Middle School Teacher Claims That Her Salary Only Increased By $3,000 Annually After She Got Her Master's Degree

While some viewers argued that the teacher should find a new position if she was unhappy with her salary, others agreed that teachers are undervalued.

Teacher, teacher salary @ms.zak / TikTok / Ground Picture / Shutterstock 

Teaching can be a challenging profession with various difficulties that teachers face daily. These can include managing diverse classrooms, dealing with disruptive student behavior, grading and assessing student work, keeping up with curriculum changes, and adapting to new technologies.

On top of these difficulties, many teachers do not get paid nearly enough as they deserve. One middle school teacher is advocating for better pay for all teachers after she revealed her salary even after obtaining her Master’s degree. 


The teacher shared that she only received a $3,000 bonus after she earned her Master’s degree. 

Ms. Zak, a middle school teacher who often posts videos about her experiences in teaching to her TikTok account, sparked a conversation among viewers regarding teacher salaries after she claimed to have only had a $3,000 increase in her annual salary after obtaining her Master’s degree.

In a video that has been viewed over 710,000 times, she revealed that her salary will go from $53,000 annually to $56,000 annually after she enriched her education and got her Master’s degree in education. She adds that one of her friends, who only has a Bachelor’s degree, earns around $30,000 more than she does while working fewer hours. 


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The point of her video was to raise awareness of how little teachers usually earn despite all of their hard work. Although it varies by state, teachers in the U.S. earn a median average of just over $61,000 annually according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data. For many of them, this is not nearly enough to make a decent living and especially not enough to compensate for everything they have to deal with.

Some teachers agreed with Ms. Zak’s message in the comments section. “It's soul-crushing to be treated as a lesser professional when people have no idea the level of knowledge needed,” one TikTok user commented. “Teachers are so underappreciated,” another user pointed out. “Mine will go from $46,000 to $50,000 with my Masters after SEVEN YEARS in the profession,” another user shared.


However, other users argued that the teacher should find a new position if she was unhappy with her salary. In a follow-up video, Ms. Zak addressed such comments and defended her decision to remain teaching despite the low wages.

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“Teachers are quitting, and now the United States has a huge teacher shortage,” she claims. “I’m still teaching, and I will continue to advocate for fair compensation, while wholeheartedly supporting those who made the tough decision to leave teaching.”


Ms. Zak is correct in her statements. According to a Government Accountability Office on pandemic learning, it was estimated that public education lost about 7% of its total teaching population between 2019 and 2021. This totaled over 230,000 instructors.

The most common reasons teachers provided for leaving their jobs included strict time demands, increased behavioral issues from students, and lack of administrative support.

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Teacher shortages will directly impact schools themselves, especially the students. 

“Telling teachers to be quiet and simply accept their unfair wages is not going to fix the national teacher shortage,” Ms. Zak added in the comments section. “Teachers' working conditions are students’ learning conditions. If all teachers leave to find better pay, the students will suffer.” 


The teacher claims that while she loves her job, she will continue to advocate for better pay. For those who argued that she should refrain from complaining since teachers have summers off, Ms. Zak clapped back with another follow-up video. 



“While I do get the summer off, that time is unpaid,” she reminds them. The teacher shares that she must pick up a second job during the summer just to make ends meet. “Even with insurance, when you factor in all of the extra work teachers are doing outside of their contract hours unpaid just to be able to stay on top of things, and having professional level degrees, it does not all add up.” 

Teachers are a crucial part of our society and play an essential role in shaping the future of our world. It is time that their hard work is recognized and that they earn a liveable wage.


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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.