Comparing the Pay of US Teachers to ones in Finland

Kiia Lappalainen- Honor Bound-

Teachers everywhere in the world help kids learn something new and exciting every day. Our public school teachers are the ones providing all the tools for each child to succeed as they grow up. Does the pay for public school teachers reflect the importance of their work? No, especially in America, teachers are often paid less than the average income of an American worker.

Since teachers are not being paid enough, the brighter students who graduate pursue other fields. In Finland education is one of the most competitive fields in higher education. Finnish public school teachers all complete a mandatory Master’s Degree from the university, before they can star teaching any class. In fact only one in ten students gets to pursue teaching careers in Finland [1]. For this reason, their teachers are paid reasonably well, making young Finns have one more incentive to become a teacher, besides having the chance to work with young children every day.

Many American teachers that have been to Finland have noticed that the education board actually trusts their teacher to know the students [2]. Because of this factor many teachers create close bonds with their students. This lets the teacher find the best ways to teach the students without interference from a higher power [2]. Teachers can get creative with their own teaching styles and are not disciplined by their superiors. “It is rare to see a Finnish teacher stand at the front of the classroom lecturing students for a full 50 minutes. As a result, ninety percent of Finnish student’s complete high school and two thirds of these graduates enroll in universities or professionally oriented polytechnic schools” [6].

In American school systems, that Finnish trusting factor does not exist and no one rewards teachers when their students are doing well or punishes them when their students are doing poorly [3]. Although Americans always talk about how important education is, no one ever does anything to improve it.

The pay between teachers in Finland and in America is not that different, Finns receive 43,000 dollars compared to 41,000 dollars that an average American teacher makes. However, Finnish teachers do not put in nearly as many hours as American teachers do. The average American teacher can work up to more than 40 hours a week, while Finnish teachers most likely will only work up to 30 hours. [4, 5] This means that the teachers in Finland are actually being treated like the professors at American universities.

In conclusion, the basic pay for teachers in Finland and in America is not significantly different. However, a teacher’s role in Finland is much more respected and they are given the freedom to choose their teaching methods, resulting in a more engaging environment for both the student and the teacher.



[1] Abby Jackson, “4 Reasons Finland’s schools are better, “Business Insider, June 22, 2016,

[2] Unknown, “An American Teacher’s Thoughts on the Finnish Education System,” Education Week, June 22, 2016,

[3] Wheelan, Charles J. Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science. New York: Norton, 2002.

[4] Jill Hare, “When, Where, and How Much Do U.S. Teachers Work?,” Teaching Community, June 22, 2016,

[5] Tim Walker, “FIRST GRADE IN FINLAND: EVERY DAY IS A HALF DAY,” Taught by Finland, June 22, 2016,

[6] Linda Darling-Hammond, “What we can learn from Finland’s successful school reform,” National Education Association, June 22, 2016,


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