How much can some teachers earn in a career? This report gives you an idea

School Watch

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The average Wake County teacher only earns less than $57,000 annually during a 30-year career, a study of the nation’s 90 largest school districts found.

The Smart Money 2.0 study by the National Council on Teaching Quality, a Washington-based think tank focused on education, found that when adjusted for the cost of living, Wake County Public School System teachers will make a total of $1.7 million over the course of their careers — right at the national average.

“How teachers are rewarded for their performance, compensation, leads into a lot of strategies to attract teachers to the profession and keeps them in the profession,” said Shannon Holston, NCTQ chief of policy and programs.

The study tracked five North Carolina districts, including two in the CBS 17 viewing area — WCPSS and Cumberland County Schools — along with those in Mecklenburg, Guilford and Forsyth counties. 

In those five, the starting salaries are within $2,000 of each other in and they have average annual growth rates between 1.3 percent and 1.5 percent.

Holston says WCPSS ranks 55th among the 90 nationally while Cumberland County is 61st.

“They are slightly lower than we might anticipate,” Holston said. “So I think that is a consideration for future budget conversations.”

Teacher pay has been a major issue across the state, with the National Education Association in April finding the average teacher salary in North Carolina was $54,150 — putting the state No. 33 nationally. 

Teachers went without pay raises during the 2-year-long budget stalemate between the Republican-controlled General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. 

The state House of Representatives earlier this month included an average 5.5 percent raise for K-12 teachers over two years along with other one-time bonuses for educators in their proposed spending plan. 

House and Senate members now must come up with a single version of their spending plan for the governor’s consideration.

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