A career in teaching not only gives you opportunities to shape young individuals into the leaders of tomorrow, but also rewards you with numerous employee supports and protections.
While the largest benefit of life as a teacher is arguably the satisfaction gained from successfully educating students, teachers also enjoy ample time off, retirement benefits, insurance, and financial incentives.
The following descriptions should give you a better idea of the types of career benefits you can expect as a teacher.
Compensation and Financial Benefits
Contrary to some beliefs, many teachers receive competitive salaries that allow them to live well.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median pay of a teacher in 2010 was $51,380. While this indicates that many teachers received higher and lower pay, entry-level teachers should expect to make anything between $25,000 and $37,000 in salary, depending on the state where they work.
For many teachers, earning $25,000 and still having to pay back their financial loans can be worrying, but thankfully, many employers offer to help their teachers with this task.
For example, teachers in Baltimore, Maryland schools can receive reimbursement for courses they took in their preparation to become a teacher. Under Baltimore’s plan, teachers can receive money for up to 12 credit hours of courses taken in a school year. This financial assistance goes a long way in easing the burden of debt accrued by teachers during their training years in college.
The longer teachers work in their fields, the more they can expect their pay to increase. One way of earning a better salary faster is to earn your master’s degree in education. With a master’s degree in education, you become more valuable to a school district, and that value is reflected by an increase in salary.
With a master’s degree in education, you can expect to earn between 5% and 15% more than a teacher with a bachelor’s degree. While this may not sound like a significant amount at first, that money adds up throughout your career, allowing you more flexibility in retirement options and future plans.
One of the biggest perks of teaching might be the generous vacation time you’re afforded. Because of the nature of the school year, teachers have a significant amount of time they may spend away from the classroom.
Teachers typically work the normal 10-month school year and receive two months off while students are on summer break. Some teachers fill this two-month hole by teaching summer school, while others find temporary jobs.
The summer period provides teachers with great opportunities not only for travel and vacation, but also for professional growth. Teachers sometimes use their two-month vacation as a chance to work toward their master’s degrees by earning credits in summer graduate school courses.
With health care costs rising each year, future teachers will be relieved to know that most school systems still offer quality health care plans at affordable rates.
Depending on where you work, you will have access to several health insurance plans to ensure adequate coverage. This might include dental and eye care, in addition to prescription drug plans and emergency room visits. Certain teachers may also obtain short- and long-term disability insurance if eligible.
Usually, teachers pick between several plans to meet their needs. For example, in Texas, teachers are able to choose between plans with both high and low deductibles – from $2,400 to $300. Teachers are also able to choose between individual and family health insurance, giving you the option of insuring your loved ones.
Check with your potential employer about health care to find what will be available to you.
Upon retirement, you’ll have access to a few different retirement plans that will help support you in your post-work life.
At the beginning of your career as a teacher, you’ll likely enter into a retirement plan by contributing a percentage of your salary each year to a fund. Once you retire, you’ll have access to this money, which you’ll receive in increments to help support your living expenses, leisure activities, and anything else you’ll want to do with the large amount of free time suddenly available to you.
Retirement benefits are also calculated through different formulas that take into account your age, how long you’ve worked, credits you’ve accrued through unused sick days, and the final compensation you received as a teacher.
Teachers are often able to retire at different points in their careers, depending on state guidelines. In Connecticut, teachers normally retire at age 60 if they also have at least 20 years of Connecticut teaching experience. However, teachers may also retire earlier at age 55 if they wish.
Teachers who take a normal retirement route can expect to see the maximum amount of retirement benefits available to them, while teachers who retire earlier still receive benefits, but at a reduced amount.
Some plans allow you to choose beneficiaries after your death, meaning the money in the fund you’ve contributed to won’t disappear. Additionally, retirement benefits usually include health insurance, ensuring you’ll be covered well into your later years.
Because retirement benefits differ so greatly, be sure to have a solid understanding of what will be available to you before taking a teaching job. Ask questions about pensions, retirement funds, and other retiree benefits to ensure you’re making the right decision.