What Can I Do with a Teaching Degree (Besides Teach)?
If you’re a teacher but are considering a change, here are some careers that will value your teaching experience.
It may seem like a no-brainer that if you earn a teaching degree, you’ll work as a teacher. But after a while, anyone may need a change. The good news is that teachers have many transferable skills that are valued all across the working world.
Holding an education degree may qualify you for jobs in business, non-profit organizations, publishing, government and more. If you have the skills needed to be a teacher, there are many jobs you can find outside of the classroom.
Put Your Teaching Skills to Work
If you’ve ever wondered “What can I do with an education degree?” you’re not alone. The truth is that many of the skills necessary to be an effective teacher are often sought-after qualities in other careers too. As a person with an education degree, you surely have the following skills and qualities:
- You’re thoughtful, highly organized and efficient.
- You understand the concept of constant improvement.
- You work well alone, and collaborate well with others.
- You have great management abilities and leadership skills.
- You have an excellent understanding of human behavior and a lot of experience interacting with people with different personalities.
- You’re a great writer and effective communicator.
- You’re flexible and willing to change.
- You have a strong work ethic.
- You’re a lifelong learner, and that’s not going to stop now that you’re on the job market.
In a traditional teaching job, you’d use all these skills to maintain an orderly classroom, lead discussions, and work with students on a group and individual basis. In other career paths, you’d employ these skills in a slightly different manner.
If you’re qualified to teach a certain subject, such as art, looking for jobs in a related field could prove worthwhile. For example, a museum might hire an art teacher to teach classes to adults and children, and often museums have a staff position available for an educational programming director. If you teach math or science, there are others jobs that are more appropriate for you.
So, if you’re a teacher and are wondering what you might be able to do in a second career, see what other fields you could work in with an education degree. Some additional training may be needed. Think about this early…when your school or district will still cover all—or some—of the cost of tuition. While this isn’t a complete list of potential options, it will demonstrate that you may just need to think more creatively in your job search.
Education Jobs Outside of the Classroom
Maybe it’s not just the teaching job; it’s your specific classes or school administration. And maybe you’ve had just one too many classroom observations. Just like nurses can travel around and have three- or six-month stints in different hospitals, substitute teachers can travel from school to school. This won’t work in a state where you’re not licensed, but some people like the flexibility of being a substitute teacher in school districts close to home.
You decide when and where to work, and you can make a decent salary. And you don’t have all the administrative responsibilities, preparation and corrections of full-time teachers with their own classes. Sometimes, if a job is a good fit and someone’s out for an extended period of time, you can get a long-term assignment that you’ll like in a better school district than the one that you were teaching in. Substitute teaching can have many advantages.
Although it will take additional education, some teachers go on to become school librarians. Library science is a hot field, and you can still work with kids without having all the oversight, and after-hours work required of a teaching job.
School counselors help students in many ways, and they too aren’t in the day-to-day classroom. Here again, you’ll need additional training, but if you want to remain in education and want to help students in other ways, school counselor is another option.
School districts also need experienced people to improve the quality of education for their students. There are curriculum development experts, school effectiveness specialists, learning coaches who do teacher training, observe teachers, and make recommendations to improve their teaching. There are also administration jobs, and much, much more. If you want to stay in education but don’t want the responsibilities of your own classroom, go to nearby school-district employment pages to see if they are looking to fill positions that you’re qualified for.
The Business World
The world of business and teaching may seem like opposite ends of the spectrum, but teachers with an education degree actually have many skills that are crucial to making companies run well. I have friends who are former teachers, and they’ve gone into many different fields, including the following:
- Sales: My high school social studies teacher made a lot of money working for a company that sold…(wait for it): school supplies. She had tons of connections, and knew what people needed. She was personable, persistent, and knew HOW to sell without being too pushy. She was very successful, and had a great (and lucrative) second career.
- Marketing: Use your business savvy and understanding of human needs and desires to help companies market their products.Remember: traditional marketing is only part of the picture. In today’s Internet-focused economy, there are many good jobs for ex-teachers like you in online marketing: search engine marketing (“paid” search: you bid on keywords and your ads come up online), search engine optimization (“organic search”: you strategically write online articles so that when people Google a term, your website will come up high on the page), email marketing, and more. Teachers are a natural at any number of traditional or online marketing jobs.
- Technical writer: While you may need to take a course in tech writing, this is a much-needed skill, and one that not everyone excels at. Use your writing skills to draft user guides, manuals and white papers for companies large and small.
- Paralegal: There’s more than just one teacher who has made the switch to a career as a paralegal. The certificate programs often required aren’t too costly and don’t take too long, and many of the skills you’ve acquired as a teacher are directly transferrable. Working with lawyers isn’t for everyone, but you might find paralegal work fulfilling, and paralegals do make a good salary.
- Human resources: Companies usually provide employee education or training which can be led by a person with a teaching degree. Another option in HR is working as a recruiter. Your ability to understand the needs of people from different backgrounds can make you a valuable asset in a company looking to hire HR people.
- Management: teachers are born managers. While you might need additional school or training, some former teachers are able to find jobs in the business world, and move up the ladder when their superiors recognize their potential management skills.
- Entrepreneur: If you’ve had ideas about products or services that you’d like to pursue, and you think that you can put together a team to pull it off, now might be the time to try.
Whether you’re a recent graduate with a teaching degree or an experienced teacher looking for a career change, remember that schools aren’t your only option.
Non-profit organizations also have many roles to fill. For example, teachers are obviously good at public speaking, so they’re a great fit for organizations that make presentations or speak to groups. Other options include:
- Grant writer: Non-profit groups typically rely on grants and fundraising to cover their costs. If you have the skills needed to be a teacher, you may be qualified to write grant proposals. Your communication and writing skills will be needed to draft a persuasive argument on why an organization needs funding.
- After-school programs and youth organizations: Typically run by non-profit organizations, youth-based groups often look for people with a teaching degree. While it’s not always a requirement, these types of organizations might prefer to hire a person holding an early childhood education degree, depending on the age of the children they serve. Some early childhood education teachers might find work at summer camps or at daycare centers and preschools rather than within the elementary school system. Opportunities may include working as a mentor or tutor.
Someone with a teaching degree and background can be just what publishers are looking for.
- Writer or editor: There’s a whole world out there when it comes to publishing. Your writing and editing skills could help land you a job in books, magazines, newspapers, online publications, blogs or newsletters.
Your teaching degree and specialization in a certain subject is a great starting point for a job at a trade publication within your field, such as science, history or business journals.
Or, how about authoring or overseeing the publication of student textbooks? Not only can you use your writing and editing skills, but you can join another part of the education field but not remain in the classroom.
- Government agencies: Why not head directly to where education decisions in this country are made? Government-run organizations like the U.S. Department of Education or your state DOE hire teachers for a variety of roles, including management and teaching.
If you’re qualified to teach a particular subject, such as math, science, or political science, look for government bodies that pertain to your specialty.
- Prisons: Hear us out on this one. You’ve probably heard of prisoners who earn degrees while incarcerated. People with teaching degrees are often needed as instructors for classes offered to inmates trying to turn their life around. Some people also become online teachers, and that’s the primary way that inmates get their education. Another option is working in juvenile facility where you can teach or mentor young adults.
- Interpreters and translators: This career path is specific to foreign-language teachers. If you don’t want to teach foreign language in school, your knowledge and skills could be useful to the government as an interpreter or translator.
Now you can clearly see that there are many things you can do with your education degree that won’t have you working in a classroom. So, if you’re ready for a change, use your transferable skills in any number of these fields, and other niches that you find yourself. The skills you acquired during your time in the classroom most certainly qualify you for many jobs outside the classroom too.
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