Many teachers are preparing to close their classroom doors for the last time: The NEA reports that 55% of teachers are considering leaving the teaching profession earlier than planned. That number is almost double the number reporting that in July 2020.
Ninety percent of teachers say that they’re burned out by staffing shortages, low pay, pandemic changes, and student absences. If that describes you, you might be asking, what job can I do if I don’t want to teach anymore?
3 Signs Teaching Is No Longer Working for You
If any of these signs sound familiar, it might be time to look into second careers for teachers.
1. You don’t love teaching anymore
Many teachers get into teaching because they have a passion for it. They love working with people and seeing the lightbulb moment when students truly understand the ideas they’ve been teaching. After years of pandemic changes, increased workload, and burnout, you may not feel that love anymore. You may even have experienced depression or dread going to work every day.
2. Your workload has increased while your salary hasn’t
Seventy-four percent of teachers say they’ve had to fill in for a colleague or take on extra duties due to staffing shortages. At the same time, teacher salaries have stayed flat while the cost of housing, groceries, and gas go up. The result? You’re doing more for less.
3. Your needs and interests have changed
People grow and change. Maybe you’re interested in building new skills you can use outside of the classroom. Or maybe your lifestyle or family situation has changed: you might crave want more flexibility to take a day off without making a lesson plan or a job where you can travel while working remotely.
Career Opportunities in Tech: 5 Alternative Jobs for Teachers
Tech may not be the first thing that comes to mind when people think about jobs for former teachers, but there are many reasons why it’s a great match. Teachers are very adaptable (remember that time they switched their entire model to virtual almost overnight?), they’re hard workers, and they already have a degree (required for some, but not all tech jobs).
The flexibility, high compensation, and job growth of the tech field make the field a great landing spot for many teachers looking to make a switch. Here are five great jobs for ex-teachers that you should consider if you want to make a switch.
What they do: Developers build code to create websites, mobile apps, and software. If you have an analytical mindset and like solving puzzles and building things, a coding job could be a good fit. There are many different versions of this career to explore: front-end, back-end, full-stack developers, and more.
What you already have: Teamwork, attention to detail, problem-solving, a degree
Digital Marketing Specialist
What you already have: Teamwork, communication skills, a degree
What they do: Data analysts explore data and information to uncover actionable insights that help businesses make critical decisions. Understanding the data is just one part—you need to be able to interpret it and tell a story with visualization that non-technical audiences can understand. The interpretation aspect should be a natural fit for teachers!
What you already have: Critical thinking, communication skills, a degree
What you need: Experience in data visualization, data cleaning, and project management. A grasp of programs like Python, SQL, and Excel. A course or bootcamp can help you get up to speed on these.
What they do: Instructional designers apply pedagogy, technology, and design concepts to create e-learning content. Universities, edtech companies, and private companies hire instructional designers to develop online courses and set learning objectives and assessment methods.
What you already have: Experience with curriculum development and pedagogy, written and visual communication skills, a degree
What you need: A strong grasp of UX and visual design and basic familiarity with learning management systems (LMS). Some jobs require advanced degrees, certificates, or multimedia production skills. A course in UX Design or Instructional Design will set you on your way.
Corporate Learning & Development Specialist
What they do: Companies need to onboard new employees, train them in company culture and policies, and teach their people new skills as their industry evolves and employees advance into senior positions. Corporate learning & development specialists develop and manage training programs for corporations. Depending on the company, this can involve a mixture of instructional design, in-person training, project management, and thought leadership from inside and outside of an organization.
What you already have: Experience with curriculum development and pedagogy, presentation skills, a degree
What you need: Project management, and understanding of business objectives and basic instructional design
4 Steps To Start Your Career Transition From Teaching
Assess Your Skill Set and Interests
The first step to starting your job hunt after teaching is to look inward and examine what type of work and work environment might be a good fit for you. Ask yourself these questions:
- What skills do I have, and what new skills do I have the desire and ability to learn? First, make a list of your existing soft and technical skills. Next, make a list of the skills you’d be interested to learn. For instance, the thought of coding might give you the sweats, but video editing or graphic design sounds interesting. In this example, you can probably eliminate web development but might look into Digital Marketing or UX/UI Design.
- Is remote work for me, or do I need to be in person? Many tech jobs have the option to be remote or hybrid. This is a pretty stark difference from being in a room with 30 students all day, so ask yourself if it’s something you would enjoy. Working remotely isn’t for everyone, but it’s important to note that working remotely doesn’t mean working alone. As a remote or hybrid worker, you’ll be in frequent video, voice, or asynchronous conversations with teams around the world.
Reach Out For Informational Interviews
Next, make some connections with a few people in the fields you’re interested in to ask them about their work. This is called an informational interview and will help you narrow down your interests and find out what a day in the life of that job is like.
Start with your friends, and branch out to local industry groups if you hit a wall. You’d be surprised how many people (both friends and strangers!) are willing to meet with you for a 20-minute coffee or virtual chat to talk about what they do.
Make a Reskilling and Transition Plan
Once you’ve chosen a career path, it’s time to make a plan for how to get there. Consider what reskilling you need and the amount of time and money it will take you to get there. Depending on your target job and the tech skills required, you might need:
- A course or certificate
- A bootcamp program
In the majority of cases, you won’t need a Master’s degree to transition into tech. So if you’re wondering if you need two years and student loans to get into tech, the answer is usually no.
– What’s the difference between a course, a certificate, and a bootcamp?
Good question—there can be a lot of overlap. An online course is offered by a school or online education provider and can be done outside of your teaching hours. A certificate is a credential earned either by completing a course or bootcamp or by passing a skills assessment (and sometimes both).
A bootcamp is an immersive program that teaches what you would learn in a year or two of college in just 12 weeks. Student learn through in-person, interactive courses that emphasize collaboration and job readiness through solo and group projects and mentorship with instructors.
Teachers’ summer breaks are an ideal timeframe for completing a bootcamp without leaving their day job. There are also flex bootcamps that can be done over a longer period of time with flexible hours.
– Financial planning for a career transition
If you’ve already quit your teaching job, pick whichever reskilling plan that best fits your budget and lifestyle.
If you are still teaching, you can save up for an income gap or make a plan based around transition points in the school year. For instance, use school breaks for reskilling and applying for jobs. If it’s the fall semester and you plan to leave your teaching job in May, use the months remaining in the school year to reskill and network for when it’s time to job hunt.
Apply For Jobs: How To Land a Tech Interview as a Teacher
Once you have the technical skills you need, you’re 90% of the way there. However, it takes a little personal branding to make you stand out as a top-tier candidate to tech recruiters. You’ll need:
- A killer resume
- A portfolio
- A LinkedIn page
Write a snappy summary statement about your goals and strengths that you can use on all three. On your resume and LinkedIn, optimize your experience to talk about relevant skills and tangible outcomes. On your portfolio, showcase examples of projects you’ve completed, even if they were for school, with images and an explanation of your process.
Career changers with a dramatic U-turn can benefit from a professional career coach or resume writer to help your application shine. Before paying for one out of pocket, check to see if your bootcamp or college alumni services offers these services for free.
Teachers, It’s Time To Get Out There!
Leaving teaching can be a difficult and emotional choice, especially if you’ve been in education for 10 or 20 years. It’s common to feel guilty about the kids you’re leaving behind or struggle to detach your identity from being a teacher.
Despite the fear and challenges of making a career shift, know that it’s okay to start over. As we’ve covered, there are many options for tech and remote jobs for teachers leaving the profession. Whichever path you take, you’ll learn more about yourself and strengthen your skills along the way.
Want to learn how to break into tech? Download the ebook, “Landing Work You Love” written from our experience of helping 13,000 career changers make the shift.