Walmart Employees Now Make More Than Teachers?

One educator in Ohio decided to leave his teaching job to pursue a career at Walmart because of how much they are paying him.

By Kristi Eckert | Published

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In comparison to many other jobs, educators in the United States are vastly underpaid. USA Today pointed to the fact that, compared to others with college degrees, teachers make nearly 20% less. Time detailed the story of one teacher, who adores her job and refuses to leave, but who has to work two additional jobs in order to pay her all bills and support her family. It’s sad to think that those who are partially responsible for shaping America’s youth are so undervalued. One educator in Ohio, who had enough, told Entrepreneur that after six years of being an early childhood teacher, he was leaving to pursue a career at Walmart with the promise of a six-figure salary.

Seth Gabriel, the former Ohio teacher who decided to ditch the classroom to pursue a career at Walmart, said that ultimately it was a choice driven by money. He simply was not making enough at his current job. Thus, he posted on social media that “Leaving teaching after 6 years to go be a manager at Walmart and make more not using my degree.” Gabriel’s new role at the retail titan is that of a GM Coach. It is a position where he “leads and develops teams effectively by teaching, training, and actively listening to associates.”

Some commenters on social media chastised Gabriel’s decision and sought to remind him of the harrowing schedule working in retail often entails. In response, Gabriel said that his schedule as a teacher was really not that different. After the kids left for the day and even after he had gone home for the evening, he would continue to work on lesson plans, report cards, and any other tertiary activities he needed to prepare for the next day. Gabriel said that oftentimes when he tallied up his workweeks he would put in 60 hours or more. Walmart, he says, is only asking 45 hours a week from him at the most.

Moreover, Gabriel also detailed the reality of how long it would take him to reach his Walmart salary as a teacher in the state of Ohio. He said that when he started teaching he made just $23,000 per year. After 6 years on the job, he was making $43,000. He went on to explain that many of his colleagues who were retiring after 25 years of teaching had just barely reached the $80,000 per year threshold. By contrast, as a GM Coach, the base salary is just shy of the $80,000 mark. Gabriel also expressed a potential aspiration to be a store manager. Store manager salaries start at $200,000. And interestingly enough, Walmart, due to a complete shortage of store managers is actively recruiting qualified candidates at present.

Ultimately, Gabriel’s story serves to point out the great disparities between salaries found in the public sector versus the private sector. It also shines a spotlight on how undervalued America’s educators are. For a country where so many aspire to wealth, it seems many states think that they don’t need to adequately compensate those who were some of the first guides on their journey to achieve that desired wealth. That being said, it is also important to note that a career at Walmart or retail, in general, is lightyears away from being perfect. And there are benefits that teachers in the public sector receive that many of those working in the private sector do not. So while this analysis is in no way comprehensive, it is still indicative of the shortcomings in compensation that exist for educators in the United States.