The Careers of Teachers in Australia: A Descriptive Study

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 30/17

Date: November 2017


Nikhil Jha
Chris Ryan


This study uses longitudinal data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey to provide a descriptive analysis of teacher careers in Australia, looking at transitions in and out of teaching, the length of spells spent teaching, remuneration and job satisfaction in both government and non-government school sectors. Each year, approximately 14 per cent of teachers leave teaching (becoming a principal is not counted as leaving teaching). Most who leave return to teaching at some stage, commonly after a gap of just one or two years. This absence from teaching is typically associated with starting a family. Overall, teachers are just as satisfied with their jobs as other professionals, and express above-average levels of job satisfaction in relation to job security, but below average satisfaction in relation to job flexibility (i.e. work/life balance). Those who left teaching recorded substantially lower job satisfaction on all aspects of their job while teaching, which suggests they were no longer well suited to teaching. The starting wages of full-time teachers are similar to those of other full-time professions, but their wages grow much more slowly with experience than other professions, for both males and females.

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