36 Jobs for Former Teachers That Can Give You a Fresh Start
Did you know that suitable jobs for former teachers are abundantly available? It may not feel that way if you've recently left teaching or have been pondering an early exit from the profession. But it's true: Your teaching degree—along with the transferable skills you've gained, from both inside and outside the classroom—can make you a good candidate for all kinds of second careers. You just need to know what to target, when to get extra training, and how to market your amazing talents.
Make no mistake about it: School teachers are extraordinary professionals. After all, few people have what it takes to perform classroom-related jobs in education. The fact that you've been a teacher (for any length of time) speaks volumes about your heart, your character, and your wide-ranging abilities. Your professional traits are exactly what you can use to build a career that meets more of your current needs. It's what you deserve. And it's what you can absolutely make happen.
Teachers leave the profession for all kinds of valid reasons, not just retirement. In fact, almost eight percent of America's teachers leave the field each year. That represents hundreds of thousands of classroom educators.1 So you're in good company if you want to stop teaching or have left the field already. Many former teachers have succeeded in establishing new careers that offer better rewards, such as higher pay, more respect, or a greater sense of meaning and fulfillment.
So take plenty of time to reflect on what you like and dislike about teaching. What have you enjoyed the most about being a teacher? What are the factors that are causing you to take your career in a different direction? Your answers will provide clues to your potential future path.
This article lists several alternative jobs for teachers who need a change or have been out of the field and need to establish new careers. Some of these options will require additional training or continuing education. Others may just require your enthusiasm, persistence, professionalism, and creativity. Explore them right now so that you can start living the life you actually want.
- Second careers for teachers who want something totally different
- Non-teaching jobs in education
- Teaching-related jobs outside the classroom
- Why teachers leave their jobs
- How to make the transition from teaching to a second career
Second Careers for Teachers Who Want Something Totally Different
Even if being a teacher used to feel like your calling, it's perfectly OK to want a career that isn't related to teaching or education. You deserve to be happy. So ask yourself: What are you intensely interested in? What fascinates you? Many former teachers are drawn to careers in business, journalism, or communications since they often have existing skills that transfer well into those fields. Others find success by exploring opportunities related to major areas of study that they may have enjoyed in college but never pursued beyond the classroom. Have a look at the following examples:
1. Compensation and Benefits Manager
Like other teachers, you may be great at planning, organizing, and paying attention to detail. With this type of career, you can use those skills while still serving a meaningful purpose. By recommending and overseeing a company's pay and benefits structure, you can play a significant role in making employees feel valued and helping them stay healthy and supported in their pursuit of happiness. You may need some additional education in human resources or business administration.
- Median salary—$116,2402
- Highest salary—$199,950 or more
This high-paying career, like the next few on this list, should definitely be on the radar of former math teachers. With some extra coursework in subjects like finance, applied statistics, and economics, you may be able to pursue certification in this field. You'll assess risk and help insurance companies or other businesses devise strategies to reduce the financial impacts of uncertainty.
- Median salary—$100,6102
- Highest salary—$186,250 or more
3. Personal Financial Advisor
Is your educational and teaching background in mathematics? If so, this occupation may be another good option. Your ability to calculate numbers, interpret what they mean, and explain complex concepts could serve you well in this type of role. Plus, you'll be helping people achieve the financial goals that make it possible for them to get what they truly want from life. If you go this route, consider additional coursework in financial planning.
- Median salary—$90,5302
- Highest salary—$208,000 or more
Would you like to use your mathematical background to solve real problems? All kinds of industries need people who are good at gathering data and interpreting what it all means. The impact you make in this job could be just as important as the one you've made by teaching. For example, imagine using statistical analysis to make a positive difference in healthcare delivery or safety engineering. Depending on the position, you may need a master's degree.
- Median salary—$80,5002
- Highest salary—$130,090 or more
5. Operations Research Analyst
Here's another math-related occupation that allows you to be an important problem solver. It's all about using math and quantitative analytical techniques to help businesses pinpoint and define problems so that they can make the best possible decisions. In addition to a background in math, it's also a good idea to take some coursework in computer science if you haven't already.
- Median salary—$79,2002
- Highest salary—$132,660 or more
Former teachers often make exceptional writers. And great writers are always in demand—not just in the worlds of publishing and entertainment. Countless businesses and non-profit organizations also have ongoing writing needs, whether for technical documentation, grant applications, proposals, or internal or external marketing. If you're well-versed in a particular subject, you may even be able to find work with textbook publishers. You can work as part of an in-house writing team, or you can freelance on your own schedule, work from wherever you want, and choose your clients.
- Median salary for technical writers—$69,8502
- Highest salary for technical writers—$111,260 or more
- Median yearly pay for other writers and authors—$61,240
- Highest yearly pay for other writers and authors—$118,640 or more
Are you highly creative? Has your teaching experience given you deeper insights into human behavior? Many companies, non-profit organizations, and marketing agencies look for professionals with the ability to empathize with other people and understand their motivations. So, with a little extra coursework in marketing, you may be able to find a great job that takes advantage of many of the skills you already have. Internet marketing is an especially good field to get into if you're adaptable and enjoy ever-evolving challenges that utilize your creativity.
- Median salary—$62,5602
- Highest salary—$121,720 or more
Teachers know how to help people succeed by developing their knowledge and talents. Human resources pros also get to help people succeed by matching them to the right positions, training opportunities, and benefit options. Depending on your educational background, you may need some additional business education, but the rewards of this field tend to make the extra effort worth it.
- Median salary—$59,1802
- Highest salary—$101,420 or more
Great communication is the name of the game in this field. With your classroom teaching experience, you've probably got that covered. Of course, this occupation is also about reaching out and forming good relationships with the public and other media professionals. Your skills in writing, planning, and public speaking could serve you very well in a PR job.
- Median salary—$58,0202
- Highest salary—$110,560 or more
This occupation is often a great match for former teachers, especially for those with a background in studying and teaching English. After all, much like a good teacher, a good editor needs to be able to recognize and mentor someone else's good ideas and talent. In this case, it's all about writing talent. Your own writing skills—as well as your strong grasp of grammar, punctuation, and spelling—could form a terrific foundation for this type of career.
- Median salary—$57,2102
- Highest salary—$111,610 or more
11. Sales Representative
Would you agree with the following statement? To be an effective teacher, you need to be able to engage people on both an individual level as well as in groups. Now think about what it takes to sell something. Can you see the similarities? A lot of former teachers make great sales reps because they know how to get an intended message across and win people over with their enthusiasm, knowledge, and skill at interpersonal communication.
- Median yearly pay of non-technical product sales reps—$57,1402
- Highest yearly pay of non-technical product sales reps—$121,080 or more
- Median yearly pay of service sales reps—$52,490
- Highest yearly pay of service sales reps—$113,950 or more
12. Executive Assistant
Great planners and organizers can be hard to find. But many teachers have those qualities in spades. With a little extra training in business administration or administrative assisting, you can become a truly compelling candidate for administrative support jobs with top corporate executives.
- Median salary—$55,8602
- Highest salary—$83,070 or more
Is your educational and teaching background in art or history? Museums, both large and small, depend on curators to oversee their amazing collections. It's a good role for former teachers who enjoy acquiring, evaluating, and categorizing unique items. For positions in large museums, you may need a master's degree.
- Median salary—$53,3602
- Highest salary—$94,430 or more
Have you ever had any interest in the law? You probably have a lot of useful professional qualities that can be transferred to the paralegal field. And you may not actually need that much additional education in order to get started. Lawyers of all types are always looking for intelligent, well-organized professionals to assist with things like research, document creation, and pre-trial preparation.
- Median salary—$49,5002
- Highest salary—$80,260 or more
15. Event Planning
Here's a fun option if you're a born planner and loved coordinating lessons, projects, or field trips as a teacher. You can help make people's dreams for amazing, memorable events come true. Weddings, business conferences, and product launches are just a few types of events that you might help plan and coordinate.
- Median salary—$47,3502
- Highest salary—$83,030 or more
16. Interpreter or Translator
Do you have experience teaching a foreign language? Are you completely fluent in that language? If so, you may be well-suited to a career that involves translating documents or interpreting live or recorded conversations. This field is packed with exciting opportunities, including jobs that may take you overseas.
- Median salary—$46,1202
- Highest salary—$83,010 or more
17. Chemical Technician
A lot of laboratories and manufacturing facilities employ people to assist chemists and engineers with research and development. So this field is worth considering if you've taught or majored in chemistry or a related science.
- Median salary—$45,8402
- Highest salary—$76,930 or more
Are you especially enthusiastic and great at listening, communicating, and handling all the details? Like other types of sales professionals, real estate agents need exceptional interpersonal skills. That's why a lot of former teachers have gone into this field and developed good reputations for their ability to help facilitate win-win agreements related to the buying and selling of property.
- Median salary—$44,0902
- Highest salary—$112,570 or more
19. Child and Family Social Worker
Many teachers are naturally compassionate people. That makes a lot of them well-suited to careers in social work, especially the kind that involves keeping vulnerable kids out of harm's way and helping families get the basic assistance they need. You can be like a real-life guardian angel, making an important impact that lasts a lifetime for each person you help.
- Median salary—$43,2502
- Highest salary—$75,140 or more
20. Biological Technician
Have you been a biology teacher? Was it a major area of study for you in college? Just like chemical technicians, biological technicians are employed in many laboratories and research facilities. You can help scientists conduct experiments or lab tests that lead to positive outcomes for the health of people and the planet.
- Median salary—$42,5202
- Highest salary—$69,590 or more
21. Museum Technician
Are you good at keeping detailed records and safeguarding the things that are most important to you? Many teachers have those qualities. If you also have a background in art or history, then you may be a good candidate for this occupation. You'll help protect and care for the priceless objects being stored or displayed in a museum (or being transported between different museums).
- Median salary—$40,0402
- Highest salary—$73,080 or more
22. Bus Driver
For some former teachers, driving provides a perfect change of pace. Whether you drive a city bus full of commuting workers or a school bus full of students, you still get to play an important role in the lives of people in your community. It isn't a role for everyone, but it's definitely worth exploring if you want to stop teaching but would miss being around a lot of different people each day.
- Median salary for transit drivers—$39,7902
- Highest salary for transit drivers—$64,290 or more
- Median salary for school bus drivers—$30,150
- Highest salary for school bus drivers—$46,390 or more
23. Activities Director
Leadership roles related to community service are often a good fit for people who've left the teaching profession. Many youth organizations and retirement communities have positions for people who are skilled at planning, coordinating, and leading fun recreational or educational activities.
- Median salary—$39,4953
- Highest salary—$54,800 or more
Are you passionate about exercise and nutrition? Why not shift your teaching focus in that direction? Fitness clubs and private clients are always on the lookout for trainers who are natural motivators and understand how to plan training sessions and evaluate a person's progress. Plus, it doesn't take very long to get certified in this field.
- Median salary—$38,1602
- Highest salary—$72,980 or more
25. Food Science Technician
As someone who's been a teacher, it's probably fair to say that you care about the future well-being of today's youth. That's why this field may appeal to you. Many jobs in food science involve helping the food industry maintain safety standards or assisting with the research and development of procedures that can protect the nutritional value and integrity of food as it's being processed, stored, or distributed.
- Median salary—$37,5502
- Highest salary—$61,450 or more
26. Private Nanny
This may not be a top-of-mind option for most people who've been teachers, but some former teachers do thrive in this role. After all, the best nanny jobs allow you to help nurture and assist in the personal development of young people. And it's much more intimate than teaching a large classroom of kids. You can develop deeper bonds and track a child's progress over a longer stretch of time. Plus, many good opportunities are available overseas. And live-in positions usually come with free room and board.
- Median salary—$24,7073
- Highest salary—$44,000 or more
Non-Teaching Jobs in Education
You can establish all kinds of careers in education that don't involve teaching in a classroom. In some cases, former teachers are even able to find opportunities within the school districts they already know—sometimes at the same or higher level of pay they've grown accustomed to. After all, you may not want to leave the field of education altogether, especially if you feel like you can still make a difference. Also, keep in mind that good opportunities don't just exist at the elementary and secondary education levels. Many former teachers have also succeeded at landing non-teaching jobs in higher education.
Here are some examples of alternative careers for teachers who want to stay in education but leave the classroom:
27. School Administrator
Most elementary, middle, and high school principals began their careers as teachers. So if you have a strong desire to lead and oversee an entire school, then this could be one of the best career options to consider. You'll be involved in managing every facet of a school's operation while counseling students and supporting teachers and other staff members. You'll likely need at least a master's degree in education leadership or administration.
- Median salary—$92,5102
- Highest salary—$135,770 or more
28. Educational Consultant
This is one of the best jobs for retired teachers who want the flexibility to choose when to work and who to work with. You can offer important insights and recommendations about educational policy, curriculum development, administrative procedures, or other relevant topics to several kinds of organizations. As an independent contractor, you may find short- or long-term assignments with government agencies, private schools, charter schools, public school districts, or various types of education-related companies.
- Median yearly pay—$64,3093
- Highest yearly pay—$98,000 or more
29. Instructional Coordinator
Are you good at designing teaching materials or developing curricula? Many companies, school districts, post-secondary institutions, government agencies, and cultural institutions need professionals who know how to design courses, learning materials, tests, and teaching guidelines.
- Median salary—$62,4602
- Highest salary—$100,320 or more
Almost every school has a library. So this job often appeals to former teachers who enjoy the challenge of choosing, acquiring, organizing, recommending, and distributing books and other research or learning materials. It's also a nice way to contribute to student success without taking on the demands of the classroom.
- Median salary—$57,6802
- Highest salary—$90,140 or more
31. School Guidance Counselor
Counseling is a natural choice for a lot of former teachers. In fact, it's one of the best jobs for teachers who don't want to teach but still enjoy one-on-one interaction with students. You may need a master's degree, but being qualified to help students work through social and academic challenges—and watching them thrive—can make the additional education worth it.
- Median salary—$54,5602
- Highest salary—$90,030 or more
32. College or University Academic Advisor
Former teachers are often good at knowing what students need in order to successfully navigate their academic requirements. And every post-secondary institution has staff members who specialize in assisting students with that aspect of college life. So being an academic advisor is often a good match for people who've left the teaching profession but don't want to leave the education sector altogether.
- Median salary—$42,5463
- Highest salary—$56,640 or more
Teaching-Related Jobs Outside the Classroom
Schools aren't the only settings where teaching happens. You can make a living from teaching other people without ever stepping foot inside a traditional classroom again. You don't even need to teach large groups of people if that's one of the factors driving you away from being a school teacher. For instance, take a look at these jobs for ex-teachers who still want to help people learn new things:
33. Corporate Trainer
Training other professionals in a business setting can be a terrific way to use your presentation, communication, and leadership skills. In fact, many former teachers prefer this career to having a job in a traditional classroom setting since they get to teach without dealing with the bureaucracy of a school. Aside from training groups of business professionals, corporate trainers can also coach individual executives or put their services to work for non-profit organizations.
- Median salary—$59,0202
- Highest salary—$101,010 or more
34. Private Tutor
Would you rather help students on an individual basis than try to manage a large classroom? With more and more parents turning to homeschooling or seeking extra support for their kids, the market for good private tutors seems to be growing. Plus, tutoring is one of the best part-time jobs for teachers who need the flexibility to choose their own clients and schedules.
- Median yearly pay—$36,2003
- Highest yearly pay—$84,000 or more
35. Museum Educator
Here's an option that lets you contribute to the cultural vitality of your community. Many museums organize educational programs, events, and activities. With your teaching background, you can help oversee the development of those programs, mentor volunteers, or even lead educational lectures or field trips for the public.
- Median salary—$35,8243
- Highest salary—$50,000 or more
Do you have a significant background in a certain sport or recreational activity? Many youth and community organizations need quality people to fill coaching positions. As a teacher, you likely have a natural ability to mentor and motivate people. So you could be a good match for a lot of coaching jobs, especially if you've had any training in physical education or sports and recreation management.
- Median salary—$31,4602
- Highest salary—$71,940 or more
Why Teachers Leave Their Jobs
Teaching is a noble and necessary profession. And many people have the good fortune of being able to thrive in their roles as teachers. They wouldn't want to do anything else. But in America today, a lot of teachers are less than fulfilled, for all kinds of legitimate reasons.
Here's an amazing fact: Less than a third of all teachers who leave the profession in the U.S. do so for retirement. Most of them leave well before that time because they are dissatisfied in some way.1 Are you one of them? See if you identify with any of these common reasons for walking away from a teaching job:
- Not feeling respected or supported by school administrators or parents
- Feeling too much pressure to "teach to the test"
- Feeling more like a data collector or babysitter than a teacher
- Having to measure up to unrealistic standards
- Not having enough time for bureaucratic paperwork or unnecessary meetings, let alone real teaching
- Feeling overworked and underpaid
- Trying to cope with poor building conditions
- Having to buy learning materials out of your own pocket because the school can't afford them
- Having to follow a narrow or poorly developed curriculum
- Trying to deal with class sizes that are too big to manage
- Feeling like the educational system is failing too many students
- Feeling like a scapegoat for the problems caused by a lack of accountability among parents or students
- Wanting to invest more quality time with family
Teachers who work in inner-city schools or districts with a lot of poverty tend to leave the profession at higher rates than those who work in suburban schools or wealthier districts.1
How to Make the Transition From Teaching to a Second Career
Every year, many teachers successfully begin new careers and go on to thrive. You can too. Here's how:
1. Take stock of your professional traits and skills.
Start by imagining what you would say to an interviewer who asked, "What do teachers do?" Visualize your role as a teacher and make a list of everything you've been responsible for. Examples may include tasks like:
- Planning and preparing lessons
- Finding or developing appropriate learning materials
- Consulting with school administrators
- Getting classrooms ready for different kinds of lessons
- Teaching students of varying abilities
- Interacting with parents
- Collaborating with colleagues
- Evaluating the progress of students and grading their work
- Assessing and developing curricula
With those tasks in mind, think about what it takes to pull them off. What kinds of skills or traits do you possess that have allowed you to perform as a teacher? List everything you can think of. Don't worry about what order they're in. Just brainstorm. If you get stuck, ask someone else to help you brainstorm. Here are some examples of valuable traits and abilities that experienced teachers often have:
- Genuine enthusiasm
- The ability to lead or manage others
- A passion for lifelong learning
- Great organizational and time-management skills
- Exceptional presentation and public-speaking skills
- The ability to communicate complex ideas in a simplified way
- An understanding of why people behave the way they do
- The ability to both collaborate and work alone
- Excellent writing skills
- Remarkable patience
All of those examples represent transferrable abilities that can be used in countless other occupations. They make great selling points when promoting yourself to potential employers.
2. Be open to all kinds of opportunities.
Keeping an open mind is essential, especially during the initial phase of your job search. You don't want to get so locked onto one path that you miss other suitable opportunities that may already be knocking on your door. Sometimes the best opportunities are the ones that we don't necessarily feel quite ready for. So question your assumptions and don't pass judgment too quickly. (For some teachers, a simple change in school districts or grade level can make all the difference.)
In addition to job possibilities like those listed above, consider some other alternatives. For example, check out job openings in local, state, or federal government agencies or on education technology websites like EdSurge. Explore your entrepreneurial side by starting a business based on one of your favorite personal interests. Or investigate alternative teaching careers that may provide just enough change to keep you fulfilled. For instance, look into other jobs for teachers such as:
- Educating prisoners
- Teaching for online schools
- Teaching literacy skills to adults
- Helping adults earn their GED
- Teaching at a community college
3. Gain new experiences and start networking.
Are you still teaching as you plan your exit from the profession? Try using some of your time off to get involved in volunteer work or other types of opportunities outside of teaching. The more you can use your professional abilities in a different context, the better you'll understand your true interests and capabilities. You'll also make new contacts who can act as additional references. In addition, be sure to attend networking events where you can get your business card into the hands of people who work in the industries you're considering. Make it clear that you're looking for new opportunities to use your talents.
4. Choose a path and get additional education (if necessary).
At some point, you'll have to get specific about your goals. You'll need to pick a new career to pursue and find out how you measure up. Will you need different credentials or extra training? How much will you earn in an entry-level position if you're starting from scratch? Do the research and make a plan. Adult learners have many good options today, from flexible online programs to career-focused colleges and vocational schools that offer convenient schedules in accessible locations.
5. Gather references and refine your resume.
Ask other teachers you've worked with to write letters of recommendation that highlight some of your best qualities or achievements. Do the same for any other close colleagues you've worked with inside or outside the education sector. Then do several drafts of your resume, refining it with each new iteration. Focus on providing examples of specific achievements that speak to the skills that are most relevant to the type of position you'll be applying for. Enlist the help of a professional career counselor if you're having trouble drafting a simple yet powerful and engaging resume.
Many former teachers worry that employers outside the education sector won't be interested in their abilities. While that may be true in some cases, most employers will be eager to learn how your skills will translate into a non-classroom position. Every interview is your opportunity to teach them. So do what you're best at. Communicate with enthusiasm, focusing on the many positive ways in which your skills and past experiences will add value to their organizations. Emphasize your accomplishments and tell them about the former colleagues who miss you.
7. Stay persistent.
Don't get too discouraged if things don't fall into place right away. Keep networking, applying for jobs, and promoting yourself. Experiment with slightly different tactics. Practice your interview skills. And always remember that you have a great deal to offer. By staying prepared and enthusiastic, you'll be ready to hit the ground running when the right opportunity finally comes along.
Make the Change
You deserve a career that fulfills you. All kinds of jobs for former teachers are available, even beyond the ones listed above. So don't limit yourself. If you need continuing education, it's easy to find. Plenty of career colleges and vocational schools specialize in helping adults transition to new careers. Find one in your region by entering you zip code into the school finder below!
1 Learning Policy Institute, A Coming Crisis in Teaching? Teacher Supply, Demand, and Shortages in the U.S., website last visited on September 15, 2017.
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on October 20, 2017.
3 PayScale, website last visited on October 19, 2017.