In the realm of education, teaching is often seen as a noble vocation, demanding undivided dedication, however there’s a large population that have transitions to other careers after working as educators. According to the Department of Labor, an estimated 55,000 to 65,000 teachers have left the classroom since 2020, shedding light on the reality that teachers, like any other professionals, have career transitions.
I was able to confidently leave the classroom in November 2023. It took me three long years to leave teaching. I started to upskill in 2020, but initially lacked the clarity for the execution of my plan. In learning during my process, here are a few actionable steps I recommend if you’re interested in transitioning and resources to help you on your own journey in 2024:
1. Reflect on your teaching career.
Identify the aspects of the profession that have brought you fulfillment and those that have posed challenges. Understanding your motivations and assessing your professional growth can provide valuable insights into your readiness for a transition. It will shed light on they type of career you want to have outside the classroom.
2. Seek support and resources.
Acknowledging the desire to leave teaching can be a daunting step. Connect with support networks, both within and outside the education sector. Look for resources and communities that specialize in guiding educators through career transitions. Platforms such as “The Teacher Career Coach” podcast or communities led by former teachers like Daphne Gomez and Kayse Morris can offer valuable guidance.
3. Explore alternative career paths.
As you embark on the journey of transitioning, explore alternative career paths that align with your skills and passions. Consider upskilling in areas that resonate with your interests. Platforms such as “Grow With Google” offer self-paced courses that can equip you with valuable skills for diverse industries. If you complete their certificate, they will share your profile and resume with 100 plus companies. Of course, there are many free courses, as well. (Check out this comprehensive list of free marketing classes, for example.) There are many ways to upskill and grow into the career you want to have next. You can also try a career quiz that might help you gain clarity.
4. Craft a strategic plan
Develop a strategic plan for your transition, outlining short-term and long-term goals. It’s not a wish. It will take strategy. Both of the communities I mentioned have free materials to help you plan your exit strategy. Identify the skills you already possess as a teacher and how they can be translated into the language of different industries. Leverage your experience in a way that showcases your versatility and adaptability. You may not realize how many skills gained you have gained through teaching. Creating a strategic plan will highlight the many different areas of expertise you already posses.
5. Address critics with professionalism.
You might encounter critics who question your decision to leave teaching. Approach these conversations with professionalism, emphasizing the importance of self-worth and well-being. Offer to share your experiences over coffee, fostering understanding and dispelling misconceptions.
Whether you realize it or not, others are watching you. Your boldness may give them the courage they need to change their lives. You are clearing a path for others. You’re reaching out to fellow educators who might be at a crossroads, letting them know it’s okay to consider other options. It’s a powerful message—your journey will give hope.
Transitioning from teaching is not a hasty decision. It’s a thoughtful process of self-discovery and growth. Beyond the school gates lies a world of opportunities waiting to be explored, and your journey can pave the way for others seeking a change in their professional lives. Make this the year you change for you!