The Catch-22 of the Teaching Profession

Across the country, students are weighing the cost of earning a teaching degree versus the future earnings of many in the profession. Elite credentials and advanced degrees can promise higher salaries, but considering half of new educators leave the profession after five years, do those extra costs actually pay off?

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 Schools with the Highest-Paid Graduates

An education graduate of Washington University in St. Louis could earn $50,000. Starting salary for a graduate of San Francisco State University’s College of Education averages $42,000, with a mid-career salary of $74,000.

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Teacher Salaries Across the Country

U.S. public school teachers earned, on average, $56,383 in the 2012-2013 school year. The average total cost for in-state tuition at a public institution that year was $22,826 and nearly double that for a private institution, at $44,750. In 2013, teachers in New York earned the most money, averaging $75,279 a year. At the other end of the spectrum, teachers in South Dakota earned  an average of $39,580 annually.

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Is a Graduate Degree Worth Having?

Over a 25-year career, a teacher with a master’s degree could earn an extra $125,000. Illinois pays a teacher with a master’s 43 percent more, but that same teacher in Oregon would only earn 3 percent more. In 2013, North Carolina became the first state to eliminate automatic pay increases for teachers who earn a master’s degree. In the 2011-2012 school year, half of all U.S. educators held MA degrees, but 60 percent were in debt, with a median debt load of $35,350.

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 Out-of-Pocket Costs Add Up

The National Education Association estimates that the average K-12 teacher will spend anywhere from $400 to $1,500 per year of their own money to cover incidentals for the classroom, such as school supplies, instructional materials, and copier fees.