Careers >> Browse Articles >> Career Trends


When, Where, and How Much Do U.S. Teachers Work?

When, Where, and How Much Do U.S. Teachers Work?

Jill Hare,

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently conducted a study to find out teachers’ work patterns in comparison with other professionals. If you are already a teacher, you know that a career in teaching is like no other- but how do you compare with the rest of the teaching force and other professionals? New or aspiring teachers: this is a great way to see how the work patterns of your future career may affect your lifestyle and habits.

“In addition to teaching, teachers grade assignments, develop lesson plans, and perform other tasks in which they have some flexibility in determining when and where they work,” economist Rachel Krantz-Kent writes. The study that was conducted from 2003-2006 by the BLS was limited to those persons whose main job was teaching preschool-to-high school students full-time, or 35 or more hours a week.

After reading the study, I found five interesting points to share:

1. Older teachers worked more hours than younger teachers.

• Teachers aged 50 and older who were employed full time worked more hours per week than teachers who were younger- 6.7 more hours than teachers in their thirties and 5.1 more hours than teachers in their twenties

Average working hours per week

Ages 20-29: 37 hours per week

Ages 30-39: 36 hours per week

Ages 40-49: 40 hours per week

Ages 50-59: 42 hours per week

I found this statistic especially interesting since all of the schools where I have worked the veteran teachers seemed to be out the door at the end of the day while the new teachers where still perfecting their bulletin boards and planning lessons. Maybe it’s because those veteran teachers were choosing to do their work at home (see below.)

2. Teachers were more likely than other professionals to do some work at home.

• Thirty percent of teachers worked at home on an average day, compared with 20 percent of other full-time professionals.

Grading papers and answering parent emails has to get done. I agree that doing it from home can be a better option if there aren’t distractions.

3. Teachers were more likely to work on a Sunday than were other professionals.

• Fifty-one percent of teachers worked on an average Sunday, compared with thirty percent of other full-time professionals.

Sunday is crunch time. While Saturday may be slightly more relaxing, the papers that need to be graded by Monday or the lesson that hasn’t been planned for first period Monday morning must be done so teachers can get their Sunday night rest before another week begins.

4. Teachers were more likely than other professionals to work during the morning hours.

• On weekdays that they worked, teachers were more likely to work between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. than were other full-time professionals.

• The greatest difference between teachers and other professionals occurred early in the day, between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., when 79 percent of teachers did at least some work, compared with 55 percent of other full-time professionals.

Teachers need to be good morning people. I know I started teaching my first class at 7:30. The morning can be a quiet and productive time to get the working day off to a good start. By the time the professional world gets to work, some teachers may have already planned a lesson and taught two or three classes. Some working professionals think teachers are lucky that the school days ends at 3pm since it seems like we are working an incomplete work day. However, it’s hardly a shorter work day when you count the hours.

5. Teachers were more likely than other professionals to be multiple jobholders.

• Seventeen percent of teachers hold another job, while only twelve percent of other professionals do.

The low salary of teachers can be made up by the “free” afternoon of holding a second job.

In addition to the career findings, the study also found that teachers, though they spend only a fraction less hours working per day, they do spend more time in household activities- but only twelve minutes per day.

The study confirms what I already suspected. Teachers are hard workers- both at school and at home.

Discuss this article now.

Read more. The American Teacher, Statistically Speaking

Data Source: “Teacher’s work patterns: when, where, and how much do U.S. teachers work?” by Rachel Krantz-Kent, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Read the full essay here.

Teaching School Finder

Save time in your search for a degree program. Use Teaching's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.