How to Increase your Teacher Salary

Methods to Increase your Teacher Salary

Photo by Steve Glynn

Most teachers don’t enter the profession with the expectation of getting rich quick, but teaching does offer competitive compensation when compared to other professions that require a four-year college degree. Teachers also commonly have the option of improving their salary prospects by adding to their qualifications.

In most school districts, teachers’ salaries are governed by collective bargaining agreements with teachers’ unions or legislated by the state department of education. Incremental salary increases occur as a teacher gains years of experience. Teachers typically earn salary increases by accumulating continuing education credits and earning additional degrees. A master’s degree, doctorate or an additional certification, such as special education, can add thousands of dollars to a teacher’s base salary. An added bonus is that some school districts will pay for all or part of a teacher’s continuing education.

Many districts offer professional development opportunities that teachers can apply towards a salary differential. For example, New York City’s Professional Development Programoffers high-quality low-cost alternatives to college courses. NYC teachers can also participate in the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and earn college credits by taking CLEP tests, and these credits can be applied towards a salary increase.

With an increased demand from the public for school accountability, some school districts have established teacher incentive programs that are tied to student achievement and school performance on standard testing. In Denver, ProComp is a compensation system that rewards K-12 teachers for their professional successes. Teachers are also eligible for financial incentives when they accept assignments at “Hard-to-Serve” schools.

Another way that teachers can increase their compensation is through awards and grants. One of the most prominent award programs is the Milken Educator Awards, which recognizes outstanding K-12 educators across the country with unrestricted cash awards of $25,000. To date, more than 2,500 teachers and principals have been honored with Milken Awards.

There are also opportunities for teachers to augment their base salary by taking on extra student-related duties, such as athletic coaching, after-school tutoring or becoming an advisor to student clubs. In addition, teachers can increase their salary by moving into administrative roles, like department head, assistant principal or principal. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average annual salary for elementary and secondary school administrators in 2008 was nearly $84,000. The BLS also reports that the top 10 percent of school administrators earned more than $124,000.

In addition to salary variations due to experience and education level, teacher’s salaries vary by state. There can be significant difference between states like California, which has a high average teacher salary of $57,600, and South Dakota, which has an average salary of $34,040. Keep in mind, these variations also reflect the different costs of living between states and their demand for teachers. To find out more about average teacher salaries for each state, and find out about requirements for teacher certification in your state of interest by following the appropriate link in the list below:

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