Teaching as a Second Career

Answers to frequently asked questions about teaching as a second career.

male math teacher in teaching as a second career

Second career teachers are often some of the best teachers in their field. Bringing a rich combination of experience and perspective, they often approach teaching with a contagious enthusiasm that motivates their students and inspires other teachers.

If you are an insightful and patient communicator who enjoys imparting knowledge and interacting with people—and you're ready for a career change—you might want to consider teaching as a second career. From well-rounded elementary teachers to focused adult education instructors, the education industry is looking for qualified, passionate teachers to motivate and inspire the workers and leaders of tomorrow.

How to begin teaching as a second career

When you decide on teaching as a second career, the idea of pursuing an entirely different career may seem daunting. But we've put together a comprehensive guide that tells you exactly how to become a teacher. You will still need to satisfy state teacher certification requirements. While this often means going back to school, many states have alternative teacher certification procedures that can help get you in the classroom quicker than you think.

Alternative Teacher Certification

Nearly all states offer alternate teacher certification programs for people thinking about teaching as a second career. Many people already have a bachelor's degree in the subject they want to teach, but lack the required teacher-education courses for certification.

Alternative teacher certification requirements vary by state but often include an accelerated post-baccalaureate program, a student-teaching component and the successful completion of certain tests or interviews. So if you've already graduated from college and have experience in the field you'd like to teach, pursuing alternative certification can be a quicker way to begin teaching as a second career.

Provisional Teacher Certification

In some cities and states, you can pursue a provisional teacher license that allows second-career teachers to begin teaching immediately. After completing required education courses and working under the supervision of experienced educators for one or two years, you can receive a full teaching credential. Other states offer programs that allow college graduates who do not meet licensure requirements to take only those courses they lack in order to become licensed. If you have already finished your college education, it may take you only one or two semesters to complete this certification route.

Emergency Teaching Credentials

Because of teacher shortages in some areas and subject matters, many states are offering temporary emergency licenses to prospective teachers who hold bachelor's degrees. Pursuing an emergency credential can help you bypass state licensing requirements and get useful teaching experience that will help you determine if teaching is the right second career choice for you.

Can I transition from the military into teaching?

Retired military or civilian military personnel can obtain the education and credentials they need to become teachers through the Troops to Teachers program sponsored by the Department of Defense.

For more information on teaching as a second career after the military, contact Troops to Teachers to learn how to take advantage of this great program. And since the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which grants veterans significantly more options and funding for education, went into effect, more veterans are opting to continue their education.

Are there other ways I can get into teaching?

In order to recruit teachers, some states will pay for your teacher education in exchange for a commitment to teaching in an inner-city school that is experiencing a teacher shortage. Check with your state Department of Education for details.

The Teach for America program places college graduates in two-year positions in high-need urban and rural public schools. Teach for America is looking for prospective teachers in bilingual education, science and mathematics, and is especially interested in recruiting people of color. For more information, contact Teach for America to learn how you might take advantage of this invaluable program.

Can I pursue teaching as a second career with online training?

If gaining the needed education through a specialty program like those listed above doesn't work for you, you still have plenty of opportunities to get your teaching degree on your own time. As online schooling becomes more and more common, you can now complete bachelor's and master's degree programs at schools from the comfort of your own home.