What is your time worth? Thinking out loud on pay

A chance comment I read at the weekend referred to ‘the 1265 hours we are paid for’.  

(YesI realise it is not that straightforward. I would actually be unimpressed if my colleagues or the teachers at my children’s school insisted they were only going to do 1265 hours. – 32.5 hours for 39 weeks

But please indulge me whilst I go on a few thoughts. 

Firstly, teachers may in fact be working a lot more than 32.5 hours a week – 56 hours was the average in one recent survey, this would mean 2180 hours a year. (assuming they do absolutely no holiday work!) By the way, an average worker in a standard non-teaching job would work around 1800 hours a year (37.5hours x 48weeks) 

Now consider 3 hypothetical colleagues

Teacher A is an experienced middle leader and earns £40,000 a year. If he/she sticks to the 1265 hours their hourly pay is £31.62 per hour. If they work as hard as the average teacher on 56 hour weeks then this drops to £18.35 an hour

Teacher B has been teaching for around 5 years (so is part of the 60% that survive their first 5 years) and earns £30,000 a year. If he/she sticks to the 1265 hours their hourly pay is £23.72 per hour. If they work as hard as the average teacher on 56 hour weeks then this drops to £13.75 an hour

Teacher C has qualified this year and is an NQT earning £22,000 a year. If he/she sticks to the 1265 hours their hourly pay is £17.39 per hour. If they work as hard as the average teacher on 56 hour weeks then this drops to £10.09 an hour

Yes, I realise that if you are earning minimum wage doing an unpleasant job then some of the sums of money above sound generous. There are people worse off than teachers although given that the UK average salary is £28,000 there will be actually many teachers under this average figure. 

How do the figures above compare? Teaching is a highly skilled job. Consider the following hourly rates that skilled persons may charge . This is what you would have to pay for the following skills:

  • £10 per hour for a handyman 
  • £30 per hour for a plumber
  • £50 per hour plus for a garage mechanic
  • £100 per hour plus if you require a solicitor or a private medical consultant

The minimum wage is £7.50 an hour and the average graduate hourly rate is £16 per hour (assuming the 1800 hour year and the average graduate salary of £29,000 per year) 

Consider also the following hourly rates we may get in any second jobs we do

  1. When we do exam board work such as attending meetings £15-20 per hour is generally the going rate for our expertise. In cases where we are not paid by the board but our school or college is paid to release us then a daily rate of £150 for a 6-7 teaching day is standard
  2. If we offer our services as private tutors the going hourly rate seems to around £25 per hour. In fact some of the those who have left teaching have discovered this is a worthwhile alternative. 

So how does a teacher’s hourly rate compare to other professions? What would be a comparable profession in terms of skill? Should teachers be paid more? Should they work fewer hours than they do? Although we cannot put a price on what teachers do, financially what should it be worth? I’m not sure I know the answers but I think the questions are interesting and important

Over to you!

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Author: chriseyreteaching

Teacher who has worked in Secondary School and now at a sixth form college. Examiner and Author. Has survived nearly 20 years in the job. Keen to help others survive and succeed too!

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