Israeli Teachers' Salaries Far Below Those of OECD Colleagues

But gaps are narrowing, including those between male and female teachers.

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File photo: Education Minister Naftali Bennett visits a classroom in Petah Tikva, Israel, May 28, 2015.
File photo: Education Minister Naftali Bennett visits a classroom in Petah Tikva, Israel, May 28, 2015.Credit: Sason Tiram

The salaries of Israeli teachers are much lower than those of teachers in other economically advanced countries, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Tuesday.

The average salary of Israeli teachers, at all levels of the school system, was only $31,000 a year in “purchasing power parity,” compared to an average $42,500 a year for teachers in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) 34 countries, which include Israel.

In addition, Israel also has the largest differential between male and female teachers of any OECD country – over 15 percent, compared to only 3 percent for the organization overall.

For new teachers just starting out in Israeli schools, the situation is even worse, with those ages 25 to 34 earning about $20,000 a year, compared to $37,000 on average in OECD nations.

The gaps between salaries for younger teachers (25 to 34) and those near the end of their careers (54 to 65) in Israel is among the highest of OECD nations. The gaps reach 87 percent for preschool teachers and 109 percent for high school teachers. In comparison, the OECD averages for these salary differentials between younger and older teachers are 31 percent and 38 percent, respectively.

On the bright side, there has at least been significant improvement in these figures. The latest ones are from March and apply to salary trends for teachers from 2003 through 2012. Over this decade there was a clear trend of rising salaries for Israeli teachers, with average monthly salaries increasing from 6,800 shekels (about $1,700) a month in 2003 to about 10,500 shekels a month in 2012.

Sharp drop in gender differential

The statistics bureau’s figures for the decade from 2003 to 2012 also partially explain the gap between salaries for men and women in teaching. This gender differential shrunk by 30 percent to 20 percent over that decade. In addition, the data show that male teachers work more hours, between 10 percent to 20 percent more hours on average than women.

Until 2007, the salaries of new teachers, with up to five years of experience, were low but stable, in the range of about 4,000 shekels a month. This grew over the years until it reached about 6,000 shekels a month in 2012.

Among teachers in the middle of their careers, with 16 to 20 years of experience, salaries grew steadily from 7,000 to 8,000 shekels a month in 2003 to about 11,000 to 12,000 shekels a month in 2012.

To compare salaries across the OECD’s 34 member countries, the Central Bureau of Statistics adjusted the figures to reflect local purchasing power, not the actual dollar amounts. Purchasing power parity represents the variations in the local cost of a basket of goods and services in the different countries.