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Teaching is not known for being a lucrative career. There are numerous teachers who feel overworked, undervalued, stressed out and underpaid. It is not uncommon for teachers to start feeling as if they are stuck in dead-end jobs — but is this really the case? It’s possible that teachers may be overlooking some excellent opportunities to increase their incomes and advance their careers.
Let’s explore 9 smart ways you can increase your earning potential as a teacher.
1. Invest More in Your Education
There is an obvious and well-documented correlation between teachers’ educational achievements and their earnings, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. On average, NCES analysts estimate that public school teachers are able to increase their salaries by 11.31 percent if they hold a master’s degree; private school teachers are able to earn 8.20 percent higher salaries.
The main takeaway: If you hold a certificate III in education support, the next step is to earn your bachelor’s degree. If you already hold a bachelor’s degree, consider earning your master’s degree or your Ph.D.
2. Teach Subjects That Are Known to Be More Lucrative
When you teach college, some subjects offer more lucrative teaching opportunities than others do. Some of the highest paying topics to teach include law, engineering and economics. Some of the least lucrative subjects include criminal justice, social work and education.
This might or might not hold true for public elementary, high school and middle school teachers. Some school districts don’t make any distinction for subject matter in their payment schedules, while some public school have adopted a market-based compensation model.
Your choice of college majors can also influence the teaching salary you are able to negotiate, according to the NCES. On average, public schools pay 2.37 percent higher salaries to teachers who majored in mathematics; 1.63 percent more to teachers who majored in business; and 3.02 percent more to teachers who majored in specialized vocational subjects.
3. Teach at a More Prestigious Academic Institution
There’s a significant gap between earnings for instructors who work at community colleges and professors who teach at highly respected, top-tier universities. Professors at public state community colleges, on average, earn median yearly salaries of $56,030. In contrast, university professors earn median yearly salaries of $79,340. This is a significant difference.
This advice doesn’t, however, always hold true for elementary, middle and high school teachers. The private school system is sometimes seen as more prestigious, but private schools tend to pay teachers poorly in comparison to the public school system.
4. Advance to a Position in School Administration
School administrators are almost always required to have teaching experience — so if you’ve already proven yourself in the classroom, school administration could be a viable, and much better paying, career path for you. To qualify, you’ll need to have at least a master’s degree, which you can obtain by returning to school during the summer months when you are not teaching. You could first become a vice principal, then get promoted to school principal, and then seek work as a school district administrator.
5. Gain Expertise in Educational Technology
As schools and academic institutions shift their teaching methods to incorporate more online learning into their curriculum, there’s rising demand for educators who have experience in the latest technologies. Education technology expertise can open up new and better paying opportunities in numerous ways, whether you want to pursue work as a training and development specialist (yearly median pay of $60,360), an online learning specialist (yearly median pay of $61,102) an instructional coordinator (average yearly pay of $63,750) or eventually work in an administrative position (average yearly pay of $94,390 for school principals).
6. Move to an Area That Pays Teachers Better Salaries
Location is a factor that influences teachers’ salaries dramatically. Study the salary data provided by Edweek.org and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to see if you could find another nearby school district that would pay you a higher salary for doing the same job. For example, simply moving from West Virginia to Virginia could possibly earn you an average estimated pay raise of $18,016, although it might also mean you’d have to absorb an increase in the cost of living if you end up living in one of the expensive northern Virginia suburbs.
With any given move, you’d have to do your homework to determine whether you’d be gaining more than you’d lose in terms of earning power. In some cases, it might even make sense to consider taking a small pay cut to move out of an expensive city and into a less costly area. There are instances where such a move would enable you to shrink your expenses and increase your standard of living despite the smaller paycheck.
7. Tutor on the Side — Or Make It Your New Full-Time Business
For motivated and entrepreneurial individuals, private tutoring can be much more lucrative than teaching is; and nobody is better qualified for the job than a teacher. Tutoring makes an outstanding side hustle for teachers who want to earn extra income during their summer vacations, evenings or weekends.
8. Line Up Public Speaking Engagements in Your Area of Expertise
You can earn substantial amounts of income by booking public speaking engagements at conferences, conventions, trade shows, club meetings, professional organizations or other gatherings. It is not uncommon for engaging speakers to earn fees ranging from $1,000 – $10,000 US. There are speakers who make more than six figures from their speaking gigs every year — enough to quit their full-time teaching jobs to just pursue public speaking as a career.
One caveat: Do be careful to faithfully adhere to your academic institution’s policies regarding conflicts of interest.
9. Start a Blog – Just Like Me!
Blogging offers you numerous opportunities to earn extra income while sharing your subject matter expertise. There are many lucrative angles you could blog about — some of which relate to education and some of which do not. You could start a blog focused on education technology, homeschooling, traveling to your hometown or any of your hobbies or personal interests. There are many ways to make money from your blog including the possibility of charging brands to write sponsored posts about their products, getting paid a sales commission via affiliate marketing or earning advertising revenue.
There are numerous other ways teachers could earn side income or increase their salaries, but these are 9 of the smartest and most obvious approaches an educator could use to earn more. I hope these ideas are useful to you as you take action to increase your earnings.
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