Teaching is difficult and interesting work. It can be wonderfully fulfilling and simultaneously almost unbearably frustrating and stressful. Generally, it’s not the kids who make teachers want to move on to another profession. Rather, it’s something about the system itself, the culture, that eventually adds up to be too much. Some teachers are driven away by the long hours and low pay, others feel they need to move on because of trying relationships with administrators or too much tension with parents. Others find the curriculum, or the accompanying standardized tests, too limiting and confining.
The bottom line is that, for a host of reasons, a fairly large percentage of teachers decide, after a time, that they are ready to move on to something else. There’s nothing wrong with making this choice. In fact, regardless of the profession, changing careers at some point during one’s professional lifetime is normal.
Now, only one question remains: What’s next? It turns out that former teachers have a ton of professional options to consider. Let’s take a look at a few.
1. If you love teaching, but want to increase your income…
…there are ways to go about that. If you teach in a private school, consider switching over to public (they pay better, probably because of a stronger union presence). You might also consider taking on some side projects either within your current school or outside of it. Consider doing a bit of tutoring in the evenings, or try your hand at curriculum development or other administrative tasks. If you love teaching and want to keep at it for a while longer, there are ways to earn more than your base salary. Talk to some of the administrators in your school or district; they might even know of some immediate opportunities.
Teachers are qualified for many seemingly unrelated jobs; they just need to know where to look.
2. Consider becoming an administrator.
Maybe you love working in education but are ready to step away from the classroom for a bit. Many wonderful administrators started off in the classroom. In fact, having classroom teaching experience will likely make you a wiser, more compassionate administrator, because you’ll be aware of the challenges and realities happening on the school’s front lines.
You’ll almost certainly need to head back to school yourself if you decide to make this change, especially if you’re aiming to be a vice principal or principal, but it’s a fairly straightforward process and the move could allow you to stay in the field you love while also having a fresh challenge and better compensation.
3. Consider other jobs in the field.
When your background, training, and heart are woven so tightly around the field of education, it can be tough to imagine stepping away from it altogether. There are many other stimulating and fulfilling jobs within the field of education that you are uniquely suited for as a former teacher. Consider teaching home-bound kids, working with GED students in your community, selling your materials on teacherspayteachers.com, working for a curriculum development or textbook company, or doing some educational consulting. If you know anyone who’s made this kind of change, talk with them about how they did it. Networking could be the key to unlocking the opportunities you’re seeking.
4. Realize that your skills qualify you for many other jobs.
As a teacher, you have the soft skills employers seek and that makes you well-qualified for a variety of jobs. You could aim for something that relates to your discipline (for example, you could do some writing or editing work if you worked as an English teacher) or you could go an entirely different way.
Have confidence that the difficult job of classroom teaching has prepared you well for a second career in business, IT, or another industry that interests you. Tailor your resume to highlight the skills that will help you shine and go for it. Employers look favorably upon folks with backgrounds as teachers; know that, and be confident that your years in the classroom have prepared you well for what’s next.
“Employers really do like teachers,” Terry Pile, a career coach and former teacher told Slate. “Teachers are very disciplined, they’re very good time managers, they’re generally pretty bright and get along well with people.”
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This post was updated from an earlier version previously published on PayScale.