posted: Dec. 28, 2007 @ 11:33a
Last year around this time, I started a thread where people could describe all of the ups and downs of their careers, including their level of compensation. I find these threads particularly informative and interesting. Last year's thread became quite lengthy and a lot of people contributed a lot of great information about their careers. Since last year's thread was quite successful, I thought I'd start another one this year. If this year's thread is a success, I'll make it an annual tradition.
Please let's 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. 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'd your job go this year? Did things go well or not so well? How well were you compensated for 2007? Maybe each person can give a brief description of themselves, their job, their education levels, and their salaries, present and maybe even proejcted salaries for the future. Since I'm starting this stuff, I guess I have to bite first:
Occupation: Urban Educator (My fancy title for a teacher in a city of low socioeconomic standing)
Education: M.A., plus some additional credits
2007 Salary: $66,000
Future Salary Projection: With extra duties after school and an expected raise in Sep. '08, I expect to make about $75K for 2008, with regular increases each year after that. If I can get some summer work in my district, I could possibly hit $80K. I expect to make about $100K within the next 5 years.
Benefits: Full medical, modest dental, generous sick and personal time, a decent pension plan, 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)
What's the job like?
Very difficult. 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. Prepare to adopt some small scurrying pets who have made your classroom their home in older buildings in urban districts. 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. I do it for the good kids and because I love teaching.
Would you recommend the career to others?
It's getting harder and harder to recommend teaching as a career, especially in an ubran district. Each year more and more demands are placed on you, while more resources are taken away from you. There are plenty of people who are ready to tell you you're a horrible teacher, but these same people won't tell you why you're a horrible teacher or how you can improve. My current principal has been good to me, but I've been in a situation with a principal who always told me what a horrible teacher I was but refused to tell me what I was doing wrong or how I could make improvements.
The political games that are played in urban districts can drain even the toughest people. Last year, in a game of Chicken that my district played with the state, the district planned to layoff all non-tenured teachers and many other employees because they were not happy with the budget they received from the state for the '07-'08 school year. They actually sent termination notices to these people. Eventually an agreement was reached, and most people were recalled back. But the whole process took a toll on everyone, and some people (mostly custodians, security guards, etc.) permanently lost their jobs because of this fiasco.
If you decide to become a teacher in NJ, you will be paid well compared to teachers in most other parts of the country. There is, however, an astonishingly wide gap between affluent and needy districts in NJ. NJ's suburbs are some of the most beautiful in the country, and NJ's inner cities are some of the toughest in the country. You will earn every dime of the money you make, especially in an urban district.
I struggle every day with whether I should start to look for other opportunities. I want to stay to help the truly deserving kids, but the annual increases in the level of nonsense (very little of it having to do with the kids) are making the decision tougher and tougher, despite the good pay.