Thursday, April 09, 2009

Teaching a hard choice for CS grads

I have often wondered whether computer science teachers should be treated like any other teachers when it comes to pay.  I think the lack of interest in AP CS is not just the lack of student interest, it is also a lack of willing and qualified teachers.
The average teacher salary in the Seattle area is $41,137 according to MSN Careers, for a software developer, $73,774.  The difference more is startling in Palo Alto, $43,361 vs $92,804.  The data here doesn't differentiate between elementary and high school teachers, so I think the numbers are a little low, but not by much.  Likewise, the developer number in Palo Alto might be more senior, and therefore skewed on the high side.  
If averages aren't your thing, here's two more concrete examples from 2006.  The first is a link to the pay scale at Cupertino Unified, the hometown of Apple Computers.  The second is the general pay scale at Microsoft, Level 58/59 is where most new hires start.
As you can see, a new computer science teachers gets paid $51,071, while his college classmate who ended up at Microsoft earns $75,000.  That's not quite the whole story, add to $75,000 about $5,000 in stocks and bonuses, and you're looking at $80,000.
The real problem here isn't the starting salary, it's the raises.  To get to his friend's $75,000, the teacher will have to get a masters and teach for 10 years.  To get to the highest pay grade at $95,000, it takes the teacher 27 years, and his friend at Microsoft 4 years to get to Level 61 at around $90,000.  

If you had an average student loan of $20,000 when you left engineering school, it'd much easier to pay it back if you went into industry.  In fact, the difference in accumulated earnings is $90,000 in just 3 years.  That's a Porsche Boxster S in 3 years after taxes, or pay off your student loans and a BMW 3 series.  I like to use cars at this point since it's a little more tangible than just a number.
 
Add to that, a house in Cupertino averages 1.2 million, if you want to live where you teach, that's gonna be almost impossible.  In purely monetary terms, as a CS teacher, sooner or later, it becomes a very hard to choice to stay in education.  
It's good to know that none of us with engineering degrees went into teaching for money.

5 comments:

----- Jennifer ----- said...
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