A statistical analysis of National Center for Education Statistics data by the Pew Research Center shows roughly 16% of public school teachers in the United States worked non-school summer jobs in the summer of 2015, and even more — about 18% — held second jobs during the 2015-16 school year, making them three times more likely than workers overall to hold down multiple jobs.
These numbers have remained statistically consistent since the 2007-08 school year when they were first tracked, with teachers who have less experience tending to work supplemental jobs more often. While roughly 30% of teachers with less than one year of experience worked a summer job, that number dropped to 13% by the 15-year mark.
Gender and the grade level of teaching also had an impact, with 26% of male teachers holding a second job during the school year and 24% holding summer jobs compared to 15% of female teachers with second jobs and 13% with summer jobs. Secondary level teachers are also more likely to hold second jobs than their elementary counterparts.
While most students can rest over the summer vacation, many teachers are working second jobs to make ends meet or to achieve financial goals such as paying off student loans or saving to own a home. In many cases, teacher salaries have not kept pace with inflation.
Teachers also often have extra financial demands, as many are expected to pay for their own substitutes or pay out-of-pocket for their own classroom supplies. Increasing healthcare costs are also cutting take-home pay. These factors are contributing to the recent spate of teacher strikes and protests, especially in states offering lower pay to teachers, and making it harder to attract students to the teaching profession.
While the ability to hold a summer job could be used as a recruiting tool for young teachers seeking to pay off student debt or build a nest egg, teaching is also a stressful profession, and too many commitments can lead to burnout and impact teachers, students and administrators as well as overall school culture.
Promoting the need for teacher self-care so personal resources aren't stretched too thin and advocating for higher teacher pay can ease the situation for those who are forced to work a second job to get by. Ideally, teaching should be a profession where teachers have the option of working a summer job, not where they need to.