Second careers for teachers

Teachers Changing Careers: FAQ


On an average day, the team at Teacher Career Coach receives hundreds of DMs and emails from teachers who want to change careers. In order to best support as many teachers as possible, we’ve created an extensive list of the best resources we’ve created to help you take the first steps outside the classroom and into a new career.

This page includes frequently asked questions, career quizzes, our most recent blogs, and The Teacher Career Coach Podcast.

If you are looking for something to walk you through every step of the process (finding career clarity, rewriting your resume, a list of companies hiring teachers, checklist of action items, and answers to the trickiest interview questions) our complete resource library and most thorough support will be found in 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, the best first step is to get started with our free career quiz made specifically for teachers. 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?

This will help you start evaluating different careers outside of the classroom, but we also recommend you subscribe and listen to the Teacher Career Coach Podcast for interviews with former teachers.

As a team of former teachers, we’ve picked a podcast as our preferred medium for interviews for a few specific reasons. It is difficult to envision yourself in new roles when you are leaving the familiar world of education for the unknown. It’s far too easy to dismiss a career path based on your emotional reaction to the title alone. Sales, software engineer, UX design, account management, roles that impact educational policy—I’ve heard countless stories from former teachers who said these paths opened up to them as a possibility only after hearing an episode. It’s easier to limit yourself and feel intimidated if you only read about roles in text. We want you to hear voices and stories that sound like yours sharing about roles you may have NEVER imagined yourself in. We also have transcripts available here for accessibility.

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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. Education companies hire former teachers for a variety of positions. These include customer success, professional development trainers, project managers, sales, marketing, and more. We’ve created a blog here all about the roles that teachers are qualified for specifically at education companies, but don’t limit yourself only to EdTech! Other businesses outside of the world of education also hire former teachers for the same positions as above, and these roles are frequently less competitive than EdTech roles depending on the market.

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

But lastly, and most importantly, do not apply using your “teacher resume.” Even if a company is specifically looking for those with teaching experience, you’ll still need to translate your experience to show why you are uniquely qualified for this specific position to stand out. Based on our conversations with hiring managers, over 50% of teachers in transition are still using a resume that has not been properly formatted or rewritten. For free support to help you translate your resume, check out Ep. 93 of the Teacher Career Coach Podcast “The Top 5 Transition Resume Mistakes.”

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Are other teachers successful when changing careers?

The transition is ultimately going to leave you feeling discouraged at times. You are going to feel like it will never happen for you, and isn’t possible. It’s so easy to see other former teacher success stories and tell ourselves “that person MUST have had an in at the company, previous experience, or got hired before it was so competitive.” While everyone’s story is unique, the real fact is that teachers are leveraging their education experience to land these roles every single day. We’ve created resources strategically to help keep you motivated and to realize that it is very much possible for you.

We recommend you subscribe to the podcast, The Teacher Career Coach Podcast, to hear interviews with former teachers in a variety of roles. We’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:

You may also want to check out our interview with our Career Clarity coach here.

Here’s the unfortunate reality. You are going to face a lot of rejection during the process. You are going to need to be very strategic in your career transition approach to beat out competition. Just because a company hires former teachers for roles does not mean that you won’t have to redo your resume and upskill for that specific position.

And you don’t have X years in Y experience for some roles, hiring managers may automatically disqualify you for positions. Yes, this is totally unfair when you know you could do the job blindfolded after what you’ve done in the classroom.

Here’s where some tough love kicks in: this is not just about transitioning teachers, this is a universal feeling for most career pivoters. You would actually face this same uphill battle if you had an established career in sales but wanted to transition into UX. Changing careers or industries is going to be an uphill battle every time. We do not want to discourage you, former teachers are still landing new roles EVERY DAY. We just want to be transparent about the challenges you will face up front to help you best prepare for your career change.

Hiring managers need to see you passionate and knowledgable about the next role. It is imperative to feel confident selling yourself with a strategically translated resume and interview answers after pinpointing the careers that interest you.

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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. You went into this career because you had a huge heart, so it’s naturally going to be challenging to put your own needs first, especially if you know these tough decisions will impact others negatively. Read how to battle your teacher guilt or check out our interview with a therapist here to learn strategies to help you overcome this very big roadblock many teachers have.

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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 former teachers are on the fence for months or years before making our final choice due to teacher guilt or fear of the unknown and wanting to stay in a “stable career”. This is an important decision that only you can make, but our team has created many resources to help you specifically with this huge decision.

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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 we 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.

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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
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.

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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? 

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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 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.

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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. The process of applying to roles outside of the classroom is very different than hiring for education. While some processes may take two weeks, we’ve seen up to five interviews for one single position that span over a month. You may apply for a role now and not hear back for four weeks.

The average amount of time a company is willing to hold for a position after extending an offer is between two and four weeks. If you do receive an offer before the end of the school year, we have resources on breaking a teaching contract found here.

What we 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.

Ideally you should be identifying new careers you are interested in, networking to understand more about those roles, building new skillsets strategically, and rewriting your resume before your peak application window.

By now you should be seeing a reoccurring theme in our other answers, this will *not* be a quick process! If leaving teaching is something you know you want, the perfect time to start is now with all of these steps. If you are already in the middle of the peak application season, we suggest to start applying now using a resume that is strategically translated for the roles you are pinpointing.

If you are ready to get started now or struggling with identifying career paths or your resume is not helping you get interviews, we encourage you to check out the Teacher Career Coach Course for the most thorough step-by-step support.

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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. We 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.

We have created a resource identifying some of the roles with the highest paying salaries found here.

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 we 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, we 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. 

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Should I break my teaching contract for a new position?

Sometimes teachers need to break teaching contracts for a variety of reasons (whether over health concerns, personal reasons, or for a new career). We’ve created this blog to help you understand what you need to know about breaking a teaching contract.

We’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?

You can take a pay increase, but you will need to be very strategic in your search. We surveyed over 600 former teachers who used The Teacher Career Coach Course, and 85% of them reported an immediate pay increase or similar 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 ($85,000+). 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 for more insight as well.

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

Many companies offer benefits that are comparable to the ones you’ll find teaching, and often former teachers are surprise to learn their new benefits are even better. You can find the benefits for a company you are interviewing for on their careers page or by checking the reviews on their Glassdoor page.

If it is a 1099 or contractor position you’ll need to find your own benefits (including retirement and health insurance). A few factors to consider are the career opportunity itself, the difference in salary, and more. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of this situation personally.

One red flag that we 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.

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Will I be able to find a remote position? 

There are plenty of remote options out there you can find on job boards like the Teacher Career Coach Jobs Board, LinkedIn, and Indeed. The majority of large companies are moving towards remote or hybrid workforces. These roles will be more competitive, as you are up against a larger number of candidates so you’ll want to check out our resources on standing out in a competitive market if this is a non-negotiable for you.

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. 

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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.

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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. You will want to continue to upskill and reskill towards specific careers.

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

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

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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:

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Do you have any resources about teaching abroad?

Find the transcript here with on an interview with an international teacher.

Where can I get more information about the Teacher Career Coach 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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How long do I have to complete your course?

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

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

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. The only part of the course that is not applicable to your situation is our list of companies that we share is specific to the US.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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 hiring managers 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 bullet point 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.

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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.

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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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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 and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 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.

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Do you offer one-on-one consultations?

The vast majority of our course members use our resources to DIY the entire process, but as former teachers we know everyone learns differently! Some people want a more personal coaching component in addition to the course. If that sounds like you, we offer Career Clarity, Resume Review, and LinkedIn and Job Search coaching from career experts on our team for an additional fee inside of the Teacher Career Coach Course. These services are currently only available for Teacher Career Coach Course members.

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

Please email us at support@teachercareercoach.com

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

Please email us at support@teachercareercoach.com!

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