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Teaching myths

Myth #2: Teachers can never retire

There is a widespread perception that secondary teachers cannot build a nest egg for retirement, unlike their counterparts in private industry

While employees in private industry frequently earn higher salaries early in their career, teachers quickly catch up and can surpass their counterparts in terms of earned benefits. Further, public pension systems provided through many secondary schools allows teachers to have a greater sense of retirement security, regardless of market performance, economic situations, or life expectancy. This chart compares secondary math and science faculty in the front range of Colorado with the salary and retirement benefits of an engineer at Lockheed Martin.

Teaching vs. Industry

This chart compares secondary math and science faculty in the front range of Colorado with the salary and retirement benefits of an engineer at Lockheed Martin. While employees in private industry frequently earn higher salaries early in their career, teachers quickly catch up and can surpass their counterparts in terms of earned benefits. Further, public pension systems provided through many secondary schools allows teachers to have a greater sense of retirement security, regardless of market performance, economic situations, or life expectancy.

Teaching

Salary + retirement benefits

  • Early: $43K + $17K = $60K
  • Mid: $75K + 17K = $92K

Contract

  • 9-month contract
  • 74 days not on contract
  • Retire late-50s with 87.5% of HEI

Lockheed Martin

Salary + retirement benefits

  • Early: $66K + $3K = $69K
  • Mid: $95K + 3K = $98K

Contract

  • 12-month contract
  • 10–40 days off
  • Retire at 65; salary depends on market performance and life expectancy

Related myth about retirement

Myth: Students are not concerned about retirement

There is a common misperception by faculty that students do not consider retirement benefits when thinking about future careers. Interviews and focus groups reveal that students are very interested in retirement benefits but that they are also very naive. We have found that it is necessary to provide background information about different types of benefits and then share a comparison between teaching and other professions. When this is done, students are very interested in retirement benefits.