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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 5 of 87)

  • Jessica
    6-29-2009 @2:08AM
    Jessica said...
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    In this economy arent two jobs necessary? Think 50-60 g's will help you get by combine two incomes and give back to America

  • Susan
    6-29-2009 @11:16AM
    Susan said...
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    You are correct. Teachers are being pink slipped due to the economy. Broward County, Florida just laid off 400 teachers. Miami-Dade has spent the last school year letting staff go, due to all of their budget cuts. That's just 2 counties in Florida. Friends in Georgia tell me that their school systems have also been cutting jobs. This is a national problem, in many lines of work. To give false hope to others about a well-paying career change is poor reporting. Many, many states have a starting teaching salary in the low $30,000 's - not $51,000. After 32 years of teaching, with a Masters degree, my salary is only $53,000. After 20 years in my school system, your yearly salary doesn't increase unless there is raise across the board. Teachers and administrators are having to take mandated furloughs,& they are losing employee paid health benefits. As far as a career in teaching being a 9-3 job, forget it. Most teachers arrive at least an hour before school starts, very few can leave at thend of their paid work day, and once home - the job continues, even on weekends. So much for the 'and teachers have a 3 month summer vacation'. It's actually a 3 month lay-off, without an opportunity to collect unemployment.

  • Dan
    6-29-2009 @3:08AM
    Dan said...
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    I agree with that, starting pay at my school is 34k WITH a masters degree. Also, with a masters degree at my school the pay increases stop at 17 years of teaching at 43k. So 50k is totally out of the question for someone in my district or surrounding area. I bet a teacher did not write this article :)

  • Eval
    6-29-2009 @3:48AM
    Eval said...
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    Thank You for keeping it real!!! I truly appreciate Your honesty !! Im a police officer turned Homemaker and Im now looking for another career, I was considering teaching, maybe I'll think about another field,

  • Tina
    7-01-2009 @9:29AM
    Tina said...
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    That is unfortunate. Maybe if you are free to relocate you could consider Northern Virginia. In particular, Loudoun county is a fast growing county and they are still building homes and more schools are int he plans to keep up with the growth. I just got hired and as a first time teacher with no experiance and a Masters degree. I am starting at $48,000. Good luck to you.

  • Chris
    7-29-2009 @4:32PM
    Chris said...
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    Which district are YOU in? I just graduated college with a B.S. and got a teaching job starting off at $47k. Nothing wrong with this's not that far off. Maybe for some people it is but in my case it isn't. It all depends on where you work as a Teacher. Maybe you work in a poor school district.

  • Aneesah
    7-29-2009 @8:11AM
    Aneesah said...
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    Hello" come to Jersey City and get a job, begging for educator's"

  • Me Too!!!
    7-29-2009 @8:36AM
    Me Too!!! said...
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    I agree 100%. I teach, and I truly believe it is a blessing to help kids learn new things. I dont want to discourage anyone from contributing ones talents to education. But its not as lucrative as the article makes out. I have 2 degrees, I cant find full-time work, and many places that have hired me have been entirely unfair and unbalanced with their compensations.

  • Ginger
    7-29-2009 @8:58AM
    Ginger said...
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    Who wrote this article. PLEASE. Several teachers were laid off this year from my school. And if you think you're rewarded for trying to teach think again. The kids don't listen and the parents don't care.

  • Mike6a
    7-29-2009 @9:08AM
    Mike6a said...
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    I CT we start a 31,000

    7-29-2009 @9:13AM
    KATHLEEN said...
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    come to maryland!! there are teaching jobs here.

  • Adrian Fernandez
    7-29-2009 @9:19AM
    Adrian Fernandez said...
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    If you are unemployed with two masters degrees, it is because of you. I'm sure you show no energy and a lack of assertiveness. Bottomline you probably look tired and your teaching methods are probably, "stand in front of class and dictate." That's not teaching! Teaching requires interaction, cooperative learning and student led instruction. If principals hear this in the interview you would be hired. However they probably hear you have two masters and nothing else.........

  • Stevonya
    7-29-2009 @9:28AM
    Stevonya said...
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    Where do you live? I believe its hoow you sale yourself (how you talk, express and look at the person or persons interviewing you) to get the job.

  • EV
    7-29-2009 @9:32AM
    EV said...
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    I teach in virginia and i have not gotten a raise or cost of living...this will be the third year! My husband and I have not even recieved a step increase this year. We make the same amount as we did last year, which does not cover basic increases that life brings! I also agree with the person who says teachers should teach b/c they love it not b/c it seems like a good alt. to what they have been laid off from!

  • employed teacher
    7-29-2009 @9:39AM
    employed teacher said...
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    Are you any good? I am an employed teacher with a Master's degree and 7 Iowa teaching endorsements. I am also a teacher mentor. I have a friend who looks good on paper, but does not have the social skills to deal effectively with students and their parents. Another thing to examine is have you priced yourself out of the market? In Iowa they have to pay more based upon your education. You get the job first, then get the masters.

  • momof3
    7-29-2009 @9:42AM
    momof3 said...
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    I agree. I actually do have a job currently but many of my friends do not! You definitely don't start out at $50,000 that 's an average of schools where there are many many teachers who've been there forever! Our district starts you out at $35,000 and with student loans you can barely live on that or if you have a family forget about it!

  • chris
    7-29-2009 @10:32AM
    chris said...
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    The teacher shortage is over folks!!!!! Nationwide, on average there are 2000 applicants per job opening in this feild.
    In my graduating class this year, only 2 have found positions!!! One is temp!

  • Dionne
    7-29-2009 @10:18AM
    Dionne said...
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    What does tenured mean? Isn't there some five year pension program as well for being a teacher?

  • britepinktubesox
    7-29-2009 @11:00AM
    britepinktubesox said...
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    Its harder for someone with a Masters to find a job teaching because, honestly, school districts dont want to pay that much. Its easier to go in with only a bachelors and then work up to your masters after youve gotten a job. I want to teach in Missouri and thats what they have told me to do. I am still in college but going for my bachelors first.

  • Jim Ulishney
    7-29-2009 @11:05AM
    Jim Ulishney said...
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    Yes,I have been laid off for 2 years.

  • 1728 comment(s) / 87 page(s)

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