10 Best Jobs for Former Teachers Navigating Career Changes

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November 5, 2021
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Teaching is a noble profession, but that doesn't mean it's your one and only career for your entire working life. There are plenty of reasons you may want to change careers, from trying something new to more flexibility during the day.  

As a former teacher or someone who's considering the jump into a new career, you have a wealth of transferable skills that are assets in many industries. Teachers are problem solvers with expert interpersonal communication skills, leadership skills, creativity, public speaking skills, technical skills, organizational skills — the list goes on and on. 

But as your list of expertise expands, the answer to what to do next can become less clear. That's why we've put together a list of the best jobs for former school teachers that can take full advantage of all your gifts and talents. 

10 Top Jobs for Former Teachers

As you consider our top recommendations for the best jobs for teachers leaving education, think about what you most enjoyed about your classroom teaching experience and being in the classroom and how you'd like that to translate to your next career. Did you enjoy lesson planning the most? Or perhaps you loved teaching new math concepts or creative writing. Use these insights to guide you as you consider your next step and how your transferable skills can apply to new roles. 

We have a tool, the Interests Workbook, to help you map out the things you’re interested in and guide you throughout your search for alternative jobs.

Use Teal’s Interest Workbook to help you identify your interests and how they align with your skills.
Use Teal’s Interest Workbook to help you identify your interests and how they align with your skills.

1. Writer

Many teachers, not only those with writing skills who taught English and creative writing, are well-suited to step into the wide world of writing. Writing is a skill that is always in high demand. Large and small organizations, magazines, newspapers and online journals all need various forms of written content. Many former teachers find success becoming technical writers, grant writers, copywriters and more.

Teachers also have vast experience editing students' work, which is an asset to any writer's portfolio and can prove your qualifications for editing jobs.

You might even consider branching out on your own as a freelance writer if you place a high value on freedom and flexibility. In any case, writing is a career path that allows you to explore a variety of industries and formats to learn what works best for you. 

Writers can earn about $69,510 per year.

2. School Administrator

Maybe you're not quite ready to say goodbye to the school district or education sector itself, just the classroom. Former teachers are often well-suited to school administration (think principals and superintendents) because they know firsthand what it takes to manage a class of students and what support teachers need. 

As a principal, you are aware of the ins and outs of the teaching profession and the teaching skills required to be an effective classroom teacher. Administrators take on the responsibilities to hire teachers and evaluate teachers to ensure they teach lessons in their own classroom that will benefit all students.

As best practices for a teaching job evolve, school administrators also have the authority to provide professional development in the form of educational programs and training programs with an instructional coordinator designed to further education and provide support.

You may find yourself helping to organize school events, managing people and advocating for your teachers and staff. Keep in mind that most school systems do ask for administrators to have a master's degree, but with a higher average salary and greater leadership opportunities, the payoff is well worth the time and effort. 

School administrators can earn about $98,420 per year. 

3. University Professor

You can take your teaching career to the next level by becoming a community college or university professor and teaching college students. Again, it's your choice as you may want to try a different career other than teaching. But for some teachers, all that's needed is a change of subject matter and depth of study (and sometimes scenery). And the often higher salary doesn't hurt, either. 

You already know how to manage a classroom and prepare lesson plans. As a professor, you'll also have opportunities to perform research and publish papers on your chosen area of expertise. Remember, to become a professor you'll likely need to earn a master's degree if you haven't already, and a doctorate to teach at higher levels.

University professors can earn about $79,640 per year. 

4. Mental Health Counselor

Teachers who enjoy working with children and families but aren't too keen about staying in large classrooms are well suited to become therapists and counselors. As a counselor, you can make a direct impact on an adult or child's life. Mental health counselors, or therapists, can work one on one with kids and adults or in group therapy settings. 

You might also consider similar career paths such as school counseling, which focuses on helping students reach their academic and career goals, or a social worker, which considers all aspects of a student's wellbeing and helps them find resources, from stable housing to financial support. Again, if a change of subject matter is what you're seeking, you can work at the university career counseling center with other career counselors.

Most counselors, social workers and therapists require a minimum of a master's degree. 

Mental health counselors can earn about $48,520 per year, and school counselors can earn about $60,510 per year. 

5. Motivational Speaker

If you love giving presentations or standing up to speak during assemblies, motivational speaking may be a great option for you. While it's not a typical career path, former teachers have vast wisdom and experience from working with students, many of whom have made a direct impact on their students' lives for the better. 

Teachers have great interpersonal skills and can be some of the most influential people we meet in our lives, and motivational speaking gives you the opportunity to expand your influence by sharing your wisdom with a wider audience. Other careers similar to motivational speaking to look out for include corporate trainer, life coach, or career coach.

Motivational speakers can earn about $76,366 per year. 

6. Online Tutor

If you love teaching, but not early mornings or rigid schedules, consider giving online tutoring a try. Your potential students don't need to be in your current geographic location; they could be from anywhere in the world. Online tutors can have their own business and work for themselves or join a tutoring company. Tutoring companies often hire former teachers to become part of their tutor pool. 

Many retired teachers continue to apply their teaching degree knowledge outside of the school districts through tutoring jobs. Tutoring also gives former teachers the opportunity to address specific challenges a student may have and tailor their lessons accordingly rather than having to teach the same lesson to an entire group. 

Online tutors can earn about $56,787 per year. 

7. Human Resources Specialist

Teachers often have an innate ability to understand people and help someone work through all manner of challenges. That's why a career in human resources is a logical next step for former teachers. 

As a human resources specialist, you'll encounter a wide variety of tasks from recruiting to interviewing to hiring to organizing employee events. Working in human resources also gives you the ability to use your interpersonal skills to help people work toward their career goals and lead company-wide training, in case you're missing some aspects of the classroom. 

Human resources specialists can earn about $62,290 per year. 

8. Project Manager

As a former teacher, it's likely that you're a whiz at lesson planning. If that's your favorite aspect of teaching, project management is right up your alley. All organizations and businesses everywhere need project managers to help their teams stay on track and achieve business goals. 

Project managers connect with people from across an organization and spend much of their day in meetings, connecting with team members or looking ahead to upcoming projects and timelines. So if spreadsheets and mapping out projects are your thing, look no further than project management. 

Project managers can earn about $94,500 per year. 

9. Financial Advisor

Calling all former math teachers, the world of financial management is ripe with opportunity. Teachers with an affinity for math or numbers often find themselves at home as personal financial advisors. 

You can work with a variety of clients to help them understand how to best manage their finances and create budgets, where to invest and how to navigate complicated financial processes. Financial advisors can also work for themselves with private clients or as part of a team of advisors. 

Financial advisors can earn about $94,170 per year. 

10. Curriculum Designer

Working as a curriculum designer affords you the ability to stay connected to what's going on in the classroom, but from behind the scenes. Curriculum designers at education companies help develop the material that teachers use every day, from social studies courses to math tests to proposed lesson plans. 

As a curriculum designer, you can have a direct hand in making subjects more engaging and accessible for students and teachers alike. After all, as a former teacher, you know full well what works and what doesn't work in the classroom. 

Curriculum designers can earn about $76,363 per year. 

Take a Break

No, it's not a job, but a necessity nonetheless. Whether it's a weekend, a week, or longer, spend some time away from work and your job search. Burnout is common among many current and former teachers and can contribute to both physical health and mental health challenges over time. 

Culture tells us that productivity is the most important thing, but that's not always true. You may need to make space to rest and recover before jumping into your next career. 

Take a break, whether it's a staycation or vacation somewhere else, and restart your job search with a fresh perspective and renewed energy. 

If you plan on starting your job hunt after leaving your current job, manage your job search with Teal, a free job tracking software that lets you track and store important job hunting details.

Use Teal’s Free Job Application Tracker to help you organize and manage your job search.
Use Teal’s Free Job Application Tracker to help you organize and manage your job search.

Highest-Paying Alternative Careers for Teachers

As you think about the next step in your career, it's a good idea to consider your earning potential. While your next salary is not the be-all and end-all of your future career, think about your ability to save for retirement, travel, or pay off a mortgage. 

One of our top tips for former teachers is to find a career that brings you joy, fulfillment, and job growth in the present and offers a salary that will help you achieve your future financial goals. 

Understanding what you need to have for a stable financial future is really important. To help you do that, we've built a simple little spreadsheet tool, the Compensation Projector, that helps you calculate your budget.

This tool helps you calculate your budget, record your market value research, and helps you plan your target salary range.
This tool helps you calculate your budget, record your market value research, and helps you plan your target salary range.

Some of the top, highest-paying alternative careers for ex teachers include: 

Sales Managers

Median Salary: $127,490

School Principal or Administrator

Median Salary: $98,420

Standardized Test Developer

Median Salary: $80,461

Personal Financial Advisor

Median Salary: $94,170

Project Management Specialists: 

Median Salary: $94,500

‍Discussing compensation and salary negotiation is not something teachers are necessarily familiar with. Once you start to have that conversation, whether it's in the interview, in the application, or once you get an offer, you want to be prepared and you want to be able to make your case for it.

  • Review your accomplishments and unique skills
  • Focus in on what the employer needs
  • Practice talking about your value
  • Knowledge & Expertise
  • Network & Contacts (Leads to business or hiring)
  • Leadership, Management, Team Building
  • Growth (Revenue or Product)
  • Savings and Efficiency
You can find tips on preparing for negotiations within Teal’s Job Application Tracker.
You can find tips on preparing for negotiations within Teal’s Job Application Tracker.

Top Remote Jobs for Former Teachers

One reason many teachers leave the profession and education sector altogether is its lack of flexibility. And over the last few years, the number of remote jobs has skyrocketed. Positions that were once in-person are now fully remote or hybrid. 

But some jobs are easier than others to perform online. If flexibility is one of your top priorities as you think about your next step, consider pursuing one of these top remote jobs for former teachers:

  • Content writer
  • Online tutor
  • Web developer
  • Virtual assistant
  • Transcriber
  • Editor
  • Educational consultant
  • Digital marketing specialist

Navigating a Career Change as a Former Teacher

Changing careers is challenging. But it's also a challenge to stay in a career that no longer suits you and can contribute to feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion. Remember that change is normal and that you need to pursue a career that works best for your whole self.

Give yourself permission to start exploring other jobs that align with your skills and interests, whether it's going back to school for a master's degree or working as a technical project manager.

Use Teal’s Skills Database in the free Skills Workbook to identify your current skills and potential skills that you want to acquire. Once you've identified those, enter them into Teal’s Skills Identifier.

Present your best self by identifying and leveraging your top skills.
Present your best self by identifying and leveraging your top skills.

To help you stay organized during your transition, try using our Job Application Tracker. It keeps track of all your resume versions, upcoming due dates, and applications in various stages. You'll also find it has a built-in job searching platform and a nifty tool that highlights skills in job descriptions that you can use in your resume.

Bookmark a job with Teal’s free Job Application Tracker and you’ll see the keywords and skills highlighted automatically. Quickly review the most common keywords and make sure to tailor your application answers accordingly.

Teal’s Free Job Application Tracker automatically extracts and highlights keywords from a job description.
Teal’s Free Job Application Tracker automatically extracts and highlights keywords from a job description.

As you continue your search you may find that it helps you become more clear on what you're looking for in your next career. All in all, it's quite a timesaver. 

As you search for your next career opportunity, don’t forget to update your resume with your latest experience and work achievements! The job of your resume is to get you in the door. Optimizing it will help you land interviews for the next opportunities that excite you. Teal's free AI Resume Builder can help you keep your Work History up to date and help you write metric-driven achievements using our Achievement Assistant tool.

Teal’s Free AI Resume Builder helps you write metric driven achievements.
Teal’s Free AI Resume Builder helps you write metric driven achievements.

Stepping out of teaching and into a different career isn't easy, but following your dream to try something new is one of the bravest things you can do. We're rooting for you.

>> Read More: Full Guide on How to Transition From Teaching

Frequently Asked Questions

What skills do former teachers have that are valuable in other careers?

Former teachers possess a wealth of transferable skills that are highly valuable in various careers. These include strong communication and presentation skills, the ability to manage and prioritize tasks, leadership, empathy, conflict resolution, and the capacity to motivate and inspire others. These competencies make them excellent candidates for roles in corporate training, educational consulting, human resources, and more.

How can former teachers identify which alternative career paths might be best suited for them?

Former teachers should assess their interests, skills, and values to identify suitable career paths. They can start by reflecting on aspects of teaching they enjoyed, such as curriculum development or mentoring, and seek out roles that align with these interests. Networking with professionals in potential fields, attending career workshops, and possibly working with a career coach can also provide clarity and direction in their career transition.

Are there specific industries where former teachers tend to find success after leaving teaching?

Former teachers often find success in industries that value educational skills and experience. These include educational technology, corporate training and development, publishing and content creation, nonprofit and community education roles, and instructional design. Each of these industries offers roles that can leverage a teacher's expertise in curriculum development, training, and communication.

Meghan Gallagher

Meghan is a social impact content writer and strategist. She empowers people to achieve career growth with person-first storytelling and engaging advice.

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