WASHINGTON (CBS SF) – A new report by the National Council on Teacher Quality has found that it can take teachers in the Bay Area more than three decades to reach the top of the pay scale.

The report, “Smart Money: What teachers make, how long it takes and what it buys them,” looked at the 2013-2014 salaries for 113 mostly large U.S. school districts, ranking them by teacher’s likely lifetime earnings and by the number of years it would take a teacher to reach an annual salary of $75,000. That salary was chosen because on average for the districts in the study, that is the maximum teachers can earn over a 30-year career. The rankings were adjusted for the cost of living in each community.

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Among the five districts with the lowest adjusted earnings are San Francisco and Oakland. The study found that it would take more than 30 years for teachers in those districts to hit comparable salary levels to others across the country. In contrast, in Pittsburgh and the District of Columbia, it takes under 10 years to reach that salary level. On average, it takes teachers 24 years to reach their maximum pay.

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“In many districts, teachers are working for years and years under a system of small,incremental raises. We know it doesn’t have to be this way. There are districts that allow teachers, especially exemplary teachers, to more quickly reach their top salaries,” commented Kate Walsh, President of the National Council on Teacher Quality. “While some of these districts are able to do so because they converted to a performance pay system, like Washington, D.C., some do so using a traditional model of teacher compensation, like Chicago and Milwaukee.”

Looking at salaries and adjusting for cost of living in the communities that are part of the study shows which markets offer the highest “bang for the buck.” Columbus, Ohio has the highest buying power, at more than $100,000 in adjusted dollars. Meanwhile, the maximum pay in San Francisco equates to purchasing power of just over $31,600, and in Oakland, just over $46,2000.

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The study recommends that teachers and unions negotiating on their behalf look past the starting and ending salaries to examine lifetime earnings, and that school districts with higher lifetime earnings should market their standing to attract the best candidates.