Welcome to another edition of “Reader Questions”! Here’s a question from Ben that he left on the 50+ Jobs for Former Teachers link roundup. Do you have a question? Leave a comment on this post or contact me!
My question is where do you find some of [the jobs listed here]?
I currently teach history in a smaller private school and lets just say it isn’t the greatest. My problem is finding jobs that go with my skill set. A lot of the jobs listed under the history section in my area at least are mostly volunteer positions. I also am not interested in college since I think it would be more of the same. Is there anywhere that talks about what teachers are qualified for?
Also I keep hearing people tell me “look at HR or corporate training” Is this actually true? I think these places would rather take people with degrees in HR or business rather than some teacher. I guess what I’m worried about is whether I’m really qualified for any other decent job or if it’s teaching or being stuck working at a McDonalds.
-Ben in USA
I hear you – I really do. But the most dangerous side effect of teaching is that it makes you feel to your bones that “this is all you’re qualified for and there’s no way out.” It makes it easy to be skeptical and wary of different types of jobs because we have it so ingrained in us that we’re safer staying put and putting up with the abuse.
We can all agree that it’s important to be practical and realistic when you consider making a job change…. BUT. It’s also important to make decisions from a place of power, not of fear. I encourage you to skip over the “What am I qualified for?” question (as if your qualifications decide what you should do for the rest of your life rather than your desire to get new qualifications) and focus on what you WANT to do.
If you’re willing to work your butt off, you can literally get any job you want. That’s true at 18 years old and it’s true at 50 years old.
Did any of those positions jump out at you? Even the volunteer ones? Because when you feed the part of your brain that really, really WANTS something (As opposed to the part saying “Get me out of here, to anything!”), you’d be amazing how quickly a path can form that will help you do it. You just can’t see the path right now because of the habits you have in place.
“The other producer of old age is habit: the deathly process of doing the same thing in the same way at the same hour day after day, first from carelessness, then from inclination, at last from cowardice or inertia. Luckily the inconsequent life is not the only alternative; for caprice is as ruinous as routine. Habit is necessary; it is the habit of having habits, of turning a trail into a rut, that must be incessantly fought against if one is to remain alive.”
— Edith Wharton
I’m not saying it will be easy or it won’t be scary, but I do believe that “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” And I CAN promise you that it will be worth it!
I forget who first said it, but “The world will get out of the way of a man on a mission”. Figure out what you love about teaching and what you hate about teaching and find a career that drives closer to the former and away from the latter. THEN see what qualifications you have that can get you there.
My favorite analogy to finding a career is finding a spouse — you don’t know where the perfect one is or what they look like when you first start dating. You just have to follow your heart by doing what you love and putting yourself out there to put yourself in a position to come across it.
You might get lucky and find it right away — or you might have to join clubs, network, volunteer, and try new things as you make your way closer to the end goal. And patience is always rewarded!
Finally, when you say things like the following:
“I think these places would rather take people with degrees in HR or business rather than some teacher.”
…it sounds like you don’t value your own skills very much (or perhaps you have accepted society’s view of your low-paid, long-hours, abuse-em-and-use-em position).
Some teacher? SOME TEACHER? Teachers make the world go round! Teachers provide a public service to millions and millions of children in need every year! Individual teachers touch thousands of lives in just a short 5-year career!
Tons of celebrities credit teachers for every accomplishment and award, and you can’t teach a skill you don’t have. All throughout the day you are using high-level project management skills, instructional design skills, and organizational skills that would put a presidential campaign manager to shame! The fact that you don’t have a business degree or HR degree that says you have those skills doesn’t mean you don’t have them. And that’s where being persistent about finding a career that truly satisfies you, writing an absolutely amazing resume, and interviewing like the professional you are will help you get the job.
Because companies don’t only want people with hard-to-pronounce degrees. They want people with passion, drive, and an honest hunger for doing what they do.
Certain fields like medicine, law, and finance have clear college and post-grad maps that you have to meet. But just about everything else? We’re all making it up as we go along. We’re trying out things and gaining experience and talking about it in a way that helps us share those skills. So when you have a fire inside of you about a certain topic, you can find a way to make money off of it so long as you don’t give up.
Really, though, don’t believe me? Go check out our Life After Teaching networking group where we have former teachers in new careers like freelance writer (me), project coordinator, mental health specialist, proposal writer, federal consultant, account executive, CPA, and more.