The Best Jobs for Former Teachers

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by Staff Writers

Published on January 31, 2022 · Updated on June 15, 2022

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The Best Jobs for Former Teachers

HR Specialist | Training and Development Specialist | Education Consultant | Writer |
Museum Education Director | Real Estate Agent | ESL Teacher | Instructional Coordinator |
Education Policy Analyst | School/Career Counselor | School Administrator | Project Manager | Paralegal

Teaching jobs have been on the rise for the past decade, offering a resilient career choice for educators who want to make a difference in students' lives. But the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to interrupt the stability of teaching careers, just as the Great Recession did in 2008.

According to an analysis from Learning Policy Institute, an economic downturn and cuts to public funding could contribute to a 10% loss of school teachers this academic year, as well as an even more staggering 20% loss in 2021-22.

An economic downturn could result in a 10% loss of school teachers this academic year, as well as an even more staggering 20% loss in 2021-22.

Even without the stress of an unstable economy, teaching is a tough gig. Outside school hours, instructors must create lesson plans, grade papers, attend training, and meet with parents. What's more, 55% of public school teachers are dissatisfied with their salaries, which typically range from $55,000-$60,000 a year.

In light of these reasons, some teachers may consider switching to a different profession altogether. Fortunately, the skills they've mastered in the classroom can easily transfer to other careers. While some teachers may need to return to college for a particular career path, others can transition to a different occupation without the need for a second degree.

If you're a teacher who is uncertain about the future of your profession — or if you're just ready for a career change — there are several potential pathways for switching careers.

Top Jobs for Former Teachers

HR Specialist

Human resources (HR) specialists possess several of the same skills as teachers. They work with people every day, handling employee relations and conflicts — just as teachers do in the classroom with students. They must understand the importance of communication and interpersonal skills.

HR specialists assume other roles, too. For example, they may interview potential employees, hire new talent, or manage the payroll. They also often take on administrative work.

true Job Outlook

HR specialists earn a median annual salary of $61,920. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the profession will grow 7% — faster than average — between 2019 and 2029.

Educational Requirements

To become an HR specialist, you'll need a bachelor's degree. Many aspiring HR specialists study human resources, business, or a related field; however, individuals with undergraduate degrees in other fields may be able to apply for HR specialist jobs after working as an HR assistant or customer service representative.

Training and Development Specialist

Corporate training involves instructing adults rather than children, making it a natural transition for teachers. These specialists train employees on various tools and topics, such as content management systems and office policies and procedures. Training and development specialists often work in corporate settings but may also work in healthcare facilities and at nonprofits.

Some training specialists go on to become training and development managers, overseeing the entire training operation at a company and developing future training programs.

true Job Outlook

According to the BLS, training and development specialists make around $61,210 per year, whereas training and development managers earn about $113,350. Both jobs are experiencing faster-than-average growth through 2029.

Educational Requirements

Specialists need a bachelor's degree in a relevant field such as education or human resources. Training and development managers typically need an undergraduate degree along with relevant work experience, though some positions may require you to hold a master's degree as well.

Education Consultant

Education consultants can put their teaching skills to work in a less direct capacity. These professionals possess expertise in a specific area and advise schools or school districts on that topic. For example, a consultant specializing in technology might guide schools on how they can integrate technology in a way that benefits both the students and teachers.

Some education consultants work for education companies, helping them design products and tools for the classroom. Many education consultants are self-employed or contractors who work on multiple projects at once.

true Job Outlook

According to PayScale, education consultants earn a median salary of around $63,000. About 1 in 10 consultants makes $98,000 or higher per year.

Educational Requirements

Education consultants normally need a bachelor's degree in education or a closely related field. Some consultants choose to earn a master's degree so they can hone a certain area of expertise. Education consultants who come from teaching jobs generally keep up with the latest educational research, frequently participating in professional development opportunities.


Teachers can also translate their literary skills into a role as a writer or technical writer. Technical writing involves preparing formal documents, how-to guides, and manuals for companies, which can be very similar to the preparation involved in teaching.

true Job Outlook

The median salary for technical writers in 2020 was $74,650, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), while writers and authors earned a median salary of $67,120. The job outlook for both of these roles is faster than average. The BLS projects that roles for technical writers will likely grow by 12% between 2020-30, while jobs for writers and authors are projected to increase by 9%.

Educational Requirements

Both technical writers and creative writers usually need a bachelor's degree before being hired. A degree in English, communications, or a similar field is often preferred, but an education degree may also suffice. Technical writers have a bit more leeway and may not need a degree.

Museum Education Director

Many museums offer educational programs and opportunities to visitors. These often include activities like conducting science experiments throughout the day, holding sketching or painting workshops, and running summer school or after-school sessions for children.

A museum education director coordinates these education departments, from preparing lesson plans to developing entirely new educational programs.

true Job Outlook

According to PayScale, museum directors earn a median salary of $46,000. The BLS projects that jobs for museum curators — many of whom are also museum directors — will grow 13% through 2029. Because museum positions constitute a considerably small portion of jobs, however, this growth translates to just 1,800 new jobs.

Educational Requirements

Aspiring museum education directors may be able to land a job with only a bachelor's degree and several years of teaching experience. That said, some museums prefer job candidates with master's degrees in education or museum curation.

Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents and brokers help their clients buy, sell, or rent houses. They can also work with other forms of real estate, such as apartment complexes and commercial properties.

Top skills for real estate agents include organization and communication. They must also have strong interpersonal skills. Former teachers will also have a similar skill set from working with students, their families, and other faculty.

true Job Outlook

The BLS reports that the median salary for real estate brokers and sales agents as of May 2020 was $60,370. This is about the same median salary as that of high school teachers. Although the BLS projects only 4% job growth from 2020-30, Forbes claims that the housing market is currently still hot.

Educational Requirements

Former teachers interested in becoming a real estate agent may want to explore trade schools online or in their local area. These schools often offer real estate certificate programs. Some aspiring real estate agents learn this trade on-the-job, usually through shadowing another agent or broker.

Most states require agents to be licensed.

ESL Teacher

Yes, an English as a second language (ESL) teacher is still technically a teacher. But this role can be a great fit for instructors with a thirst for adventure. Unlike most primary and secondary school teachers, many ESL teachers don't work traditional school jobs.

People around the globe want to learn English, which means ESL teachers can work anywhere in the world. They can become private tutors or find employment at international schools in foreign countries. ESL teachers can also hold online classes, giving them ample flexibility for activities like traveling.

true Job Outlook

PayScale data shows that ESL teachers earn a median salary of $46,000 per year. Though that's about $15,000 less than what most elementary school, middle school, and high school teachers make in the U.S., the opportunities ESL teaching offers in terms of flexibility, travel, and adventure can't be beat.

Educational Requirements

Like any teacher, ESL teachers must have at least a bachelor's degree, normally in ESL or education. You'll also likely need Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification, which you can complete online within a matter of months.

Instructional Coordinator

Instructional coordinators — also known as curriculum specialists — set the teaching and curriculum standards for entire schools and school districts. These professionals not only develop and implement general curriculum plans but also evaluate their effectiveness. Teaching plans must prepare students to meet federal, state, and local educational requirements.

true Job Outlook

Currently, instructional coordinators earn a median annual salary of $66,290. The BLS projects that this profession will grow 6% through 2029.

Educational Requirements

Instructional coordinators must have a master's degree in education or curriculum design. They may also need to obtain state licensure. Consult your state's board of education for more information on licensing requirements.

Education Policy Analyst

Education policy analysts typically work for nonprofits, think tanks, lobbies, and government organizations aiming to influence the public school system. Common responsibilities include carrying out research on how certain education policies affect students and teachers and exploring ways to improve these areas.

true Job Outlook

According to PayScale, education policy analysts make a median annual salary of $59,000. The top 10% of this group earn $83,000 a year or higher.

Educational Requirements

Most education policy analyst positions require candidates to have a master's degree in education, public policy, or child development.

School / Career Counselor

If you still want to help students succeed — just not as a teacher — then consider becoming a school or career counselor.

School counselors work with students experiencing behavioral, mental, and/or emotional issues that impact their ability to learn and complete homework, whereas career counselors help high school and college students decide what professional path they should pursue after graduation.

true Job Outlook

School and career counselors earn a median annual salary of $57,040. Jobs for counselors are projected to grow 8% from 2019 to 2029, according to the BLS.

Educational Requirements

School and career counselors must normally possess a master's degree in school counseling or a similar field. You may also need licensure depending on your state.

School Administrator

If your goal is to advance within the field of education, consider pursuing school administration. Principals supervise schools, while superintendents manage entire school districts. These professionals make decisions on how to foster a conducive learning environment for students.

Although administrators work at the macro-level, they also take on some hands-on responsibilities within schools. For example, they may observe and evaluate teachers, organize budgets, and even discipline students.

true Job Outlook

According to the BLS, education administrators at primary and secondary schools in the U.S. make a median salary of $96,400 — far higher than the median salaries for teachers working at the same education levels. The number of elementary, middle, and high school principals is projected to increase 4% between 2019 and 2029.

Educational Requirements

In addition to teaching experience, school administrators must have a master's degree in education administration. You'll also need state licensure or certification if you wish to work with public schools.

Project Manager

Project managers work in many settings: They can coordinate projects for large corporations, small nonprofits, government agencies, healthcare organizations, and educational facilities. No matter where they work, these professionals take on projects with many moving parts. Duties include strategizing and planning, supervising other team members, setting deadlines, securing resources, and outlining budgets.

Project management can be a great role for former teachers. After all, teachers must also learn to manage many moving parts in their classrooms. To be an effective project manager, you need to be a highly organized and skilled communicator.

true Job Outlook

The BLS states that project management specialists make a median salary of $73,570. The top 10% earn over $128,000 a year, while the bottom 10% earn around $40,000. Most project management jobs are concentrated in the local, state, and federal government sectors.

Educational Requirements

Generally, project managers need at least a bachelor's degree. Academic majors may vary depending on the field in which you want to pursue a management position.


Paralegals organize files, draft documents, and assist lawyers in preparing legal cases as well as during trial. The organization and problem-solving skills needed for this job makes it a great choice for former teachers.

Computer and research skills are often required for this role, so former teachers who have taught online may also be a good fit for these positions.

true Job Outlook

The median salary for paralegals as of May 2020 was $52,920, according to the BLS. However, those who worked for the federal government earned a much higher salary of $69,490. Local and state governments tend to pay less. The BLS projects that paralegal jobs are likely to grow by 12% between 2020-30, which is faster than the average nationwide growth rate.

Educational Requirements

Becoming a paralegal is relatively simple. One must acquire either an associate degree or a certification from a postsecondary institution, such as a vocational school. Degrees in social science or business are usually preferred.

Licensing is not required for this role, but some employers will require paralegals to be certified through a paralegal program.

Former Teachers Can Learn to Embrace a New Path

For teachers wondering whether they should stay in education or choose a new pathway, the prospect of starting over can feel daunting. But switching careers doesn't need to involve a huge financial reinvestment in education.

If you want to become a corporate trainer or project manager, for instance, you don't necessarily need to return to school. While many careers do require a master's degree, having an advanced credential can ultimately lead to greater job prospects and higher salary potential.

It's up to you to decide whether starting a new career is worth it — and you've got plenty of pathways from which to choose.

Trade Schools

If you are considering changing your career, trade schools — also known as vocational or technical schools — offer a variety of programs that can help you switch gears. Programs at vocational schools often last anywhere between a few months to a year and are relatively inexpensive compared to degree programs.

Trade schools offer courses in a variety of subjects, including skilled trades like welding, electrical work, and HVAC training as well as fields like cosmetology, real estate, and healthcare.

There are several benefits to enrolling in one of these programs. Attending a trade school may be a worthwhile option if you desire a career change but don't want to commit to the time and cost of a degree program. Online trade school options are also available for those with responsibilities at home.

Another benefit to these careers is their durability. Even in difficult economic times, most skilled trades remain in high demand, as they are often considered essential roles.

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