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A rough guide: Teachers' salaries

Book open Reading time: 4 mins

If you’re interested in teaching, you probably know you’re never going to make a fortune. But will you be able to make enough to afford a good standard of living and support a family? Let’s take a look.

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State school teachers

We’ll start simply. The main pay scale for a classroom teacher in a state school in England or Wales is between £25,000-£32,000, depending on where you teach.

Doesn’t seem like much? That’s because it’s just the tip of the iceberg of a complicated subject.

Teachers in UK state schools are paid according to strict rules:

  • Generally you start your teaching career at the bottom of the main pay scale we just saw, and inch your way up a step every year. If you perform particularly well you can take two steps per year, so excellent teachers can rocket up through the salary levels.
  • After you finish the main pay scale, you can be assessed and move onto the upper pay scale.
  • There’s an even higher pay scale for teachers who qualify as Leading Practitioners. Their job is to pass on their expertise as well as teaching in classrooms.
  • On top of that, you can get paid extra for the Teaching and Learning Responsibilities (TLR) you take on, and for working with children with Special Educational Needs (SEN). There’s a scale for these extra payments too, though it’s more flexible.
  • There are also bonuses depending on where you work. Teachers in London are paid the most, then outer London, then the fringes, and then everywhere else in England and Wales. Salaries in Scotland and Northern Ireland are slightly lower.

Adding it all up gets to a far more encouraging total. If you’re at the top of the upper pay scale, with the maximum additional pay for SEN and TLR, and working in inner London, you can make over £60,000. Leading Practitioners in Inner London can earn between £50,000-£72,000.

You can find out the basics of current teacher pay scales on the Government’s Get Into Teaching website

With a quick search, you can also find the full list of pay scale points… but you probably don’t need to do that until you’re actually qualified.

Independent school teachers

Unlike state schools, independent schools are completely free to determine their own pay scales. Their salaries aren’t published publically, but there’s a preconception that teachers in independent schools earn more than their state school counterparts. However, most independent school teachers earn somewhere between £36,000 and £50,000 – not so different from state schools after all.

Head teachers

Again, head teachers at state schools are paid on a set scale. This one goes from £47,000 to £117,210, plus extra for working in London and bonuses for additional duties.

Independent school heads earn more than their state counterparts, but rarely by a significant amount.

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Further education teachers

Further education teachers are paid on a different scale. Colleges can also negotiate their own salary with a teachers’ union.

As a rough guide, unqualified teachers can expect somewhere between £18,000 and £22,500. A qualified FE teacher can earn between £24,000 and £36,000

University lecturers

The official pay scale for higher education (university) lecturers isn’t a very useful measure, as it runs from around £15,000 to nearly £60,000. Most university lecturers start out by earning between £35,000 and £43,000.

Professional trainers

The pay of a skills trainer is variable. If you work for a training company you’re likely to make £25,000 to £35,000. However, an experienced businessperson who shifts to become a freelance trainer can earn much more. You can charge several thousand pounds for delivering a one-day course to a group of employees.

And finally…

While it’s good to know you can earn a decent salary from teaching, this isn’t the kind of job you should take if you’re motivated by money. If you have the skills and work ethic it takes to be a teacher, you could earn more elsewhere. To teach successfully, you need to love helping people to learn and succeed.

Read: The Fulfilment of Teaching

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