Finding Career Clarity As You Leave The Classroom

Abbey Vogt

Often one of the most difficult steps once you decide to leave the classroom is figuring out what career you want to pursue. This is a tough decision. There are so many different directions and you’ve only ever thought of yourself as a teacher. We totally get it! 

As you plan to leave the classroom, you may be tempted to apply for every job you see in hopes of finding something new. Don’t! Finding career clarity and narrowing your path to one or two options will give you the best chance for success.

Why Finding Career Clarity Is So Important  

Having a clear understanding of your career goals and aspirations is crucial when it comes to effectively communicating your qualifications and experience to potential employers.  

Whether you’re looking to update your resume, network with industry professionals, or navigate the job search process, a clear understanding of your career goals will help you stand out and increase your chances of success. Pick a career focus before writing your resume. The biggest mistake teachers make is applying to different roles like project manager, customer success, and corporate trainer all using the same resume.  

In this article, we will explore the benefits of career clarity, provide tips and tools to help you achieve it, and discuss how it can help you navigate the career change process with confidence.

5 Steps to Finding Career Clarity 

Your decision to leave the classroom has likely been a difficult road. You may be asking yourself, “Will anyone hire me with just an education degree?” “Teaching is all I’ve ever known, can I succeed at anything else?” The short answer is yes. You have transferable skills that will bring value to many different roles outside the classroom. But first, you need to decide which roles to pursue. Here are some steps to take on your journey to career clarity

1. Assess your interests, values, and skills 

Before making a career change, it’s important to take stock of what you’re truly passionate about and what you value most in a job. As a teacher, you may have certain skills that are transferable to other careers, such as communication, organization, and problem-solving. Ask yourself:

  • What do you enjoy learning about at work?  
  • How do you like to spend your time at work?  
  • Would you prefer a more people-facing role or work on your own? 
  • Which of your strengths do you enjoy the most? 
  • Which of your skills are you most proud of?   
  • What lights you up!?  

If you’re struggling to come up with your skills and interests when it comes to a new career, ask the people who know you best! Reach out to family and friends asking them to share what they think your strengths are.  

2. Research different industries and roles 

Once you have a general idea of what you’re interested in, start researching different industries and roles that align with your interests, values, and skills. Consider your experience, qualifications and interests. Look for roles that match your strengths and skills. If you’re not sure where to start, consider the following: 

  • Ask your family and friends about what they do at work, what they like about their roles, and about their career trajectories 
  • Check out the Instagram page @teachercareercoach, which features stories of former teachers in a variety of roles 

At Teacher Career Coach, we have created hundreds of resources to help you explore different career buckets that are great fits for former teachers. The important thing to realize is that not all teachers are the same, so finding career clarity will take some time. 

Our free career quiz will give you ideas of roles that fit your skills and interests. While some teachers still want to work with children after they leave, you might not. Our quiz will help you get started with a list of ideas to pursue.  

The Teacher Career Coach Podcast is full of interviews with former teachers explaining their new roles. Take some time to subscribe and listen to episodes even if the job title is intimidating to you. Many of our former teachers have had moments of career clarity by listening to the different interviews. For example, one former teacher initially pursued curriculum writing but then switched to software engineering after hearing an interview. She enjoys building and creating but wanted a job with a higher earning potential. 

This is also when to research the different salaries of the positions to make sure it’s aligned with your needs. Salaries will vary from company to company so it’s important not to disqualify a career path entirely based on only a few listings.  

Lastly, our most comprehensive resource, the Teacher Career Coach Course has video lessons and extra resources to help you find career clarity and rewrite your resume. We also have over 600 salaries and job titles from former teachers in our community listed to help you with the research phase.

3. Take an inventory of your experience

Review your past work experience as a teacher and consider how it could be transferable to your new field. Identify any gaps in experience that you may need to address through additional education, training, or volunteer work. You can upskill or reskill to stand out for new roles and learn the skills necessary to succeed in a new field. 

Still in the classroom? Look for any opportunity to showcase your skills and build up your resume. Track your accomplishments throughout the school year, volunteer to organize an event or manage a club, learn new software and tech tools, and keep track of data. All these small steps will help your resume stand out and show how you have the extra experience to make a successful career change. 

4. Network 

Reach out to people in your desired industry or role and ask for advice and information about their experiences. Building relationships within your desired field can also help you to learn about potential job opportunities. Teachers are not often familiar with networking practices on platforms like LinkedIn. Learn the ins and outs of connecting with people outside of education and use those connections to help you land a job. 

Networking can often seem intimidating to anyone who is not familiar with it. We also hear from many introverts in the Teacher Career Coach Community. The Teacher Career Coach Course will teach you the best strategies for networking, what to say in your first message, and what people and companies to pursue.  

5. Get hands-on experience 

If possible, try to gain some hands-on experience in your desired field through freelancing, volunteer work, or part-time roles. This will give you a better understanding of what the day-to-day work is like. It will also give you a chance to demonstrate your skills and commitment to potential employers. In some cases, this may even lead to a full-time position. Make sure this experience is relevant to the full-time roles you are pursuing if it’s going to help you get a foot in the door! 

What if You Can’t Find Career Clarity in Time? 

One fear that transitioning teachers often have is the fear of choosing the wrong career path. You’ve always seen yourself as a teacher, and exploring new fields is a foreign concept. What if you make the wrong choice and end up in the wrong career. . . again? That’s where stepping stone jobs come in.  

Pick what path feels right and move forward. Maybe you need to get out of your teaching position as soon as possible. Or maybe you want an easy-going career for the time being to give yourself a mental break. Your next career does not have to be forever.  

Stepping stone jobs are jobs you use to advance even further in the future. Instead of thinking of this as being stuck or taking a step backwards, consider it as a strategic way to prepare for future advancement. 

If you are not confident in the new field you want to pursue, a stepping stone could be the right move for you. For example, if you are toying with the idea of being an account manager or customer success manager, start smaller to see if you enjoy that type of work. Find a role as a customer support specialist or sales development representative to get your foot in the door and try it out. Best case scenario: you love it and can use that experience to move up to higher level roles. Worst case scenario: you can cross that option off your list and add some experience outside the classroom to your resume

Next Steps To A New Career 

In conclusion, finding career clarity and identifying a job that is a good fit for you is essential during a career transition from teaching. This can be challenging. The good news is your next career does not have to be forever either! If you are struggling to determine what new career could be right for you, take our free career quiz to help you get started. 

One of the biggest mistakes that we see educators make is that they try to navigate this process alone. Often, they put off “researching” until the very last minute. Which sets them up for a very stressful application season. Teacher Career Coach wants to help you get some clarity in the options available to you. To know EXACTLY what you need to do (and not do) in order to get your foot in the door. 

You don’t have to do this on your own. 

Our team of former teachers and career experts have created a comprehensive guide to support you through every stage of your transition out of the classroom. Tap the button below to learn more. 

Step out of the classroom and into a new career, The Teacher Career Coach Course