Believe it or not, there are countries around the world where teachers are valued as much as — or even more so — than other professionals in the workforce with similar levels of education.
In the United States, we seem to accept that teaching, especially at the elementary and high school levels, is not a job that's going to bring in the big bucks. Every year, teachers' salaries and benefits are slashed, and we all just collectively shake our heads and assume this low pay goes with the territory.
But that's not the case in other countries. In some, like Luxembourg, a teacher can expect to bring in a salary of around $138,000 per year after 15 years of educating young minds. Can you imagine a teacher at your average public school pulling in $138,000? I know many teachers who deserve such a salary, but none who actually get it. In the U.S., the average peak salary that a teacher can expect to make — after a career of working in the field — is $66,000.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently pulled together a comprehensive report on the state of education around the world into a report called "Education at a Glance." Using this data, we built the graphics in this post to show you at a glance how teaching in the U.S. compares to the teaching field in other countries.
As you can see, there are huge disparities in the amount of money that teachers make each year around the world.
In a recent post on Chalk.com, Tom Ostapchuk noted that it's not just how much teachers are paid, but how much they are expected to work for that pay. After all, isn't the argument frequently made that teachers make so little because they get three months off every year?
Again using OECD data, here is a look at the number of hours that teachers around the world spend teaching in comparison to how much they make.
Once again, it's Luxembourg for the win. Teachers in that country make the most money for the number of hours that they work. And I'm sure it's no surprise to any teacher in the U.S. but teachers here spend more hours working than those in almost any other country (along with Colombia, Chile and Mexico.) And for the record, these are hours that teachers are required to spend teaching. It does not include the hours that teachers spend prepping for classes, grading papers or fielding phone calls from distraught parents.
OK, so global teachers' salaries can't be adjusted according to the number of hours that teacher spend teaching. So maybe it's the level of education required for teachers to enter the field. Wrong again.
Here is a look at how much more or less teachers are making in the education field as opposed to a different career path that would require a comparable level of education.
In Luxembourg, teachers make about a third more as teachers than they would make if they choose a different career. In the U.S., on the other hand, teachers make only about 3/4 of the salary that they could make if they changed fields.
So it's not the level of education, and it's not the number of hours working.
It's the value that we place on the teaching field. In Luxembourg and several other countries, that value is high, and teachers are paid accordingly. Unfortunately, that's not the case in the U.S.