A teacher quit her job to work at Costco — and got a huge raise.
Maggie Perkins, 31, made the serious life decision to give up her eight-year education career in 2022 – but the most surprising result of the job change is the pay rise.
The former teacher, who taught middle and high school history and language arts in both public and private schools, earned $47,000 in her final year of teaching. She worked 60 hours a week and did a lot of unpaid overtime, Perkins claimed.
“I was exhausted due to the administrative pressures, testing requirements and endurance that teaching at the height of the pandemic required. I felt like I was missing purpose,” Perkins wrote in one Contributing essay for CNBC.
Perkins – who has 131,700 followers and 5.3 million likes TikTok account – began looking for another career path that would give her “some breathing room.”
“At first I just wanted a job that was good enough for now,” she explained, adding that she received offers from Costco and Amazon in the same week, but she thought Costco would be a better fit and offer more opportunities for her .
“I also enjoyed shopping there and knew the employees were treated well,” she added.
Perkins began a full-time position on the membership team at a warehouse in Athens, Georgia, where she was on her feet all day but had two 15-minute breaks and a 30-minute lunch break.
She earned $18.50 an hour in that job – just slightly less than as a teacher – working 40 hours a week and receiving a $1 an hour raise when she reached 1,000 hours.
However, due to laryngitis, she was no longer able to communicate with customers at the checkout and temporarily filled in at the bakery.
“I loved it. Whether it was baking a cake for their 90th birthday or for someone who just finished their PhD, making a tangible contribution to a special day gave me a new sense of purpose Perkins told CNBC.
The next step in her career at Costco came after the marketing training team visited her warehouse location.
“As I watched them work, I realized that I could still be an educator – just in a different context. So when a position opened up in Issaquah, Washington, I immediately applied,” she said.
Perkins is now a content developer and marketing trainer for Costco Corporate, where she creates internal materials to inform employees about company policies and customer service procedures and travels to warehouses to train new employees.
Perkins now earns 50% more than she did when she left teaching, making what a teacher in her last school district would normally earn after 15 years of experience.
She is celebrating her one-year anniversary with the warehouse company and admitted that she often encounters confusion when sharing her job with others.
“When I tell people this, they often respond with, ‘But is Costco your dream job?’ or “Do you think this is a worthwhile career?” To me, that meant they thought my decision was a demotion,” Perkins wrote. “And for a long time I might have agreed. My identity and value were completely tied to my work as an educator.
“But I no longer find my fulfillment and self-worth in work alone,” she added.
Perkins wrote that her new priority is to create a “clear separation” between work life and home life so she can spend time with family and devote herself to the things that are important to her – and she has “never felt more fulfilled “, she said.
“My work is no longer my identity. When I’m there, I put energy into my job and leave work in the office. When I come home, I’m present and can spend time with my family and do what I love, like being outside,” she explained.
She noted that many nursing jobs, such as teachers, social workers, emergency responders and home health aides, are considered top jobs — but don’t pay well.
“Having a lot of passion but not enough institutional support is a recipe for burnout. My best advice is to set boundaries and be clear about your responsibilities,” Perkins shared. “When I am asked to work on a project, I make sure I understand the challenges and the timeline for completion. I’m not afraid to ask for more resources when I need them.
“From a young age, we are taught to think about dream jobs in terms of: ‘What Is that what you want to be when you grow up?'” she added. “Now I spend more energy thinking about, ‘WHO do you want to be?'”