So, you fancy a change of career. Why not get into teaching? As the world starts to move again, more and more opportunities are arising to take a chance at a new career. One option is teaching. The education profession provides a stable and rewarding career with ample prospects to not only progress but make a valuable difference in the lives of children. It’s a career switch many people choose to take, who no longer wish to be a part of the corporate world. Teaching is a vocation, a passion, a lifestyle. You don’t work in teaching, you are a teacher, and it’s a path worth careful consideration before making the jump.
Before you start looking for a new career path, it may be worth taking a skills assessment to determine the right role for you.
Why do you want to make a career change?
Firstly, you need to think about why you want to switch up your career to teach. Do you have a specific love of a subject such as English, science or maths? Do you want to inspire that same passion in the next generation? Do you want to change the face of education, or even change the world? Education is the gateway to just that.
Why do you want to (or need to) change your current career? Consider your own happiness, wellbeing and job satisfaction. If the role you’re in right now doesn’t spark excitement, enthusiasm or ambition, perhaps it really is time to move on.
Finally, here’s just a few reasons why you should be a teacher or lecturer:
- You’ll make a difference in the lives of young people
- You’ll learn as you work and continuously progress
- Boundless opportunities for creative thinking await you
- A fast-pace environment where no day is the same
- You can teach anywhere in the world
Of course, the main reason why you want to be a teacher should be that you enjoy working with young people. The bottom line is, if you don’t like the idea of working with children or young adults, the profession is not for you. As a teacher, you’ll be in constant communication and collaboration with a diverse range of people, from leadership to support staff, local authorities and protection services to parents/guardians and students. You need to be a people person who can handle challenging situations and a predominantly heavy workload with patience, understanding and determination. If you think you have what it takes, you’re ready to take the next steps into teaching.
How to change profession
Before you change your career, do your homework. It’s back to college for you (literally) so it’s important to undertake some research first. Talk to other teachers you may know – you’re never far away from one – and gain their insight and perspective. They’ll be sure to tell you what’s what.
Get in contact with a local university who offer PGCE courses. You’ll need to gain your Qualified Teacher Status before fronting the classroom. Attend an open day or virtual event to learn more. If you’ve been in the world of work for over three years, you may be able to take a salaried route into teaching, avoiding any loss in those monthly pay checks.
Prior to applying for teacher training, you’ll be expected to attain some observation experience. Speak to your local college and ask for an opportunity to observe lessons for a week. This will open your eyes to what the day-to-day life of a teacher is like and if it’s really for you.
Gaining experience of teaching before you’re thrown into the deep end is a sure-fire way to know if this is the career path for you. There are government schemes such as the School Experience Programme, individual teaching internship programmes or school/college taster days that will provide insight and first-hand experience
Now it’s time to consider your options
There’s a multitude of ways to get into teaching and its worth considering all your options and which is the right path for you. You may want to apply for a role as support staff first, to get your foot in the door of education and a feel for life in a school. Or you may want to dive back into studies straight away and find your feet in university.
Learn what’s required of you. What qualifications do you already have and what do you need to teach? Do your research and follow the steps to become a teacher with support and advice from the Department of Education.
Is it too late to change careers?
The short answer? Never! There are some pros and cons to joining teaching later in life that you should be aware of:
1. The first few years are tough. There’s A LOT of information to take on and a lot of work goes into completing your initial teaching training. A baptism of fire comes to mind.
2. People will expect you to know more. Parents in particular. If you don’t look like a doe-eyed, dewy-faced twenty-something year old fresh out of university, they’ll assume you’ve been in the profession for years and know exactly what you’re talking about. This may come in handy at times if you’re dealing with a particularly demanding parent, but never be afraid to ask for help – the twenty-something teachers who have been in it for several years are not your enemy but your allies.
3. You’ll be ‘the newbie’. It happens to us all, in any profession. No one likes to be the new kid on the block, but eventually that too shall pass and you’ll be part of the classroom furniture in no time.
4. You’re bringing a fresh perspective and challenging the norm. You’ve been out in the world! You’ve got experience, know-how and an entirely different perspective outside of those hallowed halls. Incorporate this into your teaching style and don’t be afraid to challenge practices. Teaching is a well-established profession, with centuries of history and a stubborn trait coursing through its veins. If you think it will make a positive impact that facilitates better learning and outcomes for students, try it. You’re learning just as much as they are.
Already a teacher and want a change in career direction?
If you’re already a teacher and you’re thinking about a change in career direction, it doesn’t mean you have to leave education all together. There are ample options out there. From going part-time or supply teaching, to private tuition or working in an advisory position such as a governor.
Every role in a student’s learning is an important one. Find your place in education today.
About the author
After completing a BA in Creative Writing and a Masters in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Winchester, Tammy worked as a Learning Support Assistant, with a focus on helping students develop their literacy skills. She then taught as an English teacher at an all-boys comprehensive school in Berkshire. Now she has turned her sights to a career in writing, with education at the heart of it.