Last week, a reader indicated that she is having "great doubts" about whether she wants to pursue elementary school teaching and wonders what other career options she might pursue.
There are many reasons to consider career opportunities outside of traditional classroom teaching: a) lack of teaching vacancies; b) uncertainty about classroom "fit"; c) new goals or emerging interests; d) work parameters.
Regardless of your motivation for looking at education-related positions, the good news is that there are many opportunities to consider. Here is a sample list:Private and Charter Schools
- If you are still interested in teaching, but are having difficulty finding teaching vacancies, check out opportunities with private and charter schools. Tip: State Departments of Education websites list programs for your respective state.
- "Synchronous education" is growing exponentially. If you would like to teach through this delivery system, consider cyber schools in the state where you hold your teaching certificate. Tip: You don't need to LIVE in the state where the school is based. For example, if you have a PA teaching certificate, you are qualified to teach for PA-based cyber schools, regardless of where you are residing.
- Community-based and national organizations hire certified teachers to provide tutoring services to children and adults. Tip: Find out more by researching organizations like Sylvan Learning or Huntington Learning Centers.
- While you won't earn substantial income as a "volunteer" with AmeriCorps (www.americorps.gov), you'll receive a significant stipend and gain valuable experience. Future employers will look very favorably on your AmeriCorps experience as a demonstration of your dedication to the profession and your passion for kids and education.
- It is probably safe to say that any international experience will enhance your personal and professional experience! Not only will you gain rich experiences by living in another culture, but when you return to the U.S., employers will infer that you bring a global perspective, cultural sensitivity, and maturity to the work place. Imagine how eager a school district would be to hire an "international educator" for their classroom. Consider organizations like English language schools or the Peace Corps (the largest need for volunteers is in education-related assignments). Tip: A premier international teacher job fair is held annually at the University of Northern Iowa, www.uni.edu.
- You may find the most significant number of opportunities via alternative education--whether they provide services through a local school district or operate as residential facilities, alternative ed employers provide excellent opportunities for teachers, particularly with special needs and at-risk youth. Tip: Within your geographical objectives, contact centralized school districts for recommendations.
- This is a broad category that includes organizations such as the YMCA, Spina Bifida Association, Girl Scouts of America, etc. Tip: Search the United Way website in your area.
- Check out opportunities with the government at both the federal and state level. Tip: Be resourceful! For example, many states sponsor a Migrant Education Program. They hire teachers and administrators for positions working with the children and families of migrant workers. ELL is particularly helpful with this population.
- If you enjoy explaining new material and engaging adult learners, you might consider transferring your teaching skills to corporate training. Tip: Contact your university career center for tips on potential employers, professional associations, and alumni networks with your alma mater.
This is just a sampling of the many opportunities outside of traditional classroom teaching. Apply those creative teaching skills as you explore occupations that are a good fit for your skills and interests. You'll find lots of potential in this assignment!
--Deborah R. Snyder
Associate Director, Education Career Services
Grove City College