The Best Jobs for Former Teachers

Teaching is a challenging job, and you may wonder about possible careers after teaching. Learn about other jobs teachers can do.

portrait of Laura Bengs
by Laura Bengs

Updated September 7, 2022

Edited by Taylor Gadsden
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The Best Jobs for Former Teachers
Image Credit: Willie B. Thomas / DigitalVision / Getty Images

A 2020 survey by the National Education Association found that 55% of educators are considering leaving teaching earlier than they planned. Pandemic fatigue and staff shortages are putting added strain on educators. Classroom teachers may be considering pursuing another profession with their teaching degrees.

If you have a bachelor's or master's in education, you may be wondering what other jobs teachers can do. The good news is, you may not need to go back to college to switch careers. There are plenty of opportunities for other careers after teaching.

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Top Jobs for Former Teachers

HR Specialist

Human resources (HR) specialists possess several of the same skills as teachers. They work with people daily, 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.

Job Outlook:HR specialists earn a median annual salary of $62,290. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the profession will grow 10% — as fast as average — between 2020 and 2030.

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 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.

Job Outlook:According to the BLS, training and development specialists make around $61,570 per year, whereas training and development managers earn about $120,130. Both jobs are experiencing faster-than-average growth through 2030.

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.

Job Outlook:According to Payscale, education consultants earn an average salary of around $63,100 as of August 2022. About 1 in 10 consultants make $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.


Writer

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.

Job Outlook:The median salary for technical writers in 2021 was $78,060, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), while writers and authors earned a median salary of $69,510. 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.


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.

Job Outlook:According to Payscale, museum directors earn an average salary of $50,677 as of August 2022. The BLS projects that jobs for museum curators — many of whom are also museum directors — will grow 19% through 2030. Because museum positions constitute a considerably small portion of jobs, this growth translates to just 4,900 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 in residential or commercial real estate.

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.

Job Outlook:The BLS reports that the median salary for real estate brokers and sales agents is $61,890. This is about the same median salary as that of high school teachers. But, the BLS projects only 4% job growth from 2020-30, which is less than average.

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

ESL teachers can pursue roles outside of the traditional classroom, including offering lessons in the U.S. or abroad. 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.

Job Outlook:Payscale data shows that ESL teachers earn an average annual salary of $46,871 as of August 2022. 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 may appeal to some.

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.

Job Outlook:Instructional coordinators earn a median annual salary of $63,740. The BLS projects that this profession will grow 10% from 2020-2030.

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 researching how education policies affect students and teachers and exploring ways to improve them.

Job Outlook:According to Payscale, education policy analysts make an average annual salary of $61,366 as of August 2022. The top 10% of this group earn $87,000 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 emotional issues that impact their ability to learn and complete homework. Career counselors help high school and college students decide what professional path to pursue after graduation.

Job Outlook:School and career counselors earn a median annual salary of $60,510. Jobs for counselors are projected to grow 11% from 2020 to 2030, 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 fostering 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.

Job Outlook:According to the BLS, education administrators at primary and secondary schools in the U.S. make a median salary of $98,420 — 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 by 8% between 2020 and 2030.

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.

Job Outlook:The BLS reports that project management specialists make a median salary of $94,500. The top 90% earn over $159,000 a year, while the bottom 10% earn around $49,750. 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.


Paralegal

Paralegals organize files, draft documents, and assist lawyers in preparing legal cases and during trials. The organization and problem-solving skills needed for this job make 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.

Job Outlook:The median salary for paralegals is $56,230, according to the BLS. However, those who worked for the federal government earned a much higher salary of $69,680. 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 national 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.

Try Trade School

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 a trade school program. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions About Careers After Teaching

What other jobs can I get with a teaching degree?

Educators can pursue a variety of careers after teaching. Many jobs need someone responsible for training and educating others, such as in the workplace. Other careers to consider include jobs within the education sector, but not necessarily in the classroom.

Schools need administrators, counselors, curriculum developers, and instructional coaches. Educators with lots of experience in the classroom can help develop future educators or improve the educational experience. Ultimately, a teaching degree (and teaching experience) can be a great springboard into other careers after teaching.

Why are teachers quitting?

Teaching has been particularly hard for educators in the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers needed to adapt to virtual learning and manage student learning from a distance while carrying on other job responsibilities.

As other educators become fatigued and leave the profession, school staff shortages continue to grow, placing further strain on teachers. Many teachers were already spending time outside of regular hours to catch up on work, but now the demands and hours are just becoming too much to handle for some teachers.

Along with COVID burnout, a 2022 Bloomberg article reports that other reasons for the teacher shortage crisis include worsening student behavioral issues and pay that isn't keeping up with inflation.

What kinds of teachers are in demand?

While most types of teachers are in high demand, there are some types of teachers that are in higher demand.

School districts are often trying to fill science and math teacher vacancies. English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers (or teachers who help students develop English proficiency skills) are also sought after, along with special education teachers (who help adapt activities, assessments, and learning goals for students with special needs). Early Education teachers and teachers in daycares are also in high demand.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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