How to increase your salary as a teacher.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Teachers do get paid relatively well in Australia. Despite this, a pay ceiling for teachers can be challenging to burst through. 

Most schools around Australia will automatically increase your salary every year for 5 to 9 years, depending on your system and state. What can you do once you’ve hit the highest pay grade in your Enterprise Agreement? Are there any ways for teachers to keep earning more as their skills and expertise continue to develop?

There are a couple of things that you can do as a teacher to increase your pay packet:

Work for a private school.

This one is the most clear-cut. 

While the public and Catholic systems in each state have a maximum pay for classroom teachers, that is not the case in every school. Some schools, such as high-end, exclusive private schools, will pay more for genuinely fantastic teachers. 

Working in one of these schools has a unique set of challenges, but if you’ve been teaching for a while or are an expert in your field, this is likely to be a good option.

Take up a leadership position.

If you’re looking for more money, why not try a leadership position? 

There are many to choose depending on which school you want to work in. There are leadership positions that cater to a wide range of skills and interests. 

Schools need leaders who specialise in behaviour management, literacy or numeracy, student wellbeing or even administrative processes. Whatever your specific interest is as a teacher, it is likely that some school is looking for a teacher to lead in it. 

While many leadership positions don’t give much extra release time to perform these duties (as little as a day per week for many entry-level leaders), it does come with extra responsibility. If you’re not sure if leadership is for you, there are often 1-year or shorter positions to cover people on leave. If you’re at all considering leadership, it’s worth a shot!

Become a Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher.

Leadership isn’t for everyone, so most schools will employ Highly Accomplished Teachers (HAT) and Lead Teachers (LT). These two higher career stages were intentionally implemented to keep fantastic teachers in the classroom by paying them more without the extra leadership responsibilities.

A cartoon teacher is standing in front of a whiteboard with a big bag of cash on the floor next to them.

Becoming a certified HAT or LT isn’t easy. There is an intensive process that you need to go through which includes collating a folio of evidence, interviews, and lesson observations. On top of this, you need to renew your certification with new evidence every three years. 

If you want to stay in the classroom though, Highly Accomplished teachers are often paid as much as a Coordinator and Lead Teachers are paid even more. 

Change location.

In teaching, your salary can be greatly influenced by location. 

This doesn’t mean working in a good school in the city; in fact, many of these schools pay their teachers less than those in more remote areas. If you’re really chasing cash, the country is where the money is. 

It makes sense: if you want to get paid well, go to the schools that are struggling to attract teachers. Going remote often comes with extra bonuses and incentives alongside your standard pay, and if you’re wiling to make a big change, the Northern Territory has the highest teacher salaries in the country. 

School leaders are also in short supply in the country. If you want to take the fast-track to becoming a principal, there is far less competition the further from the capital cities you get. I know teachers who became principal of their small area school after only five years of teaching, and were able to then win a job as a principal in a city school a few years later.

Do extra work on the side.

Teachers make fantastic tutors for students who are struggling or want to get the best results that they can. More than that, as a teacher you can charge some of the highest rates for tutoring. Many school systems are also paying teachers extra for tutoring students outside of school hours as well as providing expert training, so check if you school system has one of these programs. 

You might also like to sell your resources online, do some writing for a teaching magazine, or use any other skills that you might have to earn some extra cash. There are options for those not looking for a side-hustle as well; check out your local union or teacher associations to see if they have any casual or part-time positions open.

Move out of schools.

There are many career options outside of schools for teachers. More than that, there are many employers that favour people with experience in the classroom. 

You could work as a trainer at your local TAFE or training institution, run professional development for a teacher association or private company catering to teachers, or work at your local Teacher’s Registration Board. There are a range of companies that provide resources, online platforms, and materials for teachers who always appreciate employees with teaching experience. 

You might have to do some research, but there are plenty of options out there for teachers looking for a change (or just some extra change!)

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