Teaching education

Report: More than Half of Teachers Work a Second Job

By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Summer is no break for some Ohio teachers. New research suggests many of them are punching a second time card. 

According to findings from the Economic Policy Institute, 59% of teachers nationwide turn to moonlighting or side jobs to supplement their income – in some cases, just to make ends meet. The findings aren’t surprising to Gina Daniels, a teacher in the Licking Heights Local School District in Central Ohio. She said she knows many teachers, including herself, who at one time or another needed to work a second job.

“I would leave school at 3 o’clock when my day was over and I’d work a shift from 4:00- 11:00, then go home, go to bed, and get up and go to school the next day. And that leaves you pretty exhausted,” Daniels said. “It does take away your excitement and energy when you’re doing that just to be able to afford to live.”

The side jobs featured in the report are not extra summer or holiday jobs, but work that happens in addition to a teacher’s regular schedule. Teachers in Ohio earn roughly $58,000 annually on average – about 17% less than other college-educated workers.

Report co-author Emma Garcia said there’s a direct connection between the current teacher shortage and poor teacher pay. While increasing pay is important, she noted it isn’t the only issue.

“We also have to fix the working environment for teachers,” Garcia said. “We have to increase funding for schools, and we also have to provide support for young teachers who are starting their careers.”

According to the Learning Policy Institute, about two-thirds of teachers who leave the profession do so for reasons other than retirement. Daniels said she understands why some educators feel dissatisfied.

“It’s not an attractive profession for our best minds out there,” Daniels said. “And I see more people leaving the profession because they’re burned out and they don’t think there’s enough benefits to stay in it because the pay is so low.”

This story was produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.