How to negotiate salaries- for teachers

Salary negotiation isn’t just for people on 6 figure salaries or in ridiculous tech or finance jobs. In my experience teachers can negotiate salaries too. (4 min read)

A few years ago I was sitting on an interview panel when something that I’d not seen in about 8 years of interviewing staff in schools happened. We offered the job to the candidate, a physics teacher, and she said something like “I’d love to, but I was wondering if you could up the salary.”

There was silence. I think my boss, the Head, was slightly peeved, the interview was now going to take a bit longer and he had stuff to do.  I inwardly smiled. I was so used to reading that women never negotiated salaries that is was nice to see somebody who did. I’ve never seen a man do that in teaching either by the way.

There was a bit of to and fro. She outlined why she thought she was worth it, remember she already knew we wanted her because she’d been offered the job on the spot. Eventually she got a salary higher than the one advertised.

I’ve had similar experiences in a few different roles in and out of teaching and was talking about this to another teacher once so thought I’d share my experiences

Know what you are worth

Understand the market for your position. I’m first and foremost a maths teacher and I have a decent track record in a variety of roles. Good maths teachers are generally in demand in the areas I’m happy to work in (London and East of England). So if you are good and there is a shortage of your skills then it’s likely you’ll have a decent chance of doing well in negotiating.

Look at what similar jobs are paying in the region you are looking for. Consider the highest possible range you’ve seen ” I know that in other schools like this they are paying X for my role.”

Your best chance of negotiating is when you start a new role at a new school.

Sorry but it’s true. You are more likely to get a reasonable pay rise by moving schools than staying put. That’s just life. There isn’t really a premium for loyalty these days. Deal with it. If you are happy and growing and developed in other ways then stay where you are. There is more to life than money but if you feel under appreciated or want a new challenge you need to be brave and move. Moaning in the staff room for year after year won’t change things. Even if it’s for exactly the  same position elsewhere. I’ve had fairly decent pay rises that way and I know lots of other teachers who have too.

Your best chance of negotiating is when you have just been offered the job/new role

At this point you know they want you. It’s simple supply and demand. Don’t be an idiot and try and negotiate before being offered a job. That’s presumptuous, you may not be what they want. Once offered though, go for it. They want you, you want a job, you’ve just got to agree terms that are suitable for everybody.

There’s no need to be a knob

Just be chilled. Confirm what they were offering from the advert then open things up

“I’d love to work here, I understand you are offering… I was hoping we could go a bit higher because…”

Outline what you are excited about doing when you come and how you’ll add value. Outline your experience. Outline what other roles are offering. Why you are worth the top of the range advertised or a bit more. Do it with a smile. Everybody wants to feel like they’ve got a good deal and can go away with their head held high.

If somebody approaches you about a job you can definitely negotiate

If you are good/respected/whatever enough for people to approach you about a job or something else paid (consultancy or similar), they specifically want you. So it’s their job to persuade you to come. I’ve been on the receiving end of people doing this very well. I’ve also been the negotiator, it’s scary but it also tends to work.

Negotiation may not just be about money

Maybe you only want to work on particular days. Maybe you specifically need A-Level teaching. I don’t know but think about what you want and ask for it. Get things in writing though…

Be happy whatever the outcome

The worst that can happen is that they say no (which happens less often than you’d think). It’s not the end of the world. You won’t die. Presumably you already worked out if you want the job or not whatever they said.  I was once offered the job but they changed what had been offered in the advert. I tried to negotiate and they weren’t having it so I politely declined the job. All was fine and the world didn’t end.

Whatever happens you’ll be building those negotiation skills for a time when it really matters and it’s good to keep employers on their toes.