Are you a teacher looking to switch careers? Like many former teachers, you most likely chose to get into teaching because you love working with children, the great schedule, or to inspire children in the same way your teachers inspired you.
These are all great reasons to pursue a career in teaching, but many teachers find themselves looking for a career change at some point in their life. In fact, around 8% of teachers switch careers each year, according to research carried out by the Learning Policy Institute (citing data from the Department of Education). On top of this 8% who leave education completely, another 8% of teachers transfer to other roles in the education sector. But why do so many teachers switch careers?
Reasons Why they Leave The Classroom
There are lots of reasons why teachers consider career changes, here are some of the most common factors that cause them to quit the classroom.
Stress & Burnout
As we mentioned above, many teachers get into the profession because they love working with children and expected that their job would be more focused on the kids. A lot of the day-to-day tasks that teachers are expected to do aren’t focused on the kids at all, leaving some teachers feeling jaded. Coupled with the stress of teaching based on standardized tests, a lot of the fun of lesson planning and creating teachable moments is stripped from the job. This makes teaching clinical and impersonal. Modern teaching is normally categorised by huge classrooms, scarce resources, and mixed capability levels, all adding to the pressure on teachers.
The effects of COVID 19
COVID 19 and the pandemic was overwhelming for everyone, but teachers had a particularly difficult time. COVID 19 restrictions obliged teachers to move their lessons online almost overnight, piling on the pressure at an already stressful time. At the height of the pandemic, a lot of teachers were struggling with the online format, a lack of resources, budget cuts, and keeping students engaged. But that’s not all. As the pandemic slows down and classes return to normal, teachers are at an increased risk of catching COVID 19 or passing it on to vulnerable family members.
For a lot of them, the schedule was a big incentive. The idea of getting home by 4 pm to dedicate time to your family or hobbies was too tempting to miss out on. Unfortunately, while the schedule may be great, teachers often find themselves spending hours every day planning their lessons. This planning time only increased during COVID 19 as teachers had to readjust their lesson plans and find new ways to teach their students.
While teaching salaries vary greatly depending on the location of the school and grade being taught, teachers generally have quite a low salary in comparison to their workload. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly rate for a teacher is $28.75. While this is a liveable salary in most parts of the US, it doesn’t reflect the amount of responsibility and teachers put into their jobs. Thanks to budget cuts, many teachers are forced to fork out for school supplies for their students, putting an even bigger dent in their income.
Lack of opportunities for growth/career development
Teaching is a vocation and there are plenty of teachers who love their jobs and are satisfied to stay in the same position throughout their careers. However, some teachers crave professional development and want to move up in their careers. Of course, they have the opportunity to work their way up to Head of Department or even School Principal, but there tends to be a lot of competition for these roles and longstanding staff members often occupy the positions for a long time. This relatively small chance for growth is a big factor for teachers wanting to change careers.
Despite a high turnover, there are still plenty of perks of being a teacher. For former teachers, your days in the classroom have set you up with a long list of transferable skills. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Transferable Skills Teachers Can Put On Their Resumé
Although not as well-paid as it should be, teaching is a well-respected career. Good teachers have a true vocation and a passion for teaching. Being a teacher can be very rewarding when you are able to motivate and inspire your students to go out into the world and succeed.
If you want to switch careers and leave the classroom, it’s a good idea to start by listing all the transferable skills you developed as a teacher. This will not only help you decide on your next steps, but it will also be helpful when it comes to updating your resumé and selling your skills in job interviews.
Assessing & Giving Feedback
Teaching involves continuous assessment and a clear feedback loop between teachers, students, and parents. Learning how to assess and give feedback is key for a number of jobs outside of education. Teachers’ ability to pinpoint strengths and weak areas, select areas of improvement, and deliver personalised feedback to every student in their class prepares them perfectly for a whole host of other roles in different fields.
Communication skills are fundamental. Almost every job description out there is looking for a candidate with proven communication skills. Being a successful teacher means being a good communicator. They have to communicate with parents, collaborate with other teachers, and convey information to students in a clear, empathetic, and timely manner.
The main goal of teaching is to instruct. They quickly develop the ability to teach their students in a way that sticks. Knowing how to convey information in a simple and effective way is a covetable skill that transfers perfectly to a range of jobs such as training or leadership roles.
Leadership & Coaching
Being a good leader is a skill that takes time to develop. As the head of the classroom, teachers learn how to lead effectively from their first day on the job. As the role of leaders evolves in the corporate world, there is a much bigger focus on decision-making, mentorship, coaching, and personal development programs. Teachers are natural-born motivators, their experience in mentoring and coaching students makes them a great fit for leadership roles in other fields.
Excellent active listening skills are a much sought-after competence in most organizations. Great teachers understand the importance of listening to create a space for feedback, reflection, and open communication. They are the authoritarian voice in the classroom, but this has to be balanced with active listening to give students a voice to express themselves. This talent for listening is like gold dust in a wide range of professions.
They quickly develop strong interpersonal skills, which are key for cultivating a good culture in the classroom. They are our references when it comes to treating people with respect and empathy, and thus need to be shining examples to their students at all times. Conflict management is a skill that many in the workplace work to develop. Teachers deal with conflicts every day in the classroom and are a dab hand at resolving disputes and restoring order. These well-developed (and highly coveted) interpersonal skills give teachers a competitive edge in the job market.
Time management is a necessary soft skill in almost every profession. They work in a high-paced environment where time management is essential; they need to time their classes to fit the bell, grade papers, communicate with parents, support and monitor students who require extra help, and even write letters of recommendation letters. Their jam-packed schedules and deadline-driven working style makes them pros when it comes to planning their time.
Written communication skills are a must for almost any career. They spend a lot of time honing their writing skills, whether it’s writing report cards, lesson plans, classroom guides, or communication with parents. Being able to demonstrate strong writing skills is an incredibly useful skill when searching for a new career and one that teachers should highlight in the resumé.
Now that you’ve seen how your teaching skills can transfer to other positions, let’s explore some of the jobs best suited to your skillset.
The Best Jobs For Former Teachers; Advice From a Recruitment Agency
In a recent article, recruitment experts Lensa.com put together a list of former teacher jobs perfectly suited to the skillset of an educator. While some of the jobs may require further education, they are great options for former or retired teachers looking for a new challenge. Below is a summary of Lensa’s top picks for former teachers and a brief overview of the job and the qualifications required.
Alternatives to teaching within the Education sector
If you want a break from teaching, but still want to work in the Education sector, there are several jobs you could consider:
- School counsellor/Career counsellor
As a counsellor, you’ll support students with their academic progress, guide them as they choose their next steps, and offer emotional support so that they reach their full potential
- Educational consultant
Many former teachers move into educational consultancy. Educational consultants liaise between faculty and teaching staff, work closely with the school board to resolve issues across the district, and create personalized development plans for teachers to improve their ability in the classroom. A Masters degree in Education is often required for this role.
- School administrator
If you want to stay within the education sector but take a break from teaching, you may make a great School Administrator. Their main role is to work with teachers to adapt their lesson plans to fit with the district, state, and federal requirements and design school-wide programs such as after-school activities. If you’re serious about this role, you may need to pursue a degree in Education Administration.
Careers outside of the Education sector
If you want a complete career change and a move away from the Education sector, we’ve recapped the top three picks from Lensa’s list below.
1. Corporate Trainer
If you’re a teacher who wants to leverage your teaching experience but in a more corporate environment, then becoming a corporate trainer or L&D professional could be the right move for you. As a corporate trainer, you have more room to move up in your position, higher salary opportunities, and a chance to become an industry expert. In terms of the role, it is very similar to traditional classroom teaching. Corporate trainers need to have excellent communication skills, interpersonal skills, public speaking experience, and the ability to deliver clear feedback.
To become a corporate trainer, you are sometimes required to hold a Bachelor’s degree in educational psychology, business administration, human resources, or other similar subjects.
2. Life Coach
Coaching has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. Organizations have seen the positive impact coaches can have on their employees’ performance. Transitioning to becoming a life coach is perfect for teachers who love teaching but are disillusioned with the bureaucracy that accompanies it. Life coaches, like teachers, need to mentor, motivate, and guide their clients
While certifications aren’t required, it’s a great idea to become a certified life coach before you make the switch. Certification programs tend to be flexible and take around 3-6 months to complete. Once you’re certified, you can go freelance or work with an agency to provide life coaching services to individuals or organizations looking for mentorship and help in setting and achieving their goals.
3. Museum Educator
If you love teaching, but you’re yearning for more creativity, then becoming a Museum Educator could be the right choice for you. Museum Educators are responsible for planning, developing, and carrying out educational programs for the different exhibitions hosted in the museum. They work with both adults and children to create an engaging and hands-on educational experience. To work in this role, you’ll usually need a Bachelor’s degree in Museum Studies, Education, or one of the arts.
If these three top picks aren’t right for you, check out the full article for more career inspiration for former teachers.
Choosing your new career path takes time and careful consideration. But what do you do once you’ve found your new direction? We’ve compiled a list of some actionable steps to take leaving your teaching job for pastures new.
Tips For Making The Move Out Of The Classroom
If you’re a teacher looking for a new challenge outside of the classroom, here are some tips to help you take the plunge.
Research the job market
Before you leave your teaching job, do your research. Check job bulletin boards regularly to stay abreast of what’s out there and the skills employers are asking for. The more you know about the job market, the better you’ll be at selling yourself in an interview.
Get certified in your area of choice
If you already know the field that you want to move into, get a qualification. Getting certified and gaining some experience before you start your job search will position you much better and reassure you that this new career path is the right one for you.
Build your network and reach out to others in your chosen field
Changing careers can be daunting. One great way to make the switch is by firstly building a strong network of people in your chosen industry. By connecting with other professionals in your new field via LinkedIn or other platforms geared towards professionals, you can gain insight into the industry, ask for advice, and stay up-to-date with the latest trends.
Get professional help
If you’re serious about switching careers, getting professional help is a great way to set yourself apart. Recruitment Agencies can help you to optimize your resume, improve your interview skills, write the perfect cover letter, and make new connections. This help is invaluable in finding the perfect new career.
Finding a new career path can take time, don’t lose faith. It’s important to remind yourself regularly that the skills you developed as a teacher are transferable and valuable. Stay focused and don’t lose hope if the job search takes longer than expected.
Teachers have a strong set of transferable skills that will set them up well in a number of job positions. When making the switch, take the time to list your skills and how they fit with different career paths. Don’t sell yourself short, remind yourself regularly how valuable the skills you developed as a teacher are. Once you know what direction you want to go in, make sure you are financially ready to take the plunge, then seek help from recruitment professionals to nab your dream job and start that exciting new chapter.