Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Teachers Underpaid Among Professions

A new study from finds that, when it comes to return-on-investment for professional degrees, teachers are getting a raw deal.

In weighing the cost of a degree against the median annual salary for a career in that field, teaching ranked 17th out of 20 careers for "value." According to the analysis, teachers spend about $53,000 to get a degree and only make a median salary of $42,000. Under this breakdown, teachers who put 10 percent of their annual salary toward student loans need nearly 22 years to pay off their debt.

By comparison, those in advertising and marketing appear to be getting the best deal, paying $53,000 for a degree and earning $108,000 per year. According to the analysis, it takes those professionals about six years to pay off their debt. Economists, civil engineers, and political scientists can all pay off their loans in about eight years, while pharmacists, microbiologists, and family physicians can do so in less than 11.

The professions that ranked below teacher for ROI were veterinarian, journalist, and marriage and family therapist. (So for those of us with education degrees who went from teaching to journalism, it's really not looking good.)

The analysis used a fairly unsophisticated method of calculation, however. A spokesperson explained that it was based on 2012 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and did not account for salary adjustments over time, possible changes in repayment rates, or other varying factors.

For a more in-depth look at the numbers (if you're interested in playing "should have," "could have" for the rest of the day), see the full list of careers below.

Also, to learn more about what teachers are and aren't getting with those degrees, check out this Commentary piece and the new OpEducation blog, both of which cover teacher-preparation issues.

What is the ROI of your college degree?

Occupation Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board) Median pay Annual repayment (if 10 percent of salary goes to repaying school loans) Years needed to repay education investment (assuming 6 percent student loan interest)
Advertising, marketing, promotions 4 $52,596 $107,950 $10,795 5.83
Economist 4 $52,596 $91,860 $9,186 7.08
Civil engineer 4 $52,596 $79,340 $7,934 8.50
Political scientist 6 $68,010 $102,000 $10,200 8.58
Pharmacist 7 $92,421 $116,670 $11,667 10.83
Microbiologist 4 $52,596 $66,260 $6,626 10.83
Physician: family or general practicioner 8 $136,861 $172,020 $17,202 10.92
Accountant 4 $52,596 $63,550 $6,355 11.50
Market research analyst 4 $52,596 $60,300 $6,030 12.42
Lawyer 7 $103,677 $113,530 $11,353 13.33
Dentist 8 $139,298 $149,310 $14,931 13.75
Political science teacher: post-secondary 6 $68,010 $72,170 $7,217 14.00
Public relations specialist 4 $52,596 $54,170 $5,417 14.67
English language/literature teacher: post-secondary 6 $68,010 $60,040 $6,004 19.08
Zoologist, wildlife biologist 6 $68,010 $57,710 $5,771 20.58
Librarian 6 $68,010 $55,370 $5,537 22.33
Teacher (full-time) 4 $52,596 $43,400 $4,340 21.75
Veterinarian 8 $114,268 $84,460 $8,446 27.92
News analyst, reporter, correspondent 4 $52,596 $37,090 $3,709 31.83
Marriage and family therapist 6 $68,010 $46,670 $4,667 34.67

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, Compiled by

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As an educator, this is just one reason why I strongly discourage my own children from going into my field.

The country is getting what it pays for. Increasing accountability and expectations will at best rid systems of poor teachers but the pipeline isn't really promising anything better. Attrition rates are still high for teachers in their first 3-5 years and College of Education enrollments at many institutions are dropping or at least being undercut by cheaper online programes which it is my opinion create teacher candidates who are less prepared and educated for the job.

Don't see how it is going to change anytime. Feds continue to try to expand their influence (control) over K-12 and soon post secondary, while ongoing expenditures to maintain schools are shifted to local levels.

The funny thing is that after three decades of hearing folks say "there's going to be a big shortage in about 3 -5 years when a bunch of teachers retire," it never seems to materialize.