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How To Turn A Job Into A Teaching Position

How To Turn A Job Into A Teaching Position

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If you can’t do, teach and if you can’t teach, you teach gym. Or at least that’s the way the old saying goes. But really there are plenty of teachers out there who can do, they have just chosen a different path. And in some cases the reason they can’t do is because there just aren’t enough jobs in the profession. So having a back-up plan is a great idea. Fortunately there is a back-up plan that anyone can put down, if they have any degree: Teaching.

Of course the process takes a little planning, unless the degree you have already left you certified to teach in the state you are in. But in terms of a back-up plan it doesn’t take much to go from one job to teaching. Here’s how to turn a job into a teaching position if you’re looking for a change.

Choosing The Position

In most cases you might think this means what subject you would want to teach, but choosing a teaching position comes down to the grade you are looking to teach, and whether you want a full-time or a substitute job. When you’ve decided between those two, generally the subject will be decided for you based on what the school needs. However if you are going for a high school teaching job, you will have to choose a subject that would at least mildly be connected to what your degree is. To get an idea of what you might want to go with:

  • Substitutes tend to focus on less planning in the job, but more personal planning to make sure you can cover your expenses with steady substitution positions.
  • Consider whether you can handle the children in the grade you want to aim for. Some people can’t always make it through teaching high school students or sixth graders.
  • The younger you aim for with teaching, the more you should make sure you are well rounded in basic subjects. The older you aim, the more you should be capable in specific subjects like chemistry or biology.

If you are looking for a position around bilingual or special education teaching, you might have to go back to school for some special classes to assist kids in those areas unless you are just aiming for a TEFL certification to teach abroad.

Earn The Certification

The major issue you will need to cover is the certification process. And best of all, there are multiple methods for going through this certification process, which depend on the schools, districts, and states. These types are still dependent upon what level or grade you will be teaching for, which is why it’s important to decide the grade ahead of time. Those levels are Early Childhood (Kindergarten to 3rd grade), Elementary (Kindergarten to 6th grade), Middle Grades (5th Grade to 9th Grade), and Secondary teaching (7th grade to 12th grade). Secondary teaching always requires an endorsement which is usually covered based on your degree but if you have an obscure degree you might have to take an exam to meet the endorsement.

  • The Traditional Certification Route: Depending upon your state this method will often require taking a class or multiple classes, going through student teaching experiences, and/or passing an exam. In most cases, it will be a combination of all three, but some states will waive classes if you have a Masters or higher degree. You’ll want to check your state’s department of education teaching requirements to make sure of what you need before you start the process.
  • The Emergency Certification Route: In cases of schools or states that are in critical need of teachers, they will actually offer critical need certificates, which is handled by the school, but will generally only last for five years. During that time you are required to get a traditional certification. This emergency certification is also used for teachers who are certified in one state but not another. For more information, contact your state department of education.
  • Private School Certification Route: In most states private or charter schools will handle their own standards for hiring teachers, and not all of them even require a teaching certification. In this case you will have to contact the private school in question to see what their standards are and whether they require traditional teacher certification.

Resume And Letter Changes

Finally, almost every job is different in requirements for the skills and sometimes going from a desk accounting job to a teacher in math can be difficult to figure out what skills actually transfer over, other than an understanding of math. When determining your resume, focus on areas like:

  • What kind of communication skills you have
  • How well do you keep documentation
  • Whether you’ve handled children around the age you will be teaching
  • Customer service skills
  • How well you adhere to rules and guidelines
  • Do you have any leadership skills or qualities
  • Can you work independently without someone looking over your shoulder

The list continues, so remember to pull from any area for these skills and experiences not just your previous job. Additionally, you should absolutely be mentioning in your cover letter when applying for a job why you wanted to switch to teaching from whatever job you had before. Often times a heart-felt explanation on that front can make the difference between getting the job or not. And it’s almost likely that the school will ask you that question anyway when it comes to an interview.


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Fiona Mayberry Fiona Mayberry spent over a decade as a high school science teacher, and has recently settled as a substitute teacher while she pursues some of her life long ambitions like barrel racing, and growing a garden.