Why Are Teachers Working Two and Three Jobs?
Several Democratic candidates for president are running on education reform platforms that emphasize higher teacher pay. These candidates understand that teachers are struggling with low salaries and high workloads. Until those reforms come to pass, teachers are increasingly turning to second jobs and side gigs to supplement their incomes. Teachers Working Second Jobs (A 21st Century Trend)? takes a look at this troubling new reality.
Working a Double Shift
Education Week reports that one in five teachers are working second jobs. Only 5% of them work in teaching or tutoring as a side job. The majority work in a wide range of side jobs. The magazine found that these teachers are averaging about $5000 in supplemental income each year.
Most of us are familiar with teachers who work during the summer or holiday breaks. Many teachers make extra spending money doing these holiday jobs.
Now, teachers need to work during the school year just to keep themselves financially solvent. The money they make is not “extra” income. It’s what teachers are doing to pay their bills.
Why Are Teachers Working Two or More Jobs?
According to the Pew Research Center, the number of teachers working second jobs has seen a significant increase in the past decade.
Writing in FactTank, Katherine Schaeffer notes that, “This makes teachers about three times as likely as U.S. workers overall to balance multiple jobs, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.”
The research also shows that new teachers are more likely to work a second job than those with more experience. This is likely due to lower salaries for new teachers. New teachers probably lose out by not having extra time to learn the ropes of their profession during those important first years.
Lesson planning may be a snap for veteran teachers, but can take considerable time and planning for someone just out of teacher’s college.
“On average, a teacher’s summer job earnings account for 7% of their total annual income, according to the NCES data,” writes Schaeffer. “Earnings from a second job during the school year make up an average of 9% of their income.”
Some teachers may work second jobs to prepare for career changes.
An article in Chalkbeat reported on the high number of teachers working two and three jobs in Colorado. More than 20% of Colorado teachers work as mechanics, waitresses and retail clerks on the side.
Teacher Abby Cillo told the magazine that she was studying to get a degree in organizational management. Cillo was working as a nanny and tutor in addition to teaching.
“As much as I love teaching,” she said, “I need to be prepared for something other than education.”
Leaving the Field
A CNN article profiled teachers working two, three or more jobs. Teacher Allyson Kubat told the magazine she worked as an event planner and surrogate mother to earn extra money.
She left teaching for a job as an events coordinator despite years as a successful and much-loved teacher.
“It is hard to give up what I’ve worked so hard to become,” Kubat said. “It’s time to stop being a martyr.”
Lack of Respect for Teaching
Many teachers are dealing with low salaries, a high cost of living and local governments that refuse to increase spending on education.
This leads to a perception that teaching is not a profession worthy of the high pay and status of other professions. This lack of respect exists even though teachers are highly educated. As of 2016, a study shows that 57% of K-12 teachers have earned postbaccalaureate degrees.
The Chalkboard article quoted Lisette Partelow, director of teacher policy as the Center for American Progress. “It’s really an important marker that we’re not treating teachers like the professionals they are,” Partelow said. “I’ve never met a doctor who had a side gig as a waiter or waitress.”
Across the country, states have slashed spending on education. These cuts affect teacher salaries. They correlate with a rise in teachers working second jobs and looking for jobs in other fields.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities concluded that once you factor inflation into the calculations, 29 states are spending less now than they did in 2008.
The cuts accompany a loss of property values in many states. In states with deep budget cuts, local districts can’t make up the difference in funding.
A Mix of Reasons
Writing in the Brown Center Chalkboard, Dick Startz points out that the data isn’t all that clear about why teachers take second jobs. It’s also unclear whether these side gigs are having a negative impact on teaching.
“Does outside work distract from teaching, or does it enrich what the teacher brings to class?” Startz writes. “Is a second job a path to leaving teaching altogether, or does a second job bring in enough extra income to allow an underpaid teacher to keep teaching as their main gig? The data shared here establishes that second jobs for teachers are an issue that deserves more attention.”
What Types of Jobs Are Teachers Taking?
Looking at what teachers are doing to pay their bills, it’s clear that they’re taking any part-time jobs they can.
The number of people driving for rideshare and delivery companies like Uber, Lyft, GrubHub and PostMates has gone up in the past decade. These drivers include a high number of teachers.
Renting Out Rooms
A local education journal reported that across the country, a large percentage of Airbnb hosts were teachers. Airbnb is a popular app that allows users to rent out space in their personal homes as hotel space to travelers.
According to the journal,“Financially stressed teachers are supplementing their incomes to the tune of about $6,500 a year on average, which is for most a significant percentage of their salaries. Airbnb reports that 45,000 teachers rented out their homes or parts thereof in 2017, bringing in $160 million in total earnings. A third of that income came in during summer months, but many teachers are using Airbnb year-round.”
Retail and Restaurant
Jobs in the retail and restaurant industry have always been popular among people looking for part-time work. Teachers now fill the ranks of these workers.
What Is the Effect on Teaching?
How is all this extra work affecting teacher performance in the classroom? It’s likely that they’re exhausted, frustrated and pressured for time. This combination can be a perfect storm for illness and burnout. You can read more about this issue here.
One Teacher’s View
Teacher Rebecca Circo wrote an article for We Are Teachers that described her own experiences.
“In a typical day, you’ve got a kid in the middle of telling you his parents are getting divorced, another screaming and refusing to start her work, and rumor has it there is going to be a fire drill today,” Circo writes. “It’s only second period and you’re existing on two sips of cold coffee. Your child’s daycare may have even called regarding a slight sniffle.”
“Teachers are ‘on stage’ all day,” she continues. “We sing, we dance, we inspire, and we go home and pass out. No, wait, scratch that. At 3:00 PM, we head to Starbucks to begin taking orders for double lattes with extra foam.”
An article in the British newspaper The Guardian profiled teachers in the U.S. who worked a double shift despite making salaries that are on the high end for teachers. Typically, they have families or live in areas with a high cost of living.
Houston teacher Courtney Haney described working full-time as a teacher and part-time as a dance instructor.
“There are times where I have to talk to myself in the mirror and tell myself, ‘It’s OK, you can get through this. I know you’re exhausted, but it’ll be all right.’ And I get my second wind eventually,” Haney said. “I get that adrenaline boost that I need to keep teaching. But there are times when I’m just so tired and my body is making me think that it can’t take it anymore.”
Where Will It End?
Until education becomes a priority in state budgets, schools and teachers will continue to struggle. Most Americans support paying teachers more money. It’s up to their state education systems to catch up.
Are You One of the Teachers Mentioned Above?
You do have other options. Options that will give you more freedom and flexibility to make a part-time gig fit into your schedule.
If you’re looking to supplement your income, or completely replace it, take a look at my #1 recommendation for escaping the classroom. It’s a great resource for learning how to promote yourself, your aspirations, and your special concerns.
I may benefit from a qualified purchase.
Ready to Escape Your Classroom?
If you enjoyed this article, please share it with a friend!