How to teach, tutor, or sub in Cincinnati, Ohio
September 1, 2014 8:23 AM   Subscribe

I'm a part-time freelance copywriter trying to figure out how I can quit my full-time retail job and piece together work that is more related to writing.

First, I should clarify what might be obvious already: the fact that I'm not quite sure what I want to do. What I do know is that I'd like to do something at least vaguely creative and probably related to writing and literature, and that I'd like to make more than $11.25/hour, which is what I make at my current retail job.

My background: I graduated with a BA in creative writing in 2010, and I've been working as a copywriter for a very small LLC since then. The ebb and flow of this work can be all over the place and rarely constitutes anything full time, so I've supplemented my copywriting with retail work.

For the past year, I've been working 40 hours/week in retail, making just under $400/week after taxes, which is enough to get by (though it's obviously not ideal), but not enough to make me want to stay in a job that's not creatively fulfilling at all. I've been doing the freelance copywriting on top of this for extra income and because I'd like my resumé to show constant work in the field, rather than a big break where I just worked in retail. I've been looking for a full-time copywriting position off and on for a while, but nothing has panned out so far.

I'd like to quit my retail job so that I can devote all my time to writing and other writing-related pursuits, hopefully ones that will can make enough money to pay my bills. I've considered the possibility of trying to become a full-time high school English teacher, but I'm also open to the idea of teaching only part-time as a sub or tutor while still freelancing (the copywriting I already do and other opportunities I have yet to find).

Basically, I've broken it down into four types of teaching that I may be able to pursue. Please let me know any information you have about how to start with any of them.

1. Teaching full time - I'm most interested in teaching high school English, but I'm open to other grade levels. I have a BA in English, but never studied education specifically. I'm in Ohio, and I basically know nothing about what I need to qualify for a position or how to get licensed to teach here.

2. Subbing - I assume I'm qualified for this with just a BA in English. Is there some kind of licensing process as well? Do I start by reaching out to different districts individually? Who specifically should I call or email at each district? What about magnet schools and private schools?

3. Tutoring - I read on another metafilter thread that there's money to be made in SAT tutoring and tutoring kids who aren't making AYP. Specifically, they said $25-30/hour, though I'm not sure what part of the country they're talking about. How do I break into something like that? For the SAT, would I need to know the math section or just the writing and critical reading sections? What about tutoring at a college level? Do I go through the college for something like that or do I just hang up flyers or both? How well would college tutoring pay?

4. Teaching as an adjunct professor - Is this something I'm qualified for with no advanced degree? What about for a community college? If I am qualified, who specifically should I call or email at each college to inquire?

Thank you so much in advance for your wisdom, ideas, and support. This poor, misguided English major graduated in the middle of the recession and has been pretty lost since then. But I'm ready to do what it takes to get back on track!

I honestly don't need to make much money right now. My half of our mortgage is $300 because the midwest is a wonderful, wonderful place. My car payment is $200. I've been surviving on about $1,000/month for a while now. I just don't want to stay in retail any longer. It's killing me softly.
posted by bookishandbelle to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Here's information about alternative teaching certification programs in Ohio. Caveat: it is technically possible to go through an alt cert program to get a job, but I would find out about the local teaching job market before I did that. Here in Texas, those programs were developed when there was a teaching shortage, but now there aren't enough jobs to go around, so unless you are bilingual or degreed in math or science, your chances of actually landing a teaching gig are tiny. You'll be competing with lots of traditionally certified teachers, many with experience. Unfortunately, there are gobs of bibliophiles with English degrees looking for a teaching gig.

Community college is probably out as well, since you don't have a masters. If you did have one, it's usually not hard to get an adjunct class or two, but full-time gigs are competitive. (One college that offered me a job told me they had over 90 people apply, and it is quite literally the worst and lowest paying college in the state.)

Subbing you can do. At least, assuming Ohio is similar to Texas in this regard. Call the main number for your local district office and tell them you are interested. They'll be able to tell you the steps to go through. When I did it, it was one day of training and a folder full of paperwork to fill out, then I started getting calls. Going rate around here is $60/day. Might be different where you are. For me, calls were slow at first, but if you do a good job (maintain order, actually present the lesson the teacher left for you, etc.) you can move into the upper ranks of subbing pretty quickly, where upper ranks is defined as they know you, like you, and you get at least one call per day. Obviously, it's hard to get by on that, even if you get a call every day. But find out what your local district pays. It might be better than mine.

Private schools can set their own standards and they do hire non-certified teachers sometimes. It's worth looking into. The pay is almost always lower than public, but it's better than $400 a week. The easiest private school teaching jobs to get are in religious schools, IF you share their religious orientation. Non-religious schools are often competitive private schools that pay more but are pickier about teacher credentials.

Again, all this is based on my experience in Texas. I think it mainly applies in Ohio as well, but I could be surprised.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:45 AM on September 1, 2014

Test prep or other tutoring is really based on word of mouth and you have to hit the pavement hard. You'd be better off going to a tutoring or test prep company and starting there. I haven't done it in 6 years but yes, the money is good. But it means mostly working in the evening and while you have more control over your schedule than in retail, if you want to make a full living at it, you will have to work a lot.

Find out about your local teaching job market before jumping into teaching.
posted by k8t at 8:50 AM on September 1, 2014

Tutoring might work for you - but as k8t mentioned, to do it independently you really need to work on building your own business. Check out the test prep centers in your city and see if they could use you. In some cities there are also college application tutors who specialize in helping students complete their applications and college application essays. You'd need to do some googling around your local area to find out if that's something that exists where you are (if not, and if there's some disposable income/upwardly mobile types in your area, that might be a niche you could fill - but again, you'd have to build that business from scratch).

Subbing may also work for you. It looks like the process in Ohio is to contact the district you'd like to sub in and then get them to sign off on your license. I don't know what the rates are around there (the sub office could tell you) but do know that rates can vary significantly from district to district. The district I work in pays $100/day - I've heard that neighboring districts pay up to $150/day.

If your primary (or even secondary) goal is to get in more time for freelance work, I really strongly recommend that you not become a high school English teacher (I am a high school teacher, FWIW). It's an incredibly time-consuming and energy-depleting job. It is hard. It is not the kind of job that tends to enable people to do complex work on the side (there are exceptions, but they're rare - are you by any chance one of those people who sleeps 4 hours a night?). I work 60+ hours a week and am absolutely emotionally exhausted the rest of the time - I love it, but that's because I love teaching for its own sake, not because I'm trying to find work/life balance.

More importantly, it sounds like you're more interested in having some intellectual stimulation/creativity in your job than you are interested in education or hanging out with teenagers. More than 50% of teachers leave within 5 years of starting in the profession - your goals and interests strongly suggest that you would be in that group. Also, this job would require certification or an additional degree - there's a much lower barrier to entry to the other options you mentioned. Sorry to be a downer about it, I just think other options would be a better fit for you. At the very least, I'd suggest subbing first and seeing how you feel about that before making the leap.

Good luck!
posted by leitmotif at 9:21 AM on September 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm from Ohio and I had my degree in education and my license in secondary education / language arts and could only find jobs as a sub. No one I knew in my major was able to get their own classroom until they had 3-5 years subbing experience. Basically, the districts in Ohio, even the poorest ones, have tons and tons of high school English teachers applying for jobs. At least, they did ten years ago. I cannot recommend against going this route enough.

I have heard good things about getting jobs with Kaplan or the other test prep centers and I've also heard that grant-writing can be somewhat easy to break into, if you find a non-profit that needs help with it.
posted by shesbookish at 10:02 AM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was an Alt Cert High School English Teacher in Florida. It was a horrible, stressful, experience and I had NO time for writing or any other thing except sobbing in frustration.

This was when there was a teaching shortage. This is NOT the case now. I also had a Master's Degree.

That said, tutors make better money, but there are fewer hours. Kumon, Sylvan, or some other such place. Some do require certification, which is NO trick to get. Wyzant might be something to look into.

Another option would be to teach and/or grade exams. Huntington or Princeton prep might be worth looking into.

For Grading, check out ETS.

There is one Paraprofessional position open with Cincinnati Public Schools. There is one Sub position. There's a part-time Tutor position, but it seems to be carved out for a retired teacher.

Here's info on Alternative Certification. Enjoy those hoops. They're brutal!

Private Schools used to be less fussy about Certification. Although with so many certified teachers, that may not be the case anymore. I suggest you apply through the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, they appear to be hiring BAs for substitute teaching. It won't be easy, but I suspect you'll have smaller class sizes and better options for discipline in the classroom than in a public school. I'm Jewish, but I'd do it in a heartbeat if I needed the option.

Of the above options, I'd be all over subbing in Catholic schools. You may be eligible for benefits, it's a great way to get experience while pursuing certification, if that's the way your path lies. I'd especially LOVE the Jesuit methods. I'm not kidding, those guys teach critical thinking like NO OTHER group of teachers.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:29 AM on September 1, 2014

Since it doesn't look like anyone has addressed adjuncting - even at the community college level, a master's degree is usually required to teach college classes.
posted by jeoc at 10:35 AM on September 1, 2014

I am a freelance writer who is also a substitute teacher as a "backup job." My original degree was in high school English, and I once held a high school English job. I don't recommend teaching full time as a way to "more time." In fact, I quit that job to be a writer.

Here is the information on getting your substitute licensure in Ohio.

One secret to know: It is counterintuitive to many people becoming substitute teachers, but I always recommend that people who are looking to be given as much opportunity to work, but also the most variety and ability to say "No Thank You, Not Today, I'm busy working on a deadline..." to get the "short term substitute license," which only requires a Bachelor's degree in any subject. My reasoning? Long-term substitute licenses are really for people who are looking to get a full time teaching position, and is an opportunity to get the full teaching experience, like if someone goes on pregnancy leave or is dying of cancer or something. You typically only get calls in your subject area of expertise, which really cuts down on your calls. A short-term sub can work up to two weeks in a single position, and that seems quite enough for me.

So, in getting the short-term sub license, at least where I live and probably most places, you will get calls in any subject, K-12. You will get more calls, and more options to work. Because they are automated calls, you don't necessarily have to feel guilty for saying No Thanks. You start out where you feel comfortable (like high school) and then gradually expand to other subject areas and age groups. (I never thought I'd do K-5, but now I love it as a way to break up the monotony of teenagers.)

If you can afford it, get a subject area/long term license as well, but start with a short term sub license.
posted by RedEmma at 9:06 AM on September 2, 2014

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