Teaching as a Second Career

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation 
September 2008

This report surveys college-educated Americans (aged 24 to 60) on their views of teaching as a second career. It presumes two things: 1) that we'll need two million teachers over the next decade to replace retiring baby boomers and fill behind the turnover of novice teachers (a presumption because no citation is provided), and 2) that we'll continue to staff schools as we always have (for instance, no distance learning). These assumptions aside, the report finds that 42 percent of the college-educated sample would consider becoming teachers. Among these, 44 percent say poor pay is the key reason preventing them from making the switch. What salary level might entice them to the whiteboard? Roughly 44 percent of the "serious deliberators" (the ones who'd be willing to try teaching now or in the next 2 years) say they'd want a yearly minimum of $50,000 or more. While some affluent districts already come close to that mark for new teachers, the average beginning salary for teachers in 2004-2005 was $31,753. But don't despair; we know there are smart ways to close this gap, including giving mid-career professionals credit for their previous experience by starting them several rungs up the salary scale. Or better yet: frontloading the compensation system by boosting starting salaries while trimming excessive retirement benefits. Find additional data in the report on where potential teachers would like to teach and who they'd like to be their pupils. It's right here.

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