Teacher Preparation Opinion

Education Majors: Changing Careers

By AAEE — February 08, 2012 3 min read
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Before changing careers it is important that you have done the requisite self-analysis and concluded that a career change is the proper course of action. The next logical question is how can you possibly use your education degree in any other career?
At this point you are probably poised for a litany of specific job and career options to be listed. I hate to disappoint you but I need for you to start this process with the simple premise that you can do whatever it is you want to do with your education degree!! Yes, it is imperative that you have the self-confidence necessary to pursue any professional area that you deem desirable. Too often those of us in education tend to feel as though everyone in the “real world” is smarter, more driven and more business savvy. If you don’t truly believe that you can compete in the non-education world, you will have a very difficult time successfully doing so.

If confidence is the key to success, how do you acquire/improve it? Awareness is the answer to that question and it comes in three steps: awareness of your direction, awareness of your options within your chosen direction and awareness of your transferable skills. Determining your direction is essential and typically requires a very thorough analysis of your interests, personality traits and work values. Any good career decision-making book on the market such as, What Color is Your Parachute?, will have exercises to help you organize your thoughts in this step. It is very important here to dream big and ask how you might be able to accomplish your goals, rather than play the “yes, but” game. We all live with realities in life but we are also all quite capable of stretching our pre-conceived realities!!

After determining a tentative direction, further exploration is required to create your awareness of options available to pursue your next career or job. In some areas these options can be as simple as reading about the field or a particular company, networking with folks in that area and possibly even volunteering in order to get some first-hand experience. With other careers/jobs, the exploration reveals specific credentials that are required to enter the profession. Do not be discouraged from tackling those credentials. You have done it once with your teaching certification and you can do it again, if that is where your heart lies. Remember the points made in the previous two paragraphs about confidence and pre-conceived realities!!

Finally, as you venture forth on a new career/job path you must know that you have gained a tremendous amount of experience and honed some very transferable skills in your years as a teacher. These are experiences and skills that employers will relish, if you only take the time to assess what those might be and highlight them in your job search process. I don’t have the space here to adequately elaborate on those transferables, but any good career counselor will gladly help you to determine yours. Also, the book, 101 Career Alternatives for Teachers by Margaret Gisler, spends some time on this topic and has some valuable self-discovery exercises.

In this career/job change process it is always valuable to put yourself in the shoes of a person who might consider hiring you. Do you think that any rational employer wants to take a chance on someone who has no direction, has not made an effort to research the field/credentials/company and worst of all, has no clue how their presence will add value to the organization? It’s not good enough to dream about changing careers/jobs, you have to work hard to make your next field a successful fit!!

Curt Schafer
Director of Career Services
Texas State University

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