Some teachers heading back to school today might not have gotten much of a winter break.
Instead of lounging in their pajamas, teachers who already work part-time jobs may have logged extra hours at retail stores and restaurants during the two-week holiday break, while others took a seasonal job.
The practice of working a part-time job to earn extra cash is nothing new for teachers and other educators, said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. It's fueled by low teaching salaries, particularly among young teachers.
"I know a lot of educators who work extra jobs, and not just on breaks," Specht said. "What we're finding is education jobs don't necessarily pay the bills, especially for teachers who are new to the profession with student loan debt."
A 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey on multiple job holding over the last two decades indicates that "a considerable portion of workers" employed in professional services, a category that includes K-12 teachers, hold more than one job. The survey notes that previous studies have shown that at least 13 percent of teachers hold multiple jobs, a high rate compared to other fields.
According to the National Education Association, the average teacher's salary in Minnesota is $56,670, about $700 less than the national average.
Kira Johanson, a first-year special education teacher in the Shakopee district, works from 15 to 30 hours a week as a waitress at the Valley Diner in Apple Valley to make ends meet.
"It's just to pick up extra money because your first years teaching you don't make very much," Johanson said. "If I have days off of school, I'll pick up days at the diner."
First-year teachers aren't the only ones looking for a little extra income. Deneen Coats, who teaches music at Christian Life Academy in Farmington, works part-time to supplement her $26,000 salary.
"Because I am only part time and I'm at a private school, I don't get paid as much," she said.
During the holiday season, she clocks up to 25 hours a week at Lifeway, a Burnsville Christian bookstore. She also works there during the summer, though she's taught summer school in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan district as well.
Without the additional money, her family would have to tighten their budget, she said. Other teachers at her school work at Target or a tutoring center, she added.
"To be honest, the older I get the less desirable [working a second job] gets," she said.