Teachers are part of the fabric of our society. Most children attend a public or private school where teachers provide them with an education to carry into college and throughout life. If you are considering a career in this worthwhile profession, you should research the pros and cons of being a teacher before making that decision.
Pro: Sense of Accomplishment
Teachers often say that the biggest reinforcement they feel for becoming a teacher is the sense of accomplishment they get when they know they've made a difference. Educators often say that the way a student lights up when they "get it" makes the job worthwhile. In fact, the effect that teachers have on their students lasts much longer than those fleeting moments. The ING Foundation found that 88 percent of Americans report having a teacher who made a positive impact on their lives. Similarly, 83 percent of respondents found that reported that teachers built their confidence.
Con: Low Wages
While teachers get fulfillment from the difference they make, the low pay-to-hours ratio is one of the most important cons of being a teacher. Rather than earning what they are worth, teachers earn what the school district decides to pay. Furthermore, if you live in a school district without much money, you might start out earning very little in contrast to your credentials.
Across the United States, the average high school teacher makes $59,170 annually. Educators in elementary school and kindergarten earn $56,900 per year. While this is higher than the national average for all full-time workers, which is $37,690, educators often work more than 40 hours weekly. Ed Tech Magazine reports that most teachers work 12 to 16 hours each day.
Pro: Long Vacations
When people weight the pros and cons of teaching, they often bring up summer vacations first. One of the biggest benefits of teaching is the three-month vacation you will get between school years. You are paid for a full year, although you might work only nine months. Some districts allow you to receive paychecks every month of the year or choose to take a higher monthly payment for only nine months and not receive a paycheck during the summer. Most teachers choose the first option because of the convenience and lack of funds during the summer if they don't plan finances properly.
Con: Becoming a Public Figure
Teachers are held to a high standard. Too high, some say. Rod Preston, an English teacher in Dallas, states that once you've become a teacher, you're expected to be one 24 hours a day, seven days a week, no matter where you are. Whether you are dining out or shopping at the mall, you are and always will be a teacher, and expected to conduct yourself appropriately. If you are a teacher, you might experience a higher level of scrutiny and harsher consequences for inappropriate behavior than you would if you worked in another profession.
Pro: Student Loan Forgiveness
Student loans can keep graduates from having financial freedom. However, teachers have several options for wiping their student loans clean. The United States Department of Education outlines four types of federal loan forgiveness for teachers. These include the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program and the Perkins Loan Cancellation for Teachers. Some states offer additional programs.
Con: Lack of Parental Cooperation
Tracy Stevens, a former special education teacher from Mansfield, Texas, said one of her biggest complaints about the job was the lack of parental cooperation or participation. Nothing is more frustrating to a teacher than a parent who refuses to help his child improve his performance in school. If you choose a profession as a teacher, you will experience parents who will blame you for their child's poor grades, parents who attempt to bully you into changing grades, or parents who have little time to spend helping their kids with schoolwork. On the other end of the spectrum are the helicopter parents: those parents who get involved in every aspect of their child's education.
- The Atlantic: Why Do Teachers Quit?
- The Village News: A different approach keeps students engaged
- BLS: High School Teachers
- BLS: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
- Ed Tech Magazine: How Many Hours Do Educators Actually Work?
- Department of Education: 4 Loan Forgiveness Programs for Teachers
- Education Data. "Average Cost of College & Tuition." Accessed March 27, 2020.
- Economic Policy Institute. "Low relative pay and high incidence of moonlighting play a role in the teacher shortage, particularly in high-poverty schools." Accessed March 27, 2020.
Based in Dallas, Sophia Cross has been a writer for more than 16 years. She began her career with a local newspaper and has also worked as a realtor and social worker. Cross holds a Bachelor of Arts in history.