Are there alternative careers for teachers in 2021? Is it a good time to change jobs? If you’re worried about how the current uncertainty in the world affects hiring and employment, read on. Your transition from the classroom does not have to wait, but you will need an action plan for a clear path forward.
Over the past few months, I’ve received many emails and DMs from teachers questioning if the coronavirus pandemic requires them to stop their job search. It was important for me to research and consult with industry experts before making any statements or suggestions.
First things first, should you still be applying for other jobs? Yes, but with caution. If you are unemployed or dead set on a career transition this is an opportunity to switch industries.
Alternative Careers for Teachers
First, a quick disclaimer
There are still possibilities out there, but please be cautious about your approach. You, ultimately, will have to make the judgment call for what is best for you and your family. I recommend that you do not break your teaching contract until you have another contract in place.
Know that anytime you move to another company, you run the risk of the unknown happening and losing your new job. This should not discourage you from ever making a change, but be aware that it is always a possibility.
Good news and bad news about alternative careers for teachers
Let’s start with the bad news. Many businesses are on hiring freezes as they figure this thing out. Companies are scrambling, just like the rest of us, to decide how to shift everyone to remote working. When the pandemic started in the US, I read that hiring froze to 12% from 40% previously. Millions of people are unemployed and businesses are closed. Interviews might be canceled or delayed, which will feel frustrating and overwhelming to an active job searcher.
The good news? HR experts have said to hit the market hard right now. Companies are hiring teachers for a variety of alternative careers. Your skills are in demand, and if you want to make a move, now is a great time to capitalize on employers being more flexible during a significant candidate shortage.
Wait, how is there a candidate shortage? Aren’t there millions of people unemployed?
Many of those displaced today are in industries that expect to recover soon. They are shaken and riding this out to see what happens and not competing with you for jobs, yet. Here’s an example: My fiancé is currently unemployed but not actively looking for work. We expect him to get his position back as a sound engineer when the entertainment industry opens back up again ::fingers crossed:: in the next few months.
What are the experts saying?
An HR expert told me she’s had many clients reaching out to her for recommendations due to low job applications. “There are still a lot of companies hiring, and because of this chaos, the ones hiring are moving FAST.”
A perspective to consider is that most actively recruiting companies have a BIG shortage in applicants right now because so many people are “staying put” with all this uncertainty, so you have a higher chance of getting an interview with those companies. Many members of The Teacher Career Coach Course are receiving interview requests on a weekly basis. And companies that ARE on hiring freezes will eventually remove them. You’ll want to be prepared for when that happens.
If you start looking for an alternative career now, teachers may beat out the competition that will begin to appear in three or four months. And if you are working from home, you will have more privacy and flexibility with interviews.
Regardless of the current environment, you should always be applying if you are unhappy in your career and interested in another possibility. I read on Linkedin, “If you take yourself out of the process, someone else may take that job you would get.”
Alternative Career Action Plan for Teachers:
- Get your mindset ready.
- The industries you focus on may need to shift.
- Your job hunt and interview strategy may need to shift.
- You’ll have a new list of action items to work on.
#1. Get your mindset ready.
Everything will change, but you are strong and intelligent, and you will get through this. This is one new challenge to overcome.
Catch yourself anytime you are practicing negative thinking. Thoughts like “a career transition is going to be IMPOSSIBLE now” do nothing but hold you back.
There will ALWAYS be things out of your control. But you need to always direct your attention to focus on what IS in your control.
- What new opportunities can open up for me during this time?
- How can I prepare myself for when hiring freezes are lifted or opportunities arise?
- What alternative careers are teachers qualified for? What qualifications do I already have?
#2. The industries you focus on may need to shift
It can feel like the world completely changed, but there are many industries that are actually still the same. The only difference is those industries are working from home for now. As an instructional designer, my day to day duties really haven’t changed at all.
Different industries have been hit very hard through this, while others are starting to scramble to fill new positions due to an influx in use. I’ve compiled two lists of industries to avoid and look into. Note: I have brainstormed these industries to help you identify them, but by no means can I guarantee success in any specific market. I am not a fortune teller (but I wish I was).
Other things to consider when looking for alternative careers for teachers: smaller companies, startups, mom and pops – these are more at-risk and more likely to pump the breaks on hires and start dates. Larger companies on the “Industries to Consider” list are a safer bet at this time.
Industries to Avoid (for now)
- Airlines, trains, travel industry
- Real estate (both residential and commercial)
- Luxury items or non-necessities (car companies, clothing, retail chains)
- Hospitality, hotels, restaurant, bars
- Amusement parks, stadiums, music venues, anything that needs large crowds to survive.
Industries to Consider
While some companies in these industries may still be on a hiring freeze temporarily, they will have more stability in the market. These industries all hire teachers, and could be the right fit for an alternative career.
- Ed-tech and tech companies
- Communications, productivity, and technology companies (Zoom, Google, Asana, Monday, Slack)
- Streaming companies (Netflix, YouTube, etc)
- Grocery stores
- Wellness, healthcare
- Pharmacy / healthcare (these may take additional degrees)
- Education companies
- Non-profit organization
- Loans / mortgage
- Social work
- Government positions
- Home entertainment, furnishings, home gym equipment, etc.
- Delivery services
I am not telling you to become a delivery service driver (not that there is anything wrong with that). However, look to their company hiring page to see if they need other positions that fit your skillsets. These companies will likely have many entry-level positions. But with the shift in hiring, they will also need to hire higher-level employees, corporate trainers, instructional designers, and office managers to help with all of the new work or shift to working remotely.
#3. Your job hunt and interview strategy may need to shift
My opinion is that a lot of companies haven’t been doing remote and are going to see the benefits, effectiveness, ease and overhead cost savings and keep it. That means your job hunt market will open up to areas outside of your current hometown.
Like previously mentioned, you’ll want to be cautious. READ the job postings, talk to the interviewers, and ensure that positions you are applying for have longevity and security. To feel this out during interviews, ask about 3-6-9 month goals for the current position. The interviewer should be honest with you if it is a short-term contract without long term potential.
If you’re a teacher searching for an alternative career in this time, a short-term position might not be out of the question for you. This is a decision you will need to make. Be sure to get all the facts abotu the position before making a commitment.
If your job interview was canceled or a contract put on hold, follow up with an email and circle around to see how they are doing. Just check-in to see how and don’t expect answers right this minute. We are all in the same boat of uncertainty, no one really knows how long this will last.
#4. You’ll have a new list of action items to work on
Articulate Your Strengths
If you can’t clearly articulate your strengths, the role that you are good fits for, job hunting will always be harder. How to set yourself up for success is being able to find and identify the alternative careers teachers are qualified for, knowing your strengths, and being able to articulate how you are the best fit for the position.
You should always be networking. You have a much higher success rate through a recommendation. This will help you beat out others applying for the same job. This time also makes networking a GREAT resource. People are home, on LinkedIn, and since there’s a company shortage, recruiters and hiring managers will be scouring LI and job boards for talent. Get your LI’s UP TO DATE PRONTO. AND – since they won’t be able to meet people face to face right now, they will also be cross-checking all social media. Make sure your FB and IG (and any other social accounts) are set to private and have appropriate postings, profile pictures, etc.
Prepare for Remote Work
You’ll need to get ready for remote work. Once companies have changed everything to working remotely, there is a good chance that they stay that way. You don’t have to become an experienced coder for most positions, just comfortable with the basics of remote working for now. Interviews will most likely be video or phone for the meantime.
Update Your Skills
If you have any experience, especially from this time, with teaching online or virtually, it’s going to be extremely relevant and helpful to Instructional Design and Corporate Training companies. If they have had to rework their curriculum for online classes, that will be extremely relevant for Curriculum Writing positions right now. ALL companies are moving their training, orientations, learning and development courses to online, and all educational resources are doing the same. Teachers are in demand for these types of alternative careers. You’ll need to lead conversations and resumes with these skills being highlighted as “virtual and in-person training”, “adjusting curriculum for virtual learning options”, etc. You’ll want to be redoing your resume to reflect your new skillsets ASAP!
Alternative Careers for Teachers: Get Support for your Transition
These are all lessons I explicitly teach in my course, The Teacher Career Coach Course. I designed this resource specifically for teachers transitioning out of the classroom, and it has helped thousands of teachers take the next step in their careers.
In Module 2: Choosing Your Career Path: I help you identify positions best suited for you with your years of teaching experience. Teachers who have taught 0-5 years will be focusing on positions that are different than those who have taught 10-15 years, etc. By identifying how your work experience translates into corporate vocabulary, you will save time when reading job descriptions to identify the best fits for you.
In Module 6: Networking: I walk you through networking, writing cold emails, and creating an optimized LinkedIn profile that alerts recruiters that you’re open to offers (without telling your current district). And in Module 4: Writing Your New Resume, I share over 20 pages of classroom to corporate vocabulary and teacher transition resumes written by an expert resume writer and HR professional.
See how Claire landed a job as an educational consultant with an Ed Tech company after completing the Teacher Career Coach Course.
We have added resources to the course specifically related to job searching during the pandemic, such as remote skillsets you are utilizing during distance learning. Head over to The Teacher Career Coach Course to learn more. Or start with a quick quiz, below, to help you figure out which direction you should be headed.