Exploring careers beyond teaching

Trish Riley
Trish Riley

For some educators, classroom teaching is their lifelong calling. For others, keen to explore a world beyond the classroom, it’s important to recognise that time invested in gaining a teaching qualification is not wasted.

Some reasons why teachers leave the profession, including stress, burnout, or the desire to boost earning potential. Whatever the reason, there are ways to leverage the valuable skills and experiences gained in the education sector to transition into a new career. But before we dive into some post-teaching career paths, let’s take a closer look at transferrable skills.

20 transferable skills for teachers

Back in 1969, Allen and Ryan of Stanford University identified fourteen core teaching skills, including stimulus variation, set induction, closure, teacher’s nonverbal cues, reinforcements, fluency in questioning, probing questions, higher order questioning, divergent questioning (four skills related to questioning), attending behaviour, use of illustrations, lecturing, planned repetition and communication. When you consider that today’s teachers can add more up-to-date skills, complex problem-solving, critical thinking, multi-tasking, negotiation, and social perceptiveness, understanding the valuable skill sets educators offer becomes clearer.

According to Dr Kathy Theuer, professor and associate dean of the School of Education at University of Massachusetts Global, 20 transferable teaching skills today’s educators learn in the classroom could help them excel in alternative career paths:

- Advertisement -
  1. Active learning: Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  2. Active listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying and taking time to understand the points being made.
  3. Complex problem-solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop, evaluate and implement solutions.
  4. Coordination: Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
  5. Critical thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  6. Instructing: Effectively teaching others how to do something, training, coordinating, coaching and facilitating.
  7. Judgment and decision-making: Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  8. Learning strategiesSelecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  9. Management: Coordinating and guiding others to meet objectives and goals.
  10. Monitoring: Monitoring/assessing performances of yourself, other individuals or organisations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  11. Multitasking: Juggling multiple tasks and responsibilities while remaining composed and meeting deadlines.
  12. Negotiation: Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
  13. Reading comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
  14. Service orientation: Actively looking for ways to help people.
  15. Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  16. Social perceptiveness: Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  17. Systems analysis: Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations and the environment will affect outcomes.
  18. Systems evaluation: Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
  19. Time management: Managing your own time – as well as the time of others.
  20. Writing: Communicating effectively for the needs of the audience.

This list demonstrates the valuable skill sets that can jump-start a career change for teachers.

Life after teaching

There are several jobs for former teachers to consider — both inside and outside a school building.

Even if you’re contemplating a post-teaching career, you may still feel a sense of belonging within the education sector.

These three career options may be a good fit:

- Advertisement -
  1. Principal 

Becoming a principal could be the most natural progression for you if you’re looking for a move outside of the classroom, but you’re still committed to working within your community’s schools. Rather than instructing students directly, principals manage all school operations to ensure a safe and productive learning environment for both staff and students.

Classroom management experience, as well as organisation, makes this an ideal career change for teachers.

  1. Curriculum specialist 

Curriculum specialists are also called instructional coordinators, education specialists or program administrators. They develop instructional material, coordinate with teachers and principals to implement the material and assess its efficacy. 

Curriculum specialists may observe teachers in the classroom, review student test results and interview school staff about the curriculum. Practical teaching skills create a solid foundation, but additional specialised training is an advantage.

  1. School counsellor 

Educators who have spent years working within a school system already understand the academic and social struggles many young learners experience. 

- Advertisement -

School counsellors tend to the social and emotional needs of students, while also helping them explore their interests and potential career options. This master’s-level position can also include collaborating with teachers, parents and guardians, to implement effective changes in a student’s learning environment.

Alternative careers for teachers in other industries

While some former teachers may prefer to serve their entire careers in the education space, others may crave more significant change.

  1. Corporate trainer 

As a corporate trainer (also called a training and development specialist), the teaching skills used to develop lesson plans and instruct class sessions could come full circle. These business professionals help plan, conduct and administer adult training programs that can help improve the skills and knowledge of an organisation’s employees.

The most qualified corporate trainers have a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field. They must also have some related work experience or additional instruction in aligned areas, such as training and development, business communications or human resources. Former educators often do well, due to their understanding of different learning styles and strategies.

  1. Human resources manager 

Organisations in every industry have one goal in common: they want to attract, motivate and retain qualified employees. To support that, companies employ a human resources (HR) manager.

- Advertisement -

HR managers are responsible for planning, directing and coordinating an organisation’s administrative functions. They oversee recruitments, interviews and hiring processes; consult with executives regarding strategic planning, and serve as a link between the organisation’s management and employees.

HR positions make great second careers for teachers. They utilise the systems analysis, evaluation and problem-solving skills you gained as an educator. Most HR management positions seek candidates with a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business management, education or a related field.

  1. Paralegal 

The connection between teaching and working as a paralegal may seem far-fetched at first. But if crafting new lesson plans, evaluating coursework and researching for upcoming class subjects make your heart sing, success in the legal sector could be a reality.

Paralegals perform a variety of different duties to support lawyers. These may include conducting research on relevant laws, investigating and gathering the facts of a court case, organising files, drafting important legal documents, and writing or summarising reports to help lawyers prepare for trial.

A penchant for writing, reading comprehension, research, communication and complex problem-solving can help you excel in a role like this.

What’s next?

Whether you’re keen to shift into another role in the education space or want a fresh start, transitioning from teaching doesn’t mean your experience is wasted. There are multiple opportunities to flex your teaching-related talents in fresh, exciting – and potentially lucrative – ways.

- Advertisement -
Share This Article
Trish Riley is a Zimbabwean-born writer and communications specialist. With experience in journalism, and public relations, Trish has been developer and editor of several trade publications and regularly contributes articles for diverse sectors including aged care, animal care, construction and education.