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A Texas Social Studies Teacher Making $71K



In our new series, Teacher Salary Stories, We Are Teachers readers share how they’re making it work—or not—on a teacher’s salary. The goal is to take an honest look at teacher pay in the United States—what’s working, what’s not, and what needs to change if we want to stem the flow of educators leaving the profession and recruit new teachers to the field.

In today’s Teacher Salary Story, a 21-year veteran social studies teacher from Texas talks about working on her master’s degree, the home projects she’s put off because of money, and why her pay feels insulting to her expertise.

Where do you live?

Houston, Texas.

What is your job title?

Social studies teacher.

What is your annual salary?

$71,700.

What is your level of education?

Bachelor’s degree and 90% finished toward a master’s degree.

How did you pay for your education?

Help from family and scholarships.

How long have you been teaching? Is this your first career?

Twenty-one years, and this is my first career.

What was your starting salary as a teacher?

$38,500.

Tell us about your income progression (e.g., have you received standard step increases, taken on extra duties, gotten an advanced degree, or switched roles?)

I have received the standard step increases and taken on roles with stipends (i.e., yearbook). I have always been a classroom teacher. Currently, I am 90% finished toward a master’s degree, but my raise will only be $1,500 a year so it will take nearly a decade before my raise covers the cost of the degree and by then I will be close to retirement.

How much is one paycheck, after taxes, and how often are you paid?

$2,970.83, paid bimonthly.

What is your approximate net worth including savings, investments, retirement, and other assets?

Including my house, Texas Retirement System pension, savings, and other investments, I would estimate $600,000.

How many people live in your household? Are you the only earner?

Four people, and my husband is a small-business owner with inconsistent pay.

What are your approximate monthly expenses (e.g., rent/mortgage, car payment or other loans, childcare, food, entertainment, phone/Internet/utilities, other subscriptions)? 

Mortgage $2,500, car payment and other loans (student, credit cards, etc.) $2,500, utilities/phones, etc., $1,000, entertainment/gym/wellness, etc., $1,000, food $1,000 = total approx. $8,000.

Do you receive a school or PTA-provided budget for classroom supplies? If so, how much?

No, but I can buy whatever is needed within reason and the PTA will cover it.

How much of your own money do you spend on your classroom every year?

$100 to $200.

What kinds of things do you buy when you treat yourself?

Mani-pedi, massage, mental health day.

What expense would you take on if you suddenly got an extra $1,000 per paycheck?

None. I would put it toward credit card debt and my husband’s student loans.

How does your district handle retirement? Will you receive a pension?

Texas teachers have the Texas Retirement System (TRS) and I will receive a pension upon retirement. The longer I teach past when I am fully vested, the larger monthly payment I will receive.

Do you have any secondary sources of income, like a side hustle or another job?

No.

How satisfied are you with your teaching salary on a scale of 1–10, 10 being very satisfied and 1 being not at all satisfied? Please explain.

2. I know that my district has made attempts to give teachers pay bumps, one-time bonus payments, etc., when able, but my salary is honestly insulting. I have been an educator for 21 years and I make less than $10K more than someone on their very first day of teaching. My expertise is not valued in any way. My friends who started working in the private sector at the same time as me almost all make six figures and we have similar education levels. They also receive hefty bonuses when they and/or their company do well. I am embarrassed by how little I make, especially considering that in my career I have received numerous accolades, including winning secondary teacher of the year for my entire district.

Has your current and/or future salary impacted your decision-making around other major life choices (e.g., where you live, whether you rent/own, whether or not to have kids, etc.)? Please explain.

Yes, my husband and I put off remodeling our house for over a decade. We are also currently hoping and praying that a plumbing issue we know exists holds together because we can’t afford to fix it right now. We’ve had to tell our kids there are things they can’t be involved in because we don’t have the money. We definitely don’t travel as much as we’d like because there just isn’t enough money.

Do you plan to stay in education?

For now, but only because I love the school where I teach. If it did not exist or something happens to my job there, I will leave education.

Do you have any other thoughts about teacher pay that you’d like to share?

Honestly, it is about respect for what I do. The insulting pay after two decades of devotion and hard work sends the message that what I do and the expertise it takes to do it is not valued.

Are you interested in participating in our Teacher Salary Story project? Fill out the Google Form here. If we choose your story for publication, we will notify you and send you a $150 gift card. All responses will be published anonymously.



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