Can You Negotiate a Teacher's Salary?

by Chris Miksen; Updated September 26, 2017

Teachers may have a job unlike any other, but one similarity bridges the gap between other jobs. That similarity is salary negotiations. Teachers can negotiate their starting salary like any other employee, although it may not always result in a raise. Preparing for the negotiation with facts and statistics is important if you want the best salary possible.

When to Negotiate

Knowing when to negotiate your salary is as important as how to negotiate your salary. Most schools will conduct multiple interviews for each prospective teacher before they offer someone a job. Forbes.com suggests avoiding any topics about salary until you’ve been offered the job. Interviewers want to acquire knowledge about your past work history, education and your general background. They don’t want to hear anything about salary during the first interview. Once you are offered the job, you can then begin negotiating.

Knowing What You Should Make

During your salary negotiations, you’ll need to know how much you should make. If you go into the negotiations without an idea of what the average pay is for your teaching position, the school will always have the upper hand. Look at various career earnings websites, such as bls.com and salary.com. For example, according to the BLS, the median annual salary for a middle school teacher was $50,770 in 2009, and the lowest 10 percent of teachers earned about $34,360. If you are offered a starting salary of $30,000, point out to the school that salary doesn’t even put you in the lowest 10 percent for teachers.

Experience

According to Forbes.com, while you should have knowledge of how much you should make, you should not mention how much you made at your previous job. If you’re fresh out of college, then that isn’t going to be a problem, but if you’re an experienced teacher, it’s best to leave out your prior salary numbers. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t mention your experience when you negotiate your salary. If you feel the initial salary offer is too low, reinforce your experience and state that your salary should better reflect your history as a teacher.

Demeanor

It’s important to understand that while you have been offered the job, the school can take back that offer at their discretion if you don’t play the negotiation game correctly. Remaining calm and understanding is the best approach to take. If you become angry at the initial salary offering, or you refuse to meet the school in the middle, you may no longer have the job.

Financial Circumstances

The school may not have the finances to offer you a better salary. You should know the school’s financial status before you ever accept a job offer. You can do the research yourself or ask the interviewer about the school’s finances. As a potential employee, it’s your right to know if the school is struggling financially. However, don’t expect a lot of room for negotiations if the school is going through financial hardships.

Bonuses and Benefits

Consider carefully any bonuses and benefit packages you are offered along with your salary. For example, you may be better off to accept a lower salary with large end-of-the-year bonuses and extensive benefits than a slightly higher salary with less benefits and a smaller bonus.

About the Author

Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.