When I was looking to leave the classroom, I constantly found myself searching phrases like “what other jobs can teachers do?” or “careers that hire teachers.” For this article, I interviewed 5 different former teachers to learn about their new positions.
Former Teacher Interview #1
Like many educators, I left teaching because of the toll it took on my mental and physical health. I found that over time, disruptive behaviors, as well as the abuse of teachers has become more and more common and accepted. Teachers deserve an environment where students are required to take some ownership of their learning.
Having an environment where teachers are blamed when students fail due to their own poor decisions creates a learning environment that hinders the development of skills necessary for postsecondary achievement.
I could no longer work within a broken system. Now I am a stand-up comedian. I taught for my first three years in comedy and having something creative to pour my energy into gave me a sense of purpose and made it easier to let go. Teaching also hindered my ability to travel for comedy, so I really needed to let go in order to reach my full potential as a stand-up.
My advice for educators looking to leave the field would be to start a two-fold plan. Create some goals for your post-education/ new professional life, but also have financial goals to ease some of the anxiety about leaving a salaried position. For me, this happened over the course of two years with the help of a therapist and with the support of close family and friends.
Former Teacher Interview #2
I became a teacher right after I completed my masters degree in Instructional Leadership. I was (and still am) paying off a massive student loan debt. My first year teaching I made $33,000 dollars and was working 70+ hours a week.
We barely got 30 minutes a day to ourselves. I moved to a different school the next year and expected the workload to get lighter, the pay to increase, my day-to-day to get easier. I expected that the following year and the year following that. Besides a modest pay increase, nothing else had changed for me.
I wasn’t totally sure that I was ready to leave teaching, candidly, because I didm’t know what other options were open to me. Then I stumbled across an educational consulting job with a software company.
This job opening was amazing because I am passionate about technology in education. The job was training teachers how to effectively implement technology in the classroom and my classroom experience gave my a huge advantage over the other applicants. Because there were so many amazing perks – “What’s the catch?” I thought.
There was no catch. That initial job I got after teaching launched me into a career in educational technology where I have had access to upward mobility that allows me to earn nearly 4x my original salary in only 4 years after leaving the classroom.
If I could give some advice to those who are considering leaving – If you find yourself unhappy most of the time – please make a change! Every job since I left the classroom has flexible time off; plus, working in educational technology – we even get similar breaks to teachers! Each job has the option of remote (which I ALWAYS take) and I have a much more manageable work/life balance and just an overall higher quality of life. Don’t waste another moment. Start working on it today.
Former Teacher Interview #3
I left teaching for a job as a Merchandise Assistant because I felt I wasn’t appreciated by the administration, the students, and the parents.
I felt that everyday I was giving my all and not feeling rewarded for my work.
A typical day for me is order entry for the buyers. A teacher can EASILY do my job. My teaching experience supports my work in this position, such as: staying organized, working on a team, communication skills, problem solving skills, etc.
I don’t know the former teachers who work at my company personally, but I know there are many. And their positions are higher up than mine which makes me feel hopeful that one day will be me!
My advice? Get started now. Especially if you are a newer teacher and starting to second guess your choice, there are SO many options that already pay more. There is room for upward mobility in many other positions. You won’t regret it.
Former Teacher Interview #4
I left teaching because it was truly crushing my soul. Even though I loved my class each year and loved each and every child. The kids were never the issue. I never felt like I was doing enough. On top of the mandatory extracurriculars expect of a teacher (grading, checking homework, lesson planning, communicating with parents…)
We are forced to do so much. My class was constantly testing. I truly felt I was incapable of giving each child the attention and time they deserved and every day I went home feeling like a failure. I was sick constantly.
I sought out a therapist who prescribed me anxiety medication. I went into a state of depression. Now, I am a part time nanny and part time baker. I am enjoying every day, off my medication, and am no longer suffering from depression. I still talk to a therapist occasionally because therapy is amazing for everybody and I highly encourage it).
My advice to anybody looking to change careers is: do it. Life is too short to be miserable. It’s terrifying to be unemployed. Unemployment will not last. You will find something that you love (or at least enjoy) and everything will work out.
Former Teacher Interview #5
I left teaching after four years for my mental health. After having regular anxiety attacks, I wasn’t functioning well enough to be in a relationship with the love of my life. And zero work/home life balance. My mind wouldn’t stop telling me to write the plan or grade the paper. Pay and lack of assistance/support from administration were close seconds.
I landed an entry level recruiting position with a healthcare staffing company after five months of waitressing. But, I enjoy going to work. After a few months, I am starting an amazing job opportunity with an international recruiting company and I start soon!
After only one year in the field, I already feel valued. I have a great salary with flexible work hours and coworkers who love their jobs. I also reunited with that boyfriend and we now live together with a new puppy. He often comments on the positive changes he can see in me.
- See a therapist if you can afford to go once in a while.
- Don’t give up. Be brave. You might not land your dream job right away, and that isn’t fun, but it’s part of the process.
- Take your students out of your decision making equation. You teach because you love children and want to help, and I’m sure that hasn’t changed for you. If you’re checked out, your students need someone else who still wants to be in the profession. Someone who still has the drive and passion.”
Next steps to a new career
One of the biggest mistakes that we 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.