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Becoming a Teacher in Your Second Career

Are you ready for a rewarding new career in education? Becoming a teacher is something you can do at any age with just about any background. The professional and personal experiences you bring to your new job can enrich the material you give to your students. Young people need role models, advisors and coaches, not just imparters of knowledge. This means that you can apply and disseminate your knowledge in meaningful ways to students of all ages.

male teacher with students

The main factors to consider before you enroll in an education degree program are the subject you’d like to teach, your state’s certification rules and your certainty as to whether this is the right path for you. By requesting information from the schools offering alternative teaching certification programs, you can get an idea of what is involved and how you can best proceed in making a new career of teaching.


Demand For Educators

It’s important to take note of which segments of teaching are in most demand. For instance, if you want to become a math teacher, you may have an easier time finding work than as an aspiring English teacher. You may also find a job faster in a low-income district where teachers are greatly needed. As in real estate, demand for teachers often comes down to location.

The subject you teach can also impact your job search. The U.S. Department of Education’s most current list of teacher shortages by state is a good place to see where the needs are greatest.

Job openings for teachers are expected to grow in the future, making this a beneficial field to go into. Generally, science/technology/engineering/math, special education and English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers are most needed. If you’ve already had a career in the field you want to teach, you may be even more desirable as a job candidate, giving you an advantage over other applicants.

Obtaining Your Teaching Certification

While the most traditional route to teacher certification is to complete a bachelor’s in education program, there are several options for people who already have bachelor’s degrees in other fields.

  • Most universities offer alternative certification programs. These programs can usually be completed in one to two years, depending on how fast you want to go. Another advantage of such a program is flexibility. Online classes are a great option for adults working full time while attending school and these programs are growing in popularity. In fact, enrollment in online classes grew more than 5 percent between fall 2015 and 2016 when compared with the previous three years, according to US News.com
  • Master’s programs in education can also be found at most universities. You do not typically need a bachelor’s in education degree to enroll in a master’s program, so your previous educational focus should apply. In a Master’s program you will receive state certification along with your graduate degree. Most graduate programs are typically longer than alternative certification programs, so consider this as you select a school to attend.
  • For recent grads who want to try a career in education, Teach for America (TFA) offers training and job placement to those who commit to two years of teaching in an underserved area. TFA teachers become certified as part of the program, though the costs of coursework may not be fully covered by grants. It is also possible to earn a master’s degree while teaching for TFA.
  • Similarly, some cities offer their own Teaching Fellows programs. These programs are not limited to recent graduates. As with TFA, teaching fellows can expect to work toward certification while teaching and receiving additional training. They also teach in underserved schools.

Is Teaching the Right Second Career for You?

Teachers are as important to their students as they’ve always been, but the job itself has changed over the years. The introduction of the Common Core curriculum increased state and federal testing and technology has drastically changed the classroom environment over the last decade.

If you’ve been out of school for a long time, it may be wise to visit a classroom before deciding to work in one. You might also consider visiting one of the teaching colleges you are interested in attending for a day to see the job in action.
You can also reach out to your personal network for inside information about the profession of teaching. Do you have friends or relatives who are teachers? Ask them about their jobs and what they like and dislike about teaching. If you don’t know any teachers personally, you could contact a school you might be interested in working for and speak with staff.

Once you decide to commit to becoming a teacher, get ready for a challenging and rewarding career. You’ll have the opportunity to influence the lives of hundreds or thousands of students over the course of your career, making a significant difference in your community.

To learn more about your options for entering teaching as a second career, contact the schools near you, or the online teaching programs, to learn more about how to get started. Your classroom awaits!

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and founder of Punched Clocks, sharing advice on finding and pursuing your passion. For more advice on finding happiness and success in your career, subscribe to her blog or follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum