How Much Do Teachers Earn?

How much are we all paid? More than you think! This chart shows how much we earn in benefits as a percentage of our cash wages. These are the ten major occupational groupings defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

The BLS provides average annual earnings for a wide variety of jobs here. All we have to do is add in the benefits based on which occupational group each job belongs to. This gives us a pretty close estimate of the total compensation for each job:

You’ll occasionally be surprised by someone claiming that, say, the average teacher makes more than $90,000. But this true only if you’re talking about total compensation, which includes Social Security payments, health coverage, retirement contributions, vacation time, and so forth. There’s nothing wrong with talking about total comp, but only if you also provide some clear context for comparison. The average middle-school teacher does indeed earn $90,000 all-in—which sounds surprisingly high until you realize that by the same metric, programmers earn $150,000, registered nurses earn $115,000, loan officers earn $110,000, and plumbers earn $87,000. Most people don’t know that unless you point it out.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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