Teachers Pay

Should They Get Paid Hourly Wages, or Salary Wages?

Teachers Pay

Sarah Sahli, Features Editor, Sandscript Author

There has always been an abundance of controversy regarding the method of teachers’ pay. Some believe teachers should be compensated hourly and others believe a salary wage is more appropriate. Before committing to an opinion on any topic, it is important to understand both sides of the argument and the point of view that comes along with its pros and cons.


Firstly, the New York Times defines an hourly wage as payment based on the number of hours an individual spends at work. For example, if a barista works 40 hours within a week and has an hourly wage of 12 dollars an hour, he or she will be compensated 480 dollars. If the next week, the same barista works 32 hours, they will get paid 384 dollars. Their payment is not always consistent. On the other hand, the publication describes a salary wage as a fixed payment that is often indicated as an annual amount, 50,000 dollars a year or 100,000 dollars a year, for example. In this case, a worker is not paid based on the number of hours they commit to their job. The difference between the two is where the controversy exists. Teachers are generally compensated through the salary method and some people feel that it is not a fair implementation. 


Those that believe that an hourly wage is most appropriate obtain this mindset because of its accompanied pros. The method of compensation allows workers to receive overtime payments (an increase in wage for each overtime hour) if they have worked a number above 40 hours in a week. In addition, it is perceived that most hourly workers are not held responsible for any complications with a company while salary workers are expected to be committed to the growth of an organization and contribute to its success; therefore, they are held to higher standards. Additionally, hourly workers are not required to take their work home with them. Many teachers have to plan, grade, and respond to students and their work outside of the classroom. Finally, hourly workers supposedly maintain quality within their work because they are paid according to the time they spend.  


From an opposing standpoint, the cons of an hourly wage must be identified as well. Individuals who are exposed to hourly payments are not guaranteed a salary per month. Any inconsistency in income can be extremely detrimental. For example, if a worker is depending on his or her pay to maintain a family and does not receive the desired amount the family is presented with a great struggle. Furthermore, some companies do not allow workers to surpass 40 hours a week of labor. Thus, employees that are hoping for an opportunity for a little extra money cannot achieve that goal through overtime hourly wages. This can be a problem when a teenager, for example, is in need of braces, which can be pricey. If a mother or father is in need of an increase in income for a short period of time to provide braces for his or her child, the inability to work overtime hours is unfortunate. Of course, a family may need the extra money for a number of reasons besides providing braces. 


However, just like hourly wages, salary wages also have a number of benefits. Employees that are paid based on a salary income are guaranteed a certain amount of money in a given period of time. For example, 900 dollars per week and  4,000 dollars a month. Salaried workers are also more likely to receive benefits such as health care, retirement contributions, large bonuses, and more available paid vacations than hourly employees. Also, there are additional perks like a flexible schedule. Salary wages apparently come with a higher status and therefore have a higher rate than hourly wages allowing employees to put down payments on a car or a house. 


Finally, there are the cons of salary wages. A salaried employee will not receive any overtime compensation opportunities unless their position does not meet all the requirements to be “exempt”, unlike hourly employees. These workers also struggle to separate their professional and personal lives. They must be in constant communication with their office through email, phone calls, and other methods. This can be overwhelming, exhausting, and sometimes just annoying. 


There are a variety of pros and cons accompanied by both salary and hourly wages. Now with a broader knowledge of both methods of income, developing an opinion of the wages of teachers is more practical. Should they be paid hourly to experience the opportunity of overtime and the separation of their personal and professional lives? Or, should teachers be compensated through salary wages to experience vacations, a higher salary rate, being held to a higher standard, and receive benefits from their employer?