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Hungarian Teachers’ Salaries Low in Regional Comparison

Hungary Today 2022.03.11.

Teachers’ wages in Hungary are low even in when compared regionally, according to G7‘s analysis. This applies both to entry teachers’ wages, and experienced professionals’ salaries. In addition, after a major wage settlement around 2013, Hungarian teachers’ wage are on a downward slope, as they failed to follow the increase of the national average wage.

The economic investigative site refers to the European Commission’s recent report, showing:

  • In Hungary, teachers earn roughly 66-75% of the national average wage, the lowest ratio in the region (e.g. in comparison to Czech Rep., Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, and Romania)
  • Starting teachers’ salaries are also the lowest in Hungary compared to the aforementioned four neighboring countries, plus Czechia: Hungarian starting teachers earn only 43% of the average wage. In the rest of the region, this number ranges between 60 and 100%.


Romania is the only country with a lower average annual net earning that Hungary, according to Eurostat’s 2020 data. The average annual net earnings in Hungary amounted to EUR 4,775, while in Slovakia this was EUR 5,553, EUR 6,372 in Czechia, EUR 5,400 in Poland, EUR 19,703 in Austria, and EUR 4,315 in Romania.

  • In a broader comparison, starting teachers earn less than in Hungary in only four of the examined 36 European countries: in North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • In Albania, starting teachers’ salaries are only 42% lower than in Hungary, the country’s GDP per capita makes up 35% of that of Hungary’s.

Teachers’ salaries on downward slope 

In another comparison, examining the trend of the last roughly one and a half decades, it has been demonstrated that Hungarian teacher salaries are on a downward trend.

Drawing a comparison between a primary school teacher’s salary with 15 years experience (as this was available in Hungary) and the national average, it is clear that teachers’ salaries haven’t followed the hikes of the national average salary either. After veteran teachers’ salaries reached the average wage (after a comprehensive wage settlement and introduction of life career model by the Fidesz government) in 2013, even catching up to Austria’s data in this matter, they have since fallen to three quarters of the national average (salaries were not indexed at the time, resulting in the effect of the measure to have simply lost to inflation).

  • By now, this has resulted in the fact that in the region, Poland’s experienced teachers are the only ones earning less than Hungarians (but starting salaries are higher there).
  • In addition, comparing the education sector’s average wage to the corporate sector, we also find a decrease in the last five years, with Hungary bottoming out the regional comparison in this matter, too.

This information came amid an ongoing protest by teachers and controversy with the government. After the government refused to settle their wages, the two unions announced a strike by March 16th. The government, however, has since issued a decree that made striking virtually ineffectual, and therefore pointless.

Teachers Call for Nationwide Protest if Gov't Refuses to Revoke Ban on Strikes
Teachers Call for Nationwide Protest if Gov't Refuses to Revoke Ban on Strikes

As the Hungarian government has revoked virtually all coronavirus-related restrictions and obligations, a teachers' trade union is demanding that the Orbán administration revoke those that restrict their right to strike as well.Continue reading

In reaction, several teachers began acts of civil disobedience, which an increasing number of institutions are joining, arguing that “striking is a fundamental right.” As of the latest development, the ‘I Would Teach’ movement stands behind a nationwide strike on March 16th, but the government still refuses to talk about the issue of striking rights, calling on teachers’ unions to not take part due to the current war situation.

featured image via Attila Balázs/MTI

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