When does all that Professional Development pay off (literally)?

This summer, one of my goals is to advance my position on the salary scale. You may see me post less because I’ll be working on course work. But as I sat there today, working on my online professional development, a thought came to my head:

How much free work am I doing in order to advance my salary? And how soon does it pay off?

For those unfamiliar with the way LAUSD manages teacher pay – teachers are given raises for two things: professional development and years of service. This is called step-and-column, and you can see the LAUSD table here. Next year will be my 10th year teaching, which brings me to the highest level of pay for years of service. But in order to max out my salary, I need to have 98 salary credits – unpaid professional development that totals 98 semester credits. Which I do not have.


Each salary credit is supposed to require 15 hours of classwork and 30 hours of homework. That is 45 hours per unit. Multiply that by 98 salary credits, and you get 4,410 hours of work to max out your salary. A school year has about 1092 hours – so this system requires teachers to put in an additional 4 years of free work in order to achieve maximum salary. 

How much free labor is this? If you were to do 9.8 units per year for your first ten years, in order to max out your salary by year 10, you would be doing approximately $238,989 worth of free work. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing this.

In fact, I am quite a fan.

To put this all in perspective, it is useful to think of a teacher’s lifetime salary.

This graph takes into account the opportunity cost of not doing the salary point classes. That is – I reduced the salary points trend line by the amount of money that would have been made by doing free labor. By the 17th year, you have made up for all that free work that you did.

And over the course of a 40 year teaching career, a teacher with full salary points will make $572,733 more than the teacher with no salary credit (even taking into account the free labor). That does not even begin to take into account the benefits for one’s pension. Or the ability to secure larger mortgages.

So yeah, I basically wrote this post to motivate me to take these courses. I have all summer to do this. Half a million dollars extra, here I come…

Or maybe I’ll just binge watch some Netflix.

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