How to Transition to a Teaching Career

A career as a teacher offers the chance to inspire students and impact their lives in a positive way. If you’re thinking about transitioning to a teaching career later in life, you may be wondering how to get started. There are several steps you will likely need to take to pursue teaching as a second career. Fortunately, we have compiled a guide to help you along the way. Keep reading to learn how to transition into a teaching career later in life.

Jumpstart Your Career in Education, Explore an Online Teaching Degree Program:

Earn an MAT online From USC Rossier in as few as 12 Months

The Master of Arts in Teaching online (MAT online) from the USC Rossier School of Education prepares aspiring teachers for diverse and high-needs educational settings and can be completed in as few as 12 months.

  • Fieldwork placement  
  • Complete in 12-36 months  
  • GRE scores not required 


Why Consider Teaching as a Second Career?

Not only are teachers vital to the fabric of society, but teachers are also in demand. Ranging from preschool to postsecondary institutions, new generations of children entering the education system create a constant need for teachers.

Many teachers are drawn to the profession because they enjoy working with young people. That may be your reason as well. Perhaps you have a different driving force pushing you toward teaching as a second career. Whatever your reason, keep in mind why you are interested in teaching.

If you are considering a mid-career change, know that you are not alone. Many professionals feel the desire to change careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average men hold 12.5 jobs during their lifetime, and women hold 12.1 jobs during their lifetime. Needless to say, some people might make numerous job and career moves to fit their interests and evolving skill set.

If you are still on the fence about becoming a teacher later in life, try to determine your why. Ask yourself what is motivating you to consider teaching. Below, we delve into the positive aspects of a mid-career change to teaching.

Advantages of Pursuing a Teaching Career

The rewarding nature of the teaching profession is one reason to pursue this career. Teachers are able to witness their students grow throughout the year, and they play a part in this development. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in a 2018 conducted study, found that  job satisfaction rates among teachers ranged from 77% to 98% despite long hours worked.

Another benefit teachers receive is comprehensive benefits. Not all careers offer medical coverage and pension plans. However, many teachers have access to medical, dental and other benefits. Teachers must work for a certain amount of years to earn full pension benefits, typically 5 to 10 years, depending on the state.

Job security is an added advantage of the teaching career, as schools across the country are looking for passionate teacher. Teaching demand is expected to increase 5%  from 2018 to 2028 as the number of enrolled students is expected to rise.This means that a mid-career change to a teaching career offers stability.

These are just some of the advantages of pursuing teaching as a second career. From serving as role models to offering guidance, teachers are able to change lives through their work.

Will You Need A Master’s in Teaching to Change Careers?

There are a number of credentials many roles will require you  to obtain in order to begin teaching as a second career. The level of education required depends on the specific teaching role you choose. The Bureau of Labor Statistics outlines the entry-level educational qualifications for different groups of teachers.

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers: Bachelor’s degree

Middle and high school teachers: Bachelor’s degree

Postsecondary teachers: Master’s or doctoral degree

Postsecondary education administrators: Master’s degree

A master’s in teaching is not necessary at all levels of the teaching profession. If you wish to teach at a higher level, earning a master’s in teaching is necessary. A flexible way to earn this credential is to earn your master’s in teaching online. There are many accredited universities that offer online master’s in teaching programs. Whether you have children you want to stay at home with, a career you do not want to give up for school, or other obligations, an online program offers flexibility in your educational journey.

How to Make a Mid-Career Change to Become a Teacher

If you want to pursue teaching as a second career but are wondering where to start, there are a number of common steps that you should take. Below, we discuss ways to transition into the teaching profession.

  1. Narrow Down Your Role

    The initial step in navigating this career change is to decide what type of teacher you want to be. As previously mentioned, there are job openings for teachers across virtually all levels of education. Are you interested in working at the elementary school level? Would you rather teach high school students? Are you looking to specialize in one specific subject or teach an array of subjects? Determine who and what you would like to teach.

  2. Research the Necessary Teaching Credentials

    Now that you know what area you would like to teach, it’s time to earn the proper credentials. Most entry-level teaching roles require a bachelor’s degree. However, the degree does not need to be in education.

    If you are looking into teaching as a second career, you may have a bachelor’s degree in another subject. In this case, states offer alternative teacher programs.

    Many teaching programs include a field experience element that allows aspiring teachers to practice the craft in a real classroom. Under supervision, you can earn the requisite hours of student teaching experience.

  3. Obtain Your Teaching License

    Once you have fulfilled the credential requirements, you are able to apply for your teaching license. Each state requires teachers to obtain a license or certification from their state. Specific teacher certification requirements vary by state. Earning your state teaching license opens the door to teaching roles at public institutions.For charter and private schools, holding a license may not be necessary. These schools are not regulated by the state and have their own requirements for teachers.

Becoming a teacher as an alternative career is possible with the right credentials under your belt.

5 Outside Skills to Take With You into the Classroom

As you make the leap into teaching as a second career, consider your unique skill set. Most likely, you possess some skills from previous roles that can be applied to teaching. Read on for a handful of valuable skills that benefit teachers.

1. Adaptability

Teachers work in a fast-paced and often unpredictable environment. As such, the ability to adapt to situations in a calm and professional manner is vital. If a large portion of the class is struggling with a concept, a teacher may need to rework the lesson plan. Teachers also must adapt to new regulations released by the state each year that affect classroom instruction.

2. Enthusiasm

Students can tell if an instructor is engaged in the lesson. Enthusiasm goes a long way in the classroom. In fact, studies have found that “perceived enthusiasm of teachers is positively related to the intrinsic motivation of the students.” For teachers looking to motivate students, this skill is invaluable.

3. Patience

They say patience is a virtue, and it is certainly one that teachers need. When dealing with misbehaving students, teachers must be firm yet patient. Often, circumstances outside of the classroom cause children to act out. Teachers must have the patience to work with these students and urge them to shape up.

4. Creativity

Encouraging creativity in students enhances learning. In order to do so, teachers must lead by example. According to the American Psychological Association, “Teachers who can model creative ways of thinking, playfully engage with content, and express their ideas, will beget creative students.” As a teacher, you will have control over the way material is presented. So you have the ability to get creative with your lesson plans and engage students.

5. Communication

Unsurprisingly, teachers need exceptional communication skills. Being able to communicate effectively will come in handy in many situations as a teacher. Some of these situations include presenting material to students, meeting with parents, and working with colleagues and administrators. Teachers must understand how to deliver information to people of all ages.

A mid-career change to teaching can require self-evaluation to determine your current abilities and assess how to grow. Work on cultivating the skills mentioned above to enhance your effectiveness in the classroom.

Maintaining Your New Career in Teaching

Once you have successfully transitioned to your new teaching career, it’s important to keep your credentials up to date. Continued education is a necessary part of life for teachers.

Teachers are required to renew their licenses every five years. In order to be eligible for renewal, teachers must log a specific number of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) hours.

The differences in requirements vary widely by state. For instance, Texas requires teachers to complete 150 hours of CPE every five years. South Carolina requires 120 hours in the same time period. Rhode Island does not have any statewide mandatory continuing education requirement. Check your state’s specific requirements to ensure you understand the steps you must take to keep your license active.

Becoming a Teacher Later in Life

Choosing a career in teaching means you are choosing to shape the minds of tomorrow. Teaching can be both a rewarding and stable career choice. Teachers are in demand across the country. If you’re committed to becoming a teacher, find the best program to fit your needs and embark on this new chapter!

Jumpstart Your Career in Education, Explore an Online Teaching Degree Program:

Earn an MAT online From USC Rossier in as few as 12 Months

The Master of Arts in Teaching online (MAT online) from the USC Rossier School of Education prepares aspiring teachers for diverse and high-needs educational settings and can be completed in as few as 12 months.

  • Fieldwork placement  
  • Complete in 12-36 months  
  • GRE scores not required 


Last Updated: June 2020