New career for an disillusioned teacher?
January 30, 2010 7:03 PM   Subscribe

What's an okay paying new career for an disillusioned teacher?

I have always wanted to be an art teacher. I have a BA in Illustration and an MA in Art Education. However, the school I'm at is probably closing along with lots of other area schools. Before this job, I taught art in a rough area and decided that if teaching involves being in schools like that I'd rather wait tables. Last year I became the art teacher at a lovely K - 8 Catholic School where I am overwhelmed with joy and fulfillment when I teach art. I'm now also the computer teacher, which is okay.

If my school closes I will need a new career. Fast. It's safe to assume there will be about no openings for art teachers next year. I need to make at least $25,000, with regular daytime hours (I have a toddler) and I have to stay in Cleveland.

I have a few bucks saved up and am wondering if I can quickly acquire relatively lucrative new job skills. Maybe Microsoft Office certification could help me land a receptionist job. Maybe I should become a notary public. Maybe I should try to work for the census. Basically I have no idea what to do. I'm over-educated and over-specialized. Everything I look up about career change tells me to think about my 'dreams'. Right now my dream is to make enough money to feed my family without being a ball of stress at the end of the work day.

Ideas? What is the quickest cheapest way I can get into a new career? What quick skill-training program would be worth the money from an entry-level salary standpoint?
posted by debbie_ann to Work & Money (19 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: typo! Make that 'a disillusioned teacher'.
posted by debbie_ann at 7:04 PM on January 30, 2010

Maybe Microsoft Office certification could help me land a receptionist job. Maybe I should become a notary public. Maybe I should try to work for the census.

Of these three, becoming certified in Microsoft Office has the least utility. Or, rather, you can become sufficient in MS Office without getting a certification from them.
posted by dfriedman at 7:09 PM on January 30, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you. These three are just the beginning of my brainstorm. I guess I'm trying to find a better way to brainstorm: checking ideas for earnings potential and job availability and then spending time forming them into dreams and plans.
posted by debbie_ann at 7:18 PM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: It might not be your cup of tea but surely a server in a nicer restaurant makes at least $25k?
posted by LarryC at 7:47 PM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: Hey... I'm a teacher, too. A few teachers I know work in real estate. It might be worth your while.
posted by alphanerd at 7:53 PM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: Teaching skills are useful outside of schools. Have you considered corporate training? This is a big thing at companies that want to standardize processes, culture, etc., nationally or internationally. Bonus: shouldn't require additional training.
posted by whatzit at 7:56 PM on January 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

Years ago, I transitioned from teaching high school English to doing phone-based tech support for a software company. Granted, this was at a time (ca. 1995) when it was much easier to make this sort of transition, but that might be something to consider. I don't know if that's something you have any interest in doing, but tech support is a excellent stop-gap career -- no one expects to do it forever, there are always opening, and even a crumby tech support (or other call center) position will pay more than $25k/yr.
posted by mosk at 8:19 PM on January 30, 2010

You might also consider working in an archive or art library.
posted by johnxlibris at 8:29 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You might look into tutoring or test prep. Being that you're a teacher, you can make more money than the average college grad. Check with tutoring centers/agencies in your area, or put up fliers on your own. When I was tutoring I had a wide range of kids doing independent study during the day or who needed homework help in the afternoons--you wouldn't have to be restricted to evening hours.
posted by corey flood at 8:48 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm a former teacher (BA, BEd). I returned to Canada in 2004 after ten years living overseas. It's a public school system in the province where I live, and in 2004 the province decided to increase class sizes, meaning there were fewer positions for teachers. I had to find another way to support my family.

I was already writing freelance articles, so I became a public affairs officer for government. I later became a technical writer, and then I worked for several years for an industry association. I secured project funding (kind of like grants) and then executed and managed the projects. The projects involved everything from survey design to stakeholder engagement to business analysis to (once again) technical writing. I was working with a government partner to secure funding for a relatively large project ($1M+) when I got tapped to work for a government agency doing the same work. Back in government again. Once again I managed projects, and managed strategic relationships. I also got involved with business development, and found opportunities to leverage funding and resources to advance common goals. I affected "change management" (stricter reporting for fundees) and even commissioned projects, prepared (wrote) and managed contracts, and paid them out.

New management came on board to run the agency a little while ago, and I got laid off in November - caught in the crossfire. So now I'm pounding the pavement too. Based on my resume, a couple of software companies have been interested in hiring me as a "channel partner manager", but so far I'm still looking.

So, as a former teacher, my advice is to 1) inventory your skills and avoid calling yourself a teacher and 2) network like hell.

Write a resume. Show it to people. Ask for their advice about who they think you should talk to. Keep doing it.

Try non-profits or NGOs and sell your services as a "project coordinator" or "marketing officer" or something like that.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:50 PM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

seconding Training...
posted by xammerboy at 8:53 PM on January 30, 2010

All the trainers at my old job used to be teachers, so that could be a good field. They all make/made at least $35k. Of course, two of them got laid off this year because hiring stopped, and no new hires meant way less need for the trainers, so I don't know how recession-proof being a trainer is. The fact that you have an MA would really help get hired, though.
posted by ishotjr at 9:28 PM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: Learn Dreamweaver and you can make plenty more than $25K, working from home. My art-degree'd cousin is doing this right now. If you don't want to freelance, you can still learn it and then get a job teaching it. However, the world needs (and has a demand for) websites with a good aesthetic sensibility.
posted by rhizome at 9:42 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't have a job recommendation, but I do have job-hunting recommendations. (I used to be a teacher. I transitioned to publishing a while back. My field is plagued by layoffs now, so I can't recommend it.) When I was first looking for a non-teaching job, I learned that lots of people don't really understand what teachers do even though they might think that they do. In you cover letter, be sure to point out your skills/experience in business-speak: you have probably acted as trainer, manager, mentor, researcher, counsellor, tech support, budget manager, etc. You are also probably used to working overtime. In my experience, very few people in business have the range of skills that are necessay to be an effective teacher. Finally, when you are looking for a job, refuse to report your previous salary or to give a range that you're looking for. Teachers are underpaid. There's no reason that employeers in other fields should also get a discount on your hard work.
posted by TEA at 4:44 AM on January 31, 2010 [11 favorites]

Response by poster: These are some good ideas. Thank you.
posted by debbie_ann at 5:36 AM on January 31, 2010

Best answer: Consider seeking out office jobs in local universities. My husband and I have managed to find jobs that are mildly challenging, but not soul-crushing, with good benefits. Microsoft Office skills were really important for my job, as well as basic Adobe (photoshop, indesign, illustrator) skills. These could be learned pretty easily through playing with the programs or taking a class or two.

Webdesign is lucrative, but it can really be a pain in the butt. Freelance design in general can be a pain in the butt, but for some reason the scope and expense of designing webpages always feels worse to me, for some reason. This has pretty much been my experience, across the board.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:57 AM on January 31, 2010

I work for the census right now. It's a great idea if you need to make some quick money (they pay well) in order to smooth the transition to a new career. It's a bad idea to rely on for long-term employment.

The enumerators, or workers that go door-to-door, are hired on a strictly temporary basis and my coworkers have expressed doubts that their job would last longer than one month. However, their shifts are typically when people are home - evenings and weekends. You could look for jobs during the day, or take classes, and be free to work during the off hours.
posted by amicamentis at 8:19 AM on January 31, 2010

If you do freelance design, be a subcontractor of a developer or an ad agency. This way you're not interacting with the owner directly and instead your boss is someone who (presumably) will not make stupid requests PhoBWanKenobi mentions.

If you thought inner schools were rough, you've never worked with a small business owner.
posted by geoff. at 10:11 AM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just wanted to add that Microsoft Office skills are pretty much expected. In generic business positions peoples' ears perk up if you have *advanced* Excel skills, or can actually design PowerPoint slides.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:51 PM on January 31, 2010

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