Are Teachers 'really' Underpaid

I hear this a lot i got 3 friends that are teachers and the biggest complaint they have is they have to 'do extra' work planning and they feel they dont get paid 'enough' - from what ive seen most 'well' paid jobs people are expected to do some unpaid over times ie Lawyers, Accountants etc

Until i recently looked into the remuneration i always felt they 'deserved' more money but i personally think they are 'fairly' compensated i have linked the Victorian teacher salary PDF 'class' room teachers earn $72k starting to $108k (>10 year experience) - Now teachers who are specialists/leads can earn just under 120k.

108k would put you in around the 90th percentile of earners which is the top 10%

now my friends all report they do 'some' work during school holidays but overall there working year is 40 weeks a year plus a few extra hours for planning and marking. When you take in all the holidays into account, ill add this 'wage chart' is as of the end of 2020 so once the new EBA comes in they would probably get another couple % point bump on that.

I personally dont think that 'warrants' the under-paid mantra they push but i might be out of touch i feel like they're actually on pretty good money….

OZ-Bargain is a pretty 'progressive' place so i'd be interested to see what others think on here

Other thing to factor in is this is Victorian and there would be differences between each state

Poll Options

  • 465
    Teacher are Under paid
  • 683
    Teachers are Fairly paid
  • 122
    Teachers are Over Paid


        • +1

          You're basing your opinions on what? 3 teachers, that I can only assume you see fairly occasionally?

          Sorry, but you have no idea what you're talking about.

          • @wombat81: See them all the time and they are very good at their jobs. Point is they have loads of leisure time and are anything but lazy.

            • +2

              @Brianqpr: I'll bet my house that I know hundreds more teachers than you do and them having loads of leisure time is a myth.

    • +1

      brother in law was home from work by 2.30pm most days.

      During the school day, where teachers only work 9-3? I'd love that job, and I'm sure you're not leaving out any pertinent details to explain how a teacher could be home by that time most days.

      Problem is many teachers have not done other jobs and don't realise that they are every bit as stressful and with just as much painful admin etc.

      Where does this come from? Is it mandated teachers from immediately from high school to university, to a teaching position and their expenditure and livelihoods are magically paid for? The classic 'teachers are just kids who never left school, or couldn't handle being outside in the 'real world' and needed to work in the same setting?

      There were/are many teachers who while working casually/temp positions in schools, had to maintain other employment to keep up rent and groceries. I get that this is exactly what most people would have to do, but your generalised comment that the only thing we know is school is completed unfounded.

      • Well a lot of them seem to think they have a monopoly on stress and long hours. Quite simply they do not.

        • +1

          So, your repeated claim is purely based on your anecdote, where you completely ignored my response in asking you to substantiate them?

          I have never met a colleague who stated our profession was objectively/definitively more difficult than another, and that our stresses/workload were purely unique to our roles.

        • +1

          No one is saying it's a monopoly. But again, with the way teacher shortages are, what do you recommend? Just telling teachers not to worry, everyone else is working hard too? That'll solve it.

    • +1

      But remember at other jobs you don't have to deal with a class full of kids all day…

  • +4

    I'm a secondary STEM teacher and I'm honestly pretty happy with my pay rate. There are ways to get more money if you put the time and effort into applying to be a lead or highly accomplished teacher. I'd be content with pay rises that equal inflation at the moment.

    It's the stress and workload that need addressing. I see lots of comments about the holidays. You guys don't get it. After busting yourself for 10 weeks pulling 50-60 hour weeks not being able to do stuff with your kids and families on weekends because you have too much marking/planning/reporting/contacting parents etc etc etc you need that down time to stay sane and even then you're working a significant chunk of your holidays anyway to get ready for day 1 next term.

    Sure there are lazy and poor teachers out there but the reality is that if there was more competition, if it was a more attractive profession those poor teachers would be pushed out.

    Honestly, the thing I want to change is the ammount of contact teaching time we have. I just want more time at work to be able to do the stuff that I currently have to do on weekends or weeknights after my kids go to bed. Until that happens the teacher shortage will deepen, there will be more and more classes without teachers in front of them or large groups being supervised rather than learning.

    You all bang on about how good it is, but no one wants to do it…

    • “ Sure there are lazy and poor teachers out there but the reality is that if there was more competition, if it was a more attractive profession those poor teachers would be pushed out.”

      Not really. That’s not what the union is about. Once teachers are made a permanent and unless there are serious underperforming issues, those poor teachers will not be pushed out.

      • Poor teachers tend to work casually or on fixed term contracts. If we have more high quality teachers there would be less casual and contract work for poor teachers meaning they'd have to look elsewhere for jobs.

        I'm aware that you can't fire permanent staff on the spot for no reason, but there are diminished work performance processes that can lead to dismissal, if the quality really is bad.

    • Where are the mechanisms where lazy and poor teachers get pushed out? I never see this in public education, I don't even see how a school can do it?

      Maybe you know some really hard workers but the average teachers aren't pulling 50-60 hour weeks. Many will do 32.5 hours + extras which completely depends on the motivation of the teacher.

      • You never see it because literally any teacher is worth keeping at the moment, and that's been the case for the last 5+ years. Any school would be crazy to move any teacher on, even if they're bad, because they have very little chance of getting a replacement at all, and literally zero chance of getting someone who's any better. There's simply no one out there. Even half decent graduates are very rare. In many high demand subject areas there are hardly any graduates at all at the moment, and the numbers continue to fall.

        But if there was an abundance of (good) teachers schools can use the transfer system and diminished work performance to move teachers on. I'm personally aware of a number of teachers that should probably be on a MUP process, but schools won't do it because they can't be replaced anyway.

        Along with that is the fact the contract work is still very heavily used, especially in public schools. I think you'd be surprised to know how many teachers at the average state school are on contracts. School leadership know poor teachers when they see them and will put them on contract over permanent positions if it's at all possible in the hope that someone better will come along.

        The longer the teacher shortage exists, more poor teachers will have to be given permanent positions, and it will be harder to move them on. Just another reason why action needs to be taken.

  • lol @ ozbargain being a progressive place

  • +5

    Many of the comments seem to be comparing the workload a teacher has with other industries to deem what is fair, which, in my opinion is pointless. It doesn’t matter what a teacher does in comparison to lollipop person, tradie, doctor, whatever… it doesn’t matter. What matters is that there is a mass shortage of teachers, and it needs to be fixed.
    Most teachers I know think that the pay is fine, at least they did prior to rents going bonkers, the biggest complaint I hear is workload. The simple solution is to reduce that workload by employing more teachers, but those extra teachers don’t exist. It’s a basic supply and demand problem, demand is increasing while supply is decreasing. The way I see it is you either make the job more appealing or you lower the barriers to entry. The way you go about it would depend on what you view of schooling should be. If you think schools are holding houses enabling parents to be part of the workforce, then lowering the barrier to entry might make sense. If you think a schools’ primary goal is to educate, then you need make the job more desirable.

    • Why does it not matter to compare it with other jobs? I've seen saying it doesn't make sense to compare it with pay to other countries but it does to other jobs in the same country. When you finish school, you decide what job you want to do. Why would someone decide to go to uni for 4 years, rake up debt, work 50 hour weeks, deal with abusive parents and students to only get maybe 20% more than a lollipop person? It's like if you were the chief engineer at a company and making less than a guy with no qualifications who's there to do some easy job.

      In contrast, sure the take home pay is maybe 2-3x that of a teacher in Thailand…but in Thailand, they're pretty high earners when compared to other professions. IMO it makes less sense to compare it with the salary of other countries.

      • +1

        All I’m saying is whataboutism doesn’t achieve anything.
        Every profession has various pros/cons and taking one or two aspects of one profession and comparing it to teaching is disingenuous on both sides. Let the free market determine the pay/conditions. If being a lollipop person was a desirable job it wouldn’t pay so well, the free market has decided that if you want to employee someone to do that job then you need to stump up the cash. The free market has spoken, and teachers are leaving.

        • The free market doesn't apply here when they set the pay. Look at pay rates for construction but also how hard it is to get in because of it. There is no free market there because the government has set the rates. Maybe we should have free market jobs for government/parliament as well then. I'm sure someone would do it for 150k rather than to 500k+ Scomo got last year. Maybe someone would even do it for free (with a bit of corruption). Hell, with the insane competition for medicine, drop the salaries there too because someone will do it eventually. Or wait, do you not want morons doing heart surgery on you? But you're happy to accept 'the market' for the education of millions of children?

          • +2

            @DisabledUser262693: Of course, free market principles apply to teaching. Teachers are free to change professions… that’s what’s happening. Improve conditions and you’ll get more people wanting to do it, seems pretty simple to me.
            If there wasn’t a teacher shortage and teachers were doing the exact same job then I don’t think improved conditions would be required. But there is and here we are.
            Personally, I think education is in severe decline. Improving conditions should happen, not because someone in some other profession gets xyz but because if we don’t then the standard of education will decline further. I worry that if conditions aren’t improved, we will end up with morons educating millions of children.

            • @craigoss: Then let's apply the free market to what I said before, let's drop the salaries of all those professions and see if we still get people. We will save tax payer money.

              I worry that if conditions aren’t improved, we will end up with morons educating millions of children.

              But this is exactly what the free market will lead to if you just leave the pay and conditions…they're not mutually exclusive things. You could leave things as they are to the free market now and you will still get people, whether they are the people you want or not is a different question. The government would love this, they don't have to spend anymore. This is the free market you're describing.

  • OzBargain is a fairly progressive place?! The forums here have an unusually strong conservative bent tbh.

    • -1

      this place loves ALP and Greens and hates the LNP with a passion - the only place i reckon that is more left then here would be on reddit the forum r/Australia which is full blown communist these days

      • +4

        So fairly reflective of the general Australian population given the election result?

        • about 43 percent of the population voted greens and ALP

          36 percent voted LNP

          the rest voted other

          i dare say you got a 90 percent bias to the former parties on ozbargin - im not saying this is bad or good but it is something i have noticed. - thus anything socialist that doesnt get 'strong' support on here imo proves to me the rest of society certainly wouldn't be in support of it.

          • +1

            @Trying2SaveABuck: 90%? Seems like a very vague stab in the dark to me.

            • @wombat81: go back to any of the pre-election threads the polls and comments are heavy anti conservatives

              • +1


                are heavy anti conservatives

                I'm not sure you'd call the Morrison backed LNP conservative. Far right isn't conservative is it?

                Then again, I get with Dutton the LNP is now extreme right. So again, not conservative.

      • nah, not at all, very conservative and reactionary with a lefty here and there

        • +1

          and there is the facts….. this poll is evidence to the otherwise

          but dont take this the wrong way but left wingers always say things that are massively left biased aren't bias….

          • +1

            @Trying2SaveABuck: fair call, very small sample size, but suggestive nonetheless

            • +1

              @ely: ill add this i dont 'have an issue' with it i like to think im more of centralist as i believe both left/right wing ideals have good and bad points i just think it is always good to know your audience

              if you asked me about 'Hotcopper' it would be right wing

              • @Trying2SaveABuck: Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the Labour party considered basically centralist these days and the greens further left?

      • Not sure that’s the full story.

        This place also loves landlords.

    • I've always found it fairly socially progressive, but with a strong support for small business owners.

  • Cut the pay and give it to those who don't even have a job! We need to boost that JobSeeker!

    • -2

      honestly i dont think ill ever support more money for unemployed until 3 things change - 1. it isnt means test middle/high income earners lose there jobs too they still need support they have home loans etc to pay for they shouldnt be means tested out when they need the system to help them 2. unemployment benefits are only used for short term support ie less then 6-18 months none of this 3 generations of people on the doll crap and 3. benefits are given via an essential spend debit card you cant gamble or spend it on drugs etc use it for food, rent, fuel, home loan and bills etc

      if all 3 of those where to be put in place i'd be all for the unemployment benefits to be inline with the national min wage - it should be a living wage support but it should be short term and for everyone who falls on hard times

      • income earners lose there jobs too they still need support they have home loans etc to pay

        I didn't neg you, but lol. Maybe if we just had a basic universal income……

        • all for a non-means tested UBI but that is a different argument

  • I think teachers are paid fairly and frankly its insulting to all other professions when they complain about doing work after hours.


    Look at any person in STEM even those in the arts.

    The quality of a teacher and the impact on kids is vastly overstated. The largest impact to a child's development is the child's family and the impact of this is obvious.

    Indigenous children have the lowest literacy and numeracy in Australia by far. There are schools in the communities and there are plenty of schools elsewhere and what is shocking is that despite controlling for the remote, rural and urban locations indigenous kids perform poorly.

    • So, again, explain the teacher shortage then. If it's all great and teachers are just making this whole thing up, why can't we attract anyone to become teachers, let alone good quality people? The people who do chose invariably leave the profession within 5 years. Are those people becoming lawyers, engineers or dentists and the realising that teaching was actually pretty good? I can tell you they're not. If teaching is comparable to other professions but with good pay, stacks of holidays and what not, why aren't engineers, software devs and scientists re-training to become teachers?

    • +1

      Most of the so called complaints about working after hours are usually more defensive comments in retaliation to the old, 'teachers only work 9-3 and get 12 weeks of holidays a year'. They aren't actually complaining.

    • +3

      This is nonsense. My partner, brother and one of my mates are teachers and they all work horrendous amounts of unpaid overtime. My partner does a minimum of 4-5 hours overtime every day, and works through most of the weekend.

      The impact of good teachers on kids is absolutely not overstated. A good teacher can be the difference between a kid having a having a promising future or not. On top of her full time teaching load, my partner also has eleven kids who are at risk (due to mental health issues, disabilities etc) and she's responsible for working with them and their families on an individual basis to give them the help they need to pass their Year 12. This is a huge job and it takes nearly half her work time.

      She's undoubtedly underpaid for the work she does. It isn't "insulting to other professions" for teachers to want better conditions. Your sentiment is what's insulting.

      • +2

        This is a great response and you are exactly right.

  • Zzzzzz

  • +1

    In our school, every teacher is paid at least $81k annually, with most of the teachers going above $100k. These are just for the basic duties you do.

    If you involve yourself in the leadership/supervisor role, you get $18k on top.

    I'd say they are overpaid.

    • -2

      What's your role and why do you say teachers are overpaid?

  • +1

    My experience is that older teachers who often have a lot less to offer are often getting paid way too much, even going as far as becoming "highly accomplished teachers" and getting a pay increase while being incompetent in many areas.

    But all the smart and skilled younger teachers start too low and the low wage is likely a disincentive to attract new teachers as well as keeping new teachers at the school while they realise that being a good teacher is hard work.

    • My experience is different.

      Most older teachers I know have learnt over many years how to manage their classes and the associated workload and the associated employer mandates.

      Whilst many of the younger are ones (even the ‘supergrads’) are all at sea with the demands of the profession due to their lack of experience (which, of course, they can not help).

  • Votes show that less than 10% of ozbargainers think teachers are overpaid.

    If you are in this less than 10% what are we others all missing?

    • Why are you concerned about the 10% there will always be a difference of opinion. I think on average they are fairly paid but if parents have had poor outcomes at a school with the quality of teaching the rural primary I have my youngest one at has lost 20% of its students in the past year some due to less enrolments but a lot have decided to move their kids to other schools. If it wasn't for the friends my child has I would move him as well. We are doing extra work at home to help our son.

      My wife has a difference of opinion to me she thinks they are overpaid her protective nature of her child is coming out.

  • Qld teachers are only paid for their contact hours so a 25 hr week. I found that as a primary teacher I would do a 7:30-4 once I had gotten the hang of things, more when reports are due. Some teachers take working weekends as a badge of honour but I've never had to do that. I now teach special ed and my hours are 8:30 to 3:30 which is great but also stressful.

    Teaching is a great job, particularly with the holidays. Most teachers try their best with the extemely limited resources available to us. There is often a misconception that we just teach when the job involves plenty of other stuff outside of school hours. I'm in my 7th year now and I'm fairly happy with the salary but I'm concerned about freezes to wage rises in my state.

    As for the degree, yes it is fairly easy except for the pracs. I've failed a few students but it seems like the universities try and move them onto other schools. I think a lot of the education courses are poor and the literacy and numeracy capacity of some university students is downright unacceptable. I once had a student who put dollar signs after the numbers. I consider it my responsibility to make sure the right people enter our profession.

    Happy to answer any questions.

  • -2

    Anyone who passes yr12 can pretty much get into teaching. Based on that, they are well and truly overpaid. Most teachers wouldn't have the mental acumen to work in fields such as medicine, law or engineering, therefore, they shouldn't expect the same pay. Not to mention, the aforementioned careers come with far more stress and responsibility.
    Increase entry to teaching to the top 15% yr12 students and then we can talk about being underpaid.
    Its probably worth noting that the preparation time would be correlated with how effective and smart they are, if they are neither, it would explain why it takes them so much extra time.

    • +1

      Anyone who passes yr12 can pretty much get into teaching.

      You're right, and yet there is still no one doing it, and numbers are dropping. How do you suggest we get these smart and effective engineering, medicine and law types to choose teaching???

      Most teachers wouldn't have the mental acumen to work in fields such as medicine, law or engineering

      You're obviously trolling, but you're basing this on what? Your gut feeling? The fact that you didn't get on with your math teacher at school? I'd love to see most lawyers, engineers or medical professionals have the acumen to deal with a class full of students for 2 hours at a time and teach a lesson on even a subject they know intimately. Without any specific training, they'd be done in 5 minutes. But that's not a criticism, because they are completely different skill sets. I've seen very, very highly intelligent people fail miserably in the classroom.

      Increase entry to teaching to the top 15% yr12 students and then we can talk about being underpaid.

      I love this. At the moment, anyone who passes year 12 can get into teaching and the entry rate is still massively below where it needs to be. But sure, lets raise the entry requirements so only the best students are eligible and literally none of them will choose teaching. You're talking about acumen, and you've come up with that??? wow…

      You do realise how university entry works, right? If the pay rates rise and/or other measures are taken to make teaching more attractive, the universities will be able to raise the entry requirements.

      it would explain why it takes them so much extra time.

      Extra time than what?

      Again, I know you're trolling, so I don't know why I'm wasting my time in responding, but your post and attitude is the exact reason why our education sector is in the massive hole that's currently in. Who would want to get into a profession when people have your type of attitude towards it? It's clear that there are massive issues in the education system in general and with teacher quality but anyone with half a brain cell would be able to see that restructuring the sector and profession is the answer to the problems, and yet people still go with the "all teachers are dumb" criticism. It really feels like something grade 9 students would carry on with.

  • +1

    I did a 1 year high school teaching degree (Grad Dip Learning & Teaching) & quit teaching after a year.

    Issues: attacks from every where - school admin, other teachers, students, parents; violent students - like working as a prison guard with no ability to respond; having 17 contact hours per week, where you are expected to produce and deliver original content. Relentless work outside school hours - I had epileptic seizures because of lack of sleep.

    I had my car tyres let down. One boy kicked a girl in the groin DURING AN EXAM which required police intervention. The school has a permanent police officer.

    Think I'm joking? The deputy principal was bashed & taken away in an ambulance

    Just NO.

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