forget Dr. Harold Williams who taught me chemistry; or the quirkiness of our principal Ms. Corprew. Mind you, they taught me these things decades ago. How many people from your past do you remember with such fondness?

    Teachers don't make fantastic money, but they usually do get decent benefits and retirement funds --unless you have the misfortune of teaching in a bankrupt city such as Detroit.

    Good Luck!
  8. Nov 28, 2014 #7


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    Depends on the state and school district. Traditional defined-benefit pensions still exist in some places, but many have converted to defined-contribution 403(b) plans, which are similar to the 401(k) plans in private industry. You contribute some of your salary (before taxes), and the district may "match" some of it with an additional amount. I think in some places, older teachers have "grandfathered" defined-benefit pension plans, possibly together with a 403(b), while younger ones have only the 403(b).
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