The Basics Series Part 2 of 5
Educators don’t get paid enough money.
For the amount of schooling, cost and time to get certified, and additional hours that teachers put in on a daily basis, the base teacher salary just doesn’t cut it.
Now I’m not saying teachers should leave the profession because of it. In fact, I’m saying the opposite.
Increase your earnings while being a teacher.
The common belief is that teachers are destined to make little money. I remember my college professors telling me, “don’t expect to make a lot of money as a teacher”.
I hate that mindset.
The teacher base salary is average at best but that doesn’t mean our earning potential is limited. There are other ways to make extra money as a teacher.
I paid off 45k in student loan debt in less than two years as a teacher (humble brag). Faster than my friends who were making double what I was making. I attribute it to aggressive saving and increasing my earning potential.
If I can do it, so can you.
This post will focus on how teachers can earn more both within school and outside of school.
Let’s jump in.
Side hustles are the ways you make extra money outside of your full-time job.
Many full time workers don’t pursue side hustles because they don’t have the available time. Educators are unique this way.
Most educators get time off in the summer, time off for various holidays, spring breaks, winter breaks, and time off after school each day. Now I realize much of this time is used for planning purposes, but still, it’s fair to say teachers have access to more “free time” than most other professions.
This presents the perfect opportunity to pursue a side hustle.
There are two main benefits of side hustles
- They add additional income
- They allow you to explore and monetize other interests
From a financial standpoint, side hustles are great because they pad your income.
Outside the financial benefits, side hustles give you an opportunity to explore other passions and interests.
My feelings are that side hustles should not be a total drag. You work hard as a teacher, think of your side hustle as your chance to leverage a skill or passion to make money doing something else you really enjoy.
For example, maybe you’re really into photography and decide to start a business doing freelance photography work. Or maybe you’re crafty and into birds and start a business selling homemade bird houses. It can be anything, just make sure you like doing it.
You may also decide to leverage your teaching skills for your side hustle. Many teachers choose to tutor after school. That’s great!
For me as a music teacher, I used to teach private music lessons after school. I would drive around to different houses and do half hour or hour long lessons. At one point I had close to 20 private lesson students and in New York I was able to charge $30/half hour. Some weeks I was bringing in $1,000! Just from my side hustle! It’s one of the main reasons why I was able to pay off my debt so fast.
If you need some help finding a direction, these are the steps I followed to figure out which side hustles I would pursue.
1. List the things or activities that get you excited
- Be honest with yourself.
- What things do you like talking about with friends?
- What things do you love doing on your off time?
- Maybe it’s writing? Maybe it’s fishing? Maybe it’s beer tasting? Add it to the list.
2. List the special skills that you have
- Again be honest with yourself.
- Think of things where someone said “hey, you’re really good at that”.
- For teachers the obvious one is being able to teach something.
- Maybe you’re a good communicator? Maybe you’re good at selling stuff? Maybe you’re really good at building electronics? Add it to the list.
3. Compare the two lists
Compare the two lists and find connections that can be leveraged into a money making opportunity.
For example, if you’re really interested in fishing and one of your skills is teaching, maybe you can do fishing excursions where you take people out on fishing trips and teach them how to cast, analyze tides, real in different types of fish, etc.. Or maybe you’re good at writing and you love talking about different types of beer so you start a blog where you write about all things beer.
Of course some side hustles are easier to start and get off the ground than others, but you get the point.
Increase Your Earnings Within Your School
Salary Column Transfers
Most school districts pay their teachers in accordance to a salary scale.
Salary scales are specific to the individual school district, and reflect years of service and levels of education.
The more years you put in, and the higher levels of education you receive, the more money you can make.
Taking additional graduate/in-service credits can add a substantial amount on top of your base salary.
I personally chose to kill two birds with one stone by getting a masters in school administration. So not only did I get a pay jump for having the masters, but I now had another certification that allowed me to move up to higher paying positions in the future.
Although getting additional credits does cost more money, the return on investment is well worth it. Plus you get to learn something new in the process.
It’s an all-around win for teachers.
Teachers can take on other roles and responsibilities that will pay a stipend on top of their regular salary.
The availability of these positions is different for each school district.
Examples of roles/responsibilities that pay stipends include:
- Test scoring
- Curriculum Writing
- Summer School
Please share in the comments below what types of things get paid a stipend for!
If you’re interested in trying your hand at a leadership role, there can be stipend for that as well.
These positions usually come with much greater responsibility, but the reward can be great.
Examples of leadership opportunities available to teachers include:
- Mentor new teachers
- Department Chairperson
- Instructional Coordinator
- Curriculum coach
Am I missing something? Please share those leadership opportunities I left out in the comments below!
Climb the Career Ladder
Advancing your career in education beyond teaching is a great opportunity for those teachers looking to expand their reach beyond the classroom.
If leadership is your thing, then you may consider becoming a school or district administrator.
In most cases, school administrators start as teachers that worked their way up the career ladder.
Making the jump to an administration role should not be a decision that is made lightly.
Becoming a school or district administrator requires additional graduate level coursework and licensure. Additionally, becoming an administrator means longer hours, more night time responsibilities, and longer daily hours of work.
But if it’s the right fit, the earning potential for administrators far exceeds that of a teacher.
If administration aligns with your values it’s a great way to have greater influence while also drastically increasing your income.
Example of administrative positions include:
- Assistant Principal
- Director of a Department
- Assistant Superintendent
Changing your location, or geoarbitrage, may not be for everyone, but it’s an easy way to increase your income without any additional responsibilities.
Switching districts, switching states, or even teaching overseas may all be worthwhile endeavors. It’s important to do your research though as there are many factors to consider before changing locations.
Before switching school districts I would consider the following amongst other things:
- Teacher Contract
- Cost of Living
- Turnover rate in new district
- Quality of Life
If you’re a millennial, you’re better off changing locations earlier in your career rather than later.
This is because many teacher contracts have monetary incentives for teachers to stay in their district for the long haul.
Incentives usually include longevity bonuses and higher steps on the salary scale.
Additionally, many teachers get tenure after a certain amount of years in the same district.
Tenure is a policy that gives teachers a permanent contract after a certain amount of years of service. It more or less guarantees employment, and demonstrates a commitment by the district towards their teachers.
So before considering a change of location for financial reasons, just consider what you would be giving up.
The Bottom Line
Being in the field of education is NOT a financial death sentence.
There are plenty of opportunities available to teachers to increase their earnings.
Continue on to Part 3 of 5 in the Basics Series – Save More: The Basics for Teachers.
Keelan, great article here on side hustling as a teacher! The geo-arbitrage idea is a great one, particularly early in a career like you said! Always great content on your site! Enjoy your holidays!
Thanks Lance! Appreciate the kind words. Yea geo-arbitrage is great. It’s tough for me right now living in Long Island (HCOL area). Housing prices are through the roof so buying something is not in the cards, at least for right now. I hope to geo-arbitrage though once I get a little more saved up.