Prior Work: North Carolina

Teacher Compensation Policy


The state should encourage districts to provide compensation for related prior subject-area work experience. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.

Best Practice
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2017). Prior Work: North Carolina results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of North Carolina's policies

Requirements: North Carolina teachers are awarded one year of credit, for salary purposes, for every two years of "full-time relevant non-teaching work experience" prior to earning a bachelor's degree and one year of experience credit for every year of "full-time relevant non-teaching experience" after earning a bachelor's degree. "Relevant non-teaching work experience" is defined as professional work experience in public or private sectors that is directly related to the individual's area of licensure and work assignment.


Recommendations for North Carolina

As a result of North Carolina's strong compensation for prior work policies, no recommendations are provided.

State response to our analysis

North Carolina recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

Updated: December 2017

How we graded

8C: Prior Work 

  • Compensation: The state should encourage districts to compensate new teachers with relevant prior work experience through mechanisms such as starting these teachers at an advanced step on the pay scale.
Element One: Compensation
The full goal score is earned based on the following:

  • Full credit: The state will earn full credit if it compensates teachers for relevant prior work experience through mechanisms such as advanced starting salaries.
  • Three-quarters credit: The state will earn three-quarters of a point if it explicitly allows or encourages districts to compensate teachers for prior work experience.
  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if it allows compensation for prior work experience only for teachers of certain subjects.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it limits compensation for prior work experience to military experience.

Research rationale

Districts should be allowed to pay new teachers with relevant work experience more than other new teachers. State and district salary structures frequently fail to recognize that new teacher hires are not necessarily new to the workforce.[1] Some new teachers bring with them deep work experience that is directly related to the subject matter they will teach.[2] For example, the hiring of a new high school chemistry teacher with 20 years' experience as a chemical engineer would likely be a great boon to any district.[3] Yet most salary structures would place this individual at the same point on the pay schedule as a new teacher straight out of college. Compensating these teachers commensurate with their experience is an important recruitment and retention strategy, particularly when other, non-teaching opportunities in these fields are likely to be more financially lucrative.[4]

Specifics of teacher pay should largely be left to local decision making. However, states should use policy mechanisms to inform districts that it is not only permissible, but also necessary, to compensate new teachers with relevant prior work experience.

[1] Much of the blame for the difficulty in hiring candidates with specific expertise falls on the single salary schedule that rewards only teaching experience and degree level. See: Goldhaber, D. D., & Liu, A. Y. H. (2005). Teacher salary structure and the decision to teach in public schools: An analysis of recent college graduates. Center on Reinventing Public Education, University of Washington.
[2] Of particular concern for the teaching profession are the quality and number of teachers available in math, science and special education and of those serving high-poverty students. See: Hare, D., Nathan, J., Darland, J., & Laine, S. W. (2000). Teacher shortages in the midwest: Current trends and future issues. North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved from; Harrington, P. E. (2001). Attracting new teachers requires changing old rules. College Board Review, 192, 6-11. Retrieved from; Shields, P. M., Humphrey, D. C., Wechsler, M. E., Riel, L. M., Tiffany-Morales, J., Woodworth, K., ... & Price, T. (2001). The status of the teaching profession 2001. Santa Cruz, CA: The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from
[3] People with specific skills are in high demand in the non-teacher labor market. See: Stasz, C., & Brewer, D. J. (1999). Academic skills at work: Two perspectives. RAND Corporation. Retrieved from; See also: Weisbrod, B. A., & Karpoff, P. (1968). Monetary returns to college education, student ability, and college quality. Review of Economics and Statistics, 50(4), 491-497.
[4] It has also been shown that teachers who teach specific subject matters have higher rates of attrition. See: Podgursky, M., Monroe, R., & Watson, D. (2004). The academic quality of public school teachers: An analysis of entry and exit behavior. Economics of Education Review, 23(5), 507-518.; In addition, research has shown that math and science teachers—both men and women—with high ACT scores are the first to leave the teaching profession. See: S. Kirby, S. N., Naftel, S., & Berends, M. (1999). Staffing at-risk school districts in Texas: Problems and prospects. RAND Corporation. Retrieved from; See also: Henke, R. R., Zahn, L., & Carroll, C. D. (2001). Attrition of new teachers among recent college graduates: Comparing occupational stability among 1992-93 graduates who taught and those who worked in other occupations (NCES 2001-189). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from