Is it worth it to go through schooling to become a teacher?
Is it worth it to go through school to become a teacher, or does the pay not make up for the money you spent on schooling? I want to become a teacher but i’m not sure if it’s worth it or not.
As a 4th generation K-12 educator with 17 years of experience and someone who has also worked in the private business sector, I can tell you that as a teacher I faced more stress and longer work hours than I did in the private sector, even as a country division manager. Nowadays, teachers are expected to do more than just teach children. There's often more paperwork and tasks than there are hours in a day or work week. During your free time, you'll likely work or seek training, often at your own expense and time, to feel more prepared for the upcoming school year. The compensation was enough for me to live paycheck to paycheck while my own children were in public school, but it wouldn't have covered childcare costs when they were younger. My younger colleagues without children also lived close to paycheck to paycheck because they were still paying off their student loans.
I believe being an educator is a calling. If you decide to pursue a career in K-12 teaching, look for ways to have your bachelor's degree paid for by a company you may work for, a program that focuses on getting more people into teaching, or other opportunities to help reduce the financial burden as you start your career. I'd give this advice to anyone pursuing a college degree as well. There are teaching jobs that pay better than others. It takes some research and a willingness to move to other states or explore different types of education if needed.
I eventually left the field to find a better work-life balance, as many of my former colleagues did. While we were teaching, we loved the work despite the stress and relatively low pay for our work, education and experience. Teaching is a unique profession because you get to directly impact the lives of children in a positive way. There's a sense of fulfillment in being a teacher that can't be measured. If you truly want to pursue this profession, you'll find a way to make it work for you.
I will add that you don't have to think about being confined to the US as an educator. I taught and lived in China and Japan at international schools that pay very well and compared to the cost of living you can have a comfortable life. Also helped me pay my student loans off faster because I was making more with lower cost of living. Living overseas away from family and friends isn't the easiest thing and not for everyone. There are language barriers and culture shock but if you can get through the tough beginning it is a very rewarding experience in itself. When thinking about becoming an educator, take a global perspective as well.
Before becoming an administrator and instructional leader at my school, I spent 9 years as a direct teacher. I taught English for six years and served in teaching roles through the federal program AmeriCorps for three years. Although the pay was lower, the experience ignited my passion for teaching and led me to pursue it long-term. When I secured a full-time position at a school, my salary improved over time. As I consistently met district benchmarks for student progress and grew as a teacher, my rating increased, resulting in yearly raises.
Moreover, the district I worked in consistently offered extra-pay opportunities, such as after-school tutoring, summer school, curriculum development, enrichment activities, and seasonal coaching. These programs significantly contribute to a school's and district's functions and can be a valuable source of additional income.
Furthermore, my salary has always been enough to support my family (wife and two children) and cover expenses. It's essential to be realistic about your living costs and total debts when considering any position.
Teaching is a crucial profession that can lead to life-changing connections with students and create lasting positive change in the community. If you have a strong sense of duty, a desire to help others, and a passion for empowering people through knowledge, I hope you'll seriously consider a career in education!