Teachers tend to spend more time speaking than most professionals, putting them at a greater risk for hurting their voices. They are 32 times more likely to experience voice problems, according to one study.

A new study by the National Center for Voice and Speech (NCVS), in Denver, CO, reveals how teachers use their voice at work and at home and uncovers differences between male and female teachers.1

NCVS deputy director Eric Hunter, PhD, and colleagues equipped teachers with a voice dosimeter, which captures voicing characteristics such as pitch and loudness rather than actual speech. The NCVS dosimeter sampled their voices 33 times per second during waking hours over a 14-day period for each teacher. The researchers analyzed 20 million of these samplings.

Female teachers used their voices about 10 percent more than males when teaching and 7 percent more when not teaching. The data also indicated that female teachers speak louder than male teachers at work.

“These results may indicate an underlying reason for female teachers’ increased voice problems,” stated Dr. Hunter.

All of the teachers spoke about 50 percent more when at work, at both a higher pitch and a volume (about 3 dB louder). Instead of resting their overworked voices at home, the teachers spent significant amounts of time speaking outside of work.

Hunter, E. (2009). Variations in intensity, fundamental frequency, and voicing for teachers in occupational versus non-occupational settings. Acoustical Society of America meeting, San Antonio, TX, Oct. 26.