By Susan Ott
If you’re a teacher who’s looking for a change or an adult returning to school who wants to help students but doesn’t want to teach, there are many career options available to you. It takes more than just classroom teachers to provide a well-rounded education; there are many other support personnel within a school who help kids achieve their goals and become successful students.
It’s no secret that being a teacher is not as secure as it once was. Teaching used to be a mostly stable profession, but with budget cuts across the country and educational changes and mandates from the government, it’s becoming an increasingly difficult career path. But if you research your options, you’ll find that your education degree and experience can qualify you for a variety of non teaching jobs available for teachers.
Gone are the days when being a guidance counselor mostly meant helping kids pick classes and colleges. Guidance has become a broader specialty, as more and more students deal with problems in their home lives, learning disabilities and other emotional issues. As school becomes more challenging, some students are finding themselves floundering, which is where a guidance counselor can step in. This job allows you to work with students, teachers and parents to share and create plans to help children succeed. Whether a child needs guidelines in dealing with a disability like ADHD or a parent needs resources to help their child with reading and homework at home, the school guidance counselor is the one they go to. Even teachers may seek you out to find strategies to help a particular student who’s struggling. So if you enjoy the personal interactions of a classroom, this may be a great fit for you.
Guidance counselors generally need to have completed a one- or two-year master’s program after earning their bachelor’s degree. If you’re a teacher looking for a non-teaching job in education, your teaching degree is a good foundation for this line of work. Psychology degrees are also helpful, but many majors can translate to this career with the proper training.
Many reading specialists start out as teachers and vice versa. The skills important for teaching are just as important in this more specialized position. Reading specialists may work in one school or travel to two or three different schools, depending on budget allowances and need. They evaluate students’ reading levels, assign reading assignments and monitor students’ progress either one-on-one or in small groups. They may help with basic reading skills, reading comprehension or reading for fluency. In some ways, being a reading specialist is like being a teacher of one specific subject, except you don’t have to teach in front of a large class or prepare traditional lessons. Instead, you create tailored plans for each student and track their progress individually. You also communicate with parents and teachers to make sure each student is being appropriately challenged and helped both at school and at home.
Most reading specialists need to earn special certification, much like teachers do. Adults who are already teachers in many cases can transition by taking some classes and earning certification. Just be aware that the certifications vary by state, so check what your state’s certification requirements are before choosing a program of study.
If you’re already a teacher but feeling burnt out with the day-to-day work in the classroom, you might consider moving into administration. Administrators are generally principals and vice principals, creating and implementing school-wide policies, as well as supporting teachers and students. For teachers who enjoy helping students and being in a school setting, this job can be a good fit. This job relies heavily on good managerial skills, as you are overseeing all of the individuals who work together within a school to make it function every day.
Almost all school administrators start out as teachers, so this is a good career path for teachers looking for a change in career while still using their degree and skills. However, administrators virtually always need a master’s or doctorate degree in educational leadership or administration, and most states also require administrative licensure.
Learning Support Teacher
Learning support teachers are needed in elementary school through college to support students’ educational, emotional and physical needs. These teachers may serve as aides in one or more classrooms, giving extra help to children with learning disorders or disabilities or they may have their own office where children come during the school day to learn one-on-one or in a small group. Some of the areas a learning support teacher may deal with are: ESL, special education and physical disabilities, learning disabilities, and linguistic or speech disorders.
Many learning support teachers start out as certified teachers with several years’ experience in the classroom. Additional qualifications vary, but can include certification, additional courses, or a masters’ degree.
Librarians do more than check out and shelve books. Elementary school librarians develop their own mini-lesson plans, choosing which books will be read in each grade and sometimes develop short activities to teach students about how to effectively research and use the library. Librarians in the secondary grades need to have a good understanding of research, both in library texts and on the computer. Technology expertise is becoming increasingly important within this field, especially in a school setting; in fact, some schools are changing the title “librarian” to “information professional” or another term that more accurately describes the technological components of the job. The school librarian must also understand what the most popular books are, as well as what resources are most needed so that they can use annual school budgets in the most effective manner possible when purchasing new materials.
A master’s in library science is usually needed, and in some states or schools, teacher licensure or librarian licensure is also a requirement. This makes a librarian position a great non teaching job for a teacher, as both require similar skill sets. For teachers who enjoy literature, research and interacting with students, becoming a librarian can be a great fit.
Some teachers still enjoy the intellectual aspects of education but wish to get out of the classroom and school setting entirely. Becoming a curriculum writer is the best of both worlds for these individuals. Many companies hire curriculum writers to write textbooks, teacher supplements and other educational materials. You can use your expertise in education to develop technical writing through lesson plans that other teachers can follow. Of course, you must be strong in writing for this career to work for you. If you are tired of the face-to-face interactions of a teaching job but still have a passion for education, this may be a great fit for you.
There are really no special degrees or certifications needed for a curriculum writer; having a teaching degree is really the best credential for the job. Since you’re already trained in education, lesson plan writing and curriculum writing when you earn your bachelor’s in education, you have the knowledge you need to be a curriculum writer. Keep in mind that the best positions to apply for in curriculum writing should be within your areas of expertise (i.e. elementary education, science education, etc.).
Lots of Options
Many teachers are looking to diversify their own education to help them move toward a job that incorporates their strengths and their love of education – but without actually teaching in a traditional classroom setting. You’ll need to do some research to find exactly which master’s degree or certificate qualifies you for the specialty you want to go into. But as you explore the options, you’ll probably be pleased to find that the options are growing in non teaching jobs in education.