Alternative Jobs For Teachers

What To Do With Your Teaching Degree, If You Don't Want To Teach In The Classroom

As rewarding as a career in education can be, classroom teaching is not always the final - or only - destination for many educators. While the reasons for leaving the classroom - or avoiding it altogether - may be personal and complex, what's easy to see is how rewarding the alternative path to a career in education can be. Get started by considering these alternative jobs for teachers!

Non-Classroom Jobs in Education

Do you enjoy the idea of working in the field of education, but know that traditional classroom teaching isn't for you? There are plenty of roles in the education field that would benefit from your experience and skills. Check out some of your options below:

  • Standardized test developer: One thing is certain; standardized tests are not going anywhere soon. According to a recent article in The Huffington Post, the standardized test market is valued at anywhere from $400 to $700 million! Whether elementary school students are sitting for their state-based exams, or high school seniors are taking Advanced Placement tests, tests are ubiquitous in both public and private education. And someone needs to write all those questions. Put your expertise to good use and find a lucrative way to stay connected to the field.
  • Education Product and Supply Companies: All those books, educational apps, online learning tools, and other products that are school and education related have to come from somewhere, right? There are many companies that specialize in educational products and services that need the help of informed educators. These companies need to understand how to best tailor their products for their users. Who better to guide them than former teachers?
  • Textbook Sales Representatives: Whether students are using actual books or accessing digital content, most every course requires textbooks. This is where you can come in. Help teachers and department chairs pick appropriate materials for their classes, leveraging your own experience along the way. According to the most recent figures published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sales reps earned an average of $60,340 per year in 2017.
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  • Instructional Technology Specialist: 21st Century American classrooms depend upon technology. As an ITS professional, you help schools and school districts obtain and integrate the technology that keeps students and teachers up to date in accessing, developing and delivering curriculum. Because you may also help solve both hardware and software problems, certain positions may require flexible (i.e. overnight) hours.
  • Edtech Content Developer: Educational technology is one of the fastest developing technology sectors according to a recent article in Forbes, which reported American edtech companies raising an estimated $1.03 billion in 2016 alone. As an edtech specialist, you help create digital learning platforms for students who prepare for standardized exams, access curriculum, and communicate with each other and their teachers.
  • Education Nonprofits: Nationwide, educational nonprofit organizations (think City Year and Teach for America) have taken on an increasingly important role in the education of students in American public schools. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lion's share of nonprofit companies are in the education and healthcare industries. Jobs in this industry span a wide range of possibilities, from direct student support to fundraising and even lobbying. What links all of these positions is the passion each employee brings to improve the educational landscape for students of all ages.

Alternative Jobs for Former Teachers

One thing is certain, and that is the impressive set of skills that former teachers bring to the table. While the atmosphere in a school setting is often unlike that seen in the corporate, or even nonprofit world, the special qualities that former educators bring with them make this leap a logical one.

  • HR Learning and Development Specialist: Okay, so you might wake up after several years and realize you're ready to say goodbye to children and adolescents, and instead focus on educating adults. This is common; and it doesn't mean you failed. In fact, we need people to teach students of all ages. Corporations and businesses also need help training their staff. They are smart enough to know that it takes a special set of skills to be a teacher. Interpersonal communication and an ability to work with all types of learners are why teachers make great corporate trainers. So, if you are looking for a career teaching adults, and aren't interested in becoming a college professor, consider this career path. According to the most recent statistics, training and development specialists earned an average of $60,360 per year (BLS 2017). Growth in this field is projected at 11 percent from 2016 to 2026.
  • Museum Curator and Archivist: Museums are a natural environment for former teachers. Why? Because even though there are many types of museums, they all have one thing in common: they are all educational. Whether you visit an art museum, presidential library, or a museum dedicated to a historical event, person, or other niche of human history, you can bet there is a former teacher working in the ranks. If you are a retired history teacher, you might apply for outreach work at a local museum. Or, you might help curate, thanks to your years of teaching art history and related topics. Museum employees earned an average salary of $47,360 per year (BLS 2017). Some retired teachers even find happiness in volunteering at museums, as a way of remaining social and active in their post-professional years.
  • Youth Organizations: Teachers are a natural fit for leadership roles in youth organizations. Most cities have non-profit and private organizations that help mentor students through community service and extracurricular activities. Organizations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, pair adults with kids who need positive role models in their lives for a variety of reasons. They need executives to help run their non-profits like a business, and they need leaders who can teach others how to reach out to kids in positive and effective ways. That's why teachers can make a good fit in organizations that focus on helping the youth in their community.
  • Personal Trainer: Great teachers are natural motivators. If you have a passion for physical fitness, a knack for learning science and how the body works and responds to exercise and diet, then you might want to earn your personal trainer certification. These certifications can be completed in a short period of time, or longer, if you want to study in your spare time. If you are a busy teacher, this can be a long-term goal. Physical education teachers can use this as a great side job, taking on a few clients at a time. According to BLS, fitness instructors earned $39,210 per year in 2017.
  • Paralegal: Paralegals work is another one of those alternative jobs for teachers that can be a good fit. For one, this can be an interesting job for teachers who have a special interest in law and the judicial system. Other teachers may realize that they prefer a more corporate environment, where they are allowed to research and work for periods of time on their own, while still exercising their intellect in ways that align with their teaching interests and skills. Teachers can earn their paralegal certification in a rather short period of time. Many laws firms will hire paralegals who have their associate's degrees. So, if you are an experienced teacher, you can probably start working at a law firm without additional training. According to the BLS, paralegals can earn an average salary of $48,810 per year, based on 2017 data.

Part Time Jobs for Existing Teachers

No one enters the field of teaching to get wealthy - but that doesn't mean you can't supplement your income along the way! Whether you're looking to make money during the summer months or in your spare time, consider these options — some of which may even see you curled up on your couch with your cat, working from home!

  • Online Tutoring: Online tutoring can be a very lucrative opportunity. In fact, a recent Forbes article estimates the market to be worth more than $100 billion. While some families still hire tutors to come to their homes, more and more students are turning to online platforms to get immediate, subject-specific help. As a tutor for one of these companies, you can set your own hours and capitalize on your own subject matter expertise. Hourly rates differ depending on subject and experience.
  • Coaching: If you have a natural talent at a particular sport or activity, you should consider coaching as one of the more ideal supplemental jobs to teaching. Youth sports organizations are always in need of good coaches. And if you have a background as a physical education teacher, or were part of a sports team in the past, this can make coaching a natural fit. Great players don't always make for great coaches, because not everyone is born a teacher. As you know, these skills must be learned through training, dedication, and experience. If you are looking for a summer job, or an after-school/weekend gig where you can make an impact, give kids more confidence, and help them stay physically fit, why not look around for coaching positions?
  • Writing: There are many reasons why teachers would want to pursue a writing career. It's no secret that famous horror author Stephen King was once a high school English teacher who worked on his first novel during his planning periods. We also know that grants are a key part of funding for non-profit organizations. So, whether you have an awesome idea for a children's book series, or want to lend your writing skills to a company or organization, writing can be a natural career switch for manytypes of teachers. You may also consider freelancing for one of the many educational publications out there, such as The American Educator which offers a minimum of $300 per published article.
  • Blogging: Speaking of writing, educational blogs have become an important part of the landscape for many teachers, students, parents, and even policy makers. Most educational bloggers are current classroom teachers, and they use their own experience to create rich discussion and helpful tips for other teachers. While making money will take some work, it is possible to drive traffic to one's blog through advertising and affiliate links, especially when combined with an active social media presence. Other popular blogs such as Teachers Pay Teachers are linked to a broader "marketplace" where teachers can get paid for posting and sharing their lesson plans.

Leadership Jobs for Teachers who want to Advance Their Careers

Who is better suited to lead educational institutions than the people who have been working in the front lines all along? And the time is right for career advancement - as baby boomers continue to retire in large numbers, positions for school administrators will continue to grow (BLS 2017).

  • Principal/Assistant Principal: When you decide to lead a school as a principal or in another type of leadership role such as assistant principal or department chair, you need to be able to work with many stakeholders including parents, students, teachers, and community leaders. It's wise to pursue a solid graduate level education if this is a challenge you want to pursue. Many start off their educational careers as a teacher by earning a bachelor's and teaching license. While you gain valuable classroom experience, you can take an online or flexible campus-based master's program to qualify for administrative positions and licensure. Principals and other administrators are typically required to posses a master's in educational leadership or a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study. The reward for all this education is a yearly salary that averages $94,390 per year for principals, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017).
  • Instructional Coordinator: As schools are increasingly asked to meet standards-based academic gains, curriculum experts are needed to help improve student performance. Typically a master's in Curriculum and Instructional Design or educational leadership is required for these positions, which pay an average of $63,750 per year (BLS 2017). This field is expected to grow at a rate of 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, making this a great choice for a teacher who wants to make a difference at a broader level.
  • Education specialist: After sitting through yet another professional development session, do you ever wonder who comes up with the actual training material? An educational specialist frequently delivers professional development training to other teachers or corporate staff members. With an advanced degree in research, assessment and evaluation techniques, the educational specialist not only designs curriculum and educational programs, but she also assesses the effectiveness of current programs. These positions may require master's degrees, and are a good fit for those considering doctorates in education. Salaries average $60,360 per year (BLS 2017).
  • School Counseling: Maybe you like working with students, but want to take on a more advisory role. School counselors, also called guidance counselors, help students make important academic decisions and plans for post-high school life, and are typically required to have master's degrees and complete internships before receiving licensure. Salaries averaged $55,410 in May 2017, and the industry is protected to grow by 13 percent between 2016 and 2026 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
  • Education Policy Researcher: This is where the classroom meets the think tank; the field of education policy research creates professionals who guide institutions as they navigate instructional reform and teacher quality. Researchers must possess analytical skills and advanced degrees; many work toward phDs in this field. Policy analysts are, in many ways, the ultimate entrepreneurs of education.

Tips to Make the Transition from Teaching to a New Career

  • Keep an open mind! As a teacher, you may never have envisioned yourself as a salesperson, for example, but in fact, you've been selling your ideas and content to students all along, looking for ways to keep the material fresh and engaging. A career in sales may not be less of a leap than you think!
  • Consider your skill set. If you can teach algebraic equations to teenagers, you can teach just about anything to anyone! Carry the confidence of commanding a room with you and consider corporate training and other opportunities to interact with adults. In many ways, they're easier to manage than the younger set!
  • Multitasking is your strength. As any teacher knows, the ability to switch seamlessly from taking attendance to checking homework to spotting rogue cell phones in the back of class is a must. Your job may be changing, but your ability to be flexible will only be an asset!
  • Embrace your passion. Remember what attracted you to education in the first place. A desire to help young people achieve their fullest potential was probably at the center; take that passion for helping others improve and apply it in a new way that will also allow you to live your own best life!

Lynn Burke graduated from Harvard College in 1994 with a concentration in psychology. She has also received a master's degree in journalism from the University of California Berkeley and a master's in educational leadership from Simmons University. A high school English teacher and College Board consultant in Boston, she has also been published in several publications including Wired News, The Wall Street Journal and The Oakland Tribune. Her articles frequently cover topics in education, healthcare, and forensic psychology.