Teaching Tips & Tricks | Apr 8, 2014
Alternatives to classroom teaching: 15 other rewarding jobs in education
By Angela Watson
Founder and Writer
You love to teach and you love making a difference for kids. You can’t imagine working in any other field but education. But what happens when you start to feel burned out by the profession or want a different challenge? What other meaningful careers exist in education besides classroom teaching?
I’ve created this list of alternative careers for teachers based on what I’ve learned from the educators I interact with online and in ‘real life’. I’m not saying the jobs are easy to find or obtain, and I’m also not promising that any of these jobs are an improvement on a classroom teacher’s salary—many will actually earn you less money. However, they are viable alternatives to being a classroom teacher that allow you to use your degree and experience to teach others and make a positive difference in their lives.
1. Teach GED or life skills courses in a prison or youth detention center.
The salary is usually lower than a classroom teacher’s, but every prison teacher I know is a former public school teacher who wouldn’t go back to his or her old position for a million bucks. Often they’re working only with inmates whowant to be in the classes, and since there are always deputies around, discipline and respect issues are nearly non-existent. Having done prison ministry in women’s jails for many years, I can vouch for the fact that teaching inmates is extremely rewarding, and you have the added bonus of knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of dozens of children by improving the future of their parents.
2. Start your own tutoring business.
Working for an established tutoring company usually doesn’t pay much, but if you build up your own clientele, you can make serious money. I know one educator who tutors children in small groups from 4-6 pm four days a week and makes more than she did as a classroom teacher. If you want help developing your own tutoring business, I highly recommend theTutor House and Teacher’s Guide to Tutoring —there are tons of great resources there.
3. Become a preschool, HeadStart, or daycare teacher.
Working with babies, toddlers, or preschoolers may be a good option for those who want to stay in a classroom teaching position but need a change from working with older children. You’re likely to have smaller class sizes and an assistant, and if you teach in a daycare, youmay get to leave in the evenings with little if any work to bring home. Typically you can expect early childhood positions to pay a lower salary than K-12 jobs, but not necessarily. I spent 3 years teaching at a HeadStart that was part of the local public school system, so I earned a regular teacher’s salary. It was a lot of work and the data and documentation for preschool/PreK/HeadSart often does rival that of the older grades, but it was extremely fun and rewarding, and a different type of challenge than teaching older kids.
4. Facilitate teacher training courses for a college or university.
You’ll need a doctorate to teach undergrad courses at most schools, but if you have a masters degree, you may be able to find work teaching at a community college. It’s also worth looking into online universities–just be sure to check out the compensation and make sure it’s worth your time, as some of them pay as little as $1,200 per semester-long course.
5. Teach home-bound kids.
Most public school systems have a small crew of teachers they call on to teach in the hospital rooms or homes of children who are gravely ill and unable to come to school. These educators often get paid a regular teacher’s salary but only work with kids one-on-one. I know of three teachers who have this job and LOVE it!
6. Become an instructor for online K-12 schools.
I’ve heard this is a competitive industry and it’s a tremendous amount of work, just like classroom teaching. However, the demand for online teachers grows every year, and it’s a terrific way to do what you love AND work from home.
7. Sell your teaching materials on TeachersPayTeachers.
You’ll need to have tons of original ideas, a talent for graphic design, and a passion for spending a LOT of time blogging, networking, and doing social media promotion. It’s no get-rich-quick scheme, for sure. But with a lot of hard work, you can join the ranks of a growing number of TPTers who are able to do it full time. If you’re not sure how to get started, check out Teaching Blog Traffic School.
8. Contract as a teacher for homeschool kids.
As more and more parents decide to homeschool, the market grows for specialists to teach the subjects parents cannot. I know of a group of homeschoolers who hire PE, art, and music teachers once a week to teach those subjects to their kids. Another homeschooler I know hires math and science teachers to instruct her children in the advanced concepts she is not comfortable teaching.
9. Become a nanny.
Several acquaintances of mine are former teachers in New York City who now work for extremely wealthy families and make a decent living. They enjoy being around kids and helping with homework/tutoring, and they get a few nice perks, like traveling with the children and parents on exotic vacations. The nanies who earn the most often have special education certification and work for the families of kids who have autism or disabilities.
10. Do educational consulting.
There are so many different avenues to explore: conduct professional development in local schools, do online webinars, work with teachers one-on-one through instructional coaching, etc. I’ve done (and continue to do) all of these things, both as an independent consultant and as a freelancer who works for an NYC-based consulting company. You can find more resources on theBecoming an Educational Consultant page or check out Educational Consulting School.
11. Pursue non-classroom positions within the school system.
In addition to the obvious assistant principal and principal positions, you may be able to find an opening for a special education coordinator, guidance counselor, speech or occupational therapist, math or reading coach, school psychologist, Title 1 teacher, or central/district office roles (such as curriculum specialists.) Most of these jobs require special schooling and certification, but if you have a connection and know that a position will be opening up, you might want to pursue the additional training. I also know teachers who have gotten certified as speech pathologists and reading coaches and then re-located to other parts of the country to find a position. If the work is something you really feel passionate about doing, the move might be worth it!
12. Create curricular materials for an education company.
You know all of those wonderful websites, books, and teaching resources you use to enhance your teaching? Chances are, a team of current or former educators is working behind the scenes to design them. Some of these jobs are full time and some can be done online part time. Thispartial list of education companies that hire teachers can get you started.
13. Become a museum educator or guide at a local attraction.
Former teachers are highly sought after for these positions because they are excellent at managing large groups of children on field trips. Explore the children’s museums, historical sites, etc. that are near you.
14. Start your own after-school program or activities camp.
You can find work as a teacher or coordinator at an existing after school program to get your feet wet, then branch out and create your own business. I have a friend who founded his own company and now runs an after-school sports camp Monday through Thursday from 3-5. He rents out space at his school and makes excellent money teaching the kids how to play sports. I can imagine this would be possible with a variety of after-school activities, so if there’s something you love doing and sharing with kids, an after school program might be for you!
15. Look for random education opportunities in your local job listings–some of the coolest jobs are the ones that you didn’t even know existed!
I found the part-time Educational Editor position for BrainPOP Jr. on Craigslist back in 2009, and I’m still with the company today! There are all sorts of organizations looking for experienced teachers to lend their expertise to products, blogs, seminars, and so on. I frequently see listings in New York for teachers to consult on curriculum development projects and grant-based work. There are also openings for hospital family education coordinators, technology trainers for local businesses, and other jobs that rely heavily on the speaking, presentation, interpersonal, and instructional skills that teachers bring to the table. Go to Monster.com or another job listing site, choose ‘search by industry’, and select ‘education.’
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This fell into my inbox right when I needed it. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for sharing The Tutor House Angela! I would like to offer another option or two!
Virtual Assistant Work:
I’ve seen a dramatic increase in education based websites. Many of them have social media platforms that they need to keep up, but the creators of these sites struggle because they are not an educator and are unsure of the challenges teachers face. I recommend considering to pitch yourself as a virtual assistant and help education based companies get active on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and all of those other great interaction tools. In fact, a company that offers whiteboard software asked me this week if I knew any virtual assistants with tutor background!
Work as a Corporate Trainer:
Lots of companies need someone who is stellar at teaching and sharing a message about their company. Teachers make great presenters and can add real value to any company. I once went to a Constant Contact meeting where the representative had a teaching background.
I worked for a company called on location education. They hire certified teachers to go on site to theater productions or films to tutor kids in the production. I was the on-set tutor for a couple of kids in one of Ang Lee’s films. It was really interesting to be on a movie set. My name is even in the credits!
These are great ideas and resources. Thank you very much for sharing Angela.
Great post! When I left teaching to stay home for a few years and raise my family, I thought I’d have to leave teaching behind. But that’s simply not the case anymore.
Another great place to check out is Elance.com – they hire virtual freelance writers, and there are quite a few jobs for teachers – creating material for websites, textbooks, etc.
I’ve been thrilled to be able to not only create math curriculum but also to start a blog for teachers (www.teach4theheart.com) and write a book for teachers.
For anyone else who wants to stay home with their kids but doesn’t think they can make it work or thinks they’ll miss teaching too much, definitely take some of Angela’s ideas to heart. Yes, I miss teaching, but being able to stay home with my kids and still stay in tune with the education world is awesome! And so worth it.
Linda – Elance looks promising. Would you mind giving me a bit more insight? I taught HS English for 14 years and LOVE writing, but outside of writing lesson plans and sample papers/poems/etc. I don’t really have any “sample work”. How easy was the process? Is it possible to make decent money? I’m not expecting to make what I did teaching – I’ve traded in my sanity for a steady paycheck and summer schedule! Any advice you could give would be great!
I, too, taught HS English and left last year to start my own copywriting business. I’m not an expert, but I can definitely give you some direction regarding the questions you have here. For the sake of the comments section, I won’t go into a ton of detail, but it’s not as hard as you might think, especially with a writing background.
Elance (and other freelancing sites) are a little like job boards. They have tendency to attract a lot of people you don’t want to associate yourself with. Lots of people over seas willing to work for a penny a word. You have much greater value than that.
I’m happy to personally answer any questions you might have. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll talk more.