Upskill and reskill are buzzwords you may hear often if you are thinking of changing careers. These terms most frequently refer to taking courses to build skills that are very specific to the role you want. Skills that you can use on your resume and also in practice. Training and certification courses can help your resume stand out in a competitive job market by closing any gaps between you and your desired career.
In this blog post, I’ll talk about the benefits of upskilling and reskilling for a new career and share course recommendations for the top seven career pivots for teachers.
Upskill and Reskill Meaning
Upskill and reskill both essentially mean that you will be learning new skills for your job. For our purposes, upskilling is expanding on your current skills to land a new position related to your current role. While reskilling is building an entirely new skill set to obtain a completely different role.
You will likely continue to upskill throughout your career with ongoing education in your industry. This could mean taking courses to learn new software applicable to your job, building skills toward the next step up in your career, or learning new techniques through professional development.
Teachers can upskill to build on their experience in order to successfully apply their skills in a related role. For example, teachers often have experience creating curriculum and resources to deliver instruction to students. They can upskill to learn new programs and best practices for a Corporate Training position where they will be working with adults.
Reskilling, on the other hand, is something you may want to consider if you are looking for roles unrelated to teaching and training. Reskill programs in areas such as Software Engineering and UX Design teach programs and skills specifically for that field.
Upskill and Reskill Benefits
One of the most frequently asked questions I hear from teachers is, “Do I need another degree to change careers?”
By and large, the answer is no. Unless you transition into a field where a degree is required (like accounting or healthcare), returning to college is unnecessary. We’ve seen thousands of our community members successfully transition into new careers without obtaining a second (or third) degree.
However, transitioning out of teaching directly into another career can be a challenge. This is especially true for teachers with less experience. And/or teachers who have not had opportunities in school leadership or roles focused on training or mentoring adults. Although extra degrees are not necessary, additional education in the skills required for your new role may be helpful.
Completing skill-based courses can help you stand out as a serious candidate. Upskill or reskill training directly related to your desired role can distinguish you as a dedicated and potentially long-term hire for the company. It may also communicate that you will require less training during the onboarding process. This can give you a leg-up in a competitive job market. Helping you stand out against other applicants with a similar level of experience.
Do I have to upskill or reskill to land a new career?
It depends. Many teachers successfully transition without any additional coursework. Whether you need to upskill/reskill will be dependent on the job and how your experience translates into this new role. Are there any gaps?
Furthermore, taking an online course to upskill or reskill does not guarantee you a position in your new field. It is only one piece of a bigger strategy that you will need for a successful career pivot. We’ll talk more about a resource that offers step-by-step guidance for your career transition later in this post.
Upskilling and reskilling for a new career is not for everyone. However, if you have been applying for jobs and not getting responses, it is a step you will want to seriously consider.
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Top 7 Career Pivots for Teachers
+ Upskill and Reskill Course Recommendations
There are a variety of online courses available that you can use to upskill or reskill for your desired role. If they are specifically applicable to your new career, they will look great on a resume as well as giving you the confidence and experience needed to hit the ground running.
First, I want to share several platforms that feature video-based courses and certification that can help with your career change.
LinkedIn Learning offers over 16,000 (and growing) business, design, and tech courses which are self-paced, video-based, and on-demand. The popular professional networking platform additionally provides many short, introductory videos free-of-cost, courses that you can purchase individually, and a subscription option with a 30 day free trial.
SkillShare offers an incredibly wide variety of online courses that covers leadership, management, web design, productivity, the arts, and more. What sets SkillShare apart is their project-based courses and community which provides options for hands-on and collaborative learning. The SkillShare premium membership grants access to unlimited classes with a 30 day free trial.
Coursera offers unique courses including video-based coursework, certification programs, and guided projects with instruction provided by over 200 universities, like UPenn and Oxford, and companies, like Google and IBM. The Coursera+ subscription grants access to over seven thousand courses and certification programs starting with a 7 day free trial.
Udemy offers a huge selection of over 180,000 online, video-based courses and growing. Categories applicable for career-changers cover topics such as business, finance, marketing, and web development. These courses can be purchased individually (they often have courses on sale). Or opt for the Personal Plan which includes their selection of business-related courses with a 7 day free trial.
If you have a block of time that you want to dedicate to upskill and reskilling, free trials are your best friend. Many of the video courses offered by these platforms are self-paced and can be completed in several hours, days, or over a few weeks. That means with a free trial much of your upskilling or reskilling coursework can be done quickly and for free. Visit the platforms listed above for more details.
1. Sales Positions
Sales roles require understanding how to handle objectives, perseverance, critical thinking, excellent written and verbal communication. Additionally, knowledge of a CRM (customer relation management tool) can help you stand out when applying for positions.
Sales can be an excellent career transition for teachers, often with an immediate pay increase – even for entry level positions. Teachers are uniquely qualified for positions in the education sector, however there are also many opportunities outside of education.
- Account Manager
- Account Executive
- Business Development Representative (BDR)
- Sales Development Representative (SDR)
- Sales Specialist / Consultant
Upskill and Reskill Courses for Sales:
Salesforce Sales Operations Professional Certificate
Salesforce is the #1 most used CRM (customer relation management tool) used across industries. If you are interested in transitioning into a sales or sales-adjacent position, like customer success, experience using a CRM will give you an advantage. This training, provided by Salesforce, combines four courses that qualify for a professional certificate upon completion. View this course in Coursera >
Learn more about a career transition on the podcast: A Career in Sales Isn’t Scary with Alexis Scott
2. Customer Success
To excel in customer success, you’ll need an understanding the customer journey, active listening skills, and excellent written and verbal communication. Like sales, a knowledge of a CRM (customer relation management tool) can help you stand out when applying for these positions.
Without a doubt, CSM positions are great jobs for former teachers. Especially at education companies. Customer success (not be confused with customer support, more like the “help desk” of supporting customers) relies on relationship building. Customer success is a proactive role that ensures that the customer is happy and using the product to its full potential. While the overall goal of customer success is to ensure renewals for future purchases, they may also be tasked with implementation and training.
Customer Success titles:
- Customer Success Manager / Specialist / Engineer
- Client Success Manager
- Customer Onboarding Specialist
Upskill and Reskill Courses for Customer Success:
PracticalCSM provides a series of short, video-based courses on LinkedIn Learning dedicated to reskilling for Customer Success Management roles. Courses can be taken individually or as a series that covers the entirety of CSM best practices in greater detail. Courses cover topics such as fundamentals, onboarding and adoption, value realization, and engagement evaluation. View the PracticalCSM courses on LinkedIn Learning >
Customer Success Manager Fundamentals
Udemy offers a course on CSM fundamentals aimed at reskilling for customer success jobs at tech companies. This short course can help you get a better understanding of CSM roles, learn the basic principals of customer success, and prepare for interviews. View the CSM Fundamentals course on Udemy >
Learn more about customer success roles on the podcast: From Teacher to Customer Engagement Specialist
3. Project Management
Being self-motivated, organized, an excellent communicator, able to delegate tasks efficiently, and understanding the project life cycle will help you stand out as a project manager.
Project managers are team leaders that help companies meet their objectives. If you are highly motivated and organized, this may be a great fit for you. Project managers use productivity software to help them delegate responsibilities and set goals. Look into this position if you are highly organized, LOVE planning big projects, creating structured timelines, and leading others.
Project Management titles:
- Project Manager / Coordinator
- Team Leader
- Assistant / Senior Project Manager
- Project Scheduler
- Scrum Master
Upskill and Reskill Courses for Project Management:
Project Management Foundations
This course offers an introduction into the fundamentals of project management in about three hours. You’ll learn about establishing project goals and objectives, building a project plan, managing resources and work, meeting deadlines, and closing the project. Along the way, you’ll find tips for communicating, holding meetings, keeping a project on track, and gaining customer acceptance. View the course on LinkedIn Learning >
Google Project Management Professional Certificate
Google offers their popular certification programs on the Coursera platform. This certification program consists of six courses usually completed over roughly six months at a pace of 10hrs/week. However, it is self-paced with flexible, video-based instruction, so you can complete the full training on your own schedule. This program also qualifies you for over 100 hours of project management education. Helping you prepare you for additional certifications in project management such as Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM). View the certification course on Coursera >
Learn more about project management roles for teachers on the podcast: Amy Newman: From Teacher to Project Coordinator
4. Instructional Design
Being able to create efficient learning materials for adults, self-motivated, data-driven, and knowledge industry standard authoring tools will help you stand out as an instructional designer.
If you enjoy creating learning materials and technology, this may be the right path for you. Instructional designers create the eLearning resources and online training for a variety of industries. Instructional design is one of the top roles for teachers outside of the classroom – but it is one of the most competitive as well.
- Instructional Designer
- Learning Content Designer
- Course Developer
- Training Design Specialist
- Learning Experience Designer
Upskill and Reskill Courses for ID:
Become an Instructional Designer: Learning Path
LinkedIn Learning has designed a learning path to help you upskill for a job in Instructional Design. This path focuses on creating materials for adult learners. The eight-hour coursework covers foundational models of instructional design, storyboarding and screencasting, working with subject matter experts, and measuring results. View the ID learning path on LinkedIn Learning >
Instructional Design for ELearning
This ID course presented on Udemy covers methodology, skills, and techniques necessary for developing effective eLearning solutions focused on adults. This course provides the foundation for instructional development and will help beginners build professional, instructionally sound eLearning courses. Includes an eBook about creating your eLearning portfolio that you can use to showcase your skills to your prospective employer. View the ID for ELearning course on Udemy >
Learn more about instructional design on the podcast: Dr. Robin Sargent: Why Teachers Make Great Instructional Designers
5. Corporate Training
Being able to create efficient learning materials for adults, presentation skills, data-driven, and knowledge of business fundamentals can help you stand out as a corporate trainer.
Corporate trainers are responsible for the continuing education of a company’s employees and a great job for former teachers. You’ll be responsible for teaching employees new skills, techniques, and procedures. Building lessons for clients and teaching employees, you’ll focus on the company’s goals and big projects.
Corporate Training titles:
- Training Manager / Training and Development Manager
- Learning and Development Specialist
- Director of Staff Development
- Director of Education
- Education Manager
- Curriculum Manager
Upskill and Reskill Courses for Corporate Training:
Effective Communication: Writing, Design, and Presentation Specialization
This specialization program includes 4 courses covering three major presentation skills focused on training adults: business writing, graphic design, successful presentation. In the final module, you will develop a capstone project using the skills you’ve learned in the course. This type of hands-on project could be helpful in building a portfolio when applying for L&D and training positions. View the specialization course on Coursera >
Develop Your Course Design and Instructional Skills: Learning Path
This foundational learning path focuses on creating and implementing internal corporate training. Created by LinkedIn Learning, this path includes courses in the foundations of corporate training, eLearning and online instruction, as well as teaching with stories and analytics. View this learning path on LinkedIn Learning >
Learn more about corporate training roles on the podcast: Corporate Trainer Roles with Lisa Spinelli-White
From content writing to graphic design, there are many different jobs that fall within a marketing department. Understanding of copywriting and sales funnels will help you stand out with writing positions, while graphic design skills will be more necessary for social media management.
Roles in Marketing:
- Marketing Coordinator / Specialist / Director
- Account Coordinator
- Social Media Coordinator
- Event Marketing Coordinator
- Marketing Specialist
Upskill and Reskill Courses for Marketing:
Introduction to Marketing by Wharton, University of Pennsylvania
The top marketing course on Coursera covers foundational marketing skills such as branding, customer centricity, and practical go-to-market strategies. This ten-hour marketing course is included as the first of six courses in Wharton’s Business Foundations specialization and certificate program. View the Introduction to Marketing Course on Coursera >
Digital Marketing: The Ultimate Guide to Strategic Marketing
Created by Oxford Learning Lab, this in-depth digital marketing course covers social media, email marketing, content and campaign planning, affiliate marketing, as well as SEO. Designed to help you have an all-around understanding of digital marketing, solve practical problems, and talk with subject matter experts with ease. View the Digital Marketing course on Udemy >
7. Software Engineering or UX Design
There are a variety of careers that fall under the umbrella of Software Engineer. These will most likely require you to reskill entirely to learn the programs, code, and other tools used in your new role. However, many techy teachers in our community have successfully transitioned into these roles, which are in high demand.
Roles in Software Engineering:
- Web Developer or Front-end Engineer, specializing in UX or UI design
- Back-end Developer or Engineer
- Data Scientist / Data Engineer
- Mobile Developer
- Software Integration Engineer
Upskill and Reskill Courses for Software Engineering:
SheCodes provides coding workshops and classes designed specifically to help women grow their skillsets by learning the basics of coding. Certification courses last several weeks as you work to reskill for jobs in software engineering. Graduates have obtained positions such as web developer, front-end developer, and programmer. SheCodes also offers upgrade options that will help you develop a portfolio. Check out the FREE one-hour workshop to get you started. View the SheCodes program and receive 20% off enrollment with this link
User Experience Design Essentials – Adobe XD UI UX Design
Adobe XD is one of the most popular UX/UI design tools used in the US, and this course will give you a hands-on introduction to web design by building your own wireframe website. This course has twelve hours of video instruction, and you will be required to work on the project on Adobe XD outside of this timeframe as well. View this course on SkillShare >
Learn more about roles in software engineering on the podcast: Jessica Wolvington: From Teacher to Software Engineer
Upskill and Reskill on a Budget
Whether you want to upskill the experience you already have or completely reskill for a new career, taking online courses can be demanding on both your time and budget. So before you commit to any one program, consider the following:
Get clear on the job you want
We’ve heard from a handful of people over the years who began upskilling for a new role only to find out that it is not a good fit for them. What once was exciting, in theory, quickly became tedious in practice. So before you invest your money or a lot of time into a program, it’s important to make sure this new career is a good direction for you.
The easiest way to explore new roles is to do informational interviews with others in those positions. This can help “humanize” the job titles that you haven’t had exposure to. You can get started with this through networking with people in your desired role. Another free resource that can help you explore a variety of jobs is listening to interviews on The Teacher Career Coach Podcast. Here, former teachers share about their career transitions and day-to-day life in their new position.
Look for free trials and programs
If you’re still in the exploratory phase of your career transition, another way to test the waters is to look for programs that offer introductory trials or free sample workshops. These can help you gain some insight into a program and the requirements of the new job without requiring a long-term commitment or fees up-front.
For example, membership programs like Skillshare and LinkedIn Learning offer a free one-month trial where you can sample a variety of courses. Coursera also offers a seven-day free trial. SheCodes offers a free one-hour coding class as an introduction to their program.
Take time to compare programs
With the wide variety of courses available, it’s worth it to take some time to compare programs to see what is the best fit for you. Some questions to ask before signing up:
Do you prefer taking live classes at a specified time with an instructor? Or would you rather take a video-based course at your own pace? How important is a nationally or globally recognized certification in your desired industry? How many hours or months do you have to dedicate to upskilling or reskilling for a new position? And how does this time investment align with your career transition timeline?
Upskil & Reskill vs. Translating the Skills You Already Have
Translating the skill set you’ve built throughout your career in education into a brand new role is often a challenge and can become a roadblock for many teachers. But you do have a variety of hard and soft skills that are applicable to jobs outside the classroom.
Upskilling and reskilling are only one part of your overall strategy when planning a career pivot. The courses listed, above, are designed to help you learn new skills specific to your desired career. However, if you want to get your foot in the door, it is also important that you can translate your previous experience and show how it applies to your new position on both your resume and in interviews.
Next Steps to a New Career
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. I want 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, I’ve created a guide to support you in the early stages of your transition out of the classroom. Tap the button below to learn more.