Teachers Changing Careers: FAQ - Teacher Career Coach
Second careers for teachers

Teachers Changing Careers: FAQ


There are many struggles that teachers changing careers may face. When I left teaching for educational consulting and instructional design, there were no resources to help me. I vowed to change that by creating the community I wish existed when I was leaving the classroom.

On an average day, I receive hundreds of DMs and emails from teachers who want to change careers. In order to best support as many teachers as possible, I’ve created an extensive list of all of the free resources I’ve created to help you take the first steps outside the classroom and into a new career.

This page includes FAQ, career quizzes, blogs, and the Teacher Career Coach Podcast. If you would like the most extensive support or to work with our expert resume writer, then we recommend the Teacher Career Coach Course.

Quick Links: FAQ from Teachers Changing Careers

Use the following page jumps to find answers quickly or scroll down this page to read the full article. These are some of the most frequently asked questions I receive from teachers changing careers.

Please share this link with any teachers changing careers looking for this type of support, as many are struggling and have no idea this type of community exists!

Teachers Changing Careers: Frequently Asked Questions

What career is right for me?

If you are a teacher changing careers, I highly recommend you get started with our free quiz. This quiz is customized to give you a small sample of careers that match your strengths and what you liked/and didn’t like in teaching: Free quiz: What career outside of the classroom is right for you?

Back to top

What other companies or businesses hire teachers?

Top careers that hire teachers is a blog frequently updated to reflect current job market trends and predictions. It’s a great starting point, but by no means the entire list of opportunities out there for teachers so I highly recommend you read my other blogs and check out my other resources as well! Many businesses hire former teachers for a variety of roles. In new industries you may want to focus on training roles, instructional design, customer success, or implementation roles.

Education companies hire former teachers for many roles. These include customer success, professional development trainers, project managers, sales, marketing, and more. I’ve created a blog here all about the roles that teachers are qualified for specifically at education companies.

Related: You may also want to check out this interview with a CEO on why he hires former teachers.

Back to top

Are other teachers successful when changing careers?

I recommend you subscribe to my podcast, The Teacher Career Coach Podcast, to hear interviews with former teachers in a variety of roles. You can listen to my personal story of leaving a toxic environment to pursue a new career in educational consulting and instructional design here. I’ve also selected a few episodes from teachers changing to a variety of careers below.

Success stories from former teachers changing to the more popular careers for former teachers:

Success stories from former teachers changing to non-traditional careers:

  • Former teacher turned software engineer While coding may not be your thing, many teachers indicate this is a great interview for anyone who needs to overcome impostor syndrome with ANY career path! This former teacher explains how a software engineering is far less stressful to her than teaching 3rd grade.
  • Former teacher turned real estate agent Many teachers find themselves seeking an intrinsically motivating new career, and they struggle to see the “value” in other career choices. Caley describes how she was able to incorporate her passion for teaching and helping others in a new career in real estate.
  • Former teacher turned freelance copywriter A great episode for teachers interested in pursuing a small business or freelance career that provides flexibility and control over your own schedule.

Back to top

How do I stop feeling guilty about changing careers?

If you feel a sense of guilt about leaving your students or education in general, you’re not alone. Many teachers feel the same. Changing careers is a difficult choice, especially for teachers. Check out this article about how to battle your teacher guilt.

Back to top

What are the pros & cons for teachers changing careers?

For many teachers, the decision to leave the classroom or stick it out is very difficult. Many of us are on the fence for months or years before making our final choice. This is an important decision that only you can make. Here are some teacher career change resources to help you weigh the pros and cons of this huge decision: Weighing the pros and cons of leaving teaching

Back to top

What jobs can I get that still have summers off?

We have heard from many teachers that they do not miss the summers off because many positions outside of the classroom allow for overall less stress, better work-life balance, and paid time off that can be taken throughout the year. However I understand that for many teachers, having summers off is a non-negotiable. If this is the case for you, check out this blog post: Jobs With Summers Off (Besides Teaching) to find the top five places to search for jobs that traditionally offer summers off as well as ideas for alternative schedules that may broaden your opportunities as well as fit your schedule.

Back to top

Can you help with teacher stress and burnout?

Yes, Daphne helps offers support for those looking to overcome teacher burnout. Some podcast episodes that may help you:

Teacher Career Coach Podcast, Episode 30: Angela Watson discusses making teaching a sustainable career
Episode 31: Blake Blankenbecler talks about finding therapy for teachers
And Episode 14: Sarah Forst discusses self care for teachers

You can also read Teacher Self-Care, a post about battling burn out, and Stress Management for Teachers: 5 Strategies to Implement to get started managing your stress right away.

If you are dealing with overwhelming stress, we encourage you to seek help through therapy. And if you feel like nothing else is working, it is okay to consider changing careers. Find out what other jobs could work for you with our free quiz.

Back to top

Do I need another degree to start a new career?

There are many jobs outside the classroom that teachers are already qualified for (without an additional degree)! You have a degree so hiring managers will be happy to see that no matter what your major was, but it’s more important that you prove you have the transferable skills. Read about careers that teachers have gotten outside the classroom & what you can do to get started on a new career path on this post: What can I do with a teaching degree… other than teach? 

Back to top

What do I need to know about my pension/retirement?

Many teachers refer to their pension as “the golden handcuffs.” They express that they are not able to leave until X amount of years due to waiting to vest into their pension. In actuality, many teachers would be better off financially leaving before they vest into their pension if they do not intend to retire as a teacher. If you are much later in your career, it may be wisest to stay in your position to receive your full pension.

I know this is a huge factor in your decision making, and not one that should be taken lightly! There are factors that make this not a one-size-fits-all answer. The Teacher Career Coach Podcast has episodes specifically on financial literacy for teachers to help you evaluate whether or not it’s the right time or decision for you. You can find them linked here:

Specifically for those who are thinking of leaving but worried about where they are in their pension, I created this video to help you understand how leaving will impact your financial situation depending on how many years you have as a teacher and when you plan to retire.

Back to top

Do I need a letter of reference from my principal?

When applying for new teaching positions, it’s common that your old principal will call your new principal. Luckily, this is NOT a common practice for careers outside of education. It is okay for you to say that they may not contact your current employers when you are applying for new roles, and this does not raise any red flags!! Many hiring managers (with the exception of government agencies) do not ask for professional references. If they do require professional references, you may also ask other contacts you have that you feel more comfortable asking (like grade-level leaders, curriculum specialists, others in leadership roles).

Back to top

When should I start applying to new roles?

The ideal timeline to start applying to new roles is 8 weeks before the school year is done. I don’t want you only start applying after the school year is done, only allowing for a short hiring window before you sign your next year’s contract. You should be identifying new careers, networking, and building new skillsets strategically before your peak application window. If this is something that you know you want, the perfect time to start is now.

Back to top

What do to when companies don’t post the salary?

While a few companies opt to post the salary range, it’s not as common for roles outside of the classroom to do so. I know it’s a change from having the posted salary schedule. There are many reasons why companies decide to do this, whether it’s to avoid competition between current/new employees, or avoid competition with other companies in their industry.

There are a couple things you can do here to see if it a career path is right for you based on salary: First, try to find the average salary range for the position on Glassdoor or using a Google search of “average salary (job title) (your city or state).” Please note that this is just an estimate. Salary range is going to vary from company to company depending on their budget and the duties of the specific role.

If it is a role that you have researched and are excited about, or a company/opportunity you are interested in, there is no harm in applying. It’s up to you if it is worth your time to apply and interview, but if you are serious about this position I encourage it. While it may feel defeating to interview only to find out the role is under the amount you are willing to take, you have practiced your interview skills for this role, and will only be better for the next opportunity.

In addition to this, you have had the opportunity to make a great impression on the company if they offered you a position. While this isn’t as common, I have also heard success stories of people turning down positions politely after it wasn’t within their required range to have the company reach back out with a new opportunity in the future that better aligns with its needs. 

Back to top

Should I break my teaching contract for a new position?

Ideally you’ll wait until the end of the school year. But we all know that sometimes life happens, and sometimes teachers need to break teaching contracts for a variety of reasons (whether over health concerns, personal reasons, or for a new career). I’ve created this blog to help you understand what you need to know about breaking a teaching contract.

I’ve also created templates to help you draft a professional sounding teacher resignation letter.

Back to top

Will I take a pay cut if I leave teaching?

If you’ve only been teaching for a few years, it’s more likely you’ll take a pay increase. 85% of early-career teachers in The Teacher Career Coach Course see an immediate pay increase in their new position. However, the longer you’ve been in education, the more strategic you’ll need to be in order to get higher paying salaries. These positions are naturally more competitive and you’ll need to build more skillsets to land them. This doesn’t mean going back to school – but learning specific technology programs, training adults, and taking on more leadership responsibilities can help you leverage your experience.

If you have a higher salary and need out ASAP, you may need to weigh the pros and cons of whether or not a pay cut is a non-negotiable for you as you work towards a new path. Also, please don’t disregard the potential for career growth which often happens at a much faster pace outside of teaching. You may want to read this blog about teacher salary and/or listen to this interview with a former teacher who makes well over six-figures and the path she took to get there.

Back to top

Should I take the job offer if the benefits are not as good?

A few factors to consider are the level of burnout you are facing, the career opportunity itself, the difference in salary, and more. In my educational consulting position I work as independent contractor. That means that I have to pay for my own health insurance, retirement benefits, etc. I have never been happier – but I did have to figure out all of the steps on my own. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of this situation personally. One red flag that I always advice AGAINST is a company that forces you to pay to work with them. This isn’t very common, but avoid professional development companies geared towards teachers charging high fees to become an employee.

If you are looking for information regarding your pension and 403B, check out episode 49 of The Teacher Career Coach Podcast, Emily Maretsky speaks specifically to the pros and cons of staying for your teaching pension and shows side-by-side benefit comparisons for teachers leaving earlier and later in their careers.

Back to top

Will I be able to find a remote position? 

There are plenty of remote options out there you can find on job boards like Indeed and LinkedIn. The majority of large companies are moving towards remote workforces. Freelancing is another option for remote part-time work that can be a great option if you are still in the classroom. We have a podcast episode with freelancing expert, Jay Clouse, and another episode with a former teacher is a now a successful freelance copywriter. For members of the Teacher Career Coach Course, Daphne created a list of hundreds of companies, their HQ locations, direct links to their career pages, and with a note on whether they are hiring remotely. 

Back to top

Where can I learn more about Instructional Design as a career option? 

We have an entire podcast episode on ID, which would be a great resource and place to start! You can also read more about ID here and get ID resume tips here. 

Back to top

Where can I find resume help?

Curious why you aren’t landing a lot of interviews? Your teacher transition resume probably needs a lot of support. Check out the resources below to get support ASAP:

Back to top

How can I build my interview skills?

Nervous about nailing that interview? That’s totally normal! Interviewing for careers outside the classroom is quite different than interviewing for teaching positions, and you’ll want to walk in with confidence! Here is a podcast to help you get started with tips for interviewing outside of teaching.

Back to top

What can I do NOW to help me change careers later?

Whether you are waiting out your contract or still on the fence about leaving, you can start preparing yourself for a new career right now. After you’ve identified roles you are interested in pursuing, see if there are any ways to build experience at your school. For example, if you are interested in instructional design, you may want to perform a needs analysis and then create interactive training materials for other teachers. You will want to continue to upskill and reskill towards specific careers. Another excellent way to build your resume and earn extra income at the same time is to freelance during the school year or in the summer. This post: Start freelancing to earn extra money and add new skillsets will help you understand how freelancing now can help you land your dream job later. And if finances is the main concern, here is another blog about summer jobs for teachers.

Back to top

Where can I find support while I’m still in the classroom?

I want you to find happiness inside or outside of the classroom. My first piece of advice before leaving is to try a change in schools, districts, grade levels, or teaching practices. Here are my best resources for those struggling but staying in the field for another year.

Back to top

I am working toward loan forgiveness, but I want to quit. What do I do?

The answer to this question is going to vary from person to person, and it is a decision where you will really have to crunch the numbers and weigh the pros and cons.

There are instances that a new job will help you pay off your loans at the same rate as they would have been forgiven and not lose your quality of life. For example, if you owe $15,000 in loans that will be forgiven in the next two years, and you are applying for jobs that would give you a $10,000 pay increase, those loans could still be paid off in the same timeframe.

However, many teachers are dealing with much larger loans that would take far longer to pay off than to be forgiven. In those cases, you may want to consider remaining in the classroom (possibly with a change in grade level, school, or district if that would help your situation) or look into other jobs that offer loan forgiveness.

Some links that you may find helpful:

Back to top

Do you have any resources about teaching abroad?

Yes! On Episode 82 of The Teacher Career Coach Podcast, I interview Jash Cooper, who has been traveling the world as an international teacher. She’s since taught in Italy, Senegal, South Korea, and Haiti.

In this amazing interview we covered: Jash’s experience teaching around the world, taking a position abroad during the pandemic, where to find job opportunities, and living abroad for families and partners.

Listen online and read the transcript here: https://teachercareercoach.com/teaching-abroad/

Where can I get more information about the course?

Our course offers comprehensive support for teachers ready to transition from the classroom into a new career. You can find more information about the course here: The Teacher Career Coach Course

Back to top

How long do I have to complete your course?

The Teacher Career Coach Course is nine modules and is completely self-paced. Once you purchase the course, you have access for the lifetime of the course. 

Back to top

I live outside the U.S. Does the Teacher Career Coach Course apply to me?

We believe that much of the Teacher Career Coach Course would still be applicable and help guide you as you search for a new role even though you’re in another country, but we don’t have many teachers who have asked this question. So, we don’t know all the differences. If you are interested in taking the course, please know that there is a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can check it out, and if it doesn’t seem like it’s helpful in your situation, just let us know within 30 days.

Back to top

I am not a classroom teacher. Can I succeed in your course?

There are many people who have taken the Teacher Career Coach Course from all types of education roles, from specialty teachers to admins to T.A.s. Most likely you’ll be using many of the same transferrable skills that a typical teacher would use for your new roles, like tracking data, creating materials, etc. There’s a 30-day-money-back guarantee. So, if you don’t feel like it’s a good fit, just let us know within 30 days. 

Back to top

I have less than 5 years of teaching experience. Can your course help me?

Daphne has included resources in the Teacher Career Coach Course to help finesse a resume that has less experience to still leverage a history in education towards new careers. 

Back to top

I have more than 15 years of teaching experience. Can your course help me?

We’ve found that teachers at and around your experience level wanting to leave is a common scenario, Daphne has added resources to the Teacher Career Coach Course to support your specific situation including info on how to avoid age discrimination when applying.

Back to top

Should I call students “clients” and parents “stakeholders” on my resume?

There was a LinkedIn poll that went viral for teachers transitioning that made many teachers hesitant to translate their resumes whatsoever. The vast majority of people who gave their opinions on that poll were not hiring managers or recruiters. You definitely need to translate your resume so that they understand how your skills translate.

The word “client” isn’t as important as what you are highlighting that you actually did or accomplished in that bulletpoint and how well it relates to the job you are actually applying for. You can also use the word “learner” if that feels more natural to you! If a hiring manager sees a resume and is completely turned off on a teacher rephrasing a term to say “client,” they were never truly intending to take a chance on a career pivoter.

Back to top

I am a former teacher, and I want to share my story

Success stories help motivate and inspire members of our community! If you’d like to share, here are two easy ways to do it:

If you are still in the classroom or would prefer to stay anonymous on social media:
Send us a DM @teachercareercoach and we will share your story without your name or image.

If you want to be featured in a teacher spotlight:
Fill out the form at teachercareercoach.com/spotlight. There you can share details about your journey and any advice you have for other people who find themselves in a similar situation.

Back to top

Why didn’t I get the job?!?

This is NEVER an easy situation, but it is very common for teachers changing careers. Unfortunately, unless you talk directly to the hiring manager, you may never know the true reason why they went with another candidate. You, truthfully, could have done everything right and still lost to an internal referral candidate. I’d reflect on what you know you can improve (adding skillsets, becoming more confident with your interview answers, re-writing your resume). You will need to expect to hear a lot of no’s, but it only takes one yes to change your life. If you need help with all of these steps, please read more below about the Teacher Career Coach Course.

Back to top

Can I get a job if I’m pregnant?

If you are currently pregnant and job searching in the US, to better understand your rights we recommend you review the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s language on pregnancy discrimination https://www.eeoc.gov/pregnancy-discrimination and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) http://www.dol.gov/whd Different companies will have different policies for maternal leave, and whether or not the time off is paid vs. unpaid. The majority of companies will have something written into their contract where you must work for 12 months prior to taking the leave. We recommend researching policies on Glassdoor if this is something you need more insight into before moving forward with a company.

Back to top

Do you offer one-on-one consultations?

We do not offer one-on-one consultations at this time. The Teacher Career Coach Course is our most comprehensive, step-by-step resource and members additionally have access to our private, online community where you can ask questions and connect with others and ask questions about your your journey.

Back to top

I think I would be a good fit for your podcast. How can I connect with you? 

Please email us at podcast@teachercareercoach.com

Back to top

How to get in touch with you about advertising or collaboration opportunities?

Please submit your information on the form at teachercareercoach.com/inquiries. We will consider all requests as we plan our next quarter of content.

Back to top

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