How Much Are Teachers Paid?


A helluva lot, according to a new Manhattan Institute Study by Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters. Among the findings, which are based on Bureau of Labor Statistics workplace surveys:

According to the BLS, the average public school teacher in the United States earned $34.06 per hour in 2005.

The average public school teacher was paid 36% more per hour than the average non-sales white-collar worker and 11% more than the average professional specialty and technical worker.

Full-time public school teachers work on average 36.5 hours per week during weeks that they are working. By comparison, white-collar workers (excluding sales) work 39.4 hours, and professional specialty and technical workers work 39.0 hours per week. Private school teachers work 38.3 hours per week.

Compared with public school teachers, editors and reporters earn 24% less; architects, 11% less; psychologists, 9% less; chemists, 5% less; mechanical engineers, 6% less; and economists, 1% less.

Compared with public school teachers, airplane pilots earn 186% more; physicians, 80% more; lawyers, 49% more; nuclear engineers, 17% more; actuaries, 9% more; and physicists, 3% more.

Public school teachers are paid 61% more per hour than private school teachers, on average nationwide.

The whole study is here. Note that the BLS is designed to capture all hours put in by workers, so the comparisons between teachers and other workers are apples to apples. Greene and Winters also find very little (read: no) correlation between how much teachers are paid and student performance.

For a Wall Street Journal op-ed version of the study, go here. There, the authors argue that

Evidence suggests that the way we pay teachers is more important than simply what they take home. Currently salaries are determined almost entirely by seniority–the number of years in the classroom–and the number of advanced degrees accumulated. Neither has much to do with student improvement.

There is evidence that providing bonuses to teachers who improve the performance of their students does raise academic proficiency.

Thanks to reader Willfox23 for the tip.

Lisa Snell looked at the massive potential of "weighted student funding" to revolutionize American education here. And I cast a cold eye on most merit-pay schemes here.