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Changing the world one student at a time

When you’ve just finished 12-plus years of school and the world is wide open to your wildest dreams, the last job you want is back in school, being a teacher. But four or more years down the road and some starts and stops in jobs that aren’t going anywhere, and you may think differently. Schools these days make it easier and easier to be a teacher, and respect for this worthy profession is growing. Salaries may not be as high as they should be but are higher than you may expect in given districts and private schools.

A general nationwide report says teachers make 77 percent lower than most other entry level jobs. The pay is predictable with incremental and prescribed raises. Teacher salaries flatten out after a few years and higher levels of your own education. Private school teaching can pay really well or poorly – depending on if it’s an exclusive, well known prep school or if it’s a small religious community school. Another option is “Teach for America,” a non-profit organization that fills teaching jobs in low-income communities.

The big selling point for teaching careers will always be that it is a family-oriented field. If you marry or have a partner, you can become a two-income family. Two teachers in the family can live nicely, have the same hours, raise kids and perhaps even retire early.

I have a friend who lives near the state line, finished 30 years as a Texas teacher and now has been teaching in Louisiana for 12 years, banking his retirement from Texas. He will qualify for retirement pay from Louisiana when he’s ready, and that will be a nice nest egg, comparable to any.

If you are currently in between jobs and have a four-year degree, you already qualify to substitute teach. This is a good way to figure out the field you may want to teach or if you want to teach at all. Also, you can try different school districts to see where you fit. This also gives you a foot in the door at the district you like. While substitute teaching typically does not pay well enough to live on your own, it pays OK enough to be an interim salary stream. It’s a good way to stay busy, make some money and get to know an area.

Some districts need teachers or need teachers in specific fields so they may be willing to hire you fulltime already. If this is the case, you can start a teaching job right away and take online classes to complete your teaching certificate. Your job where you’re getting classroom experience already will qualify for what usually is the semester of “student teaching.” Many states, including Texas, are making it easier and easier to be a teacher this way.