hot topics

You love to teach and you love making a difference for kids. You can’t imagine working in any other field but education. But what happens when you start to feel burned out by the profession or want a different challenge? What other meaningful careers exist in education besides classroom teaching?

I’ve created this list of alternative careers for teachers based on what I’ve learned from the educators I interact with online and in ‘real life’.  I’m not saying the jobs are easy to find or obtain, and  I’m also not promising that any of these jobs are an improvement on a classroom teacher’s salary—many will actually earn you less money. However, they are viable alternatives to being a classroom teacher that allow you to use your degree and experience to teach others and make a positive difference in their lives.

alternative careers for teachers

1.  Teach GED or life skills courses in a prison or youth detention center. The salary is usually lower than a classroom teacher’s, but every prison teacher I know is a former public school teacher who wouldn’t go back to his or her old position for a million bucks. Often they’re working only with inmates who want to be in the classes, and since there are always deputies around, discipline and respect issues are nearly non-existent. Having done prison ministry in women’s jails for many years, I can vouch for the fact that teaching inmates is extremely rewarding, and you have the added bonus of knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of dozens of children by improving the future of their parents.

2. Start your own tutoring business. Working for an established tutoring company usually doesn’t pay much, but if you build up your own clientele, you can make serious money. I know one educator who tutors children in small groups from 4-6 pm four days a week and makes more than she did as a classroom teacher. If you want help developing your own tutoring business, I highly recommend the Tutor House —there are tons of great resources there.

3. Become a preschool, HeadStart, or daycare teacher. Working with babies, toddlers, or preschoolers may be a good option for those who want to stay in a classroom teaching position but need a change from working with older children. You’re likely to have smaller class sizes and an assistant, and if you teach in a daycare, you may get to leave in the evenings with little if any work to bring home. Typically you can expect early childhood positions to pay a lower salary than K-12 jobs, but not necessarily. I spent 3 years teaching at a HeadStart that was part of the local public school system, so I earned a regular teacher’s salary. It was a lot of work and the data and documentation for preschool/PreK/HeadSart often does rival that of the older grades, but it was extremely fun and rewarding, and a different type of challenge than teaching older kids.

4. Facilitate teacher training courses for a college or university. You’ll need a doctorate to teach undergrad courses at most schools, but if you have a masters degree, you may be able to find work teaching at a community college. It’s also worth looking into online universities–just be sure to check out the compensation and make sure it’s worth your time, as some of them pay as little as $1,200 per semester-long course.

5. Teach home-bound kids. Most public school systems have a small crew of teachers they call on to teach in the hospital rooms or homes of children who are gravely ill and unable to come to school. These educators often get paid a regular teacher’s salary but only work with kids one-on-one. I know of three teachers who have this job and LOVE it!

6. Become an instructor for online K-12 schools. I’ve heard this is a competitive industry and it’s a tremendous amount of work, just like classroom teaching. However, the demand for online teachers grows every year, and it’s a terrific way to do what you love AND work from home.

7. Sell your teaching materials on TeachersPayTeachers. You’ll need to have tons of original ideas, a talent for graphic design, and a passion for spending a LOT of time blogging, networking, and doing social media promotion. It’s no get-rich-quick scheme, for sure. But with a lot of hard work, you can join the ranks of a growing number of TPTers who are able to do it full time. If you’re not sure how to get started, check out Teaching Blog Traffic School.

8. Contract as a teacher for homeschool kids. As more and more parents decide to homeschool, the market grows for specialists to teach the subjects parents cannot. I know of a group of homeschoolers who hire PE, art, and music teachers once a week to teach those subjects to their kids. Another homeschooler I know hires math and science teachers to instruct her children in the advanced concepts she is not comfortable teaching.

9. Become a nanny. Several acquaintances of mine are former teachers in New York City who now work for extremely wealthy families and make a decent living. They enjoy being around kids and helping with homework/tutoring, and they get a few nice perks, like traveling with the children and parents on exotic vacations. The nanies who earn the most often have special education certification and work for the families of kids who have autism or disabilities.

10. Do educational consulting. There are so many different avenues to explore: conduct professional development in local schools, do online webinars, work with teachers one-on-one through instructional coaching, etc. I’ve done (and continue to do) all of these things, both as an independent consultant and as a freelancer who works for an NYC-based consulting company. You can find more resources on the Becoming an Educational Consultant page.

11. Pursue non-classroom positions within the school system. In addition to the obvious assistant principal and principal positions, you may be able to find an opening for a special education coordinator, guidance counselor, speech or occupational therapist, math or reading coach, school psychologist, Title 1 teacher, or central/district office roles (such as curriculum specialists.) Most of these jobs require special schooling and certification, but if you have a connection and know that a position will be opening up, you might want to pursue the additional training. I also know teachers who have gotten certified as speech pathologists and reading coaches and then re-located to other parts of the country to find a position. If the work is something you really feel passionate about doing, the move might be worth it!

12. Create curricular materials for an education company. You know all of those wonderful websites, books, and teaching resources you use to enhance your teaching? Chances are, a team of current or former educators is working behind the scenes to design them. Some of these jobs are full time and some can be done online part time. This partial list of education companies that hire teachers can get you started.

13. Become a museum educator or guide at a local attraction. Former teachers are highly sought after for these positions because they are excellent at managing large groups of children on field trips. Explore the children’s museums, historical sites, etc. that are near you.

14. Start your own after-school program or activities camp. You can find work as a teacher or coordinator at an existing after school program to get your feet wet, then branch out and create your own business. I have a friend who founded his own company and now runs an after-school sports camp Monday through Thursday from 3-5. He rents out space at his school and makes excellent money teaching the kids how to play sports. I can imagine this would be possible with a variety of after-school activities, so if there’s something you love doing and sharing with kids, an after school program might be for you!

15. Look for random education opportunities in your local job listings–some of the coolest jobs are the ones that you didn’t even know existed! I found the part-time Educational Editor position for BrainPOP Jr. on Craigslist back in 2009, and I’m still with the company today!  There are all sorts of organizations looking for experienced teachers to lend their expertise to products, blogs, seminars, and so on. I frequently see listings in New York for teachers to consult on curriculum development projects and grant-based work. There are also openings for hospital family education coordinators, technology trainers for local businesses, and other jobs that rely heavily on the speaking, presentation, interpersonal, and instructional skills that teachers bring to the table.  Go to Monster.com or another job listing site, choose ‘search by industry’, and select ‘education.’

Do you know of any other alternative careers for teachers? Or, if you’ve had experience with any of these positions and have advice, please share in the comments!

{ 7 comments }

Dear students: you are so much more than a test score

hot topics

The following true story made the rounds in social media this fall, but I wanted to share it with you now in the spring as so many of us suffer through “testing season” and anxiously await the return of standardized test scores. An elementary school principal sent this message to all her students during the week […]

Read the full article…

The logic behind the “illogical” mindset of students and families in poverty

hot topics

One of my first teaching experiences, over a decade ago, was in a HeadStart program located in a dense urban area. I loved working with my students’  families and became pretty friendly with a parent who would often confide in me about personal and financial issues. She told me how she had trouble paying her […]

Read the full article…

Introverts in the classroom: supporting the “quiet kids” (and possibly yourself!)

classroom management ideas

I’ve insisted on having some quiet time built into my day for as long as I can remember. I’d drop the class off at P.E. and retreat to my classroom, breathing a deep sigh and reveling in the silence. I always built down-time into our daily schedule, following up an intense period of direct instruction […]

Read the full article…

7 ways for teachers to beat the Sunday blues

awakened

Have you ever wasted half the weekend worrying about the week ahead? Even if you love your job, you might still wake up on Sunday mornings with a feeling of dread and spend the evening in a total state of anxiety simply because there are so many pressures associated with teaching. Here are 7 tips […]

Read the full article…

To work on vacation, or not to work: that is the question

hot topics

I was going to write about a post about how teachers should relax, enjoy the Thanksgiving break, and not think about school even once. Family is more important than work, and ultimately, taking a break from school stuff can make you a more relaxed and energized teacher. But, there’s a problem. Choosing not to grade […]

Read the full article…

Why using a camera to take notes is smart, not lazy

21st century schools

What’s your first impression of this image? When I shared it on Facebook recently, some pretty passionate responses were sparked. A number of teachers thought that students taking notes with phone and tablet cameras was a useful strategy, but they were far outnumbered by dissenters. Some commenters viewed it as evidence of bad teaching, kids’ […]

Read the full article…

How to deal with co-workers who constantly complain

hot topics

Whether it’s in the teacher’s lounge, staff meetings, or just passing one another in the hallway, even a short conversation with a negative teacher can be totally draining. Everyone complains from time to time, of course. But what about those colleagues who never have anything positive to say and seem determined to tear everyone else […]

Read the full article…

You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.

awakened

Do you have a tendency to make gigantic to-do lists for every new school year? Do you promise yourself each fall that this year will be different, and expect yourself to suddenly become organized and top of all the tasks you’re given? If so, you’re not alone. August and September can be such overwhelming months for […]

Read the full article…

The culture of cute in the classroom

hot topics

I recently received not just one, but two emails from teachers informing me that my classroom “wasn’t cute” in the pictures I’ve shared on this site. Commentary on cuteness (or lack thereof) is something that seems to be happening more and more frequently in education-related discussions. And what’s really interesting is that in many cases, […]

Read the full article…

Q & A: job search & interview tips for teachers

hot topics

A few years ago, I wrote a page on this site called Job Interview Tips for Teachers, and it’s proven to be so popular (it was pinned on Pinterest over 75,000 times–sheesh!) that I kept updating it every summer. On that page, you’ll find info on what to wear to a teaching interview, interviewing tips, […]

Read the full article…

Unreasonable expectations and CCSS assessments

21st century schools

So last month I ranted a little bit about product placement on the new standardized tests in New York (as in, the brand names of cartoons and sneakers and soda being embedded in reading passages.)  Now that “testing season” is officially over in most schools, I’m really eager to hear from more educators who have […]

Read the full article…

Product placement on standardized tests: a new low?

ed news and trends

Four years ago, I had an experience where I believed that there were advertisements on my students’ standardized tests. (Please, read that story. It’s one of my favorites.) That nightmare actually came true this week. Yes, my friends. The new standardized tests in New York feature plugs for commercial products. Supposedly, none of the companies paid […]

Read the full article…

Should principals honor parent requests for teachers?

hot topics

This is another one of those highly divisive issues that seem to plague large schools all across the country, yet I don’t see a lot of conversations about it online. Anytime there are multiple classes per grade level or subject area, teacher reputations spread throughout the community and parents (as well as students) begin to […]

Read the full article…

12 “myths” about education in Finland debunked

ed news and trends

The success of public schooling in Finland has been a huge topic of discussion in the education community over the past year. I’ve read a few good articles about it, including Why Are Finland’s Schools So Successful?, and was impressed with what I learned. So when the image to the left started circulating on social media, […]

Read the full article…

Teacher job satisfaction hits lowest point in 25 years

21st century schools

That’s according to the 29th annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, an always fascinating analysis of teacher and principal perceptions of their work. The fact that teachers are increasingly less satisfied with their jobs is probably not surprising to you, but MetLife found that teachers’ satisfaction levels have dropped 23% since 2008, and that, to […]

Read the full article…

Should the toughest kids be assigned to the best teachers?

behavior management

You know exactly which kids I’m talking about here–their faces appeared in your mind’s eye as soon as you read the blog post title.  These are the kids who are violent and relentlessly disruptive in class, the ones who have a reputation throughout the school as being incredibly difficult to handle. Each spring, the teacher’s […]

Read the full article…

3 ways you can help schools after Superstorm Sandy

hot topics

I can’t imagine losing all the teaching materials I’ve bought over the years. But that’s what happened to many educators in the NYC area after Superstorm Sandy ripped through. Far too many teachers in New York and New Jersey found out last week that the roof over their classroom had partially collapsed or that six […]

Read the full article…

The data doesn’t “prove” that technology increases student learning. So what?

21st century schools

Quick aside: A big thanks to everyone who has emailed, messaged on Facebook, etc. to ask how we’re doing after Superstorm Sandy. We really appreciate your thoughts and prayers. Our part of Brooklyn is just fine: our biggest problem is that we still don’t have subway service and the gas shortages are serious, so it’s tough […]

Read the full article…

Is the term ‘classroom management’ outdated?

21st century schools

In the last few years, there’s been a growing amount of push back in the fringes of the educational community against the term “classroom management.”  In fact, some of the edubloggers that I most admire and respect have more or less dropped the term from their vocabulary, and their viewpoint is increasingly spreading into mainstream […]

Read the full article…