I taught for 28 years so I understand the idea that teachers can only teach, and that those of you who want to get out of teaching are concerned about what else you can do. I had those fears too. I gave up the security of a permanent teaching job to take up a 12 month contract would allow me to move to Ireland in 2003. That contract was not renewed, and unemployment loomed large for a few months.
Unemployment Looms . . .
I applied for every job under the Sun. I applied for warehousing jobs, office jobs and management jobs; I sent in applications for buying jobs, retail management and selling jobs. I even applied for a ‘walking the streets trying to persuade people to contribute to charity’ job.
If I had my time again I would apply for more selling jobs because I think teachers’ communication skills are a perfect match with sales jobs, where you need to read people’s body language and intentions. A good salesperson helps people to find the best solution to their problem, a totally honourable profession which has been the butt of too many poor jokes and stereotypes: There are selling jobs that do not involve high pressure double-glazing sales just as not all car sales staff are con-men like the one in Roald Dahl’s Matilda.
I did not get a single interview from over 100 jobs that I applied for. I became somewhat cynical and put it down to being over-qualified and knowing a lot more about most things than the 30 something HR staff who were deciding who should be interviewed.
My Alternative to Teaching
I did get a job in the end, one that paid more than a teaching job and included a van and unlimited use of a company mobile phone. The job used none of my teaching skills; I was just a body on the end of a phone, someone who could be called upon to drive 150 miles to reboot a broken down ATM, no skills required, just common-sense, yet it paid more than teaching!
I wondered whether my experience was typical, so I asked a few contacts at MyBlogU.com for their opinions. Below are two of their responses:
Teachers are people. Some leave the profession after years of joy, some burn out, some just can’t make it. I tried teaching, years ago … but it wasn’t for me … at least not at the 6-12 grade levels.
Good teachers are amazing: They can hold a group’s attention, make complex ideas simple, and are exceptionally supportive. A good teacher could transition to just about any other occupation. Those who tried teaching and couldn’t handle it should look closely at themselves to determine their real gifts and talents … and use them accordingly.
I found myself not organized enough to teach. I am so fascinated by everything; it is difficult to stay on track with anything. That fascination suits me as a writer, but drives a class crazy when I bounce from one great idea to another.
Teaching is one of the noblest professions out there and I personally think that the calling itself is underrated. Maybe, it’s because of the long hours, the hormone laden clientele, the omnipresent resistance to the product, human nature and the sheer lack of nightlife.
Is it hard to get a job as an ex-teacher?
I would not know because I’m not one. However, I do know a lot of people who have diversified from being just a teacher into something else. Some have gone on to find lucrative careers teaching English to Koreans, Japanese or Chinese. Some of them founded their own companies to teach our West Asian neighbours.
Like any other calling, job prospects ultimately go to the most determined of the heap.
Don Sturgill says it all – Teachers leave the profession for many different reasons and we are all different. Your success in any field depends on having a positive attitude and there are good reasons to be positive; as a teacher you have many skills that you can use outside the classroom.
Daniel Garcia makes the excellent point that your success depends on how determined you are to succeed.
What Transferrable Skills do Teachers have?
Teachers are intelligent, superb communicators who are excellent at multi-tasking. We can all break a task down into its logical components in order to complete it in the most efficient manner possible. Words are our forte, we are word artists; how else could we communicate our knowledge to large groups of reluctant hormone-charged adolescents?
We need to recognise that the skills we take for granted are rare and highly-valued ones by the rest of society. We need to stop listening to politicians who are determined to knock our self-image and our credibility in society.
Yes, You Can Earn a Living outside Teaching
No, it is not something to leap into lightly, but if you are unhappy in teaching then you should start working on an alternative career today.
Life is a journey and we all need to enjoy our journey; if you no longer enjoy teaching then find something you do enjoy, before teaching kills you.
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