FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Nicholas Peterson stood in the parking lot of Loveland High School with a crowd of march band students. It was still early, but the pavement not yet radiated heat. He told students they’d be practicing parade-style today, so it was important to keep their feet moving in time.
He used to be the band director at Loveland High, but these years music is just his side gig. Now he works primarily a counselor at Fossil Ridge High School in southeast Fort Collins. Throughout the year he freelances as a march band teacher to pay the bills. He besides Judges various out-of-state shows and helps design drills.
He is among the galore educators who work second jobs to make ends meet.
About 1 in 5 teachers have a second job, according to the federal Bureau of Labor applied mathematics. Their average starting wage — $38,617 in 2016-17, according to the National Education Association — lags the overall starting wage of $50,359 for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in all fields.
Teachers’ net earnings are besides often stretched by student loan debt, which saddles about 70 percentage of college graduates with an average $30,100 owed, according to the nonprofit Institute for College Access and Success.
Due at least in part to those factors, teachers are about 30 percentage more likely to have a second job than other workers. That extra work can add to the stress teachers face, and contribute to why an estimated 40 percentage to 50 percentage of new teachers leave the profession inside five years.
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In Colorado, where the average teacher wage lags behind the national average, rural schools are troubled to recruit and retain teachers. In the state’s more inhabited Front Range, teachers face the same ever-increasing cost of living as other college-educated workers who often earn more than them.
Recent applied mathematics about the number of Colorado teachers who hold a second job are hard to come by, but a 2014 Center for American Progress report found that 22 percentage of Colorado teachers held a second job — above the national average of 14 percentage.
“It’s a bit my choice to overwork and sacrifice freedom, mental health, and in some shipway, job performance coming to work tired,” Peterson aforesaid. “It’s the price I have to pay to avoid a life of disabling debt and slavish payments.”
Dick Startz, an economic science prof at the University of California, Santa Claus Barbara, unanalyzed federal labor applied mathematics for the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution.
He found secondary teachers are more likely than elementary school teachers to have a second job. He besides found male teachers are more likely than female teachers to hold a second job.
Of those who do have second jobs, he wrote, females are more likely to work in a field related to education. Male teachers are more likely to do thing unrelated to education.
Many people assume that when educators work a second job, they do so only over the summer months when school is out, Peterson aforesaid. That’s not true for him — and he’s not alone.
According to the report, Startz wrote, teachers are more likely to report having second jobs during the school year rather than just over the summer.
“I do want to raise one caution about interpretation the apparent summer drop in second jobs among teachers,” Startz wrote. “Respondents are asked whether they had multiple jobs in the last week. It’s possible that, in July, teachers who have a non-teaching job mightiness answer ‘no,’ because they aren’t in the schoolroom during July.”
On why teachers are more likely to have a second job, Startz wrote teachers presumptively want the extra fiscal gain and the fiscal cushion offered by a side hustle.
According to Education Week, teachers who work a second job earn an average of $5,100 to supplement their fiscal gains. Teachers who moonlight in a non-education field earn about $1,000 more on average than teachers who work a second job related to teaching — $5,500 compared with $4,500.
The fiscal gain from Peterson’s freelance march band work helped him stay afloat when he had a bout with skin cancer a couple years ago. He’s besides saving up for a sinus surgery this summer.
Peterson is considered a accredited professional by Poudre School District. He shares a wage schedule with teachers in the district.
He considers himself in fiscal matters responsible. He managed to pay off his car and his student loans. He bought a house in Loveland in 2011 when the market was down — living outside of Fort Collins and commutation to work saves him some money.
But much of that progress made toward his fiscal goals required the year-around second job, Peterson aforesaid.
“I took on these extra jobs even before I was a counselor,” Peterson aforesaid. “My expectation was that I would be able to let those go and focus on being a counselor, but it became apparent that I had to hang onto as much fiscal gain stream as I could.”
Amy Healy, a German teacher at Fossil Ridge High School, besides works her second job at REI all year long.
During the school year, she works three years a week at the outdoor gear retail merchant, and ramps up her hours at REI over the summer. The extra fiscal gain helped her move out of her parents’ house and rent with a friend. She’s able to live inside biking distance to Fossil Ridge.
She graduated with about $20,000 in student loan debt after attending the University of Northern Colorado. She’s close to paying off her loans.
“If I didn’t have REI, it would be very challenging to pay rent and my student loans and not live with my parents,” Healy aforesaid.
She enjoys working at REI. It’s straightforward work and problems are resolved by the end of the day. She likes that she’s been able to plug into the outdoor community. The demand to show up to work at REI besides prevents her from staying at school late into the night.
Nicole Alvarado works as a counselor at Fossil Ridge and a server at DC Oakes Brewhouse & Eatery. When she did her taxes, she aforesaid, she lattained that her serving job attained her an extra $10,000.
She distinct to get a second job after she bought a new car and a house in Fort Collins. Before that she’d been driving the same car she got during her junior year of high school. She’d besides been rental with a roommate.
“I’m not complaintive, it is what it is,” Alvarado aforesaid. “A lot of people have to work hard to pay off bills and debt.”
Alvarado enjoys working as a server. It gives her a chance to be more extroverted and have more conversations with other adults. She loves when she sees students and their families or coworkers come into the restaurant.
It gives her an extra sense of community, she aforesaid.
According to Poudre School District guidelines, district workers can’t engage in or have fiscal interest in any activity that conflicts or raises a reasonable question of conflict with their duties and responsibilities in the school system.
Employees besides can’t use information available to them through district resources to conduct work on the side.
District workers are besides out from merchandising books, education supplies, musical instruments, instrumentality or other school supplies to any student, parent or guardian from the school served by the worker unless they have received approval from the district board.
But there are still a wide range of opportunities for educators to work in retail, service, education and more.
When teachers do have an extra gig, Healy aforesaid, it can sometimes make for a weird dynamic.
She sees students who come to shop at REI. There’s besides a chance she’ll be working aboard students in the store.
“Working together makes you a peer,” Healy aforesaid. “That’s a weird position to be in.”
Second jobs can provide educators a leg up in purchasing a home and paying off loans. They besides help if and when unexpected expenses come up. But they take time.
As a server, Alvarado works later hours if she picks up shifts during the week. She often works until close to hour. Then she arrives at school for work early in the morning.
“I would be lying if I aforesaid it wasn’t draining,” Alvarado aforesaid.
Peterson aforesaid he starts the school year on empty.
Healy, too, is tired.
“If I had more time, I would be a better teacher,” Healy aforesaid. “I would be able to give better feedback.”
Sometimes she has to tell students she can’t meet with them after school because she has to make it to her second job. Sometimes she can’t grade assignments right away.
Most students are understanding, she aforesaid, especially those who besides work after school. But some aren’t.
“Students sometimes forget that teachers have outside lives,” Healy aforesaid.
Though they all enjoy their side gigs, Alvarado, Healy and Peterson aforesaid they would likely quit their second jobs if they felt they could afford to do so.
Teacher salaries in Colorado are determined by a system of “steps” and “lanes.” Steps measure how long teachers have worked in the district. Lanes measure how much education teachers have under their belts. Teachers earn more the thirster they stay in the district and the more educational acknowledgment they take.
In Poudre School District, freshman teachers with a bachelor’s degree earn $37,948 per year. If teachers ne'er pursue extra acknowledgment, the pay caps out at $52,461.
First-year teachers and counselors with master’s degrees earn $41,725 per year in PSD. That pay caps out at $66,576.
First-year teachers and counselors with a doctorial degree earn $46,068. That pay caps out at $87,716.
Peterson aforesaid the only meaty way to get a raise inside the district is to pursue extra educational acknowledgment — but teachers atypically have to pay for those out of pocket.
Healy is interested in following her master’s degree but knows it can be expensive
She detected about a $5 million grant unfunded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Language Acquisition and offered through the BUENO Center for doctrine Education at the University of Colorado Boulder. The grant, secured in 2017, launched in PSD and Eagle County Schools. It’s intended to help train teachers to work with English language learners and students with disabilities.
It would be a valuable addition to her skillset, Healy aforesaid.
It’s besides a pathway to boost her fiscal gain without going into more debt.