In 2018, the average graduate teaching assistant’s wage was $18,850 a year, slightly above minimum wage in Montana — hardly a livable wage in a growing town like Bozeman.
Graduate teaching assistants are students enrolled in a university who also teach classes or work as laboratory assistants on campus.
“A lot of graduate students who pursue that route, not all, but a lot, will track towards becoming one day faculty members of their own once they graduate and get their further degrees,” said Michael Becker, a spokesperson at Montana State University. “This provides them with valuable experience in how education at the higher education level works.”
Becker says that comparing a graduate teaching assistant wage and a job in the regular economy is not exactly comparing apples to oranges.
“It’s important to understand that there’s a difference between working for a wage and working as a graduate teaching assistant; they’re not a one-to-one comparison,” said Becker. “Graduate teaching assistantships are meant as a support mechanism to help students along the way to further their educational goals.”
Still, this means students would most likely need to find another source of income on top of teaching assistantships responsibilities and their own student workload.
While Montana may be ranked last in average wages for graduate teaching assistants, the state offers more opportunities.
More opportunities than larger states like Oregon, Iowa, Minnesota, and Tennessee.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state of Montana had six hundred and fifty graduate teaching assistants in 2018.
Reporting by by Gaby Krevat for MTN News