Teacher Salary Stories: A South Carolina High School Math Teacher Earning $49,500 in 2024

“I am thankful I am able to provide for my family.”

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, we hear from a South Carolina high school math teacher who has been teaching for seven years, marking his second career. He started at a salary of $32,000 and currently earns $49,500. He is now working toward additional qualifications to further increase his salary. Living with a family of four with a baby on the way, he is the sole earner, managing a $750 mortgage while his wife homeschools their children. His net worth is approximately $100,000, including savings and investments, with a monthly take-home pay of $3,500. Despite financial constraints, he finds satisfaction in his ability to support his family, rating his contentment with his salary at 8 out of 10. His story reflects the broader issues facing many teachers who strive to balance professional dedication and financial realities, underscoring the ongoing conversation about teacher pay and the importance of supportive measures to retain dedicated educators.

Where do you live?

Greenville, South Carolina.

What is your job title?

High school math teacher.

What is your annual salary?


What is your highest level of education?


Bachelor’s degree.

How did you pay for your education?

Scholarships, work, and help from family.

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

7 years, and no, this is not my first career.

What was your starting salary as a teacher?

$32,000. I took a break, and then it was $40,000 when I came back.

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?).

Standard step and our state has been working to increase teacher pay for the past decade. Working on my plus-18 (hours of graduate credit) now.

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

$1,750 twice a month. I exempt myself from federal and state income taxes.

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


Who lives with you in your household? Are you the only earner?

Four people and one more on the way. Yes, I am the only earner. My wife stays home and homeschools our kids.

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

$750 mortgage

$200 car payment

$1,700 (food, gas, misc, family fun, homeschooling, household needs)

$120 utilities

$500 giving

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

Yes, $300.

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


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

Vacations with family, out to eat with wife, music, garden stuff.

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

Save or invest.

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

I am at a charter school. They have a 401k program. I put in 6% and they put in 8%.

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

Not currently, but I did in the past.

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.

8. I am thankful I am able to provide for my family, and when I learned I was able to exempt myself from income taxes with no penalty to me, it really opened up my finances. Right now I’m not able to set too much aside for savings, but it has always worked out.

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.

No. My wife and I learned early on not to allow money to be something that guides our major life decisions. We are about to have at 3 kids and have no doubt they will have a safe and loving home provided for them.

Do you plan to stay in education?


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

I am appreciative of the awareness around raising teacher pay.

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.