There is a strong undercurrent of animosity about what teachers get paid and a lot of misinformation about teacher average pay. Like anything, it’s more complicated than it appears. Here’s my stab at trying to explain how Ontario teacher pay works, though the people complaining about it probably aren’t interested in any facts:
The latest Ontario secondary teacher salary grid from my board:
To get your foot in the door on this grid you need to have spent 4 years in an undergraduate degree and then another 2 years getting your bachelor of education. If you’ve ever had any trouble with the law you’re already out of contention. You need to have a clean criminal record to be a teacher.
Your average cost for a university degree in Canada these days is about $6500 a year.
So you’re about $40,000 in debt before you even get a whiff of that ‘super’ teacher pay. Ontario is (of course) one of the most expensive places in Canada to get your post-secondary education:
So that $6500 Canadian average turns into almost $8000 a year and your Ontario teacher is typically sitting under about fifty grand in debt to get onto the grid.
Six contract sections don’t exist for new teachers these days. From what I’ve seen, you’d be hard pressed to find any Ontario teacher under 30 years old who has six contract sections (full time equivalence – six sections is a full year of work). It’s fair to expect most teachers to take 5-6 years to get to full contract these days, many give up on the process. There are a number of teachers who, for various reasons, never get to six contract sections and are part time throughout their career.
|It takes the typical Canadian
student 10 years to get out
from under student loan debt,
so I put that in too – but didn’t
count the ongoing debt required
to pay for your teacher training.
Remember that salary grid? To get up the sharp end of it you need to have an honours degree in what you’re teaching and then take additional qualification (AQ) courses after teaching experience to earn your ‘honours specialist’ and get into the top ‘level 4’ section of the salary grid.
A number of teachers never get there because they don’t have the university background or aren’t willing to spend thousands more dollars when they aren’t teaching to get additional qualifications. You can look up any teacher on OCT to see what their qualifications are and whether they’ve spent more of their own time and money to get additional qualifications.
So, to get up to the top end of the teacher’s salary, currently $96,068 in my board, you need to have dropped at least fifty grand on university degrees plus another couple of thousand on honours specialist additional qualifications. Most teachers don’t stop there and get other AQs in other specializations as well (I have 2 other subjects I’ve AQ’d in as well as my honours specialist).
Because of all these variables, calculating what the actual average teacher salary is in Ontario is a tricky business, which is why no one has bothered, but I’ll give it a go:
Your first year you’re teaching as an occassional teacher at the bottom of the grid. Let’s be optimistic and say you’re teaching six sections (full time) on a short term contract, but many aren’t. From years 2-6 let’s say you’re getting one contract section a year and are still able to fill up the rest of your time table with short term contract jobs (again, many aren’t). Let’s assume you’ve got an honours degree in what you’re teaching. In your third year you drop another couple of thousand bucks on getting your honours specialist and move up to level four on the salary grid and keep climbing year over year.
Wild eyed conservative leaning reporters will bleat on and on about how the average Ontarian should rise up against these overpaid teachers, but when you look into statistics around pay and education level, the typical degree carrying Ontarian makes about $85,000 a year. Your average teacher salary is less than that:
|Ontario pays less per student for education than most other provinces while producing results that raise us into the top 10 world wide – but this is Ontario so expect to be attacked for that.|
|Canada is close to the world average in terms of education spending as a percentage of government spending. Again, Ontario is the largest single system in the country, so we wag that dog too, but expect to be attacked for it.|
|In terms of cost we’re pretty much neck and neck with the USA, but Canada is top 10 in the world, the US isn’t in the top 30. If you want to be acknowledged and rewarded for a job well done don’t teach in Ontario.|
Still want to earn that easy teacher money?