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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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 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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Do you offer one-on-one consultations?

In order to best support as many people as possible, we do not currently offer one-on-one consultations outside of the Teacher Career Coach Course. However, we do offer a resume writing services upgrade option if you would like personalized help with your resume while completing the course.

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