I am often astounded by the hours that other bloggers out there keep on a consistent basis. Many of these authors are trying to get ahead of the game, and are aggressive in their day jobs and/or have young families. This results in them often coping with six hours of sleep or less. This is definitely one of my weaknesses as a human being. I never sleep past 8 AM, but I do need my rest to be at anywhere near full capacity. I function best if I’m in bed by 11 PM, then up again in 7-8 hours. If I get below 7 hours of sleep my productivity drops dramatically. All this to say, my job gives me several advantages as a blogger that I am happy to exploit.
Canada – The Land of Milk and Honey… and Happy Teachers
Before I go in-depth about why teaching is such a great job if you want to start a side gig, I should mention that all of my statistics are specific to Canada. There are slight differences across provinces, but overall, we are pretty equal. This is not so for the USA and other places. Many of my friends that teach in the States make much less than I do, and this would obviously make the job slightly less appealing (most teachers don’t do for it for the money, but I wouldn’t do it for free either).
There is considerable debate about how much teachers should get paid. I know that my union is absolutely relentless in pushing our agenda. Some believe that our job is extraordinarily important and that we should be paid more than we currently do, while others believe that we are merely babysitters who get 3 months a year off. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. I honestly believe I get paid very well for what I do, and there are probably not many people that can say that about their job. In order to pursue a side gig, like starting an online business, it is very nice to have a stable safety net. My job is the definition of that. In my permanent teaching position, my job security (thanks to the aforementioned ultra-strong union) is unparalleled. I started at around 50K last year, and my raises are locked in over a 10 year period. In Manitoba, most teachers “max out” at around 80K a year, and we ensure that we stay very close to inflationary numbers in terms of raises (if not higher) whenever our contract comes up.
The financial-related benefits in teaching are worth mentioning as well. Sure there is the pension, but as I’ve mentioned before, that isn’t as great as some believe it to be. Most investors could easily replicate the process if they merely had the discipline. The real savings come in the form of large group life insurance, health care plans, dental insurance, and other negotiated benefits that are often subsidized heavily by the provincial government and/or administered by our union. This keeps costs low, benefits high, and most of all, it saves copious amounts of time in terms of comparing rates. I realize that I am very fortunate to have this low maintenance security and stability. It allows me to not only focus more on my teaching career, but also on a side gig without those distractions.
So How Hard Do Teachers Really Work?
There are not many more controversial questions out there than asking how hard teachers work. It is worth considering when you look at the careers that other side gig operators have. Here is the answer I usually give to people when the question is posed to me: Good teachers are probably worth well over 100K a year. They inspire people, make a huge difference in lives, and generally improve society in all kinds of ways that would be shocking if you could quantify them into dollar signs. Bad teachers probably deserve close to minimum wage. Many do literally no prep work, give out high grades to prevent parent complaints, and generally just fly under the radar. Most teachers are somewhere between those two extremes, but since we seem hell-bent on fighting any form of merit pay, this is the reality of the situation.
The typical teacher’s schedule is very cyclical. There are a few days a month where I do get out of the building before 4 o’clock. There are several weeks during the year when report cards are due and/or I’m coaching sports teams, that I easily put in 70 hours. I personally prefer to get into class early, and I’m almost always at school an hour before my students, but then again, I know many teachers that aren’t. The bottom line is that teaching allows me to have huge chunks of time off. A two month summer vacation, a week-long spring break, over two weeks at Christmas, and several long weekends a year, are invaluable to someone starting their own business, especially an online one. Right now for example I am blogging to save my life and don’t have many reserve posts, but with spring break coming up I hope to be able to stockpile enough posts to get me to summer. The teacher’s summer vacation is an entrepreneur’s dream. Two months of funded freedom to pursue your own ambitions. Can’t beat that.
If a teacher has a permanent contract within a school division, they can usually be easily accommodated if they want to scale back their hours. It is a little more difficult if you want to take on more working time, but if you’re patient and willing to be flexible in the courses you want to teach, this is usually able to be accommodated as well. If I ever get to the point where my side gig makes me a ton of money, I would definitely consider going half-time. The other neat thing that most school divisions now have, is an administrated year off (sabbatical). If you choose, the school division will automatically deduct a pre-determined amount of your wage from your paycheck and then pay it back to you as you take one year off to “re-charge your batteries” or start a side gig! This is actually interesting from a tax-savings perspective as well.
Work Hard, Play Hard… Then Do Your Side Gig
I know many teachers out there are going to jump all over me for saying that educators aren’t the most hard done by bunch around, but we have it pretty sweet (in Canada anyway). Even those of us that put in extra hours are amply rewarded for it, and the flexibility we have on both a daily, and a career basis enables us to build a schedule largely around our side gigs. When I compare it to the schedules many of my blogging friends keep, there really is no comparison.