Teacher Retention and Turnover Research - Research Update 4: How Do Teachers Compare To Nurses And Police Officers?

Jack Worth, Jude Hillary, Joana Andrade

20 March 2018

How do working hours and earnings in the teaching profession compare to nursing and policing, two of the other large and important public sector professions in England? In this fourth Research Update, using data from the Understanding Society survey, we compare the characteristics of each profession’s workforce, their hours worked, earnings, and job satisfaction.

Our analysis shows that despite working the joint highest number of hours annually and having the joint lowest average hourly pay, teachers remain satisfied with their jobs and incomes. However, there is a lot of dissatisfaction with the amount of leisure time they have, which may be affecting retention.

Key Findings

Teachers work as many hours as police officers each year, but in fewer weeks. Teachers work the longest hours at 50 hours per week during term time, followed by police officers (44) and nurses (39). Even after taking account of school holidays, full-time teachers still work the equivalent of 45 hours per week.

Teachers’ average hourly pay has decreased most since 2009-10. Each profession has seen a reduction in real-terms earnings between 2009-10 and 2015-16. However, teachers’ average hourly pay (in real terms, after adjusting for inflation) has decreased by 15 per cent since 2009/10. Over the same period, average hourly pay has fallen by 4 and 11 per cent for nurses and police officers.

Teachers are satisfied with their jobs and income, but not with their leisure time. Nearly four in five teachers say they are satisfied with their jobs and income levels, which is mostly higher than the other professions. However, only 47 per cent of teachers say they are satisfied with their leisure time, the lowest of the three professions.

This NFER Research Update ‘How do teachers compare to nurses and police officers?’ is the fifth publication in a series that form part of this research project – funded by the Nuffield Foundation – to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics within the teacher workforce in England.