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Teaching Tips & Tricks   |   Apr 8, 2014

Alternatives to classroom teaching: 15 other rewarding jobs in education

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Alternatives to classroom teaching: 15 other rewarding jobs in education

By Angela Watson

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.

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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.’

Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela created the first version of this site in 2003, when she was a classroom teacher herself. With 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach, Angela oversees and contributes regularly to...
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Discussion


  1. Hi. I enjoy working with kids and this is only my 2nd year in the classroom. I find my stress levels are higher than they’ve ever been and it’s started affecting my health. I.e. panic attacks. Reading this gives me hope but I find myself still lost but with an urge for change. Thanks for this site and if anyone has any more guidance it will be greatly appreciated.

    1. I got married and needed to relocate from FL to NY. This was in 2009 when the recession hit and NY was laying off teachers by the hundreds. It was impossible for someone from out of state like me to get a classroom position. I was fortunate to be offered part-time instructional coaching work, and the opportunities grew from there.

      The whole situation was just the push I needed to step out of my comfort zone and make a bigger impact on education. I love having the opportunity to help hundreds and even thousands of teachers, which means I’m helping tens of thousands of kids. Coaching teachers and providing support for them is really rewarding for me.

      1. Hello, I am currently an National Board educator in North Carolina and I am sure that everyone in the nation has been informed about the disarray our educational system has been in for the last six years. I have been in education in NC for 15 years now. I taught social studies for 10 years, was in administration for 4 years, and now I work on the district level. I was an excellent teacher with excellent test scores and classroom management. I had good rapport with my students, colleagues, and community. I do miss the impart I had on student success but there was little money for me to support my family by staying in the classroom. Honestly it is not much better in administration and/or central office. My wife is also a National Board teacher and feels very much the same way. Everyone nationwide is seeing how NC’s obsession with accountability met with low pay is driving our public education institutions into the dirt and our families, students, and educators are the victims. I now have former students who have less education than I possess making far more in salary than I am, with less stress. I want and need out of public education but have not been fortunate enough to land suitable employment. It is extremely frustrating and it is beginning to affect my personality and well being and I need a positive change. I can see myself working with teachers/educators in classroom management consulting and/or diversity training. I truly believe as any good educator that teaching and learning can only take place in a conducive learning environment. I have the background, experience, education, drive, and know how for success, but I feel that I am driving the “wrong vehicle” to get there. Any suggestions please!!

        1. Hi, Noland! I really feel for your situation. I can relate to that feeling of knowing where you want to go, but driving the wrong vehicle to get there.

          Have you seen the Edupreneurs section of my website? https://truthforteachers.com/free-resources/edupreneurs You might find some helpful resources to get you started as an educational consultant. I’m not sure what the need/budget is for those services in NC, but it’s worth checking out. All the best to you!

        2. Hi Noland,

          I completely understand your pain as I taught in North Carolina too. After the 5 year budget freeze, poor benefits, low income barely could get by though we have our masters, we decided that we had to stay goodbye to NC if we really wanted to save for our retirement and our children’s college. We moved to the suburbs Washington DC area. though, it’s not paradise and the pace is totally faster, we absolutely love it not only because of the income, but there’s so much more to do without spending much…Good luck!

          1. I’m feeling just what you are saying. I’m in my 10th year of teaching in NC, with a Masters in Elem. Ed. At 55 years old, I’m not afraid to do something which will net my family more income; it’s crazy. I have a college aged student in NC and cannot move because he gets in-state tuition. Not sure what to do…I just need to be compensated for the value we have as teachers!

  2. This is a nice list for people who want to continue on a path that is still education-based, but few of these actually earn a viable living. The highest rate for tutoring in my area is $15 per hour. Preschool teachers here earn even less. Working with home-bound students or with curriculum is still regulated by our school board and cushy jobs like that go to the relatives of people on the school board. The nepotism in my area is so bad that in 25 years of teaching, I’ve yet to see someone outside of four “money” families work at the board office.
    Sorry to be negative but I was really hoping for a list of jobs outside of education that my teaching skills could translate to.

    1. I hear you Tessa! Teachers so often resign themselves to “alternative careers” within education. I successfully started a copywriting business and I just spoke with a friend/former teacher who is very happy in his 4th year of med school. Both of us considered the “consulting” path before we realized we needed to think bigger. The reality is that your skill set is highly desired and transferable. Hang in there. You’ll figure it all out. If you’d like to talk more, I’m happy to help.

    2. I agree that it’s very difficult to find a high-paying job in the education field. Sad, isn’t it? My hope is that this post is helpful for those who want to continue making a difference for kids and are looking at different options. I’ll see if I can work on a post over the summer about other non-education-related careers teachers could earn more money in doing. I’ll have to do some research on that, though, as I don’t have much experience in that area.

  3. I have been teaching for 25 years and recently have been desperately waiting for retirement. Well my district pushed that forward for me. I want to continue working but not in a school district. The stress and negativity in the education field has made me doubt my abilities and I don’t know where to even begin looking. I have 4 master degrees (exercise physiology, math education, administration and ESL) plus I am a National Board Certified teacher in adolescent science.

    1. Doubt your abilities? Wow, you sound highly qualified to me. You obviously are very intelligent. Unlike you, I have 4 years left until retirement is possible. Not sure if I can make it. This old dog is having trouble keeping up with new tricks.

  4. I agree that if I am going to leave the classroom, I would just as soon leave education all together and do something different. I just can’t begin to think of what other jobs to look at or what I’m qualified for. I’m also concerned about my age (50) and whether companies will take on a worker with no experience in their industry.

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