Teacher Salary Stories: An Ohio Football Coach Earning $89,000 in 2024

“Any job change now … would end up being a pay cut instead of a pay raise.”

In our series Teacher Salary Stories, We Are Teachers readers share how they’re making it work—or not—on a teacher’s salary. The goal is to take an honest look at teacher pay in the United States and around the world—what’s working, what’s not, and what needs to change if we want to stem the flow of educators leaving the profession and recruit new teachers to the field.

In today’s Teacher Salary Story, an English teacher and Ohio football coach shares his 34-year career journey. Starting with a salary of $14,600, he now earns $89,000 at a district where he has been for the last 25 years. His income progression includes taking new jobs for better pay, standard step increases, and topping out on the salary scale with base yearly increases. Despite this, he manages a bi-weekly paycheck of approximately $2,700, enhanced by additional class coverage and coaching responsibilities. He and his wife, a paraprofessional in the same district, support their two children at home and have a combined net worth of $750,000, including their home and retirement accounts. Monthly expenses total around $2,950, covering mortgage, car payments, and other household costs. He remains committed to education, though he occasionally explores other career opportunities due to financial pressures.

Where do you live?

Vermilion, Ohio.

What is your job title?

English teacher.

What is your annual salary?


What is your highest level of education?


Master’s degree.

How did you pay for your education?

I took out a loan for my BA in English, received a partial grant for my master’s, and my mom helped pay the rest.

How long have you been teaching? Is this your first career?

I have been teaching since 1990—34 years.

What was your starting salary as a teacher?

I started at $14,600 at a Catholic high school.

Tell us about your income progression (e.g., have you received standard step increases, taken on extra duties, gotten an advanced degree, or switched roles?).

I have taken two new jobs to advance in pay, but the last 25 years have been in the same district. I received step increases until the last five years, when I only received yearly salary increases on our base salary after topping out on the salary scale.

How much is one paycheck, after taxes, and how often are you paid?

I receive bi-weekly payments and earn a base amount of about $2,700. I take on extra class coverage and supplementals to boost each paycheck or add a lump sum seasonally.

What is your approximate net worth including savings, investments, retirement, and other assets?

With my house and Ohio State Teachers Retirement System account, about $750,000.

How many people live in your household? Are you the only earner?

Four people. My wife is a paraprofessional in the same district and my two children still live at home.

What are your approximate monthly expenses (e.g., rent/mortgage, car payment or other loans, childcare, food, entertainment, phone/Internet/utilities, other subscriptions)? 

Mortgage: $1,660
3 car payments: $900
Parent Plus loan: $200
Food: $1,000
Utilities: $400
Entertainment: $100
Other loans/credit cards: $650
Miscellaneous: $200

Do you receive a school- or PTA-provided budget for classroom supplies? If so, how much?

There is no PTA budget for high school because there is no PTA for high school.

How much of your own money do you spend on your classroom every year?

Between my wife and I, about $1,000.

What kinds of things do you buy when you treat yourself?

New shoes or a new shirt or clothes for work. My wife spends similarly, perhaps visiting a professional for her nails every three or four months.

What expense would you take on if you suddenly got an extra $1,000 per paycheck?

I would try to pay down our other bills so we could save more for retirement. Once I pay down my debts, I will contribute more to a 403(b) or set up an IRA account/annuity.

How does your district handle retirement? Will you receive a pension?

I have an Ohio State Teachers Retirement System pension but cannot touch it until I retire. My district pays a percentage of sick days as severance.

Do you have any secondary sources of income, like a side hustle or another job?

I work at Lowe’s over the summer to save for expenses and coach at various football camps. Additionally, I coach three sports and serve as a school advisor during the year, each providing extra income. I also teach summer school when available.

How satisfied are you with your teaching salary on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being very satisfied and 1 being not at all satisfied? Please explain.

7 or 8. This is a good wage, but given all of the incidentals and the way today’s economy is, I worry about being able to pay for living in retirement. I joke with my children about living in their basement, but to be honest … I fear I may have to with the way things are going economically.

Has your current and/or future salary impacted your decision-making around other major life choices (e.g., where you live, whether you rent/own, whether or not to have kids, etc.)? Please explain.

My salary absolutely has influenced my plans. Not so much where I live but more in how long I will teach. I am eligible to retire in 2027, but the cost of insurance and such is forcing me to teach until I turn 65 so I can draw on Medicare and supplemental insurance. Also, there’s the issue of how long we will stay in our house as well. We might sell and downsize to help save money for and in retirement.

Do you plan to stay in education?

I do plan on it now, but in all honesty, I still look for another job every so often that is not education. Unfortunately, I am so far into my career, and so far up the salary scale, that any job change now, even within education, would end up being a pay cut instead of a pay raise.

Do you have any other thoughts about teacher pay that you’d like to share?

I believe that teacher pay, for the most part, matches most other jobs in my area of Ohio. However, the high taxes and automatic retirement deductions make it nearly impossible for a teacher to support a family on a single income. Even well-established teachers face difficulties not with daily expenses but with saving for college and retirement. A tax credit or exemption similar to the military’s GI Bill for teachers to pay for college would help. While there are mortgage breaks, they are limited to specific areas that are unappealing to most educators. Offering these breaks universally would be beneficial.

Are you interested in participating in our Teacher Salary Stories project? Fill out the Google Form here. If we choose your story for publication, we will notify you and send you a $150 gift card. All responses will be published anonymously.