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Career Changers Choose Teaching

By Cameron Caswell, Posted Apr 2nd 2009 @ 9:02AM

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by Marcella Wolfe, for AOL Find a Job

teacherHave you reached a point in your work life where you're asking: "how have I made a difference?" Teaching is a career that can put your desire to serve others into action.

by Marcella Wolfe, for AOL Find a Job

teacherFor a fulfilling career based on helping others you can't do much better than teaching. Have you reached a point in your work life where you're asking: "how have I made a difference?" Teaching is a career that can put your desire to serve others into action. Teachers who love their job say they go home most days knowing they're making a valuable contribution in terms of opening students' minds to the world around them.

But, talk to anyone who's spent any time in a classroom. It's not always easy. How can you tell if a career in teaching is right for you? What degrees and licensing will you need? If you decide to make the change, where are the jobs?

Career changers who consider teaching come from most any profession including business, the medical professions and communications. People who enter teaching cite their preference for face-to-face human interaction as high on the list of what they're looking for at work. Many felt stuck sitting in an office all day. They also say they like having a work environment in which each day is different. They thrive on using their own intelligence and creativity in new ways. They also cite a love of the subject matter and the desire to have a better schedule so that they can be there for their own children.

Why didn't they become teachers in the first place? Many cite money as the reason. Yet, in its most recent report surveying educators' pay levels, the American Federation of Teachers found that the average salary for traditional public school teachers increased 4.5 percent in 2006–07 to $51,009. This marks the first time since 2003 that teacher salaries surpassed the annual rate of inflation. Connecticut, California and New Jersey top the list for salaries.

Those Who Can, Do... Become a Teacher

Angelin Donohue always wanted to be a teacher, "But when I came to the Washington, DC area there were few openings, so I went into the corporate world," she said. She spent five years after college recruiting for law firms and then had a five-year career as a recruiting manager for the global professional services firm, KPMG. In 2001 she decided to get her teaching credential in English as a Second Language (ESOL) from the University of Maryland. She is now an ESOL teacher at Rosemary Hills Primary School, a public school in Silver Spring, Maryland. With experience as a high-school English teacher and also an elementary ESOL teacher, she has a kindergarten through 12th-grade perspective.

"If you're thinking of becoming a teacher after time in the business world, you need to consider the change you'll experience from spending your day with adults to spending it with kids of any age," Donohue noted. "I've taught young children who were eager to learn, magnet program kids who were very smart and already set for college and teenagers who could barely read. There are big differences in the demands from each group."

"Teaching brings less of the stress you'd face in the business world, the pressure to always contribute to the bottom line," she continued. "But the stress you'll face is a different kind-the kind that comes from within, from wanting to do your best."

Peter Kiok was a publicist at a well-known, New York-based celebrity entertainment/news magazine. He reached a point when he realized that the money wasn't enough to make up for the lack of substance; he wanted something more. His cousin, a teacher, knowing of his interest in children, advised him to look into graduate school. And the seed for becoming a teacher was planted.

After taking a child development class at Bank Street College of Education in New York, a graduate school for aspiring teachers, Peter knew he wanted to teach. He went on to graduate with a Master's degree in Elementary Education. He's taught kindergarten through fourth grades and now teaches third grade at a private school in New York.

"After I started, I felt a difference in my life. I enjoy getting up each day and going in to work in a way I never felt before." Kiok said. "That's good because teaching requires a lot of energy. With lesson planning, after-class meetings, grading assignments and speaking with parents, it feels like more than a 40-hour-a-week job." Kiok also warns former cubicle owners not to expect time for personal emails or phone calls. "You're much too busy being "on" for the students, to have time for yourself."

"A big benefit people don't often consider," he added, "is the opportunity to spend time living abroad. There are several placement programs for international teaching assignments," noted Kiok who taught in Rome, for four years. "Once you are hired, the school will often help you obtain the necessary visa and work papers and sometimes even help with things such as finding an apartment in your new country."

How Do I Get There from Here?

Well-trained teachers are what it takes to create well-educated students. Today's teachers are being held to increasing levels of accountability for their students' progress. This means that, in perhaps unlike any other field, the education you pursue will be critical to your success.

The traditional route to becoming a public school teacher involves completing a bachelor's degree, finishing an approved teacher education program and then obtaining a license. Each state and the District of Columbia has its own licensing requirements for public school teachers. While private school teachers do not always have to be licensed, increasingly, applicants for private school jobs have one or more graduate degrees as well as a bachelor's degree.

Many career changers may want to consider the large number of alternatives to traditional university programs. A variety of online degrees are now available and may be of interest to mature students whose lives may be more structured and may also have the discipline needed to complete coursework. Evening and part-time programs are also available at many traditional universities offering teaching degrees.

Many states offer alternative licensing programs to attract people into teaching, especially for hard-to-fill positions. Some school districts are offering bonuses to attract teachers.

Making Up Your Mind

Before you seek your credentials, it's important to be sure you know that you can make it as a teacher. Dr. Robert J. Kizlik, whose long career in education includes being a classroom teacher, curriculum writer and university acting dean, reports that "around forty percent of new teachers leave teaching within the first five years. It is obviously not what they thought it would be. One thing for sure, it's about more than loving kids."

How will you know if you can handle this very demanding, yet rewarding career? Consider the following tips from the Teacher Center

  • Do your homework.

    Talk to existing teachers. Read widely. Use the Web and learn about online forums for career changers.

    Those who can teach computer and other vocational skills are increasingly in demand in our in our high-tech world. As the population ages, the need for health education teachers increases as they will help launch the careers of the nation's future health care work force.

  • Get into the classroom.

    Consider substitute teaching or "shadow" an experienced teacher. By observing a teacher and their students over a period you'll learn much more than you could from isolated experiences as a substitute teacher.

  • Get educated about your job prospects in teaching.

    Learn what educational programs best meet your career goals. For example, if you are a businessperson and want teach, specialized alternative certification programs are now available. A course, series of courses, a certificate program and possibly a non-credit course might open the door for you.

Get the Job That's Right for You

Job opportunities for teachers are projected to vary from good to excellent over the next 10 years, depending on the locality, grade level and the subject you plan to teach. Employment of preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle and secondary school teachers is projected to grow about as fast as average for other fields. Job prospects are expected to be favorable, with particularly good opportunities for teachers in high-demand fields like math, science and bilingual education or in urban or rural school districts.

Fast-growing States in the South and West-led by Arizona, Texas and -will experience the largest enrollment increases, a key factor in determining the need for teachers. Enrollments in the Midwest are expected to hold relatively steady, while those in the Northeast are expected to decline. Teachers who are geographically mobile and who obtain licensure in more than one subject should have a distinct advantage in finding a job.

Are you considering a career change? Think you have what it takes to teach? First, get to work studying yourself. Find out what you need to make the right decision. Let your desire to help others and make a difference guide you. Then go forth and teach!

It's never too late to increase your opportunities
Learn more at University of Phoenix

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Reader Comments (Page 1 of 87)

  • Danita
    4-22-2009 @5:11PM
    Danita said...
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    I'd love to teach you how to earn a really good income doing something completely different and fun! You can work for yourself and enjoy what you do! Meet lots of great people doing the same thing. Set your own schedule! Travel cheap! Help others do the same and have your own thriving business! Be determined that this year will be so much better than last year!

  • d
    6-28-2009 @8:23PM
    d said...
    vote upvote downReport Lower Rank

    OMG, the stress is enough to kill you. It is one of the worst jobs I have ever had (working with children). I now teach adult ed and it is much easier and far more enjoyable. Most every teacher I have worked with HATES teaching and all that comes with it.

  • charlie
    6-28-2009 @10:38PM
    charlie said...
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    And it's not all about the $. I have been teaching for over 18 years now. It's hard-but rewarding work. I left teaching for four years but returned and entered administration soon after. I'am now completing my Doctoral degree in Education. Try it, you may like it!

  • MajorPete
    6-28-2009 @11:10PM
    MajorPete said...
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    How about not using these blog sites for your commercial advertising? That's pretty tacky.

  • rob
    6-28-2009 @11:22PM
    rob said...
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    are you kidding me?..the "florida" county that i work in the starting teacher's salary is 33,000....but a 3rd year teacher makes 35,000...geeesh.....true we get the summer off, and major holidays, but we also work most evenings, weekends, ( for free ) and thats above the required's a great profession but it's not the highest paying career by any means....our superintendant makes over $400000 a year----and we teachers are stuggling....and the parents are the enablers of the school system, what they say and want determines what parameters we will follow as get real and tell me where the median teacher's salary is 51,000, because that doesn't happen here until 20-25 years of service.....wwe DON'T get paid enough to be a glorified "babysitter" most of the time

  • Nicki
    6-28-2009 @11:24PM
    Nicki said...
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    There is a hiring freeze in our state and we have not complied with the career ladder for raises in the past two years. We have been given extra work to comply with budget cuts but our salaries remain the same.
    I love teaching and have been an in the field for nearly 30 years but often think of a career change especially when my youngest daughter makes more money working hospitality in one year than her mother that has worked a lifetime to provide the best for children and families.

  • Ron
    6-28-2009 @11:52PM
    Ron said...
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    I would love to hear what you do. I have been wanting to start my own business. I have been in the corporate world for almost 20 years and would really like the opportunity to spend time with my family and making a difference in peoples lives. I am not just looking for a "opportunity" to make money. I want a legitimate company.

  • Gary
    6-29-2009 @12:20AM
    Gary said...
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    Do not let someone pump sunshine up your skirt by trying to convince the public into thinking being a teacher is all shiny red apples and warm hugs. I retired after 25 years in the military and two deployments to hostile fire areas, the Persian Gulf and Bosnia-Herzegovina. I went to war twice and never even cut myself shaving. I now have more than fifteen years of classroom experience in special education having taught children and adults in state mental hospitals and in the best and the worst of public schools in Texas. I have to see an attorney just to get medical treatment for the injuries I received after being assaulted by five students. Since being assaulted on school grounds the district's insurance provider routinely denies medical treatment for my injuries while my health insurance refuses because my injuries are the result of an on-the-job injury. Because of the insurance provider’s refusal to provide medical coverage, what was at one time an easily treated acute injury is now a permanent disability and I may be forced into retirement. One of the reasons people are being encouraged to become teachers is because a great number of starting teachers quit with less than three years in the classroom. Those who do remain in the classroom year after year, are woefully underpaid, overworked, do less teaching and way too much paperwork only to be disrespected by administrators, parents and taxpayers. Since my days as a high school student, I have heard every politician wanting to be governor or president touts the virtues of teachers promising better pay and better conditions but as I begin my fourth decade of public service I am still waiting.

  • ruben
    6-29-2009 @1:23AM
    ruben said...
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    Most people commenting on this article don't know much about the profession. Others are a bunch of whiners. I've been teaching for 14 years. I earned $80,000 in 2008. Right now I'm on summer break for 10 weeks. I love my job.

  • Dale
    7-02-2009 @12:14AM
    Dale said...
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    Anyone considering a career in education needs to talk to a veteran teacher before making any such decision. I nearly laughed when I heard the national average of 51K a year. Only after twenty-one years of experience and a master's degree did I break the 50K mark. Education is a field mired in after-hours work for no pay and politics. In my district a beginning teacher starts in the mid 20's. Right now, the legislature in my state (IL) is trying to jack with our pension fund. In a former district, my department head's three children qualified for the school's own free lunch program. The sad fact is, the United States pays only lip service to the value of education.

  • jan
    6-29-2009 @1:39AM
    jan said...
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    well right now is not a good time to be a teacher in california - thousands are being laid off because of budget cuts and where i live 6 schools are being closed.

  • Jessica
    6-29-2009 @2:06AM
    Jessica said...
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    Is it prostitution? Cause thats what it souds like. PC= Exotic Entertainer....Pyshiatric Seducter???

  • Marcy
    6-29-2009 @2:53AM
    Marcy said...
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    Gee, you are describing a job made in Heaven!! Certainly not a
    teaching position I know of - anywhere!!! Set your own schedule, are speaking about College teaching? K-12 have set schedules and you must follow them. Due to the increasing standards, Teachers spend a good deal of off time working.
    If you think teaching is 8:00 to 3:00 you are wrong, far from it. While it is true everyone wants to do their best, STRESS happens most of the time, due to test. You have students who love to learn and want to be at school. But, most of the students are the opposites and they must test well, if they don't (due to the lack of study) you are blamed!!

  • educationforkids
    6-30-2009 @1:23AM
    educationforkids said...
    vote upvote downReport Neutral

    I don't think your posting information regarding education, which means your post is in the wrong forum!!!

  • kathleen
    7-29-2009 @7:38AM
    kathleen said...
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    i would love to learn a new job as you put it and make my own hours

  • tcbarneste
    7-29-2009 @8:14AM
    tcbarneste said...
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    Beware, I have taught for 29 years, have a Masters degree plus 45 additional credit hours and still do not make that much. You have to desire to be a teacher to survive.

  • Roxanne
    7-29-2009 @8:45AM
    Roxanne said...
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    What is the opportunity you are speaking about? I too have a fantastic opportunity to not only earn income but also truly help people achieve their financial goals..the more people you are able to help the better you will do in this business.
    I will take a look at you site....

    7-29-2009 @9:04PM
    ELVIS said...
    vote upvote downReport Neutral

    I've been sub teaching four seven years on and off and would love to get cerified to teach math. What is my easiest avenue? I have a BA in Economics from VPI amd SU.

  • john
    7-29-2009 @10:09AM
    john said...
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    Danita .. what in the world are you doing? What you posted is totally self serving and selfish. you should be embarrased. Anyone reading this, danita posted a link to 'help you earn extra $ by selling spring break trips..." This is a serious article with real information meant for people making real decisions .. your post should be removed ...

  • Vicky
    7-29-2009 @10:27AM
    Vicky said...
    vote upvote downReport Higher Rank

    Our economy is going through a recession and it will take at least 10 years for us to start seeing the fruits of our hard work. As an administrator, I have witness recent graduates that can't be hire due to a hiring freeze in N.Y.C. We are only able to hire the excess people(people within the system that were ask to find their own jobs.)I really feel for our young college students that have selected a career in education and might have a hard time finding a job in this recession.Educating a child is the most rewarding feeling that you might have for years to come. Good Luck for all the educators out there!

  • 1728 comment(s) / 87 page(s)

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