‹ Back to List

Teacher Salaries Lag Compared to Other Professions

Following a significant investment in K – 12 education, teachers around the state bargained raises with many achieving the state goal of raising starting teacher pay to $40,000. But in some districts middle-career teachers still feel the pinch. This may affect educators’ overall career earnings impacting them well past the end of their careers.

Keeping salaries competitive in our region as well as competitive compared to other college-educated professions is one of the most effective solutions to attracting and retaining teachers. And while we don’t yet know the full impact of the newly bargained contracts, it is likely Indiana still has significant hurdles to overcome in making teacher salaries competitive.

A study released by the Economic Policy Institute in 2020 reflects the wage-stagnation – the study refers to this as a teacher wage penalty – faced by teachers as compared to their college-educated peers in other professions. In 2019, the national teacher wage penalty was 19.2%, meaning teachers were taking home 19.2% less than their peers, and in Indiana in 2019 the penalty was even larger at 21.3%. This percentage may have closed to some degree with the recent influx of investment in K – 12 education, but it is unlikely to have closed the pay gap entirely.

The Economic Policy Institute study does note that some of the teacher wage penalty is softened by teacher benefits packages, but the teacher wage penalty still exists when benefits are factored into total compensation.

ISTA is committed to securing wages that reflect the education, commitment and professionalism demonstrated by our teachers. Additionally, ISTA’s top legislative priority for the 2022 General Assembly is to alleviate heavy teacher workloads and burnout. ISTA is advocating for the ability to bargain contracts that include health and safety conditions, class sizes and prep periods for teachers to prepare lessons and grade work.

These are not only issues of respect for teachers but address improving student learning conditions for all kids.

Read ISTA’s full legislative agenda.