According to the “National Study of Millionaires,” a research project conducted by Ramsey Solutions, despite the generally low income that school teachers earn annually, many consistently hold millions of dollars in their savings and investment accounts. This information ranks school teachers in third place on a list of the top five careers most likely to have millionaires. Teachers are ranked just behind engineers and accountants and just before business professionals and lawyers. While school teachers play a vital role in society and deserve financial justice for their job, the ranking poses the question of how teachers can be third while doctors and physicians don’t even rank in the top five. Personal finance expert and CEO of Ramsey Solutions, Dave Ramsey, has some answers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, school teachers earn an average median salary of $61K per year yet come in third on the list. While this sounds contradictory, Ramsey puts it into perspective first by saying, “It turns out that math works for all of us, especially when you understand your income is your most powerful wealth-building tool.” The top five list was composed following a survey of millionaires that obtained its answers from 10,000 participants. Surprisingly to most, the majority of millionaires surveyed (93%) said they did not have high-salary jobs but instead created their wealth by working hard. A mere 15% were found to hold senior management jobs such as VP, and only 31% boasted an annual income of over $100K. Ramsey quips that this proves that “you can’t earn your way out of stupidity.”

According to Ramsey, the reasons why teachers rank in the top five, yet other vital positions in society, such as doctors, do not, are relatively simple. While they may not all work high-paying jobs, millionaires invest in their education, even though most surveyed did not attend elite colleges. What most of those who were interviewed have in common is the persistence to invest in the long term. Ramsey says in his on-air list review, “They are systems people. They work with a set of principles, and they don’t have free rein to make up their own rules.” Ramsey references other professions, such as lawyers and construction specialists who build bridges, saying that these individuals know that “there is one way; otherwise it fails.”

image 1 6

This mindset is vital to understanding the results of the survey. Ramsey adds context by telling listeners, “Don’t pick your career based on how much money you can make, only… Also, don’t pick a career that says you will be happy but broke. That won’t work either.” Ramsey points to the idea that you should do something you truly love because you will ultimately be better at it, and “because you’re good at it, you care about it, and you are creative, and you have energy. You should make more money.” Most teachers teach because they are passionate about it. This does not mean that most physicians are not, but many enter the profession due to the lure of success and accrue $200K in medical school debt, which takes about 13 years to pay back. This can cause years of missed opportunities to invest and ultimately shows why school teachers with passion, less debt, and time to invest outranked physicians in the top five careers most likely to have millionaires.