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Many factors influence teacher job satisfaction. Some, such as compensation and the ability to act independently, are widespread throughout the profession. Other factors are linked to the subject taught and the grade level. A final group of factors impacting satisfaction derive primarily from personal attitude and inclination.
Compensation contributes directly and nearly universally to teacher job satisfaction, although it is more of a concern for teachers working in poorer districts. Teachers who receive more generous packages of salaries and benefits reported, all else being equal, a greater degree of happiness with their work. Low salaries remain a concern for many educators and most feel that additional bonuses or other compensation could both improve morale and results.
Other working conditions have a nearly universal impact on teacher job satisfaction as well. Teachers with more control over their curriculum and classroom choices reported higher levels of job satisfaction. Those who felt tightly constrained or perceived themselves to be micromanaged were less satisfied.
Relationships between teachers and administrators also have a major impact on teacher job satisfaction across the board. Teachers prefer collegial leadership and cooperative decision-making processes. More managerial or critical styles of leadership have a negative impact on job satisfaction among teachers, whereas less intrusive and more supportive styles increase satisfaction.
Relations between students and teachers and between parents and teachers are also important in determining satisfaction. Teachers are most satisfied in those schools where relations with students are amicable and where discipline problems are rare. Supportive parents also bolster teacher satisfaction. Teachers in private schools and suburban schools are usually happier, perhaps because these factors tend to be more positive in those areas.
The level of job satisfaction varies across grade levels and disciplines. Teachers of younger children are typically more satisfied than secondary school teachers. Similarly, teachers in the hard sciences are happier with their lot than are teachers who work in the fields of English or the humanities.
Personal teacher characteristics impact job satisfaction as well. A connection exists between a personal motivation to teach and an interest in pedagogy and job satisfaction. Teachers generally also report being happier when they are actually able to teach. This factor may relate to the increased teacher job satisfaction among educators who have more autonomy and must make fewer or less detailed reports to school administrators. Teachers who are themselves administrators are also more satisfied, however, suggesting that control rather than the act of administration is key.