How Does Teacher Attrition Compare to Other Professions?

By 07/14/2014

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The Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) released a report on the changing trends in the teaching workforce. Over the past decade, an increasing percentage of teachers have either moved to another school or left the profession altogether, and has only tapered slightly after the recession.

How does teacher attrition compare to other professions? The chart below shows the percentage of college graduates who entered a particular occupation (e.g., teaching, architecture, engineering, etc.) in 1997 but then left that occupation by 2003.

Employee Turnover By Occupation

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Source: Ingersoll, R. & Perda, D. 2014. This chart originally appeared in the CT Mirror.

Of the college graduates who became teachers, 30 percent left within six years. Teachers leave the profession at about the same rate as police officers, while having double the attrition rates of engineers and pharmacists. On the other hand, teachers had significantly less turnover than secretaries, child care workers, and paralegals.

Compared to other occupations, teachers and police officers are among the few professions that still participate in a pension system. Pension systems are best suited for employees who stay an entire career, but they generally benefit only a small percentage of teachers because of high turnover in the profession.

-Leslie Kan

Leslie Kan is an Analyst with Bellwether Education Partners. This first appeared on

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