Learn More

40 Hour Workweek

Edupreneur Resources, Truth for Teachers Collective   |   Mar 24, 2024

How to transition into a non-classroom-based position as an educator

By Jay Benedith

Equity Leader & Coach

How to transition into a non-classroom-based position as an educator

By Jay Benedith

Being an elementary teacher and then a middle school teacher was awesome.

However, I knew I wanted to understand the education landscape from various perspectives. I decided to become an instructional coach, which led me to starting my side hustle in career coaching and then to my full time job as a talent development specialist. There are many things I learned along the way and this article contains a framework for transitioning to non-classroom positions!

Step One: Clarify Why You Are Leaving the Classroom

Nail down what is prompting you to transition out of the classroom. Is it the schedule, the workload, the school location, your current family dynamics, your interests in other skills and fields, any previous negative experiences as a teacher? All are valid. Pinpoint it, be honest about it and be realistic about what’s next for you.

Decide how big of a shift you want to make. Maybe you’ll realize you still want to teach in the classroom. You can switch the subject, grade or school at which you teach. You could even teach abroad! Perhaps you want to explore opportunities while you continue to teach. You could become a school leader, start a side hustle, become an organizer or an elected official, complete a summer fellowship, or  present at education conferences.

If you are ready to leave the classroom, you have many options. It’s normal to switch jobs and careers now more than ever. In fact, millennials have been nicknamed the “job-hopping generation,” and– as a result of the “Great Resignation”– more American workers across generations and fields are seeking new employment. Many employers are happy to hire current or former teachers. Some examples of such industries are government agencies, publishing companies, education services, nonprofit organizations, marketing, the legal field and human resources.

Step Two: Determine What’s Next

Ikigai is the Japanese concept that refers to what gives a person a sense of purpose — a reason for living. What’s your ikigai? Take time to identify your passions and interests. Then, highlight your transferable technical and people skills. Several of the most popular transferable skills teachers possess are:

Also consider the education and experiences you have. What qualifications do you possess? Think about your undergraduate and graduate degrees, and any certifications you earned.

Step Three: Start the Job Search

Once you’ve decided it’s time to leave the classroom and you’ve taken stock of your current skills and experiences, it’s time to begin the job search!

As you do, consider what I call the Career Five Ws: Why, Who, Where, When and What.

Why are you invested in certain fields and positions?

  • Identify your motivation. Articulate your mission, purpose, values, and goals. Know the rewards and benefits you seek to reap in your new job.

Who are you now and want to continue to be?  Who do you want to be next?

  • Think about who you are currently by identifying your innate talents and gifts; your temperaments and personality; and the role(s) you tend to assume in the workplace. Then consider who you want to become by pinpointing the skills, perspectives and experiences you’ll need to cultivate.

Where and when will you work?

  • This is the big question that people tend to start with — though answering the other questions will make answering this one easier.  Consider the workplace environment, structure, and schedule that most aligns with your needs and wants. Are you looking for a position that is fully in-person, fully remote, or a hybrid of the two? Are you interested in being based at an office, a school, or in traveling from place-to-place as needed? Also consider who you want to work with. Your colleagues make up the organizational culture and the culture influences how you and your colleagues will interact. This can be a great conversation point to bring up during an informational interview!

What do you want to do? What do you not want to do?

  • For ideas and a place to start, check out job boards (Edweek has a great one!) and social media platforms such as LinkedIn. Scour various job descriptions for alignment to your Why, Who, Where, and When questions. Perhaps there are aspects of being a teacher you want to continue. For example, if you love teaching, you could become a corporate trainer. If you enjoy supporting and developing people, you can go into human resources. If you’re interested in writing, fundraising and social justice, you can become a grant writer at a nonprofit. The possibilities and intersections are endless!

Step Four: Get Out There

Conduct research about your fields of interest. Schedule informational interviews with people and companies you are interested in; this helps you to learn more about them as potential employers and for them to learn more about you as a potential employee!

Through intentional networking, you can make meaningful connections to people in your  fields of interest. You can start with warm connections (people in your circle or network) and then reach out to cold contacts (people you don’t already have a relationship with but with whom you’d like to build one).

Be sure to brand yourself for the types of positions you want (demonstrate this in your personal website, your LinkedIn profile, your resume or CV, and your cover letters). Remember: branding at its core is a matching game. Therefore, you need to match your skills, experiences, and strengths to the skills, experiences, and strengths that your future employers are looking for! To gain a competitive advantage, know what the industry or organization is looking for, speak their language, and show them why you’re the right fit!

Suggestion: Get Coached

Finding a position outside of the classroom can be overwhelming — especially if it’s been years since you’ve been on the job hunt. If you need further support, seek out a career coach. You could hire one who has great reviews and results from past clients. You can also contact your alma mater’s career center. Colleges and universities typically offer career coaching for alums. Furthermore, associations, organizations and memberships of which you are a part may offer free or low cost career coaching as well!

Embrace Nonlinear Paths

Buddha is thought to have said, “There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.” Whether he said that is up for debate — but the sentiment is tried and true! No matter what you decide to do, do it fully and do it to the best of your abilities. Remember you can also go back to the classroom. Great teachers will always be needed!

How to transition out of teaching and into your next career

Is teaching still the right career for you?

Jay Benedith

Equity Leader & Coach

Jay is a progressive educator and a passionate equity leader in New York City! Through J. Benedith Coaching Services, she facilitates interactive workshops, 1:1 coaching sessions, and group coaching programs.
Browse Articles by Jay

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion? Feel free to contribute!