What to do with a teaching degree besides teach

Written by jessica cook
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What to do with a teaching degree besides teach
With your past teaching experience, you can always become a freelance tutor. (BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

I have been a teacher for five years, and recently I lost my teaching job due to circumstances beyond my control. In today's job market, teaching jobs are often scarce as layoffs and budget cuts plague school districts. So as I explore career options for myself, I will be looking outside the teaching field for opportunities. If you're in a similar position, there are things you can do with your teacher training ... besides teach, that is.

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You Are Not Alone

According to a 2002 symposium from the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, "almost a third of America's teachers leave the field sometime during their first three years of teaching, and almost half leave after five years." Though various reasons exist for this mass exodus (salary issues, inflexible administration, poor student behaviour), the underlying reality is that there are mass numbers of former teachers each year, all looking for jobs in industries outside of education. If they can find jobs, you can, too.

Consider Your Strengths

What kind of teaching job or training did you have? The skills you learnt during your preparation for and practice of teaching can prepare you for a new career in another industry. Elementary and secondary educators have different skill sets, so we will explore those options separately below.

Also consider the general skills you possess that would be useful in any job. Teaching required you to be comfortable speaking in front of crowds, so you can add public speaking to your resume. It also involved managing your time wisely, balancing paperwork with grading and lesson planning in one short planning period. Efficient time management is an important factor in many job descriptions. Teaching required you to be self-motivated and able to solve problems on your own as they occurred within your classroom, so you are a self-starter. It also required you to work with your fellow educators, so you are a team player. And don't forget all those communication skills you learnt while you spent countless hours talking to parents and students about classroom performance.

Elementary Educators: Creativity and Diversity

To teach elementary students, you had a lot of practice with patience and creativity. You had to balance multiple subject areas at one time, and make learning fun for the students you served. You taught young children how to read, so you could put your skills to use in a literacy program. You counselled your students and comforted them through difficult situations, so you could apply for jobs as a child advocate or working with your state's Department of Children's Services. With your training specific to early childhood development, you could also explore careers as a preschool director or a child psychologist.

Secondary Educators: Specific Skill Sets

As a secondary educator, you worked with older children and teenagers, which opened you up for opportunities working with adults. You could apply to teach on the college or university level, or work with adult literacy programs or teach classes at your local community centre. If you want to get away from teaching altogether, consider the other jobs available in the field of your speciality. If you were a math teacher, continue a field in statistics or business. Science teachers can explore careers in research or engineering. English teachers can work in the communications field.

What Else Is There?

I recently saw an ad for a dog training job that required a background in education. Text book companies like to hire teachers to write their texts or sell their books. You might also break into the field of curriculum writing for a school district or corporate training and recruiting. You can also do freelance and work for a tutoring service or offer that service on your own.

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