Median Pay1: $55,895

Teacher Reciprocity Requirements2: Wisconsin Department of Education

Education/Experience Requirements: Bachelor’s degree from regionally accredited school and state-approved teacher preparation program.

Testing Requirements: Praxis CORE in any state required. Praxis Subject Assessments taken in WIsconsin required. Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test (FORT) required for certain endorsements.

Temporary Certificate Offered?: No

Other Notes: Reciprocity is not granted for alternative route certificates or those based on testing only. Tests must be passed prior to applying for a license.

Retirement: Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS)

Teacher Pensions Grade3: F – Click here to see why.

Employees/employers are NOT required to pay social security tax. Wisconsin leaves the decision to each individual district.  Educator’s should check with their district to see if they pay social security tax. This could greatly affect retirement planning.

WRS Plan: Pension Plan

5 year vesting period

For 2019, members contribute 6.55% and employers contribute 6.55% for a total contribution of 13.1% (History of contribution rates).

Intended to provide you with a lifetime retirement payment once you are vested and reach minimum retirement age of 55.

Two fund choices in pension plan:

Option 1: Core Trust Fund includes a mixture of holdings, such as stocks, bonds and real estate. It is diversified to stabilize the effects of market changes. The basic objective of the Core Fund is to earn an optimum long-term return while taking acceptable risk. All members have at least half, if not all, of their retirement contributions in the Core Fund.

Core Trust Fund Participation: As a WRS member, your Core Fund participation begins the same day your WRS coverage begins.

Option 2: Variable Trust Fund is primarily a stock fund, which results in a greater degree of risk due to the volatility of the stock market.

Variable Trust Fund Participation: You can elect to deposit 50% of your WRS employee-required contributions, the matching employer contributions, as well as voluntary additional contributions into the Variable Fund.

Purchasing Additional Service Credits: Generally, the more years of service you have, the higher your monthly benefit will be. As long as you are actively employed under WRS, you may be eligible to purchase certain types of service to increase your years of service.  Depending on your age and when you plan to retire, purchasing additional service may decrease your penalty for early retirement. Linked here is additional information regarding buying service credits along with the types of service credits that can be purchased.

Calculation: Your retirement annuity is calculated with both defined benefit formula and defined contribution (money purchase) components. Retirement benefits are always calculated using both methods and as a retiree, you receive the higher of the two benefit calculations.

Defined Benefit Formula

Your final average earnings is expressed as a monthly amount. The average is calculated by adding the highest earnings for three calendar years (fiscal years for teachers, judges and educational support personnel) and dividing this total by the creditable service earned during these years, then dividing by 12. The three years used are those in which reported earnings were the highest; they do not need to be consecutive, nor the last years reported.

Check or request your annual statement of benefits for your amount of creditable service.  Creditable service is represented as a decimal so one year of full-time work equals 1.0. It also includes any creditable service you purchased.

A formula multiplier is a percentage factor that ETF uses to calculate your formula retirement benefit. See etf.wi.gov/publications/et4107.pdf for more information.

The formula multiplier for teachers who taught before 2000 is .01765.

The formula multiplier for teachers who taught after is .016.

The age reduction factor is based on age and years of service.  To find that reduction factor, see the chart of page 10 of the WRS ETF Calculating Your Retirement Benefit

Defined Contribution (money purchase)

Your employee-required contributions, plus the employer matching required contributions (shown on your Statement of Benefits) equals your money purchase benefit. This total amount is used to “purchase” your retirement benefit.

See the calculation worksheet on page 18 of the WRS ETF Calculating Your Retirement Benefit for more information or click the button below to estimate.

College Savings:

Edvest 529 College Savings Plan

Wisconsin offers contributors a state income tax deduction equal to the dollar amount contributed to the plan each year up to a maximum of $3,280 per year, per beneficiary for each tax year ($1,640 for married filing separate status and for divorced parents of a beneficiary). Contributions greater than the maximum deduction amount may be carried as a deduction in future years.

Fund Options

1Median Pay: sourced from 2018 data collected by National Education Association (NEA). See their Full Report for more information.

2Teacher Reciprocity: sourced from data aggregated by Teacher Certification Degrees. View the full state-by-state list here. Additionally, in some states special considerations for reciprocity, application expedition, fee waivers, etc. may be available to teachers married to activity duty military personnel; be sure to contact the respective State Dept. Of Education to learn more.

3Teacher Pensions Rating: sourced from https://www.teacherpensions.org/. Visit their website to learn about their mission or view a State Comparison.