Is the Teacher Shortage an Opportunity for You?

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Even before the pandemic rocked the U.S., there was a teacher shortage. COVID-19 and the fears surrounding it merely exacerbated it. Before COVID, fewer and fewer people were going into the teaching profession. This was mainly due to low teacher pay compared to other college majors. As of 2019, public high school teachers made approximately 19 percent less than other college-educated professionals.

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But there may be opportunities available for those entering college. Majoring in education could help you get that college degree. There are also ways to make additional income once you become a new teacher.

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Teacher Turnover Creates More Staff Shortages

School districts are getting hit hard with teacher turnover. Teachers are aging and this is leaving job vacancies. For example, Michigan saw a 44 percent increase in midyear retirements between 2020 and 2021. California school districts are also having a difficult time with teacher retention. According to the Learning Policy Institute, one large California district is having a problem with attrition. It had an increase of 25 percent in retirements and 66 percent in resignations since the pandemic began.

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One Public School Staffing Solution

A teacher residency program was the solution for a middle school in Tennessee. A residency program, in this instance, allows an individual to receive a four-year degree after only three years. This is done at night school while the person co-teaches during the day. In addition, the district pays the future teacher a salary.

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A teacher residency program does more than fill the void left from exiting teachers. It's an opportunity for those who couldn't usually afford a bachelor's degree to earn one. And since they are still earning a living while in college, it's not a financial hardship on themselves or their families.

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Even before the pandemic rocked the U.S., there was a teacher shortage.

Grow Your Own Initiatives

Grow Your Own Initiatives (GYO) is a program in California that recruits community members into teaching. It starts with school-classified employees. For instance, the school custodian or teacher's aid has the opportunity to earn a bachelor's degree. State funding is used by the school districts as incentives to defray tuition costs. This strategy is important in recruiting people of color. The GYO opens the door for many to get a low-cost higher education.

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Type of School Influences Salary

As a result of the pandemic, public schools are seeing a decrease in enrollment, while private schools and charter schools are seeing their enrollment expand. This is an opportunity for teachers. In addition, many private schools offer higher salaries than public schools. This is because private schools charge tuition and are not dependent on state or federal funding.

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Substitute Teach During Breaks

The teacher shortage goes beyond regular teaching. There's a shortage of substitute teachers as well. So even if you have a full-time teaching position, there's an opportunity to make additional income through substitute teaching.

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Different school districts have different dates for breaks. One district's spring break may not correspond with your school system. This is an opportunity to take advantage of the substitute teacher shortage. You'll be paid a daily rate, and it won't be as demanding since you'll have lesson plan to follow.

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Summer school is also an area where you may be able to supplement your salary.

Consider also​: Claiming Education Expenses on Taxes

College Aid Available to Education Majors

There is college aid available specifically for prospective teachers. The TEACH Grant Program is available for education majors. The grant provides up to $4,000 a year; however, it comes with a service obligation. There are several criteria to qualify for the grant.

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Once you've graduated with a teaching degree, one requirement for the grant is teaching full-time as a highly qualified teacher for four years in an elementary school, secondary school or educational service agency that serves low-income students. If you don't fulfill the requirement to teach, the grant will be converted into a loan with interest.

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