posted: Dec. 27, 2012 @ 12:13a
Greetings and Happy Holidays to All! It's late and I'm a bit bored right now, so I figured it's time to get the 2012 Career Thoughts and Compensation Thread rolling. I started doing these threads annually on the FatWallet Finance board in 2006. When I originally started this thread, I thought that it could serve as a great resource for people to learn about the ups and downs of various careers, including information such as salaries and benefits. Over the years, a wide variety of people in all sorts of careers have contributed to these threads, and it's my hope that these threads have proven to be a valuable resource for those who are contemplating their career options.
Now gang, before we get started, here's a reminder of the rules, which 99.9% of you have been great at following over the past six years:
If you participate, please try to keep this a positive, informative thread, and let's not get into any arguments about how one's career/education/compensation makes him/her superior/inferior to other people. Please do not insult people by claiming they are overpaid, do no work, etc. Contribute as much or as little information as you're comfortable sharing, but please be honest so that this may serve as a truly informative thread for people mulling their career options.
So, now that the ground rules have been set, how did your job go this year? Did things go well or not so well? How well were you compensated for 2012? Did the poor economy have a serious effect on your career? Maybe each person can give a brief description of themselves, their job, their education levels, and their salaries, present and maybe even projected salaries for the future. As always, since I'm starting the thread, I have to bite first:
Location: Northern NJ
Occupation: Urban Educator (My fancy title for a teacher in a city of low socioeconomic standing)
Education: M.A., plus 33 additional credits
2012 Compensation: $100,600 (Base Pay, some extra pay for curriculum writing, and some retro pay due to a delayed new contract.) Base salary for the 2012-2013 school year is a whisker over $100,000. It would have been a couple grand more, but of course, since it was my year to hit the top of our guide (based on the old structure), they added steps to the new contract.
Future Salary Projection: Not too much further to go from here in my current position. Salary will go up about $1500 next year and perhaps $3000 the year after that. Then, it might go up $1700 or $1800 per year.
Benefits: Full medical, although teachers in NJ now have to pay a percentage of their salaries for their medical benefits. (It's currently based on a sliding scale, based on income, but no less than 1.5% of base salary.) We get modest dental, generous sick and personal time, a decent pension plan (at least if the state doesn't default on the benefits), tremendous job security once you achieve tenure (but virtually none before that, and even with tenure, you can still have the daylights menaced out of you. Also keep in mind that not all states offer tenure, in which case you can pretty much be fired at will no matter how much time you have in a particular district.) In almost all districts in NJ, you can accumulate sick time from year to year.
What's the job like?
Very difficult and getting more difficult by the year. Tremendously long hours, almost no down time during the school day (I don't take lunch very often), lots of work at home, deplorable working conditions, with some classrooms reaching temperatures of 90+ degrees and others below freezing. You will also most likely need to spend a decent amount of money on supplies for students because your school won't provide them, even though they insist on your using them. Very little respect and support from most supervisors, parents, and students, although I will admit that things seem to have gotten a hair better between teachers and administration in my district (overall, anyway).
Would you recommend the career to others?
Every year, it's become harder and harder for me to recommend teaching as a career. The public employee bashing in the U.S. is still pretty strong, with teachers still at the top of the "Bash List", although it seems to be subsiding a bit compared to what it was like the past two years. This is not an easy job. If you're doing it correctly, it's at least a 50-60 hour a week job, and it's 50-60 hours of grueling work. Teachers in urban districts in particular have taken a real beating. They are expected to be miracle workers, solving all of our society's ills. And, sadly, new workers are likely going to suffer the most. NJ has already cut pension benefits and increased retirement ages for newer workers, and, honestly, it wouldn't surprise me to see pensions eliminated for new employees as well as two or three different salary tiers for teachers based on their time of service in the near future.
This is not an easy job. If you think you can handle it, go for it, but keep in mind that it's going to be a tough road ahead for teachers for the foreseeable future.