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Old 01-24-2010, 10:49 AM
Location: Beautiful New England
2,412 posts, read 6,340,136 times
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Originally Posted by equinox63 View Post
Great post! Thanks! But my last question is at what point does teaching on the collegiate level become more financially lucrative than teaching in secondary public education?
Though they look very similar to the uninitiated, being a school teacher is a VERY different job than being a university professor.

First, the basics that you ask about: money (BTW, see this: Professor salary)

Overall, professor base salaries are significantly higher (30%-100%+) than that of school teachers. Professor incomes (that is, for people at the full Professor level...i.e. who have been promoted above the rank of Assist Prof. and Associate Prof.) above $100K are very common -- indeed, the norm at bigger schools. Few, if any, school teachers -- even the most senior ones -- earn $100K+/year. And I'm not talking about administrative jobs here.

Incomes above $200K for star professors at prestige universities are not uncommon, and there are a small few who become millionaires via lucrative patents, business start ups that are a byproduct of research projects, and/or royalties from blockbuster textbooks or mass market books (i.e. people like this guy: Niall Ferguson - Home ) Such things are virtually unheard of for school teachers.

What's more, professors usually have much greater opportunities to supplement their university salaries via book royalties, research grants, and consulting/research contracts. These all provide opportunities for external funding that comes on top of the salary. Universities often provide numerous opportunities for stipends on top of salaries to professors to head up centers and projects -- the prof who is paid an extra $5-10K for taking on the responsibility of heading up the Honors Program or Womens' Studies Center. Many enterprising profs can also land teaching gigs in other places (i.e. the prof paid to teach a course at a school in Europe during the summer) or they can moonlight (i.e. teach an extra class at a another college in the area). And, of course, they can give up some of their three month summer break to teach a section or two of summer school (unlike K-12 which usually only offers a very limited slate of remedial summer classes, universities typically offer a pretty robust selection of courses during the summer).

Bottom line: professors usually don't get rich, but they are often paid well enough that they are able to live a pretty comfortable upper middle class life. Though there is significant variation, many (perhpas most) professors are able to earn incomes that exceeed that of many lawyers and is often comparable to non-speciality physicians.
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Old 01-24-2010, 01:12 PM
Location: Sandpoint, Idaho
2,880 posts, read 5,097,260 times
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Great advice on this and other posts.

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Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

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