With increased workloads, lack of autonomy, low pay and other grievances, many teachers are beginning to explore the possibility of new careers after teaching. One demographic that often worries they do not have enough experience in the workforce to land a new role is younger teachers. However, teachers with under five years in the classroom can make a career pivot just like their more experienced colleagues.
Deciding To Leave Teaching
First, you must decide if you truly want to leave the classroom. Teaching is difficult, especially the first few years. Some teachers might know this will be their forever career and choose to push through those tough first years. But other teachers may get a taste and know that it will not be the right fit long term. At that point you will begin to think about careers after teaching. Either choice is okay!
However, as a less experienced teacher, you may want to try everything you can to improve the situation before changing careers altogether. The first time you do something new is going to be difficult in most situations, which is why first year teachers often struggle. Changing grade levels, schools, or districts could potentially be the move that allows you to fall in love with the classroom after a tough year. But if you know that the environment or age of students would not change the way you’re feeling, then it is probably time start exploring careers after teaching.
A career change is not an easy decision to make, and your emotions will often try to talk you out of any huge change based off of fear of the unknown. You’ll always be nervous to take a leap. But the most transforming chapters of our lives always happen when we do things that scare us. If you are mentally struggling far more often than you are happy, it’s time to get help (therapy, burnout support) or leave. Make the decision that is best for you.
Careers After Teaching: Obtaining Entry Level Positions
If you decide to look for a new career early on, you have a lot of options. Careers after teaching do not necessarily require you to go back to school or get an advanced degree. Because you have fewer years of experience in the workforce, the careers after teaching you will have the most success obtaining will be entry-level positions.
Taking an entry-level position does not necessarily mean you will be taking a pay cut either. According to a recent Teacher Career Coach survey, about 81% of former teachers polled with less than 5 years in the classroom experienced a pay INCREASE in their careers after teaching. An additional 21% reported receiving a bonus or raise that further increased their salary.
The entry-level positions to look for are careers where your teaching skills and experience in the classroom apply. Even though you only have a few years on your resume, you spent those years creating materials, managing procedures, building relationships, analyzing data, and so much more! Think about your favorite parts of the teaching job, and find entry-level roles that align with your skills and interests.
Here are some entry-level positions where your teaching skills may apply:
- Administrative Assistant
- Customer Service
- Human Resources
- Office Manager
- Executive Assistant
- Training Specialist
- Graphic Designer
- Account Coordinator
- Sales Representative
Upskilling To Gain Skills In New Careers After Teaching
The biggest concern we hear from younger teachers thinking about a career pivot is their lack of work experience. Our best advice as you explore careers after teaching to potentially obtain a position beyond entry-level is to upskill. Upskilling includes taking courses, online bootcamps, or freelancing to gain new skills. You can do this while you are still working in the classroom.
Online courses and bootcamps are often offered in a self-paced format so you can work at a comfortable pace. This will be an additional investment, but there are free and inexpensive upskilling courses, which we break down in this blog post—Upskill And Reskill: Online Courses For Your Career Transition. Careers after teaching do not always require upskilling, but if you have your heart set on a certain field, learning new skills can only help.
Freelancing is another route you can take as a transitioning teacher with a few years of experience. It can be a great foot in the door on your journey to a new career. A successful freelancer could potentially earn a full-time income and eventually start their own business as well. Either way, freelancing is a great way to learn new skills if you are considering different careers after teaching.
Here are some freelancing jobs perfect for teachers:
- Virtual assistant
- Social media manager
- Pinterest manager
- Podcast manager
If you are interested in exploring the world of freelancing, check out these two episodes of the Teacher Career Coach Podcast: EP 13 Jay Clouse: Freelancing For Teachers and EP 54 Micala Quinn: Top Freelancing Jobs For Teachers.
Choosing A Path
Before choosing how to upskill, you must have a clear direction of what careers after teaching interest you. If you have determined that you want to leave the classroom, the next question is whether you want to leave education altogether. There are many different roles within a school setting that allow you to train teachers or work in a more administrative capacity. If that is something you are considering, check out this podcast episode about Teacher Support Jobs.
If you are looking forward to leaving education in the rear-view mirror, there are careers after teaching for you as well. Here are the top 7 career pivots for teachers beyond the entry-level roles outlined above:
- Sales positions
- Customer success
- Project management
- Instructional design
- Corporate training
- Software engineering or UX design
Narrowing your focus is an important step in a career transition. Take some time to research different roles and learn the day-to-day responsibilities. Once you have a better understanding of what the different jobs entail, you can determine what may be the best fit. Having one main focus will make the job hunt a bit easier and communicate to hiring managers that you are excited for a specific type of work!
Translating The Skills You Have For New Careers After Teaching
Even if you have only been in the classroom a few years, you have valuable skills that employers are looking for. Whether you became a teacher to help people or because you love a well-designed bulletin board and a new pack of flair pens, you have skills. Sit down and think about the best parts of your day in the classroom. Do you thrive when working on a team to create materials and organize plans, or are you more of a technology guru who loves to solve problems? There are careers after teaching that will align with whatever tasks you enjoy most.
The number of skills a teacher uses in one day, let alone one year, is astounding. If you really think about all you do in the classroom, you will realize that your short stint in education has helped prepare you for careers after teaching. If you decide to pursue something new, it’s important to showcase the skills you have during the job hunt. You will need to translate your teacher-specific skills into terminology that corresponds with the roles you are applying for. Here are a few examples:
- Created lesson plans = Developed training materials to meet the organization’s goals
- Organized class field trips = Planned, coordinated, and executed 5 annual events for over 200 attendees per event
If you need more support translating your resume for careers after teaching, check out this blog post: Teacher Career Change Resume: Tips To Help You Land That Job as well as podcast EP 29 Writing A Transferable Teacher Skills Resume.
Abbey is a former middle school geography teacher, currently working as a Customer Support Specialist at Teacher Career Coach. She enjoys helping teachers find happiness along the path to their new careers. When she’s not answering audience questions you can find her playing sand volleyball & spending time on the lake with her husband and dog.
Next Steps to a New Career
The first step if you decide to leave teaching is to determine a new career path. If you are struggling to determine what careers after teaching could be right for you, take our free career quiz to help you get started.
One of the biggest mistakes that I see teachers 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.
With the help of an HR expert with over 10 years of experience and a team of former teachers, Daphne has created a guide to support you in the early stages of your transition out of the classroom. Tap the button below to learn more.