Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

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cncm
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Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by cncm »

I'm thinking of going into teaching as a second career after reaching my $ target for FIRE - trying to make sure I consider every aspect of this move. Would appreciate any insights/advice from this community...especially teachers and those who have continued to work in a second career after reaching financial independence.

A bit of background: my husband and I are in our mid 30s, no kids (yet) but working on that. We have around $1.8M portfolio (half brokerage, the other half split among 401ks, roth IRAs, and 529s) + $300k home equity. Our annual spend (excluding mortgage) is ~$60k while our mortgage/condo fees/taxes equal to another $60k per year. My husband recently quit his regular job to work on a start-up (high risk/reward but 0 income in the meantime) while I make ~$400k/year in my corporate job. We live in a VHCOL city.

The plan: I want to go into teaching as a second career, specifically would like to be a HS math/STEM teacher. I've taught at the community college level as an adjunct before (briefly before my current corporate job took off and ended up taking all my time). I've also spent summers volunteering as a teacher in Asia/Africa when I was in college. I enjoy the personal interactions, the sense of purpose, and I'm good at explaining/breaking down complex ideas (multiple students have told me this). I understand teaching is hard work with low pay. My plan is to move to a lower cost of living city, go back to school to get my MA in teaching, become properly certified and hopefully land a job in a good school district. I only plan on doing this after hitting our FIRE number ($2M in investments which should generate $60k annual income using the 3% rule) so conservatively looking to make this move sometime in 2022.

My questions:
1) Given we have no ties to our current city, we're quite flexible in terms of relocating to a new city. Our ideal place would be a diverse city with lots of good food, good public schools, and reasonable cost of living (and temperate weather would be a huge bonus). Currently, we're considering North Carolina (Research Triangle), Florida (Tampa area), Boston, and Philly...but open to other suggestions. Would appreciate any insights into these places, both in terms of quality of life, as well as school districts/teacher experiences.
2) Given how challenging teaching is and the high attrition rate, one thing I'm looking into is whether teachers in these states continue to contribute to social security. I don't mind losing out on a pension if I don't end up teaching for 30 years (actually very unlikely to do that) but I don't want to end up with no/little social security as well. Am I right in making that a top priority? And if so, Boston would be eliminated as MA doesn't cover teachers for social security. Also, I'm interested in moving to part-time work at some point if we do end up having kids (e.g. work as substitute teacher).
3) Is my $2M FIRE goal too low? I feel like I could always convince myself to "work one more year just in case" but tbh, feeling really burnt out in my corporate career. Both my husband and I would like to keep working in some capacity for the foreseeable future; FIRE would just give us the freedom and flexibility to pursue more meaningful jobs at significantly lower pay.
4) Would love to hear from current teachers on what things I need to consider when job hunting to maximize my chance of landing in a good school district. Also, my understanding is it should be fairly easy to find a job as a math/STEM teacher given it's in high demand - please correct me if I'm wrong!

Thanks in advance for everyone's advice/insights!
oldfort
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by oldfort »

As a result of COVID-19, you might be choosing the worst moment to try to become a teacher. School budgets are stressed and it's easier to cram more students into a virtual classroom to save staffing costs.
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willthrill81
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by willthrill81 »

Given all of the uncertainties involving teaching for the foreseeable future, I would not plan on earning anything after you retire (i.e. leave your current work) for the purposes of making your financial plan work. As you note, teaching in the setting you are interested in is a lot of work for not much money. You might enjoy it, but you might hate it. For instance, none of the teachers I know, both in primary and secondary education, are happy about the current online-only environment for instruction.

$2 million may be perfectly adequate for your needs IF you move to a much lower COL area. Are you reasonably confident that you will be happy in a different area?
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
Cousin Eddie
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by Cousin Eddie »

cncm wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:38 pm The plan: I want to go into teaching as a second career, specifically would like to be a HS math/STEM teacher. I've taught at the community college level as an adjunct before (briefly before my current corporate job took off and ended up taking all my time). I've also spent summers volunteering as a teacher in Asia/Africa when I was in college. I enjoy the personal interactions, the sense of purpose, and I'm good at explaining/breaking down complex ideas (multiple students have told me this). I understand teaching is hard work with low pay. My plan is to move to a lower cost of living city, go back to school to get my MA in teaching, become properly certified and hopefully land a job in a good school district. I only plan on doing this after hitting our FIRE number ($2M in investments which should generate $60k annual income using the 3% rule) so conservatively looking to make this move sometime in 2022.
If you already have a technical degree, isn't their a faster way to obtain a teaching license than going back to school for an MA? I thought you could take subject matter tests, attend concentrated training classes, and then intern for a year or so. That would save the time and cost of going through a full MA program.
suemarkp
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by suemarkp »

Have you calculated health care costs (not sure what your source will be if neither are working, or even if working). And increase those costs for kids? Kids are expensive with just their needs, activities, primary school, and out of pocket medical. If you want to help with their college (or private school), that is more money needed. I'm not sure $60K/yr is enough if your family grows.

My wife is a teacher and just retired. She loves the teaching part, but not the bureaucracy, micromanaging of what/how/when she teaches, and all the guinea pig new teaching ideas from administrators . New teachers typically get the crap schedule too (you'll get 2 or 3 different classes to prep for like Alg1/2, Geometry, Alg 3/4) and get the low classes. Even with a princess schedule (one class to prep for and an 80% schedule), she couldn't take it anymore.

Her healthcare wasn't cheap, but is probably cheaper than ACA plans. The cost of those varies widely by state.

Good idea to look out for districts that don't pay into SS. Don't want to run afoul of WEP and GPO rules and lose a benefit you had.
Mark | Kent, WA
Topic Author
cncm
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by cncm »

oldfort wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:41 pm As a result of COVID-19, you might be choosing the worst moment to try to become a teacher. School budgets are stressed and it's easier to cram more students into a virtual classroom to save staffing costs.
willthrill81 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:46 pm Given all of the uncertainties involving teaching for the foreseeable future, I would not plan on earning anything after you retire (i.e. leave your current work) for the purposes of making your financial plan work. As you note, teaching in the setting you are interested in is a lot of work for not much money. You might enjoy it, but you might hate it. For instance, none of the teachers I know, both in primary and secondary education, are happy about the current online-only environment for instruction.

$2 million may be perfectly adequate for your needs IF you move to a much lower COL area. Are you reasonably confident that you will be happy in a different area?
Sorry if I wasn't being clear...I would only quit my current job after hitting the $2M goal which I conservatively estimate would take me until 2022 (assuming flat or even negative market returns). I was hoping by then a vaccine would be found and at least in person schooling would resume. But agree budget cuts are a big concern. I know the salary cut is huge, which is why I want to make sure we're financially set before pulling the plug on my corporate job. And also why I don't plan on counting on a teaching pension given I don't know if I can stick it out long enough. But I am motivated to at least try.
Cousin Eddie wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:05 pm
If you already have a technical degree, isn't their a faster way to obtain a teaching license than going back to school for an MA? I thought you could take subject matter tests, attend concentrated training classes, and then intern for a year or so. That would save the time and cost of going through a full MA program.
I have a BA degree, and from my research, going back to get a MA in teaching would only take a year. I could even start teaching without a MA (after passing subject matter tests) but the salary difference + formal instruction makes me think getting a MA would be worth the effort.
Broken Man 1999
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

Tampa is in one of the largest school districts around. And, like many school districts, there are high ranked schools, and low ranked schools.

I don't think as a new teacher you would stand much of a chance of snagging a job at a high ranked school. Some new teachers end up starting in lower ranked schools, and transfer out ASAP. Some new teachers stay in the lower ranked schools to try to make a real difference.

As well, given the issue of covid, there could be an excess of teachers, they will be placed in the pool, and get first crack at jobs.

The district is offering three choices when schools reopen in August, physical classrooms, online, and e-learning. How the choices of parents will play out, and how those decisions will affect the number of teachers needed is anyones guess.

Your hope might be difficult to achieve.

The two larger districts near the Tampa Bay are Hillsborough County, and Pinellas Ciunty. Smaller districts are Polk, Pasco, Manatee, and Sarasota.

Do some looking around on each districts websites.

Good luck!

Broken Man 1999

ETA: Ah, you have added more info, or perhaps I misunderstood. I have no idea what schools will look like two or more years from now. I doubt very seriously you would start out at $60K, though.
Last edited by Broken Man 1999 on Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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sailaway
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by sailaway »

In your case, I think it would be best to get an emergency certification (or whatever your chosen state calls it when you take a test to start teaching without a teaching degree), teach for a while to see how you like it, then look into the Masters.
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by willthrill81 »

cncm wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:13 pm Sorry if I wasn't being clear...I would only quit my current job after hitting the $2M goal which I conservatively estimate would take me until 2022 (assuming flat or even negative market returns). I was hoping by then a vaccine would be found and at least in person schooling would resume. But agree budget cuts are a big concern. I know the salary cut is huge, which is why I want to make sure we're financially set before pulling the plug on my corporate job. And also why I don't plan on counting on a teaching pension given I don't know if I can stick it out long enough. But I am motivated to at least try.
I wouldn't count on a vaccine. No vaccine has ever been created for other coronaviruses before.

As others have brought up, I'm concerned that you haven't included the cost of health insurance in your estimate for future expenses.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
02nz
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by 02nz »

sailaway wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:17 pm In your case, I think it would be best to get an emergency certification (or whatever your chosen state calls it when you take a test to start teaching without a teaching degree), teach for a while to see how you like it, then look into the Masters.
+1. Certification practices vary a lot by state so it's hard to give general advice, but esp. for STEM fields I would think in many cases emergency credentials would be feasible.

Look into credential programs at public universities in your area. You may be able to enroll in just the "intro to teaching" or equivalent course without becoming a full-time student. That would get you some observation experience (when things have returned a bit to normal), which may help you decide if the field is right for you before you commit fully.
oldfort
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by oldfort »

cncm wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:38 pm 4) Would love to hear from current teachers on what things I need to consider when job hunting to maximize my chance of landing in a good school district. Also, my understanding is it should be fairly easy to find a job as a math/STEM teacher given it's in high demand - please correct me if I'm wrong!

Thanks in advance for everyone's advice/insights!
What do you mean by good school district? If you're concerned about the small differences in pay between school districts, then this would be a sign you're not financially ready to FIRE yet. When parents refer to good school districts, they're primarily referring to demographics: high income and highly educated families. Do you want to avoid having to teach any poor kids?
02nz
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by 02nz »

cncm wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:38 pm 2) Given how challenging teaching is and the high attrition rate, one thing I'm looking into is whether teachers in these states continue to contribute to social security. I don't mind losing out on a pension if I don't end up teaching for 30 years (actually very unlikely to do that) but I don't want to end up with no/little social security as well. Am I right in making that a top priority? And if so, Boston would be eliminated as MA doesn't cover teachers for social security. Also, I'm interested in moving to part-time work at some point if we do end up having kids (e.g. work as substitute teacher).
This (like so much else) varies by state. In CA, for example, teachers pay only into CalSTRS and not Social Security, but in some states teachers pay into both. If you work long enough to get a CalSTRS pension, your SS benefits for your other working years will be reduced by the Windfall Elimination Provision (unless you've paid into SS enough years to reduce or eliminate WEP application). It's not great but it's not as unfair as it's sometimes made out to be; SS essentially subsidizes low earners, and if you pay into SS some years but not in other years when you were paying only into a pension system, the standard calculation makes it look like you were a lower earner than you were in reality, so WEP adjusts for that.
donaldfair71
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by donaldfair71 »

02nz wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:26 pm
sailaway wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:17 pm In your case, I think it would be best to get an emergency certification (or whatever your chosen state calls it when you take a test to start teaching without a teaching degree), teach for a while to see how you like it, then look into the Masters.
+1. Certification practices vary a lot by state so it's hard to give general advice, but esp. for STEM fields I would think in many cases emergency credentials would be feasible.

Look into credential programs at public universities in your area. You may be able to enroll in just the "intro to teaching" or equivalent course without becoming a full-time student. That would get you some observation experience (when things have returned a bit to normal), which may help you decide if the field is right for you before you commit fully.
Career changing teacher here. These two nailed it on the head.

Your best bet is to gain a provisional license in one of the faster growing regions (in addition to the ones you listed, add the NoVa region). I know you say that you want lcol. But that’s trade off for the most part: the lower the cost of living, you’ll probably find more teachers at and above the median income of the area, and thus, less jobs (or more candidates if you will).

I would disagree with those in this thread who think it’s a bad time to get into the profession, at least in my area, as I expect to see (and have started to see) older, retirement-age colleagues retire in the last few months who had no interest in doing so into COVID. I think if you were going into music or PE, I’d agree, bad time. But STEM will be the last cut, and likely has the fewest candidates.

Finally, look at Western Governor’s School for your certification options. It’s all online, fully- certified, and inexpensive. I know it doesn’t carry the reputation of Harvard or Yale, but I’ve helped to hire ~50 candidates over the years, and rarely is the college attended in the top 5 reasons candidates are considered.

Either way, good luck!
Last edited by donaldfair71 on Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

A friend is a teacher, and he is covered by the Florida Retirement System, and also SS.

However, he has been a teacher for 15 years. He may be grandfathered in for some benefits. He has never expressed an issue concerning the district's health insurance and he has a wife and a couple of kids.

The district websites should be able to give you an idea what CURRENT new teachers can expect salary-wise and benefits-wise.

Just an aside, there are a few community colleges around the Tampa Bay area, as well as Universities.

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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by momvesting »

If you are truly ready to FIRE and it isn’t about the money, then take a look at private schools. I went from private (Catholic) to public and the difference is night and day. From your comments about wanting a good district, you don’t seem like the type that wants to save the world in a rough, low-income school, so private might be what you are looking for. There is far less bureaucracy, “teaching the test”, and other red tape that isn’t actually about teaching. There are far more students and parents who value education, which creates a better teaching environment. You have better attendance, better communication, and I just feel that reduces stress.
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by oldfort »

donaldfair71 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:35 pm I would disagree with those in this thread who think it’s a bad time to get into the profession, at least in my area, as I expect to see (and have started to see) older, retirement-age colleagues retire in the last few months who had no interest in doing so into COVID. I think if you were going into music or PE, I’d agree, bad time. But STEM will be the last cut, and likely has the fewest candidates.
I'm betting most school districts will have no in-person classes next year.
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by oldfort »

momvesting wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:38 pm If you are truly ready to FIRE and it isn’t about the money, then take a look at private schools. I went from private (Catholic) to public and the difference is night and day. From your comments about wanting a good district, you don’t seem like the type that wants to save the world in a rough, low-income school, so private might be what you are looking for. There is far less bureaucracy, “teaching the test”, and other red tape that isn’t actually about teaching. There are far more students and parents who value education, which creates a better teaching environment. You have better attendance, better communication, and I just feel that reduces stress.
About 80% of private schools are religious. If the OP is not Catholic or at least nominally Christian, then a Catholic school may not be the best fit.
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by donaldfair71 »

oldfort wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:39 pm
donaldfair71 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:35 pm I would disagree with those in this thread who think it’s a bad time to get into the profession, at least in my area, as I expect to see (and have started to see) older, retirement-age colleagues retire in the last few months who had no interest in doing so into COVID. I think if you were going into music or PE, I’d agree, bad time. But STEM will be the last cut, and likely has the fewest candidates.
I'm betting most school districts will have no in-person classes next year.
I would make that bet as well.

But that shouldn’t deter anyone from going into the profession.
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by Quaestner »

oldfort wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:41 pm As a result of COVID-19, you might be choosing the worst moment to try to become a teacher. School budgets are stressed and it's easier to cram more students into a virtual classroom to save staffing costs.
Agree that budgets will be stressed (and teachers will be stressed due to budgets, not to mention COVID-19!), but event will spur many teachers to retire earlier than anticipated. This might open up spots for OP. In my state 25% of teachers are 55+. Lots are leaving since they perceive they are at risk.

Also, STEM teaching jobs are not uniform between schools in the same district. Even in “average” districts there may be a job that matches OP desires. Networking is key.
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cncm
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by cncm »

oldfort wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:27 pm
What do you mean by good school district? If you're concerned about the small differences in pay between school districts, then this would be a sign you're not financially ready to FIRE yet. When parents refer to good school districts, they're primarily referring to demographics: high income and highly educated families. Do you want to avoid having to teach any poor kids?

By good school district, I mean ones where the administrative staff is supportive (that seems to be among the number one complaint I'm hearing from current teachers...i.e. bad politics/bureaucracy/micromanaging) where you can focus most of your effort on teaching the kids rather than navigating the politics (I hate that about my current job). I guess this might vary a lot even within a school district...I guess I'm looking for advice how to evaluate whether a school has a toxic environment for staff/teachers (e.g. asking about turnover rate).

I'm committed to teaching public school (as well as sending my own kids to public school) so would not consider teaching private school at this point, even though I know the route to become a private school teacher is easier.
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

oldfort wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:27 pm
cncm wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:38 pm 4) Would love to hear from current teachers on what things I need to consider when job hunting to maximize my chance of landing in a good school district. Also, my understanding is it should be fairly easy to find a job as a math/STEM teacher given it's in high demand - please correct me if I'm wrong!

Thanks in advance for everyone's advice/insights!
What do you mean by good school district? If you're concerned about the small differences in pay between school districts, then this would be a sign you're not financially ready to FIRE yet. When parents refer to good school districts, they're primarily referring to demographics: high income and highly educated families. Do you want to avoid having to teach any poor kids?
For some time low ranked schools have had changes in principals and teachers. It is very difficult to raise the rankings, though not impossible.

Sadly, a cursory glance through the zip codes can give a decent idea of what the neighborhood schools are like, demographics, IOW.

I'm not saying that is ideal, or I like that, just saying it is what it is.

Broken Man 1999
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cncm
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by cncm »

donaldfair71 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:35 pm Career changing teacher here. These two nailed it on the head.

Your best bet is to gain a provisional license in one of the faster growing regions (in addition to the ones you listed, add the NoVa region). I know you say that you want lcol. But that’s trade off for the most part: the lower the cost of living, you’ll probably find more teachers at and above the median income of the area, and thus, less jobs (or more candidates if you will).

I would disagree with those in this thread who think it’s a bad time to get into the profession, at least in my area, as I expect to see (and have started to see) older, retirement-age colleagues retire in the last few months who had no interest in doing so into COVID. I think if you were going into music or PE, I’d agree, bad time. But STEM will be the last cut, and likely has the fewest candidates.

Finally, look at Western Governor’s School for your certification options. It’s all online, fully- certified, and inexpensive. I know it doesn’t carry the reputation of Harvard or Yale, but I’ve helped to hire ~50 candidates over the years, and rarely is the college attended in the top 5 reasons candidates are considered.

Either way, good luck!
Thank you! This is so helpful...hadn't thought about considering teacher pay vs median income of the area as a gauge for job competitiveness, but that makes a lot of sense. I've been trying to decide whether to spend more money to go to a flagship education program (e.g. Harvard GSE) or just get my degree at a cheaper/local college (in the area I want to eventually relocate to)...seems like the latter is the better move?

Would love to hear more about your experience switching into teaching as a second career - what have you found the most difficult/surprising/etc? Any regrets?
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gr7070
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by gr7070 »

cncm wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:13 pm I have a BA degree, and from my research, going back to get a MA in teaching would only take a year. I could even start teaching without a MA (after passing subject matter tests) but the salary difference + formal instruction makes me think getting a MA would be worth the effort.
I'm certain all of that is dependent upon the state/school district. I'm not at all certain a matters degree does that much for you, especially financially. Again, highly dependent upon where you teach.
cncm wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:38 pm 2) Given how challenging teaching is and the high attrition rate, one thing I'm looking into is whether teachers in these states continue to contribute to social security. I don't mind losing out on a pension if I don't end up teaching for 30 years (actually very unlikely to do that) but I don't want to end up with no/little social security as well. Am I right in making that a top priority?
I don't know just how high attrition teaching is compared to other professions. I'm skeptical it's that different. I also am very skeptical how this is applicable to your SS decision.

I would think SS should not be a priority factor, at all. Maybe not even any factor.

This would take a massive back seat to extended family, personal life preferences, weather, general location, culture, COL, income, pension, and more.

Caveat: I am the furthest thing from a SS expert.
Isn't SS a bad return on ones investment? I don't actually know, not sure I care personally - as the other (more important) choices we've made require one of us to pay in the other cannot.

So, if it's a poor rate of return not paying in is a good thing, vice versa.

Of course, you've been paying in already, at the highest amounts. So this might also impact this decision and your RoR. I wouldn't know.

I'd guess the RoR isn't high or low enough to truly be a significant decision, especially since teacher pay can vary drastically from state to state.

Personally, I'd create a matrix in what I want for my lifestyle. I'd then find a few states and preferred metro areas in those states and airbnb for a bit.

I'd choose based, largely, on job non-financials - you're FI; that's kinda the point of being FI. The job-financials would only be incorporated if they appear to be a deal breakers Re: locale vs. another locale. If financials were truly a significant factor teaching wouldn't even be on the table vs. a 400k income.

If financials really matter that much to you, work 6 more months and the teaching or SS financials are likely moot.

Ignore the financials, except for the extreme worst cases - which I'm not even sure exist.
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

Most likely true.

If you have maxed out 40 quarters of SS, you should be good if that is still the case for SS.

You WON'T be maxing out SS as a teacher in Florida, for sure, even if the district is paying into the program.

Broken Man 1999
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aristotelian
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by aristotelian »

Why not continue to adjunct at the community college level? You already have experience and fewer hoops to go through. I cannot imagine spending time voluntarily in a school system bureaucracy. Most teachers I know are underpaid and stressed.
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by ResearchMed »

oldfort wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:41 pm
momvesting wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:38 pm If you are truly ready to FIRE and it isn’t about the money, then take a look at private schools. I went from private (Catholic) to public and the difference is night and day. From your comments about wanting a good district, you don’t seem like the type that wants to save the world in a rough, low-income school, so private might be what you are looking for. There is far less bureaucracy, “teaching the test”, and other red tape that isn’t actually about teaching. There are far more students and parents who value education, which creates a better teaching environment. You have better attendance, better communication, and I just feel that reduces stress.
About 80% of private schools are religious. If the OP is not Catholic or at least nominally Christian, then a Catholic school may not be the best fit.
This was a very long time ago, but my father did a variation of what OP is asking about.
He was very strong quantitatively, and never had much of a chance to use that in his "regular job". And he had always hated his job. He would sometimes tutor our babysitters, without getting paid. He just enjoyed it, and he was good at it.
His excuse for "not teaching" was that he couldn't envision ever earning enough to raise a family, whereas "in industry", he could.
Long story short, he never earned much at all anyway, and was also miserable.

When my brother and I were fledged, we sort of confronted him, and pointed out that he didn't need to "support a family" anymore, and he wasn't happy. (We tried not to emphasize that he had never earned much, but that was clearly an elephant in the room, which probably helped.)

He had no teaching credentials at all.
So he took a couple of years to go to night school (they were in a large metro area), to get an MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) at a non-prestigious school, but one that was relatively nearby.

In the meantime, because he couldn't teach in the public schools without those credentials, he looked into private schools. Yes, STEM (not called that then) was in very high demand. He quickly got a job teaching math at a Catholic school, and suffice it to say, our family history was not even remotely Catholic.
It was explicit that he would not be involved in any of the "religious activities", and that caused no problem.

When he got his degree, and with his recent experience, he easily moved over to the local public high school school as soon as there was a suitable opening.

He was SO much happier! :happy
Alas, several years later, he had a heart attack, probably in part due to a lifetime of stress (we'll never know, of course), and had quadruple bypass surgery.

And thus, soon it was time to retire, but he hadn't saved much (don't get me started; I had learned zippo about "finance", or investing, or even "saving" :annoyed ).
And he really didn't want to retire anyway.

So my parents then moved to a warmer city, and he became a substitute math teacher, so he had his choice to work or not.
He was quickly in very high demand, and also soon got "short term" contracts, such as temporary replacement for a teacher on medical leave, or maternity leave (at least those were generally planned in advance, which was nice). He became "requested" at one large school, one that wasn't in the best area, but he felt he could made more of a difference there, especially when he had more that a one- or two-day stint.
One nice thing about that was he became familiar with several of the teachers' teaching plans/notes, and that made it a lot easier for him, the teachers, and, importantly, the students.

He didn't earn much doing that either, but it gave them extra income, and delayed needing to start using any of that critical savings.

His reason for the "second career" was clearly quite different from OP's. Regardless, the only thing he would have changed would have been... to do it much sooner.
It was one of the *best* decisions he ever made.

RM
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SquirrelEater
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by SquirrelEater »

Honestly I think teachers matter less than marketing claim and parenting matters sooo much more than we are led to believe. Therefore demographics is everything! I had more written.... But I think it would of gotten me banned. So I’ll leave it at this.

Grass ain’t always greener on other side. Teaching pasture has weeds too.

Personally, I would use your FIRE to be a stay at home mother. Be a great wife & mother. In a world of broken families be a great family. Have ten kids. You are in your mid-30’s; Time is running out. Start trying hard NOW before you start having to learn about progesterone, IUI, IVF, etc. (Wife and I can unfortunately relate to the empty egg carton meme. Mid-30’s too. Glad we waited. Not. Trying too. Don’t be like us. Don’t anyone become like us!)
Savermom
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by Savermom »

I would not recommend teaching unless you don’t mind dealing with behavior issues. I taught high school math for a year. I absolutely hated it, and it was always my dream to be a teacher. My husband also taught and hated it. Even if I became better at managing problem kids, I would still not like it. I did not like teaching the same thing class after class. I missed talking to adults. Some kids are great, but most were not. Some kids are very disrespectful to the teachers.

I know some people who enjoy it. I would recommend subbing to see what it is like before you commit to a year.
reln
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by reln »

cncm wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:38 pm I'm thinking of going into teaching as a second career after reaching my $ target for FIRE - trying to make sure I consider every aspect of this move. Would appreciate any insights/advice from this community...especially teachers and those who have continued to work in a second career after reaching financial independence.

A bit of background: my husband and I are in our mid 30s, no kids (yet) but working on that. We have around $1.8M portfolio (half brokerage, the other half split among 401ks, roth IRAs, and 529s) + $300k home equity. Our annual spend (excluding mortgage) is ~$60k while our mortgage/condo fees/taxes equal to another $60k per year. My husband recently quit his regular job to work on a start-up (high risk/reward but 0 income in the meantime) while I make ~$400k/year in my corporate job. We live in a VHCOL city.

The plan: I want to go into teaching as a second career, specifically would like to be a HS math/STEM teacher. I've taught at the community college level as an adjunct before (briefly before my current corporate job took off and ended up taking all my time). I've also spent summers volunteering as a teacher in Asia/Africa when I was in college. I enjoy the personal interactions, the sense of purpose, and I'm good at explaining/breaking down complex ideas (multiple students have told me this). I understand teaching is hard work with low pay. My plan is to move to a lower cost of living city, go back to school to get my MA in teaching, become properly certified and hopefully land a job in a good school district. I only plan on doing this after hitting our FIRE number ($2M in investments which should generate $60k annual income using the 3% rule) so conservatively looking to make this move sometime in 2022.

My questions:
1) Given we have no ties to our current city, we're quite flexible in terms of relocating to a new city. Our ideal place would be a diverse city with lots of good food, good public schools, and reasonable cost of living (and temperate weather would be a huge bonus). Currently, we're considering North Carolina (Research Triangle), Florida (Tampa area), Boston, and Philly...but open to other suggestions. Would appreciate any insights into these places, both in terms of quality of life, as well as school districts/teacher experiences.
2) Given how challenging teaching is and the high attrition rate, one thing I'm looking into is whether teachers in these states continue to contribute to social security. I don't mind losing out on a pension if I don't end up teaching for 30 years (actually very unlikely to do that) but I don't want to end up with no/little social security as well. Am I right in making that a top priority? And if so, Boston would be eliminated as MA doesn't cover teachers for social security. Also, I'm interested in moving to part-time work at some point if we do end up having kids (e.g. work as substitute teacher).
3) Is my $2M FIRE goal too low? I feel like I could always convince myself to "work one more year just in case" but tbh, feeling really burnt out in my corporate career. Both my husband and I would like to keep working in some capacity for the foreseeable future; FIRE would just give us the freedom and flexibility to pursue more meaningful jobs at significantly lower pay.
4) Would love to hear from current teachers on what things I need to consider when job hunting to maximize my chance of landing in a good school district. Also, my understanding is it should be fairly easy to find a job as a math/STEM teacher given it's in high demand - please correct me if I'm wrong!

Thanks in advance for everyone's advice/insights!
Enjoy your teaching career. Congrats.
grettman
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by grettman »

What you want out of life in your mid 30s may not be what you want later in life. I wouldn’t want to sacrifice a good salary now with the assumption my desires wouldn’t change later — such as taking up an expensive hobby, having a family, being able help others. In my view, a flaw I feel exists with FIRE at that age is the assumption that the individual’s desire will stay static over time. This gets even more complicated when married.
Cousin Eddie
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by Cousin Eddie »

reln wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 5:24 pm Enjoy your teaching career. Congrats.
I agree, they have enough saved and she's young enough that she has a boatload of alternatives should it not work, plus 2 mil in a MCOL or LCOL area would be more than enough. Sell the house and use the equity to buy a new one. With yearly expenses at $60k plus health care, that should be easily doable with that amount of savings. I do agree with the others that they should make sure moving to a new location is the right move, but financially I'd say this is a very low risk.

YOLO.
valuables
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by valuables »

2M is more than enough, do remember that there are actual career teachers who have little net worth but do it anyway because it's rewarding and makes a difference. I would go against the grain here and say that you should consider teaching in a low income community because you are exactly the kind of teacher that someone who is underserved needs - smart, non-judgmental and asset-based, who won't disparage others based on race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status plus you don't need the money. Sure there might be bureaucracy, but there is in any profession: you can only make a difference if you are a part of the solution. Don't go into it with rose colored glasses or a negativity bias, and you should be fine.

The only advice I have after being in the education space is that kids have exceptionally good BS detectors. Spend time with your kids after school, get to know them as people, meet their parents, and be a part of the community. If mom and dad aren't always there for your kids, rather than using it as an excuse, you can lift them by being a role model that they desperately need. If you treat your students as undeserving behavior problems they will see right through you and realize that you're not there for them - only yourself. Make this be more than about you! You can afford it.
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by willthrill81 »

valuables wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 5:40 pm 2M is more than enough...
It depends on how much you spend. If you're spending $60k, then it's enough. If you're spending $120k, which the OP currently is, it's very likely not enough.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by 123 »

cncm wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:53 pm ...By good school district, I mean ones where the administrative staff is supportive (that seems to be among the number one complaint I'm hearing from current teachers...i.e. bad politics/bureaucracy/micromanaging) where you can focus most of your effort on teaching the kids rather than navigating the politics (I hate that about my current job). I guess this might vary a lot even within a school district...I guess I'm looking for advice how to evaluate whether a school has a toxic environment for staff/teachers (e.g. asking about turnover rate).

I'm committed to teaching public school (as well as sending my own kids to public school) so would not consider teaching private school at this point, even though I know the route to become a private school teacher is easier.
The adversarial relationship that exists frequently between spublic chool management and teaching staff is the same adversarial relationship that often exists between management and labor in lots of places. It is more vocalizied in the public school environment because the teachers are often unionizied and are highly educated. It is relatively rare for a highly educated workforce to be unionizied but it is common in school environments.

In private school settings there is less likely to be obvious signs of strife. There may still be strife but people who "don't fit" are more likely to move on to other opportunities. That said there seems to be more unity between management and teachers in private schools, maybe it's because they collectively establish themselves as "the establishment".

To me the most productive way of easing into a career as a teacher would be to apply your existing "adjunct" skillset to some STEM class at a private high school. Private schools tend to have fewer students with behavior issues so you may be able to spend more time teaching and less time parenting. This is just suggested as a way to try the career out with minimal investment of time or delay in achieving academic credentials that may be required in the public sector. Don't go through all the hassle of relocation just to "try out" an alternative career just bloom where you are planted.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.
jmg229
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by jmg229 »

cncm wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 4:07 pm I've been trying to decide whether to spend more money to go to a flagship education program (e.g. Harvard GSE) or just get my degree at a cheaper/local college (in the area I want to eventually relocate to)...seems like the latter is the better move?
I would aim for a bit of a middle road here. Going to a top school is unlikely to be necessary; it doesn't necessarily give you the leg up you might think, especially given your already accomplished career and unless you are planning on moving into administration/leadership roles, the resume boost from it probably isn't worth it. However, the quality of a program does matter in terms of how well prepared you will be, in my experience (I taught high school science for 6 years after doing an MAT program) and I wouldn't take the shortest path to classroom as you may be ill-prepared and burn out faster. There are lots of paths to get from the career into the classroom, but I'd particularly look at residency programs, where you enter the classroom with a master teacher while taking your coursework in the evenings/summer. There is evidence of them increasing effectiveness and decreasing likelihood of burnout in the first few years. There are also options like NYC Teaching Fellows, Teach for America, etc. that specialize in helping career changers navigate this.

Also, to your questions/comments about pension/SS and finding a good fit in terms of administration, my personal experience is that it may be worth (depending on the state), considering public charter schools. They typically have more flexibility with regards to alternative certifications, may offer SS and 403b matching as opposed to a state pension system, and may be easier to find a good fit (both in terms of program and in terms of getting along with the administration) while still staying in public schools as you noted a desire to do.
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by donaldfair71 »

cncm wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 4:07 pm
donaldfair71 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:35 pm Career changing teacher here. These two nailed it on the head.

Your best bet is to gain a provisional license in one of the faster growing regions (in addition to the ones you listed, add the NoVa region). I know you say that you want lcol. But that’s trade off for the most part: the lower the cost of living, you’ll probably find more teachers at and above the median income of the area, and thus, less jobs (or more candidates if you will).

I would disagree with those in this thread who think it’s a bad time to get into the profession, at least in my area, as I expect to see (and have started to see) older, retirement-age colleagues retire in the last few months who had no interest in doing so into COVID. I think if you were going into music or PE, I’d agree, bad time. But STEM will be the last cut, and likely has the fewest candidates.

Finally, look at Western Governor’s School for your certification options. It’s all online, fully- certified, and inexpensive. I know it doesn’t carry the reputation of Harvard or Yale, but I’ve helped to hire ~50 candidates over the years, and rarely is the college attended in the top 5 reasons candidates are considered.

Either way, good luck!
Thank you! This is so helpful...hadn't thought about considering teacher pay vs median income of the area as a gauge for job competitiveness, but that makes a lot of sense. I've been trying to decide whether to spend more money to go to a flagship education program (e.g. Harvard GSE) or just get my degree at a cheaper/local college (in the area I want to eventually relocate to)...seems like the latter is the better move?

Would love to hear more about your experience switching into teaching as a second career - what have you found the most difficult/surprising/etc? Any regrets?
So to answer your last question, not one regret at all. None. If someone handed me enough money to retire tomorrow, to “do whatever you want to do now that money isn’t an issue”, I’d wind up in the classroom.

The job is great. I have a lot of colleagues who want to act like it’s noble thing, and I guess it is to some, but for me I just wanted to help people share in my passions. Nothing more. That was why I left my father’s lumber company in my 20s, went up community college part time, and wound up getting my first job at almost 30. But it’s worked out.

There are a lot decisions to make regarding this move, and I would consider the following:

1. How willing are you to go work in schools that others aren’t willing to work in. Without getting into socioeconomic degrees, I will say that the “tougher schools”, ones with students who come from one or no parent backgrounds, these are easier to get into but for good reason: these are not easy jobs. But I worked in a school with massive difficulties in reading, writing, and math, and about 70% ESOL students, and it is incredibly rewarding. It’s also incredibly stressful. There are also schools with the exact 180 degree difference: I now teach in a school where only about 8% of students qualify for free/reduced lunch. That’s a really really low number (wish it were zero but...). Are you willing to dive in to help in any situation? “No” is an ok answer.

2. Leads me to this, if possible, I would try to get to the biggest districts you can. A district like Prince William County Schools in NoVa has inherent advantages, with 14 high schools, that say Madison County, with one high school, doesn’t. Most of all, there of flexibility in finding a position you like, there exists probably 50x the mobility opportunities, and your benefit from scale: benefits are often better the bigger you get.

3. Lastly, just know that the pay will be average to good, but 1/3-1/2 your compensation is in benefits. That’s a good thing.

I said 3 was “last”, but last-last... It’s funny how even family will talk about how easy teachers have it, then will shrug when you suggest that they go into the profession, to get a certificate and apply. Only then, is it, “no I’m not a babysitter”. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it in my opinion.
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by dukeblue219 »

I don't really understand the motivation to FIRE and then teach. You're going to go all-in living frugally during your younger years to be independent, then enter a field that is enormously stressful and time consuming? If you love teaching that makes some sense, but if you don't absolutely love it then you'd be better off just continuing your regular career and living a more enjoyable lifestyle, right?

As for whether $2MM is enough savings to become a teacher? Most teachers enter the field in debt and are lucky to save anything in a 403b. They manage well enough. You'll be fine.
campy2010
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by campy2010 »

Call me pessimistic but I don’t think $2M is enough to FIRE for a mid 30s couple who may still have children and are accustomed to $400k+ /year income. One extra year working at $400k/year is equivalent to 4 or 5 years teaching. Personally I would want some buffer in the case of divorce or low market returns or so kids can go to college.
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cncm
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by cncm »

donaldfair71 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:05 pm So to answer your last question, not one regret at all. None. If someone handed me enough money to retire tomorrow, to “do whatever you want to do now that money isn’t an issue”, I’d wind up in the classroom.

The job is great. I have a lot of colleagues who want to act like it’s noble thing, and I guess it is to some, but for me I just wanted to help people share in my passions. Nothing more. That was why I left my father’s lumber company in my 20s, went up community college part time, and wound up getting my first job at almost 30. But it’s worked out.

There are a lot decisions to make regarding this move, and I would consider the following:

1. How willing are you to go work in schools that others aren’t willing to work in. Without getting into socioeconomic degrees, I will say that the “tougher schools”, ones with students who come from one or no parent backgrounds, these are easier to get into but for good reason: these are not easy jobs. But I worked in a school with massive difficulties in reading, writing, and math, and about 70% ESOL students, and it is incredibly rewarding. It’s also incredibly stressful. There are also schools with the exact 180 degree difference: I now teach in a school where only about 8% of students qualify for free/reduced lunch. That’s a really really low number (wish it were zero but...). Are you willing to dive in to help in any situation? “No” is an ok answer.

2. Leads me to this, if possible, I would try to get to the biggest districts you can. A district like Prince William County Schools in NoVa has inherent advantages, with 14 high schools, that say Madison County, with one high school, doesn’t. Most of all, there of flexibility in finding a position you like, there exists probably 50x the mobility opportunities, and your benefit from scale: benefits are often better the bigger you get.

3. Lastly, just know that the pay will be average to good, but 1/3-1/2 your compensation is in benefits. That’s a good thing.

I said 3 was “last”, but last-last... It’s funny how even family will talk about how easy teachers have it, then will shrug when you suggest that they go into the profession, to get a certificate and apply. Only then, is it, “no I’m not a babysitter”. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it in my opinion.
Thank you for this. I'm more than willing to work in a "tougher school" but just want to make sure I have the training/skills to do a good job. I know more often it depends on your classroom management skills rather than subject area knowledge. Point taken on finding a big enough school district.
rgs92
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by rgs92 »

I tried to find a teaching job in computer or math up in the NY metro area after losing my IT job and I found out the jobs are in very high demand and are usually only available by networking, mainly by being related to someone working for the school system. I had graduate degrees in math/CS but that was of no use. I never got any interviews or contacts from live people at all. There was zero interest in me.

The situation was the same for all state and federal positions I tried to get. I tried applying for years and got nowhere.

If you have IT experience, contracting jobs are the most realistic path. Just put your resume online and if you have recent experience will get some calls most probably. Just wait for the calls to come in.
Last edited by rgs92 on Sun Jul 12, 2020 8:25 pm, edited 3 times in total.
New Providence
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by New Providence »

I am so confused with FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE RETIRE EARLY who still work or are looking for work.

In my mind, you haven't reached FIRE if you are working or looking for work. FIRE means that you have reached Financial Independence evidenced by Retiring Early.
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cncm
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by cncm »

dukeblue219 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:09 pm I don't really understand the motivation to FIRE and then teach. You're going to go all-in living frugally during your younger years to be independent, then enter a field that is enormously stressful and time consuming? If you love teaching that makes some sense, but if you don't absolutely love it then you'd be better off just continuing your regular career and living a more enjoyable lifestyle, right?

As for whether $2MM is enough savings to become a teacher? Most teachers enter the field in debt and are lucky to save anything in a 403b. They manage well enough. You'll be fine.
I guess I'm just trying to figure out what I want to do with my life if money wasn't a concern. I know we can live a much more comfortable lifestyle if we continue in the current trajectory but to be honest, I'm not sure if I should be trying to maximize comfort. I don't want to just retire once we reach FIRE...honestly don't know what I would spend all my time on. I've really enjoyed teaching in the past when I've had the chance to teach in a classroom setting, and growing up, I've seen first hand the impact a good teacher can have on students. So I thought, why not give it a try as a second career, especially as it has the added bonus of flexibility (becoming a substitute teacher) if I want to scale back the hours down the road.
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cncm
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by cncm »

rgs92 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 8:14 pm I tried to find a teaching job up in the NY metro area after losing my IT job and I found out the jobs are in very high demand and are usually only available by networking, mainly by being related to someone working for the school system. I had graduate degrees in math/CS but that was of no use.

The situation was the same for all state and federal positions I tried to get. I tried applying for years and got nowhere.
I've heard conflicting stories of how easy it is to find a job as a STEM teacher - some, like you, have said it's actually really hard, while others say it's fairly easy. My fallback plan, if I end up getting certified but without a full-time job, is to become a substitute teacher and hopefully get to know a school well enough that way so I can get hired whenever an opening comes up.
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CyclingDuo
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by CyclingDuo »

cncm wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:38 pmI'm thinking of going into teaching as a second career after reaching my $ target for FIRE - trying to make sure I consider every aspect of this move. Would appreciate any insights/advice from this community...especially teachers and those who have continued to work in a second career after reaching financial independence.

A bit of background: my husband and I are in our mid 30s, no kids (yet) but working on that. We have around $1.8M portfolio (half brokerage, the other half split among 401ks, roth IRAs, and 529s) + $300k home equity. Our annual spend (excluding mortgage) is ~$60k while our mortgage/condo fees/taxes equal to another $60k per year. My husband recently quit his regular job to work on a start-up (high risk/reward but 0 income in the meantime) while I make ~$400k/year in my corporate job. We live in a VHCOL city.

The plan: I want to go into teaching as a second career, specifically would like to be a HS math/STEM teacher. I've taught at the community college level as an adjunct before (briefly before my current corporate job took off and ended up taking all my time). I've also spent summers volunteering as a teacher in Asia/Africa when I was in college. I enjoy the personal interactions, the sense of purpose, and I'm good at explaining/breaking down complex ideas (multiple students have told me this). I understand teaching is hard work with low pay. My plan is to move to a lower cost of living city, go back to school to get my MA in teaching, become properly certified and hopefully land a job in a good school district. I only plan on doing this after hitting our FIRE number ($2M in investments which should generate $60k annual income using the 3% rule) so conservatively looking to make this move sometime in 2022.

My questions:
1) Given we have no ties to our current city, we're quite flexible in terms of relocating to a new city. Our ideal place would be a diverse city with lots of good food, good public schools, and reasonable cost of living (and temperate weather would be a huge bonus). Currently, we're considering North Carolina (Research Triangle), Florida (Tampa area), Boston, and Philly...but open to other suggestions. Would appreciate any insights into these places, both in terms of quality of life, as well as school districts/teacher experiences.
2) Given how challenging teaching is and the high attrition rate, one thing I'm looking into is whether teachers in these states continue to contribute to social security. I don't mind losing out on a pension if I don't end up teaching for 30 years (actually very unlikely to do that) but I don't want to end up with no/little social security as well. Am I right in making that a top priority? And if so, Boston would be eliminated as MA doesn't cover teachers for social security. Also, I'm interested in moving to part-time work at some point if we do end up having kids (e.g. work as substitute teacher).
3) Is my $2M FIRE goal too low? I feel like I could always convince myself to "work one more year just in case" but tbh, feeling really burnt out in my corporate career. Both my husband and I would like to keep working in some capacity for the foreseeable future; FIRE would just give us the freedom and flexibility to pursue more meaningful jobs at significantly lower pay.
4) Would love to hear from current teachers on what things I need to consider when job hunting to maximize my chance of landing in a good school district. Also, my understanding is it should be fairly easy to find a job as a math/STEM teacher given it's in high demand - please correct me if I'm wrong!

Thanks in advance for everyone's advice/insights!
#4 will require that you have the credentials for that particular state, can land the interview and sell yourself for the job. One would like to think that experience would climb to the top of the list to land a teaching job in a really good school district, but that comes down to each administrator's budget and what they are looking for with each position. So who knows? Prepare to be flexible with your expectations as there may not be openings in school districts or cities/towns exactly where you want.

States where teachers are ineligible for Social Security: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia (some areas), Illinois, Kentucky (some areas), Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island (some areas) and Texas.

I would also check out the state pension plan in the states you are interested in seeking a teaching job. They all have certain years of service metrics to qualify for the pension and even starting later at your age after you meet your $2M goal and get certified, you will qualify if you meet the rules. The state pension certainly is helpful for teacher retention.

For example, in our state, you can receive a pension if you meet any of these three metrics:

Rule of 88: The Rule of 88 is when a member is age 55 or older, and the sum of the member's age at the last birthday and years of service equals or exceeds 88. (These would be the teachers that start teaching right out of college at age 22/23 and can retire at age 55 with the full pension).

Rule of 62/20: The Rule of 62/20 is when a member is age 62 and has at least 20 years of service. (If you were shooting for a pension, a rule like this one would probably come close to being your best option if you are currently in your mid-30's and wouldn't be pursuing teaching for a few more years.)

Rule of 65: Age 65 regardless of years of service outside of meeting the required vesting period (28 quarters which is 7 years).

Some states now offer a defined contribution plan with their 403b in lieu of a pension as an option with a match. You could weigh the pros and cons of both.

Your benefits would include health insurance, pension plan or defined contribution plan, and if the pension route - then many also have voluntary 403b/457b plans beyond the mandatory state pension plan monthly contribution where you could save and invest pre-tax money or post-tax (Roth 403b/Roth 457b). Summer months of June/July/August are free of course, which is considered by many of us as a nice benefit. A 10 day Spring Break, two or three weeks for December/January Holidays, etc... .

If you could work long enough to vest and then qualify for a pension - then you would have income streams of a pension and Social Security in addition to your risk portfolio in retirement. So although the salary is certainly lower than your current $400K, the opportunity is there to bring in enough income to live and build up the nest egg even more depending on what your household expenses would be in your new location and what your salary would be. Study the teacher salaries vs. cost of living adjustment to see how far the salary goes for each area state and area you are looking.

Our suggestion - having done it the past 17 years as second careers for both of us - it's a heck of a lot easier as a dual income household!!

:sharebeer

CyclingDuo
"Save like a pessimist, invest like an optimist." - Morgan Housel
02nz
Posts: 5565
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:17 pm

Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by 02nz »

New Providence wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 8:14 pm I am so confused with FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE RETIRE EARLY who still work or are looking for work.

In my mind, you haven't reached FIRE if you are working or looking for work. FIRE means that you have reached Financial Independence evidenced by Retiring Early.
Like most things in life, it's not binary. Some people reach FI but choose not to RE. Or they reach a level of financial freedom where they can work part-time or take a lower-paying job.
02nz
Posts: 5565
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:17 pm

Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by 02nz »

jmg229 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:00 pm Also, to your questions/comments about pension/SS and finding a good fit in terms of administration, my personal experience is that it may be worth (depending on the state), considering public charter schools. They typically have more flexibility with regards to alternative certifications, may offer SS and 403b matching as opposed to a state pension system, and may be easier to find a good fit (both in terms of program and in terms of getting along with the administration) while still staying in public schools as you noted a desire to do.
Good advice esp. given the OP's concerns about bureaucracy/politics. That's not to say charter schools are free of it, but in many cases they have less of it than traditional public schools. Because they are smaller and generally have narrower student body, they can in some ways be more targeted in how they serve student needs. But of course this varies, and is a touchy topic. Many people in the education field have strong views on this that make our international vs domestic debates look tame ... :happy
white_water
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Joined: Sun Oct 27, 2013 1:16 pm

Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by white_water »

The US economy may experience serious inflation before the effects of Covid19 effects play out. How might that affect your nest egg and 3% withdrawal?
jpelder
Posts: 810
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 3:56 pm
Location: Concord, NC

Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by jpelder »

Hi cncm!
I'm a STEM teacher (currently teach health science, have also taught Anatomy, Environmental Science, and Physical Science) in North Carolina (Charlotte-Mecklenburg), so I can address some of the details of teaching here. I'm also a semi career changer, so I can also address the alternative licensure pathway and "jumping in the deep end"

1. NC doesn't pay extra for master's degrees that were begun after 2013, so an MAT won't give you a pay bump. You still might find the training useful, though. You will get a bump if you have an advanced degree in your STEM field that you started before 2013.

2. NC's main route to teaching for career changers is called a "teaching residency". They're a summer internship run by school districts that gives you some classroom experience. My wife just did the elementary school one last summer. It's a lot, but it was much better than the path I followed, which was pretty much just "throw you into the deep end" and take some college classes in your first three years of work.

3. Schools vary widely in administration quality and in student culture. Some of these differences are measureable, some are not. You'll mostly have to take what you can get when you enter the field unless you have a very specific skill (chemistry, physics, and engineering are in high demand). That said, you will find something in STEM if you want it.

4. Financially, the pay isn't great. I just passed $50k this past year and that's in my sixth year with a master's degree. Both the Charlotte and Raleigh (Triangle) areas are relatively expensive relative to the teacher pay. For perspective, my 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1700 square foot house way out in the suburbs is worth about $200,000. A friend with a similar-sized house in a desirable neighborhood in central Charlotte has a value closer to half a million. The benefits are decent: the nicer tier health insurance is only $50 per month for employees, but $700-ish per month for a spouse or family. The state pension is well-funded, and we qualify for Social Security, too. All other benefits are handled by districts, so the quality will vary.

5. NC schools are chronically underfunded. I typically spend $60 per month on classroom supplies, and it was more when I was "starting up" my first few years. Be prepared to buy paper, writing implements, lab supplies, and similar things out of pocket, or be prepared to do without.

6. I absolutely love teaching. It's definitely a career that brings me a lot of joy. It's hard and the hours during the year are long. But I do have summers off (this is the first one in six years where I haven't had college courses to take or training to attend). There is no flexibility in time off, except if you're willing to be "sick" when you're not.
khram
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Joined: Sat Dec 16, 2017 1:36 am

Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by khram »

I've thought about this (maybe a transition in 20+ years), but honestly being forced to take my vacations during summer or Christmas break just isn't appealing. I took a vacation in February, and it was great. So I think I'd rather just transition to doing something low-pay but independent. Maybe even setting my own hours as a tutor in whatever subjects I feel like teaching. Then you can take the vacations.

To answer your question, I wouldn't pull the plug at $2m. I would build in more buffer. Once you leave, it's hard to come back.
VikingThor
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Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:11 pm

Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by VikingThor »

You are definitely not FIRE, in terms of financially independent.

In fact not even close.

You spend 120k and have $1.8m, some of which is 401k and subject to tax on withdrawal.

Of course if you factor in earnings,and lower cost of living, you can make it work.

But think of it this way - at current spending you would need $3M in After Tax Accounts to be FIRE; more than that if you have taxable accounts. Also kids are very expensive.

You have a great start but just caution you to have realistic view of the #s. Rather than FIRE, I think you are more realistically looking at ability to downshift and earn much less money in a more satisfying and flexible career.
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