There is no doubt that private school teachers are worth their weight in gold. Nonetheless, generally, private school teachers earn less than public school teachers. Recent data from PayScale show that teachers at private high schools earn about $49,000 on average, while their counterparts at public schools earn an average of $49,500. Public school teachers in large urban districts, such as Chicago and New York City, can earn close more than double that amount, pulling in close to or well over $100,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also keeps data about salaries in private and public K-12 education.
Check out these stats from Payscale.com:
Historically, private school teachers have made less than public school teachers. That is especially true at boarding schools, where teachers have significant benefit packages that include complimentary housing in addition to a salary. Regardless, teachers at both public and private schools would likely argue that they should earn more. After all, they are critical in creating tomorrow's leaders, and it has been shown that teachers can have a life-long effect on their students. Public school teachers are often members of unions that advocate for them, while private school faculty are not usually part of unions.
While teachers are valuable and should, in an ideal world, be paid well, teachers often accept lower pay at private schools because the work environment can be more supportive than that at some public schools. In general, private school teachers have more resources than public school teachers do, and they also enjoy smaller class sizes and other benefits. In general, classes at private schools are about 10-15 students (though they may be larger and generally have two teachers in lower schools), and this size allows teachers to understand their students more completely and how to reach them. It is beneficial and rewarding for a teacher to be able to reach a student in a small class and to foster discussion and participation that encourages learning. In addition, private school teachers may be able to teach a specific elective or coach a team, adding to their enjoyment and sometimes to their salary, as private school teachers can often earn a stipend for additional duties at their schools.
Who Earns More Among Private School Teachers?
For the most part, teachers at parochial schools earn less, as it has generally been accepted that they teach at these schools for spiritual rewards, in addition to earning a living. Teachers at boarding schools generally earn less than those at private day schools because part of their salary is in the form of room and board, which accounts for about 25-35% of their income. Teachers at schools with large endowments, which are usually older schools with a sizeable alumni and alumnae body and a good development program, generally earn more. In addition, teachers at private schools sometimes are able to apply for grants or other types of gifts to allow them to travel, earn advanced education, or carry out other types of activities that improve their teaching.
Headmasters' pay, unlike that of the average private school teacher, can be quite high. The average pay of a private school headmaster is about $300,000, and many of the headmasters at competitive boarding and day schools more than $500,000 a year, in part because they have extensive responsibilities, including fundraising and the financial stewardship of the school. In addition, headmasters often receive free housing and sometimes other forms of compensation such as retirement plans. Their salaries have climbed in recent years, as the top schools vie for the leadership of the top administrators in the field.
While teaching in a private school can be rewarding, it does pay, quite literally, for parents and students to remember that their teachers are not always well compensated. While gifts are not necessary (though a few teachers might disagree with me on this point) and may in fact even be discouraged by the school, it is worthwhile to reward your hard-working teachers with a handwritten note at the end of the year. Most will treasure such forms of compensation.
Article updated by Stacy Jagodowski.