Math Teacher Salary Expectations

As of the 2011-2012 school year, the national average starting teacher salary in the United States, according to the National Education Association, was $35,672. However, for math teachers in the U.S., this statistic may not tell the whole picture. A July 2014 report released by the Department of Education found that it may not be the alma mater that results in math teachers earning top dollar—it may just be their area of study.

Upon studying statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics, the Department of Education found that graduates of science, technology, engineering, or math were paid significantly better than graduates in other fields: or nearly $65,000 a year compared to just $49,500 for graduates with degrees in other fields. These graduates were also the most in demand, as just 16 percent of graduates in 2012 earned math, science, engineering, and technology degrees.

These findings have transferred over to the teaching profession, as math and science teachers continue to be in demand in middle and secondary schools. As a result, a number of school districts have begun to question whether science and math teachers require higher salaries to attract and keep them in the profession.


A Push for Higher Math Teacher Salaries

In a number of states across the country, education reform in the shape of salary increases for math and science teachers is beginning to take shape. This is due, at least in part, to the dwindling number of qualified educators proficient in these disciplines. All too often, math and science teachers leave public education for higher paying jobs in the private sector.

In an effort to combat the loss of qualified math and science teachers to higher paying jobs, in 2013 the Douglas County Colorado school district launched a new teacher pay plan that called for paying math and science teachers more than other similarly qualified teachers. In an unprecedented move, Douglas County officials have defined five different pay bands for its teachers based on how much competition there is in the job market for the specific skill set they teach.

In another case, Michigan State Superintendent, Mike Flanagan, recently announced that increasing teacher salaries up to $100,000 would encourage more qualified math and science students to consider a career in education. A group of science experts recently gathered to discuss new science education standards for the K-12 education, and it was agreed that higher salaries would attract more math and science college students into educator prep programs. A move like this, said Flanagan, would address the shortage in math and science teachers throughout Michigan.

A study on Florida public high school teachers found that, while math and science teachers were earning about the same as teachers in other subject areas, they were earning 10 to 15 percent more upon leaving their positions and heading into the private sector. This prompted district officials to consider the need for higher salaries for these educators.

Likewise, a Georgia bill was introduced in 2009 to provide math teachers with bonuses of as much as $6,577 to attract and retain them, while New Jersey Governor Christie proposed the same type of legislation in 2011, although it has yet to materialize in the Garden State.

Factors that Drive Salary Increases for Math Teachers

Currently, minimum salaries for math teachers are set at the state level, while actual salaries are implemented at the school district level. There are two, distinct factors that influence salaries for teachers, including mathematics teachers:

Degree Earned

In some states, a master’s degree is a requirement for maintaining an educator’s license. However, a graduate degree may be beneficial for teachers because it results in a higher salary.

For example, during the 2012-13 school year Florida public school teachers in the Palm Beach School District with bachelor’s degrees earned a minimum salary of $38,000, while those with master’s degrees earned a minimum of $41,000, and those with doctoral degrees earned a minimum of $44,000.

This translates to teachers with a master’s degree earning, on average, $3,000 more per year than those with a bachelor’s degree. Teachers with doctoral degrees earned $3,000 more per year than those with master’s degrees and $6,000 per year more than those with bachelor’s degrees.

Years of Experience

Another significant factor in determining a math teacher’s salary is experience. For example, according to the Texas Education Agency, new teachers in Texas earn a salary of $27,540. However, upon the successful completion of one year of service, teachers earn a minimum salary of $28,130. By the fifth year of service, teachers in Texas can expect to earn a minimum salary of $31,810. By the tenth year, pay increases to $37,340, while teachers with 15 years of service earn a minimum salary of $41,490.

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