So why should you care how many teachers have or are pursuing credentials to teach in California? One concern is that the demand for teachers, particularly given class-size reduction mandates, is expected to outpace supply. Record numbers of teachers of the baby-boomer generation — 98,000 teachers, or about one-third of the state’s teacher work force — are slated to retire in the next decade.

For the college-educated set, a career in elementary or secondary education can be a tough sell. A public school teacher’s average annual wage is estimated to be just more than $50,000, according to state labor market estimates for 2007. There are plenty of high-demand occupations that pay better. Accountants and auditors make more money, at just over $60,000; police officers earn about $65,000, while registered nurses make more than $70,000. Salespeople, software engineers and lawyers can earn twice what a public school teacher makes, according to the state’s wage estimates.

Does that mean teachers should be paid more? Or is $50,000 a reasonable salary for state employees with built-in summer vacations?

JENNIFER McENTEE

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