Do teachers get paid in the summer? This question is on many people’s minds whether they just started their first teaching job or are considering becoming a teacher.
Summer break is a long stretch of time to go without a paycheck, so it’s essential to know if you’ll be getting paid during those months.
In this article, we’ll discuss several different topics related to teacher pay:
- Whether or not teachers get paid during the summer
- How much teachers make in a year
- How often do teachers get paid
- Summer job ideas for teachers to earn extra income
- and more!
Keep reading to find out all about how teachers get paid.
Do teachers get paid in the summer?
No, technically, teachers do not get paid in the summer if they are not actively teaching. However, most teachers have the option to spread their pay for ten months of work over an entire 12 month period. This is not the same as getting paid for summer vacation, as their contract specifies their pay for a certain number of working days per year.
Many people think teachers get a paid two-month vacation every summer, but that is a myth. As you’ll see further down, not only do they not get paid during the summer, teachers are expected to do a lot of unpaid work during the summer and other breaks to prepare for being in the classroom.
However, the option to spread out ten months of pay over twelve months is one that most teachers use to their advantage. It can help with their personal finance management to receive a steady paycheck throughout the year.
Imagine if your job paid you for ten months and you just got nothing for the last two months of the year. It makes it very hard to budget for recurring monthly expenses like rent, utilities, food, and transportation that you still need when you aren’t working.
Example of 12-Month Pay Option
If a teacher opts for a 12-month payment option, their overall annual pay will be spread out, so they receive less each month but still receive a paycheck during the summer months.
- Annual teacher salary: $70,000
- Monthly salary over 10 months: $7,000/month
- Monthly salary over 12 months: $5,833/month
How do teachers get paid?
Teachers get paid in various ways, often depending on individual school district policy. Most will get a biweekly paycheck (26 pay periods per year), a twice-monthly paycheck (24 pay periods per year), or a monthly paycheck (twelve pay periods per year). Of course, this assumes the teacher opts to spread their pay for ten months of work over the whole year.
Most teachers sign an annual contract that specifies the number of working days and hours they get paid. A typical contract would be somewhere around 180-190 days of classroom instruction or teacher in-service days over a school year that stretches from August to May.
Compared to the average full-time employee annual workdays of 240, it seems like teachers work a lot less. But of course, teachers put in more work than just classroom instruction. There is curriculum preparation, grading, communication with other staff and parents, after-school activities, continuing education classes, teachers can work A LOT of unpaid hours.
Shannon McLoud, a high school English teacher in Providence, Rhode Island, estimates she works an average of 2,200 hours per year, which is more than most full-time workers! Often, teaching can be a full-time job with part-time pay.
How much do teachers make a year?
The national median wage for a teacher is $67,340 per year, with the bottom 10% earning $41,330 or less and the top 10% earning $102,130 or more. Teacher pay also varies by geography, generally tied to cost of living. New York tops the list of highest median pay at $88,420 with Missouri in last place at $45,290. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Teaching generally requires a bachelor’s degree along with a state-issued certification. Some teachers go on to get a master’s degree or specialized credentials, and those with advanced degrees generally get paid more.
While teachers have a lot of responsibilities and work extra hours without pay, they enjoy some benefits that are rare in other professional careers.
One of the main benefits still available to teachers is a state-sponsored pension program. You may be required to contribute a portion of each paycheck to pay into the pension fund, but if you stick with your teaching career, you will be able to draw a pension during retirement. Most for-profit companies have done away with pensions, so this is a real benefit to teachers.
In addition, teachers are generally eligible for good health and dental insurance benefits at rates much lower than self-employed workers could receive.
Depending on your disposition, teaching hours could be another benefit. Most schools start early and let out by 3:00 pm. While there are sometimes after-school activities teachers must attend, they have flexibility in their schedule to run errands or even be home with their kids when they get off school, saving the additional burden of after-school care costs.
What do teachers do in the summer to make money?
Of course, one way to get paid during the summer is to opt for a 12-month payout of your 10-month contract. But what if you want or need to earn more money over summer vacation?
Fortunately, teachers have many skills that can easily translate into a summer job. For example, teachers can make money over the summer by teaching classes at a community college or even signing up to teach summer school at their current secondary school.
Another option for teachers is to start their own private tutoring business. My daughter’s kindergarten teacher does this during the summer and even throughout the school year. She is a great teacher and is always in high demand. Teachers can often make $20 an hour or more tutoring and benefit from setting their own hours.
For teachers who love lesson planning and curriculum, the site Teachers Pay Teachers can be a great platform to earn money for your lesson plans, curriculum, and other educational resources. As the name implies, teachers created the products for sale, and revenues help support like-minded teachers.
Summer Jobs for Teachers (That Have Nothing to Do With Teaching)
As a teacher, maybe you are burnt out in the classroom and need to do something completely unrelated during the summer. That is certainly understandable!
Fortunately, there are many gig economy and freelancing jobs available over the short term. Or you could even pick these up as a side hustle during the school year to make extra money.
Here are a few examples of jobs you could pick up during the summer:
- Bookkeeping side hustle – In the link, I share an interview with a teacher who started bookkeeping as a side hustle, and he actually ended up turning it into his full-time job!
- Freelance writing – If you enjoy writing, there are tons of paid writing opportunities. You can expect to make around 10 cents per word as a starting point.
- Find a traditional summer job in retail or food service – These industries are really hurting for workers right now and the pay is definitely above what it used to be.
- Drive for a ridesharing service or food delivery service
If you need a few mindless ways to make money, during the summer or otherwise, these apps might fit the bill:
Do teachers get paid for winter break?
No, teachers are not paid for the winter break holiday. Teachers are paid for a set amount of working days per year, usually 180-190 days. While their pay can sometimes be spread evenly over the year, they are technically only paid for their contracted work days, not including summer holidays, winter holidays, or spring break.
While teachers don’t get paid for holidays or winter vacations, keep in mind that the typical annual salary for a teacher spread out over twelve months is still above the national average income for all jobs.
According to the BLS, the median wage across all occupations is around $42,000 compared to just over $67,000 for teachers. Of course, if you factor in all of the extra unpaid work teachers perform outside the classroom, their working hours are often comparable to those with a full-time job or more.
How many days off do teachers get?
Taking everything into account, teachers get about 75 days off per year, which is the equivalent of 15 workweeks. Most teachers work 180-190 days compared to around 230 days for the average profession. Some teachers get 5-10 days of personal or sick leave during the school year, plus other holidays, winter break, spring break, and summer vacation.
While this sounds like a lot of vacation time, keep in mind that teachers do a lot of activities “off the books” that are unpaid. Lesson planning, continuing education, grading, conferences, and many other activities can add the equivalent of 5-10 weeks or more of additional time worked.
Unpaid Summer Requirements for Teachers
While there is a myth that teachers get a free two-month summer vacation every year, that is not necessarily true. Teachers have many unpaid responsibilities during the summer that are unpaid but still have to be done.
Continuing Education for Licensure
Most states require teachers to take continuing education classes to maintain their teaching certification. In my home state of Texas, 150 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) is required every five years. While some school districts will pay for continuing education classes, virtually none of them will pay for the time that it takes.
In addition, many teachers are working toward special certifications or advanced degrees, which require college coursework. It can be challenging to fit in classes during the school year, so summers can be the ideal time to load up on coursework.
It’s an unfortunate fact of teaching that curriculum requirements are changing all the time. Even if you’ve taught the same subject for 20 years, there is a good chance you will have to change up at least some of your lesson plans for the upcoming school year.
For new teachers or those changing subjects, expect to spend even more time preparing your curriculum for the next year during the summer. While teachers could technically do this planning during the school year, they can quickly become overwhelmed trying to take on a new subject and new students in a changing environment without careful planning in advance.
I remember walking into my new classroom each year in elementary school and marveling at how well decorated and organized it felt. That doesn’t happen by accident. Many teachers spend several days just preparing their classrooms for the new school year, often spending money out of their own pockets for supplies.
Conclusion: Do Teachers Get Paid During Summer Break
While teachers do not get paid in summer, having the option to select a 12-month payout of their salary is an excellent benefit to smooth income and make budgeting easier.
There are many pros and cons to being a teacher. While many hours of unpaid work are often required, long periods of time off offer opportunities to rest or take on an extra job to earn more money.
Teachers may not have the highest-paying jobs available. Still, when you consider the average teacher salary compared to other professions and consider the benefits, it can make the decision a little easier for those considering a career in teaching.