“Do teachers get paid in the summer?” This is one of the most frequent questions I’m asked about working in education. While simple to answer, it encapsulates some of the intricacy of personal finance as an educator. Sometimes the question is also a way of trying to make a point about teacher pay.
So, let’s look at it. I’ll answer the question in a variety of ways so you are absolutely clear.
Do Teachers Get Paid In the Summer?
No. That’s the simplest, straightforward answer in most cases.
Often, the person is really asking if teachers get paid summers off.
That’s a hard no. Bust that myth right now.
Most teacher contracts cover a set number of work days from late-August to May/June. Teachers are paid for that portion of the school year to include work days and holidays.
Generally, this equates to a 10-month work year.
Teachers are not paid for the months in the summer where they do not work.
Sometimes Teacher Pay is Spread Over 12-Months
Some school districts take those 10 months of pay and spread it over 12 months. In this case, technically the teacher is getting paid in the summer, but not getting paid FOR the summer.
Often, during the June payroll, the teacher will be given three checks – one for June, July, and August.
This is theoretically done to support personal finance / budgeting. A teacher receiving ten paychecks instead of twelve will receive higher monthly pay, but have two months of no teacher paycheck at all.
Either way, stretching from June to September payroll can be challenging – especially early in your career. Teachers have to be intentional about how they manage the summer paycheck gap.
Many Teachers Work Other Jobs Over The Summer
It is common for teachers to get second jobs during the summer. This is especially true for newer teachers. In the first few years, salary is relatively low and you haven’t put in the years required for many teacher loan forgiveness options
As a result, earning extra money from a second job or teacher side hustle is almost required. Retail, restaurants, construction, gig jobs, or summer school are all common.
Unpaid Professional Responsibilities Require Summer Time
In contrast to the myth that they receive paid work-free summers, most teachers spend a significant amount of unpaid summer time on professional responsibilities. I certainly have.
Like other professions, teachers have licensure requirements. In some states this requires an additional degree or graduate-level coursework. Teachers can choose to do this during the school year, but many don’t.
It can be challenging to manage school-year responsibilities, family, and a course load. So, the summer months are often used to take university courses. This is especially true for teachers working on moving up the career ladder which requires additional degrees/certification.
Some districts will pay for the coursework, but very few pay for the additional time.
School Year Preparation
A successful school year requires significant advance planning. Having a clear instructional map, lesson structures planned, and assessments ready helps manage the significant time demands of the school year. If you try to wing it throughout a chaotic year, things go south fast.
It’s difficult to get these down during an academic year, especially given constantly changing standards and content assessments. Therefore, many teachers spend at least a portion of their summer break prepping these things.
If you have changed classrooms or schools you also need to prepare the physical classroom space to your standards.
Teacher assignments (subject-area or grade-level) also change frequently due to turnover, enrollment changes, and attrition. For teachers who plan collaboratively as a team (which is good practice) this means an investment of time to build an effective team.
If you are experienced at your assignment, it doesn’t change, and if you remain at the same school with the same team you are incredibly fortunate and may be able to take most of a summer off. That’s exceedingly rare.
My best-case scenario every year as a teacher was to take the month of July off. During the second-half of June I would spend unpaid time closing out the previous school year. In August, I always began preparation for the coming year well before paid time started.
I didn’t mind – it was part of my professional responsibility and I enjoyed it. But, I certainly wasn’t getting paid in the summer.
No, teachers do not get paid in the summer. They may receive pay for work done during the school year, but they do not have an extended multi-month vacation period.
In fact, many teachers are required to get second jobs for at least a portion of that break. Most spend significant unpaid time over the summer in order to meet their professional responsibilities.