James and Mary are teachers at Roosevelt High School. While having lunch in the teacher’s lounge together, James, the newer instructor of the two, asks Mary out of the blue, “Have you ever thought about the best alternative careers for teachers?”
From the thousands of hours in education school to on-site training, a few years of professional teaching, or even decades in the field, the passion to maintain your career as a teacher has perhaps waned like chalk on a blackboard. Chipped like the lead of a mechanical pencil. Vanished like student attention-spans that first day on the job.
Mary thinks back to her first three times at her now ten-year teaching career, and tells James, delightedly, “There is no shame in responding to the sound of another professional call!”
With your teaching experience and education, there are plenty of career opportunities available to you. As in every wake of life, fortune favors the bold, and we mean fortune as in high-quality pay, excellent stability and well-projected job outlooks.
Jobs for former teachers are out there, with a variety of options to choose from. With the information provided in this article, you can take the next step out of one industry and into another as an informed, confident professional.
Teaching Skills, In-Demand
Sam is a special education teacher currently seeking a new line of work. While examining their resume, it becomes apparent that the special skills and interests category has been neglected since first applying to work at Ann Arbor Academy five years ago. While the original list still contains applicable elements of their expertise, communication, organization, teamwork and long-term planning, Sam is aware that their skill set reaches much further now, making them a valuable asset to a plethora of other jobs for teachers.
Almost all teaching professions require employees to possess a degree. Preschool, high school, special education and career/technical educators need an associate to a bachelor level education to enter the field. This level of education provides the skills listed above, and, with experience in the field, may expand upon the following:
- Creative and Critical Thinking
- Interpersonal Skills
- Computer/Technical Skills
- Problem Solving
- Conflict Resolution
The most pertinent question may not be what other jobs can teachers do, but instead, where else can a teacher apply these employer-sought abilities? There are professions outside of teaching but within the field of education where each of these skills is highly valued and applicable.
For example, a high school teacher could make a simple transition to a school or career counselor, applying interpersonal competencies and creative and critical thinking skills.
Preschool teachers may prove exceptional in leadership beyond the classroom, working as preschool or childhood care center directors and coordinators.
The best jobs for postsecondary teachers who don’t want to teach, but would like to remain in the education field include instructional coordination, postsecondary education administration, or work as elementary through high school principals. These opportunities stem from the college professor’s abilities in administrative duties, advising students, and conducting research. Postsecondary professors typically have a master’s degree or PhD.
Sam, however, is seeking work outside of the pedagogy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), alternative jobs for special education teachers can include very high paying or fast-growing essential work such as occupational therapy, social work, and recreational therapy. With this knowledge, Sam can complete their resume and move on to some promising application processes!
Best Alternative Jobs for Teachers
The Top Three
Let’s continue to search for second careers for teachers. To make the following list, we examined professional pathways which, within reason, have similar skill requirements and demands to teaching. While a teaching degree and experience can be applied to virtually any career, these are the ones that share similar traits, such as communication, long-term planning, and leadership. Not surprisingly, teachers make great managers.
The career salaries provided have been pulled exclusively from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as of September 2020.
While there are many different paths to certain careers, the educational and degree requirements were also pulled from the BLS.
#1 Sales Manager
Median Salary: $126,640
Top 10% Earn: $208,000
While this career only requires a bachelor’s degree, there is still a lengthy amount of experience in the field before one can become a sales manager. In many cases, sales positions, such as manufacturing sales, insurance sales, or advertising sales (see below for more information on these sales careers) will come before a management title. Sales managers direct the sales efforts of teams, both large and small, in a wide variety of industries. They make an excellent salary, with the top 10% earning over $208,000. Job growth is as fast as average, projected at 4% between 2019 and 2029.
Sponsored Picks: Online Sales & Marketing Degrees
- Grand Canyon University Master of Business Administration / Marketing
- Saint Leo University Master of Business Administration / Social Media Marketing
- Abilene Christian University Master of Business Administration / Marketing
#2 Training & Development Manager
Median Salary: $113,350
Top 10% Earn: $196,070
There are evident similarities between school teachers and training and development managers. Both are focused on coaching in skill development needed for long-term success. A training manager will be guided by the goals of a specific organization, usually a for-profit company. This career may offer an average salary of roughly $113,350 and the top earners average over $196,070. Training and development managers usually possess a bachelor’s degree, although industry experience will be required to acquire the best salary. This career has a faster-than-average job outlook at 7%.
Sponsored Picks: Online HR Degrees
- Grand Canyon University Master of Business Administration / Strategic Human Resource Management
- Abilene Christian University Master of Arts in Conflict Management & Resolution
- Norwich University Master of Science in Leadership / Human Resources Leadership
#3 School Principal
Median Salary: $$96,400
Top 10% Earn: $148,630
For those ready to move on from teaching, but still passionate about helping young students, a career as a school principal could be the right avenue. The experience and education of a teacher is a palpable start to this job, which involves directing numerous school functions from managing personnel and staff, curricula and security procedures to budget allocations, scheduling and counseling. This job provides a strong average income of over $96,400 a year, with the top 10% earning over $148,630. The job growth will be steady, at 4% between 2019 and 2029.
Sponsored Picks: Online Education Administration Degrees
- Pepperdine University Master of Science in Leadership in Pre K-12 Education
- William Carey University Master of Education in Educational Leadership
- Grand Canyon University Master of Education in Educational Administration
Top Jobs for Former Teachers
We will now observe the next 15 best jobs for teachers who want to branch out into a new profession or take their career as educators to the next level.
#1 Postsecondary Teacher
Median Salary: $79,540
Job Growth: 9%
Number of Jobs: 121,500
Take your skills and talents as an elementary to high school educator to the next level. Postsecondary teaching is one of the best jobs for ex teachers. Postsecondary teachers provide instruction and training at the collegiate level, conduct research and publish scholarly papers. A master’s degree in a related field may be enough to obtain a postsecondary teaching job, but in many cases you will need the expertise that comes with a doctoral degree. Pay for this career can be excellent. The average salary in 2019 was roughly $79,540, while the top 10% earned over $174,960. Job outlook for postsecondary teachers is also on the rise, with an expected growth of 9%, especially as more online teachers are needed.
Required Education: Master’s or Doctorate in Postsecondary Education
Median Salary: $80,370
Job Growth: 3%
Number of Jobs: 5,700
To work in this career comes the pursuit of further education. Once an advanced degree is earned, you will have the skills that allow you to study human cognitive and emotional processes. Many psychologists work independently, although some will work as part of a healthcare team. This position has tremendous opportunity, with an average salary of $80,370 and a top potential over $132,070. This career has an expected job growth of 3%, keeping it competitive, with an occupational scope ranging from school psychology to industrial or organizational psychology and more.
Required Education: Master’s or Doctorate in Psychology
#3 Social Services Manager
Median Salary: $67,150
Job Growth: 17%
Number of Jobs: 29,800
Community organizations and social services need employees to organize and coordinate their efforts. Enter, the manager. This job helps facilitate and direct staff that provide many different services from non-profit agencies to government organizations. The average community service manager can expect to earn roughly $67,150 per year. However, the top earners in the field average over $112,480. With an increase in social services for an aging population, including careers in substance abuse and mental health related services, job growth is currently projected at 17%, a much faster than average rate of growth compared to all occupations.
Required Education: Bachelor’s; Certificate recommended.
#4 Instructional Coordinator
Median Salary: $66,290
Job Growth: 6%
Number of Jobs: 11,400
As an instructional coordinator, also known as an educational technologist, you will oversee school curriculums and maintain teaching standards at elementary and secondary schools. You will develop material, coordinate teaching, and assess the effectiveness of certain programs, all of which can be enhanced by your hands-on teaching experience. A master’s degree in curriculum or instructional theory will help you land one of these alternative jobs for teachers. At $66,290 per year, this career has a strong annual income, yet the top 10% can expect to earn over $103,790. Job growth is faster than the national projected average at 6% from 2019 – 2029.
Required Education: Master’s in Curriculum & Instruction
Median Salary: $63,200
Job Growth: -2%
Number of Jobs: -3,100
Many teaching jobs involve the ability to write or analyze the writing of others. This makes former teachers excellent candidates for positions in communications, including writing jobs or authorship. While you may have a myriad of creative stories from life as a teacher, you do not have to be a novelist (though, you could be). There are many steady writing and editing jobs in fields such as advertising, marketing, technical writing, copywriting, and more. As an educated and licensed teacher, you likely already have the required education and qualifications to land one of these positions, especially if your studies included English or communication. Writers maintained a solid average income of $63,200 in 2019, and the top 10% earned over $122,450. The job outlook for these careers, however, is unfortunately low with an outlook of negative 2% between 2019 and 2029, so be prepared for stiff competition in the field.
Required Education: Bachelor’s
#6 Wholesale Sales Representative
Median Salary: $63,000
Job Growth: 2%
Number of Jobs: 26,200
A sales management job is one of the best, high-paying jobs for ex teachers. This is one of the entry-level positions that can help one enter into the sales field. Wholesale and manufacturing sales reps provide goods to businesses and organizations, typically earning a salary based on performance, which presents obvious challenges and excellent opportunity. If one applies skills in organization, computer and technical skills, and leadership to these alternative jobs for teachers, there is opportunity for significant income. The average wholesale and manufacturing sales rep earned $63,000 in 2019, with the top 10% earning more than $125,300. Job growth averages at about 2%, a particularly slow rate of increase within the next ten years.
Required Education: Bachelor’s; Certificate Recommended
#7 Human Resource Specialist
Median Salary: $61,920
Job Growth: 7%
Number of Jobs: 46,900
Large companies need specialists to recruit, hire, and organize their staff. Human resource specialists provide employee training, which makes this one of the best jobs for former teachers ready to apply skills in mentoring, leadership and critical thinking to the workplace. Typically HR specialists work in offices, though travel could be expected for recruiting purposes. Most HR specialist positions only require a bachelor’s degree, and earning a certificate in HR can make candidates more competitive. In this career, you can expect to earn roughly $61,920 a year. If you work your way into the top 10%, you can earn an average of $105,930. Currently the projected job outlook between 2019 – 2029 rests at 7%, a faster than average rate.
Required Education: Bachelor’s; Certificate Recommended
Median Salary: $59,500
Job Growth: 5%
Number of Jobs: 7,300
This job shares many of the skills of teaching, including organization and information sourcing. More importantly, it shares many of the same values, such as guiding people to learn. Depending on the librarian position, one may work directly with children, making this one of the best jobs for former teachers. In most cases you will need to expand your education with a master’s degree in library science or a similar field. This job has an average salary of $59,500, and the top 10% can earn over $94,520. The projected rate of increase for librarians between 2019 and 2029 sits at 5%, a faster than average rate.
Required Education: Master in Library Science
#9 School & Career Counselor
Median Salary: $57,040
Job Growth: 8%
Number of Jobs: 26,800
School counselors work in schools and academic settings, while career counselors can work for colleges, government organizations, career centers, and even private companies. The overall goal remains the same: help people choose the right career and develop the appropriate skills for future success. That sounds a lot like a teacher! This career can earn a high-quality income, with an average salary of $57,040. By sticking with this career and developing your skills, you could earn over $96,090, which is the average for the top 10%. This career also has an expected job growth of 8%, meaning there should be relative job stability between 2019 and 2029.
Required Education: Master in Counseling
#10 Technical Education Teacher
Median Salary: $58,110
Job Growth: 2%
Number of Jobs: 3,400
Careers in education are not just for traditional schools. The skills you learned and honed as a teacher can be directly applied to a career as a technical education instructor. While many work in public schools, there are technical educators that work in business schools. The average pay for this job is $58,110 a year, but the top 10% will bring in an average of $96,730. Unfortunately, the expected job growth is only 2% between 2019 and 2029. The good news is that a career/technical educator could pursue the very technical trade or business they currently teach about given they often require work experience to teach in the first place.
Required Education: Bachelor’s
#11 Advertising Sales Agent
Median Salary: $53,310
Job Growth: -6%
Number of Jobs: -9,000
This career incorporates selling advertising spots to businesses that wish to market their goods and services. Advertising sales agents can work in radio, television, newspapers, internet advertising, and more. Generally, this position can be acquired with a teacher’s education. The average pay reached $53,310 in 2019, while the top 10% in the field earned over $118,300. Job growth, however, is projected at -6%, not promising if one is not a very competitive sales person.
Required Education: High school diploma or equivalent; Certificate recommended
#12 Insurance Sales Agent
Median Salary: $50,940
Job Growth: 5%
Number of Jobs: 27,500
In this career, you will analyze people’s needs and provide recommendations on the right insurance for them. Sales agents can sell many different forms of coverage, including life, home, health, business, and auto insurance. Having the ability to communicate and explain concepts provides a beneficial and smooth transition into this second career for teachers. The average salary for insurance sales agents is $50,940, while the top 10% can earn a significant salary over $125,500. There will be a steady demand for insurance agents, as the projected job outlook is currently at 5%.
Required Education: High school diploma or equivalent; Certificate recommended
#13 Social Worker
Median Salary: $50,470
Job Growth: 13%
Number of Jobs: 90,700
Social workers help to solve the problems of people from all walks of life, while clinical social workers can also diagnose and treat mental or behavioral disorders. The desire to help people is a strong connection between this job and teaching. To become a social worker, you will likely need a bachelor’s degree in social work, while clinical social workers will at least need a master’s degree. This career has an average salary of $50,470, while the top 10% can earn over $82,540. Best of all, job outlook is expected to be 13%, giving long-term stability to social workers between 2019 and 2029.
Required Education: Master’s in Social Work
#14 Substance Abuse Counselor
Median Salary: $46,240
Job Growth: 25%
Number of Jobs: 79,000
As in many of the careers in education listed so far, substance abuse counseling involves working with people and improving lives, just like teaching. As a substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor, you would help people overcome conditions including drug addiction, alcoholism, eating disorders, and other behavioral issues. Entry-level positions only call for a bachelor’s degree, although some jobs may require a master’s degree, and licensing is often required as well. Average pay for this job is $46,240 per year, but the top 10% can earn over $76,080. What may make this job appealing is the expectation for a 25% outlook over the next ten years, which is much faster than average compared to other careers.
Required Education: Bachelor’s or Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling
Jobs for Former Teachers: It’s Not A Hard Sell
Joanna, a postsecondary teacher at Walden University has decided to apply to an open position as a Wholesale Sales Representative. After submitting her resume and completing an application to work for her favorite online submissions platform, she is called in for an interview. During her evaluation, she is asked to provide direct examples of her skills and how she would apply them to particular scenarios on the job.
The hiring manager wants to know how Joanna will handle the transition from teaching to sales. She describes how her long-term planning skills as a postsecondary teacher allowed her to set goals, plan ahead, and make the appropriate steps to reach those goals. She then describes how her problem solving and communication skills helped to improve student scores, demonstrating how the same principles can be applied to a sales strategy.
Joanna goes on to explain her ability to lead and work with a team, mentor others so they can reach their objectives, her technical skills from teaching online, and a few more significant soft skills. Before applying to this job, she did her research and knows what this company is looking for in a successful sales associate. Her personal likeness for this business makes her an enthusiastic and extremely viable candidate, a trait hiring managers are always looking for in their recruitment of new employees.
Expand Your Horizons Beyond Teaching
As stated before, alternative jobs for teachers do not always require an entire revamp of one’s current knowledge and skills. Though it could, given the job, require a certificate or advanced degree. So far David, Sam and Joanna are on the right track to the success they seek. Asking questions, building your resume, applying to a new line of work and starting a new profession can be a straightforward, confidence-boosting process. Don’t just take our word for it, explore your options and find the right career path for you!
Changing your career takes time, effort, and dedication, but the results can be well worth it.