How are NZ teachers paid compared to the OECD

As schools are closing on Thursday due to the teachers’ strike, I thought it would be interesting to look at how teachers are paid in New Zealand compared to the rest of the developed world (OECD).

As one can see a NZ primary teachers with 15 years experience are paid 11th highest in the OECD, so in the top third.

A more detailed OECD report also shows teacher salaries on other scales. Using PPP adjusted US$ we have:

  • Primary starting $34,488 NZ vs $36,099 OECD
  • Primary 10 years $52,699 vs $46,286
  • Primary 15 years $52,699 vs $49,245
  • Primary top $52,699 vs $59,911

So NZ primary teachers are paid above the OECD average in PPP terms at 10 and 15 years experience, but are paid less at the top of the scale. To me, that would suggest we should be having higher salaries at the top of the scale – but of course that should not just be for time in job, but their ability to connect and teach. Our best teachers should be getting paid more.

If you compare average teacher salaries to the average salary for tertiary graduates, NZ teachers are at 92% of the average salary for primary and lower secondary and 100% for upper secondary. The OECD average is 86% for primary and 96% for upper secondary so again NZ teachers are above the OECD average in terms of their wages compared to the rest of the country.

So again I don’t think the issue is the overall salary levels, it is the scale. I think you can make a case for the starting salary being higher, and the top of the scale being higher, so it doesn’t max out after ten years.

The best teachers are easily worth over $100,000 for what they can achieve teaching kids.

Comments (79)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment