Make a living by learning?
March 24, 2005 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to make a living by learning?

I have identified some of my passions, and one of them is learning. What company or industry would pay me to learn?
posted by grefo to Work & Money (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Work in a library. I learn new things everyday. It's not always exactly what I wanted to learn that day, but it's something new.
posted by cosmicbandito at 7:50 AM on March 24, 2005

Magazine journalism. Get tired of one subject, learn about something completely new the next month. Ignorance isn't considered a minus because part of a good article is looking at a subject with newcomer's eyes.
posted by inksyndicate at 7:51 AM on March 24, 2005

Taking in knowledge is totally self-serving and not worthy of compensation. What you do with the knowledge you acquire is potentially valuable to others however, which is why many employers encourage it. What do you plan to do with your learnedness? What are your other passions?
posted by dness2 at 7:55 AM on March 24, 2005

Grad school! Teaching!
posted by fionab at 7:59 AM on March 24, 2005

Response by poster: What I would like to do with my new found learnedness is another passion, and that is teach.

Unfortunately, I do not possess a teaching certificate, nor do I have enough college to make teaching a reality right now.

That would be another question: How can I teach without the "proper" credentials? I'll save that for another post.
posted by grefo at 8:04 AM on March 24, 2005

Then go back to college.
posted by mcwetboy at 8:08 AM on March 24, 2005

That would be another question: How can I teach without the "proper" credentials? I'll save that for another post.

Might as well answer now, if I can be of some help.

Have a BA or BS (maybe even BFA)? Some places will let you teach with a provisional certificate, so long as you take grad school classes towards the masters at the same time.

NY (or at least, some parts of) used to let people substitute teach with a two year degree/two years of college. Not anymore, but other states might.
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:08 AM on March 24, 2005

Teach english to people of non-english speaking background - lots of courses of short duration are around.
posted by peacay at 8:12 AM on March 24, 2005

Community Colleges often don't require teaching certificates or advanced degrees. I believe in some of the trade areas only documentable experience is required.
posted by Carbolic at 8:16 AM on March 24, 2005

Substitute teaching usually isn't teaching--it's babysitting, security-guarding, zookeeping, etc. I once had a steady gig subbing at a school so I was there a lot, but I still mainly just oversaw busy work or study hall periods while the regular teacher was home with the flu. I suppose subbing for a maternity leave or something would involve more actual teaching.
posted by scratch at 8:25 AM on March 24, 2005

Any teaching position requires you to learn more about your subject than you actually teach in the class. Chances are the classes you teach will change over time... hence more learning.
posted by about_time at 8:34 AM on March 24, 2005

I'm a translator, and that involves constant learning of whatever someone wants me to translate that particular day- a few months ago it was HIV/AIDS treatments, then financial structures of NGOs, then economic theory.

It's very satisfying to learn the workings of a particular field and then apply that knowledge - and the process of taking ideas expressed in one language and moulding them in another language is enjoyable for me, as well.

Not sure I'd recommend freelancing, though - even if you enjoy the work, the constant search for more work doesn't suit everyone. And of course, if you're monolingual the route I've chosen won't work for you.
posted by altolinguistic at 8:40 AM on March 24, 2005

You sound like a perfect candidate for academia, as long as these are true passions and not whims. Once you become a professor (to a far less degree a teacher in a lower level school) then learning becomes an integrated part of the job. But a lot of unpaid learning has to come before the teaching -- you can't instantly jump to the end result. If you find a teaching job without the credentials it's very unlikely to support or nurture any learning component, and it may sap any extra energy you would have to do it on the side. If learning is a passion, then look at schooling as the best job for you to undertake until you get to a point where credentials aren't an issue any more and you can script your own balance.
posted by dness2 at 9:01 AM on March 24, 2005 [1 favorite]

I'm also a translator, and I have one steady client for whom every job is an adventure into my own ignorance. For instance, I've been boning up on graph theory for my current job, a technical paper on self-testing in circuit design.

There's a real problem with this mode of learning: I'm frantically trying to learn enough to bullshit convincingly through the current job, but by the time I get started on the next, I've forgotten half of it. I don't have a chance to develop systematic knowledge or to apply it. Still interesting, though.
posted by adamrice at 9:07 AM on March 24, 2005

You're going to have to get a bachelor's degree but after that becoming an academic should feature on your list quite prominently. You can get grants to cover a PhD (fees + stipend) and in the right field you would have huge control over what you research into (social sciences are generally better for this than sciences). You would then move into general researching, and it's actually easier to get by if you're happy to teach rather than having to come up with money to fund your salary just through research. Don't think you will be trapped into one tightly focussed area of work either, there's lots of potential for covering different fields in your own work, plus a university environment means lots of chances to attend seminars led by people on their own new work in many different fields. In many countries (and there's no reason for an academic to stay at home, especially if cash isn't a central aim of their game) no teaching certifcate will be required to teach at the undergrad level, it's just assumed you can role up with a PhD and be able to teach at that level.
posted by biffa at 9:10 AM on March 24, 2005

Lexicography! I learn new stuff every day. Alas, there are rarely jobs open in the field and they pay in peanut dust.
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:24 AM on March 24, 2005

Agreed on the academia front--I'm a grad student now. I get paid to learn (and to teach).
posted by josh at 10:58 AM on March 24, 2005

Researcher...either qualitative or quantitative.

Instructional have to learn something new all the time, very quickly, and be able to turn it into an easily understandable curriculum.
posted by jeanmari at 11:27 AM on March 24, 2005

Most enlightened employers in any field realize that an employee that is learning is worth far more than one that isn't. If you expand your horizons in that sense, you will realize that very few employers will pay you if you *don't* learn.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:37 AM on March 24, 2005

an organization that will pay non-certified people to teach in underserved areas: Teach for America (only open to US citizens or permanent residents)
posted by leapingsheep at 5:31 PM on March 24, 2005

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