A role model with communication skills, empathy and leadership, who is adept at conflict resolution, time management and goal-setting. This sounds like the type of professional any human resources department would be glad to bring on board. Guess who has this skill set and more: former teachers looking for a career change. And the corporate world – and others – are happy to have them.
School Teachers as Career Changers
A National Education Association (NEA) survey found that 55 percent of educators are considering an early exit from teaching. Since the pandemic, teachers have been leaving the workforce at a record rate, averaging a 2.9 percent quit rate at the start of the 2021-22 school year.
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) February 2022 Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLTs) report shows 204,000 open jobs in the Educational Services sector, a 74 percent increase from last year. School districts across the country were rocked by the Great Reshuffle and scrambled to patch the holes with substitute teachers, raising pay and lowering requirements in many states.
The labor market of 2021 was an employee's market, which continues into early 2022. Many school teachers experiencing burnout due to the pandemic, staff shortages and other stressors of the profession have packed up their transferable skills and started on the road to career transition.
Consider also: 4 Signs It's Time for a Job Search
Skill Sets of Former Teachers
The career options for school teachers are plentiful because teachers' skills and work experience are in demand.
McKinsey & Company identified 56 foundational skills that future workers will need to thrive. A quick glance at some of them reveals an obvious connection to an educator's learning environment and teaching skills:
- Critical thinking and problem-solving
- Time management, agility and planning
- Communication, storytelling and active listening
- Mental flexibility, creativity and knowledge translation
- Role modeling, negotiation, empathy and the inspiration of trust
- Self-leadership and self-management
- Energy, passion and optimism
- Digital literacy, smart systems and digital learning
Teachers also bring project management experience, writing skills and emotional intelligence to the classroom – abilities that will take them a long way on any career path. Teachers are educated, too. Among public school teachers, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that 97 percent hold a bachelor's degree, while 58 percent also hold a master's degree.
It's easy to see why a teaching career lends itself to many career opportunities.
Consider also: Job Transitions & Your Career
Alternative Careers for Teachers
While any company, non-profit or organization might be excited to snag a former teacher these days, there are new careers that someone can transition into very quickly from the education field.
Some new career roles directly intersect education programs and school systems such as instructional designer, museum educator, community college instructor or corporate trainer. Each of these careers puts a teacher's lesson plan skills, teaching experience and degree to work.
Teachers are also hired as educational consultants for companies that write textbooks or design assessments because they understand the audience, product and goals.
The agility of teachers during the pandemic also makes them attractive to tech companies – especially those with a tie to education.
Some teachers might opt for part-time or full-time freelancing, marketing their writing skills or taking on any of the roles above on a contract basis.
Teachers also bring project management experience, writing skills and emotional intelligence to the classroom – abilities that will take them a long way on any career path.
Starting a Second Career
For anyone changing careers, the idea isn't to quit today and start the job search tomorrow. Career transition is a chance to find a new fit and requires a bit of research to make sure you land in the right place.
If you are transitioning from education, you probably aren't seeking just a new job; you're most likely searching for a meaningful new career. You're not just a job seeker; you are an experienced professional with a prized skill set.
Starting with a career coach and an interest assessment is a great first step if you aren't already sure of what your second dream career will be. Once you've identified the path you want to explore, find out what professional development you might need for the new position.
Just as you've developed lesson plans for your classroom, put your expert skills to work and design a career plan for your next chapter.
Consider also: How to Spot That You're in the Wrong Career
- EdWeek: Teachers Are Quitting Midyear. It's Leaving Some Schools in the Lurch.
- National Library of Medicine: The Qualities of a Good Teacher
- McKinsey & Company: Defining the skills citizens will need in the future world of work
- National Center for Education Statistics: Teacher Qualifications
- World Economic Forum: What Is the Great Reshuffle and How Is It Affecting the Jobs Market?
- LinkedIn: Teachers Are Quitting in Droves