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If I become a teacher is it responsible to move from state to state?

I know a lot of states offer pensions to teachers. I would like to experience life in many states but I am curious about how long I need to stay in a single state in order to accumulate a pension.

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Elaine’s Answer

In my school district, school nurses belong to the same retirement program as teachers. California State Teachers Retirement System (CALSTRS) requires five service credits for a teacher to become vested and eligible to receive lifelong annuities upon retirement. A teacher earns a service credit for every full school term he/she works. Service credits are prorated accordingly for shorter teaching contracts. The formula to calculate your retirement is based on age, service credit, and salary while working. Working in another state does not affect the benefits you have already accrued. When you leave the state, you may elect to leave your money in CALSTRS until you reach retirement age or get a refund. If you leave your money in CALSTRS, your benefit amount will only increase with age (up to age 63). The final amount of your monthly benefit will not increase based on service credits and increased salary. In addition, once you withdraw money from a CALSTRS account, you have to pay taxes.

That is great to know! Thank you! Mackenzie M.

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Sarah’s Answer

Hi Mackenzie, pension and retirement requirements will vary from state to state. In Virginia and DC where I've taught (math!) it was five years before you started earning interest on retirement, but I still had funds I contributed to that carried with me. So the short answer is that you are probably looking at 5 years per state on average. Also read up on licensure between states. Some states have teaching licenses reciprocity so if you are licensed to teach in one state, it is easy to get a license in another. But not all states have reciprocity and each will have their own requirements for certification. And some states have higher standards for Praxis scores, etc.