In a video shared to TikTok, an Arizona woman explained how she quit her job as a fifth grade teacher after two months because she was only making $12 an hour. “I was pulling out of my savings in order to live,” said TikTok user @emmtee23. “I was getting paid and then still having to pull out of my savings in order to literally make a living. Not even make a living, I was paying to work.”
After quitting her teaching job, the 23-year-old said she didn’t “need a career” at this stage in her life and decided to interview for a barista position. But when she learned how much more money she could be making as a barista, she was shocked and upset.
“I don’t know why this upsets me,” she began. “As a barista, you can be making $20-22 an hour. As a teacher – this literally makes me mad to even say it – I made $12. I made $12 an hour to literally work on Sundays, work on Saturdays, work after work, manage a whole classroom of literally 30 10-year-olds that were just bazonkos,” she said. “Teachers don’t get credit.”
“Like, I cannot believe I could have been a barista this whole time and not even gone down that route. Two months of my life wasted.”
“I’m heated,” she captioned the post. “#Arizona”.
The TikToker’s video sparked a debate about the difference in pay for baristas and teachers, with many viewers claiming that a teacher salary is “so sad” while arguing the educators should be making a much higher salary. However, others were surprised by how low the salary was, while some said the TikToker shouldn’t have accepted the job in the first place.
“I knew this was Arizona before reading the caption,” commented one viewer. “So sad.”
Despite needing a college degree and oftentimes a master’s degree, teaching is still one of the lowest paid jobs in the US, although starting salaries can differ from state to state. According to Business Insider, public school teachers made $61,730 on average between 2018 and 2019. In Arizona, the average teacher salary was $50,381, but some teachers can make as little as $38,000.
“I’m sorry,” one person said. “They’re definitely underpaid.”
“This is where we gotta decide what we love to do vs what pays the best,” another user commented.
“I was in education for six years and it was a hard decision to go, because I loved my students but I also needed to be able to live,” someone else shared.
When one user asked, “Maybe find out the expected pay before you pursue a career?” the TikToker responded: “Hun, I knew the pay was low but, unlike you, I actually wanted to bring people up and help them until I realised I was essentially paying to work.”
However, the critic was not alone, as one viewer suggested the TikToker should not have accepted the job “in the first place” if she’d known the salary.
“This [is] on you for not doing research on career compensation,” added someone else.
After receiving more than 100,000 views on her original post, TikToker @emmtee23 posted a follow-up video, in which she revealed that she’d accepted the barista position.
“I accepted the barista position because that is what I want to do right now, and eventually I think it’d be really cool to open up my own coffee shop, so might as well learn those skills right now,” she explained.
“I also think I’m going to get certified in yoga and become a yoga instructor,” she added. “So I’m pretty much living my best life.”