Teaching, often called “the noble profession,” included about 3.1 million public and 400,000 private teachers in schools across the United States when the school year began in 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. As with all occupations, some of those teachers will be more satisfied with their jobs than others. Measures of teacher satisfaction differ according to the source. Satisfaction may also be affected by factors such as how long a teacher has been teaching and job stress.
Overall Satisfaction Dropping
In a 2012 survey conducted by Metropolitan Life, researchers surveyed 1,000 teachers. The teachers taught in grades ranging from kindergarten to grade 12. Researchers found teacher satisfaction had dropped by 23 percentage points since 2008. The survey results showed the lowest teacher satisfaction levels in the last 25 years; only 39 percent of the teachers surveyed reported being very satisfied with their jobs. In 2008, 62 percent were very satisfied with their jobs.
Stress and Other Factors
Possible sources of teacher job dissatisfaction included job stress, declining school budgets and lack of time for professional development. Slightly more than half -- 51 percent -- of teachers reported feeling under great stress several days a week. In 1985, only 36 percent of teachers reported great stress. In 2012, 47 percent of the least satisfied teachers reported working in schools where budgets had declined in the last 12 months. Teachers in schools with declines in professional development were also more likely to be dissatisfied than those in which professional development was supported, with a ratio of 21 to 14 percent.
Relationships and Working Conditions
Teacher satisfaction has many different facets. For example, a teacher may be satisfied with her pay but unhappy about her relationships with colleagues or working conditions. A study of 385 high school science teachers found more than 80 percent of the teachers were satisfied with their choice of profession and their professional colleagues. The survey was published in the 2013 Electronic Journal of Science Education. Sources of teacher dissatisfaction included school facilities, equipment, administrative communication, professional development opportunities and recognition for their teaching efforts. Reports of teacher satisfaction in these areas varied from less than 60 to more than 80 percent in relation to these factors.
Longevity and Community Factors
In 2013, 89 percent of teachers reported being satisfied in their jobs, the same number as in 2011, according to a report from educational publisher Scholastic. However, in 2011, 42 percent reported being very satisfied, and in 2013, 38 percent reported being very satisfied. Teachers who had been teaching less than four or more than 20 years were more likely to report being very satisfied than teachers who had been teaching between 4 and 20 years, with figures of 42 percent, 42 percent and 35 percent, respectively. Teachers who taught in communities with a median income of $70,000 or more were more likely to report being very satisfied than those in communities with a median income of less than $39,000. In the first group, 43 percent reported being very satisfied, while in the second group 35 percent reported being very satisfied.
- National Center for Education Statistics: Back to School Statistics
- Metropolitan Life: The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher
- Science and Engineering Indicators, 2008: Teacher Salaries, Working Conditions, and Job Satisfaction
- Electronic Journal of Science Education: Job Satisfaction of High School Science Teachers: Prevalence and Association with Teacher Retention
- Scholastic: Primary Sources – America’s Teachers on Teaching in an Era of Change
- Photo Credit Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images