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Test your knowledge

  1. What is the difference in pay between graduates in your department who pursue grade 7–12 teaching compared to other typical BS graduates from your department who obtain their first permanent job?
  2. Do grade 7–12 teachers have student loan forgiveness programs available to them?
  3. Are there scholarships available specifically for prospective grade 7–12 teachers?
  4. What percentage of students have considered grade 7–12 teaching as a career in your university?
  5. Do grade 7–12 teachers with a master’s degree get paid, on average, better than a science or math college instructor with a master’s degree?
  6. What fraction of all grade 7–12 teachers remain in the profession at year 5?
  7. Can grade 7–12 teachers retire comfortably before age 60?  
  8. What is the starting pay for a grade 7–12 science teacher in a district where students from your department are most likely to be employed?
  9. What is the starting pay for the average graduate with a bachelor’s from your department in their first permanent job?
  10. What is the mid–career salary for a grade 7–12 science teacher in your local district?
  11. Is classroom management one of the biggest challenges that grade 7–12 teachers face? 
  12. Do grade 7–12 teachers have control over what they teach?
  13. Is grade 7–12 teaching considered a prestigious career by the public?
  14. How do you think grade 7–12 teachers rating of their lives and well–being compare to the ratings provided by adults in other U.S. professions?


  1. Nationally, teachers start at about $38,600 for academic-year contracts, although this varies significantly from state to state [1]. Average STEM annual starting salaries by major are as follows [2], [3]: 
    • Biology: ~$40,700
    • Chemistry: ~43,600
    • Math: ~$45,600
    • Physics: ~$52,000
  2. There are several loan forgiveness programs for teachers, especially those who teach at low-income schools or who teach high-demand subjects. For example, teachers can be forgiven $17,500 in Direct/FFEL loans [4] and up to 100% of Federal Perkins Loans [5]. 
  3. Many scholarships exist at the state and national level, including TEACH grants [6] and Noyce Teacher Scholarships [7]. 
  4. About 50% of STEM majors nationally have expressed some interest in grade 7-12 teaching, and this statistic has been confirmed in classes at the Colorado School of Mines [8]. 
  5. The 2010-2011 average salary for elementary and secondary school teachers with a master’s degree was $57,830 [9]. College instructor salaries vary widely based on institution, with the range typically falling between $40,000 and $70,000 (this includes instructors with master’s degrees and PhDs); see reference [10] to look up a specific institution. Adjunct college faculty salaries typically fall between $20,000 and $25,000 [11]. (La Crosse MA $47K-$69K)[15]
  6. 79% [17] 83% for all teachers with 86% for elementary.
  7. The average age of retirement for teachers is 59, and the national average is 62. [14]. In Wisconsin teachers can retire at 55 and the average is 59.5. [16]
  8. Teachers start at an average of $38,600 nationally, but this varies widely from state to state. See reference [1] for a table of starting salaries based on location. (La Crosse $38,642)[15]
  9. See #1 above
  10. person with 15 years of experience in the School District of La Crosse has a base rate of $65K [15]
  11. Teachers report that classroom management is very low on the list (only for trained teachers, those who go in without training often struggle). 
  12. Yes, 2017 Educator Quality of Work Life Survey, by American Federation of Teachers found that ~70% of teachers report having moderate or a great deal of control. High school science teachers have the benefit of typically teaching courses with content that is not part of state standardized testing.
  13. Yes, Teaching is considered one of the most prestigious occupations by the public, rated in the top ten professions just before police officers.
  14. The nation's teachers score higher than almost all occupational groups on life evaluations plus four of the other five areas of well-being — including emotional health, healthy behaviors, basic access, and physical health. The one area they score low is work environment.  


[1] “2016-2017 Average Starting Teacher Salaries by State,” NEA. [Accessed: 08-Jan-2019].
[2] “Recruiting Trends Report Archive – Collegiate Employment Research Institute,” [Accessed: 08-Jan-2019].
[3] “Typical Starting Salaries for Physics Bachelors,” 07-Mar-2018. [Accessed: 08-Jan-2019].
[4] “Teacher Loan Forgiveness,” Federal Student Aid, 14-Nov-2018. [Accessed: 08-Jan-2019].
[5] “Perkins Loan Cancellation and Discharge,” Federal Student Aid, 07-Nov-2018. [Accessed: 08-Jan-2019].
[6] “TEACH Grants,” Federal Student Aid, 09-Dec-2018. [Accessed: 08-Jan-2019].
[7] “The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program.” [Accessed: 08-Jan-2019].
[8] M. Marder, R. C. Brown, and M. Plisch, “A Survey of Current Majors and Recent STEM Graduates,” p. 37.
[9] “Digest of Education Statistics, 2013.” [Accessed: 08-Jan-2019].
[10] “AAUP Faculty Compensation Survey.” [Accessed: 08-Jan-2019].
[11] “The Sad Death Of An Adjunct Professor Sparks A Labor Debate,” [Accessed: 08-Jan-2019].
[12] “Middle School Teachers : Occupational Outlook Handbook: : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.” [Accessed: 08-Jan-2019].
[13] “High School Teachers : Occupational Outlook Handbook: : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.” [Accessed: 08-Jan-2019].
[14] T. G. Carroll and E. Foster, “Who Will Teach? Experience Matters,” National Commission on Teaching and America's Future. [Accessed: 08-Jan-2019]. 
[17]  2015 U.S. Dept. of Ed Public School Teacher Attrition and Mobility in the First Five Years: Results From the First Through Fifth Waves of the 2007–08 Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Study