Career transition ideas for a teacher
August 22, 2016 2:25 PM   Subscribe

Public health, health informatics, health administration, human computer interaction, educational technology, and user experience design...these are a few of my fa-vor-ite thiiings! I'm a teacher who's considering a career switch. Can you help me think this through?

About me
Mid-thirties, DC metro area, coming up on a decade as a professional herder of cats, aka elementary school teacher. MA in teaching. BA in political science. While I still enjoy working with kids and the actual craft of teaching, I’m tired of the stress, the bureaucracy, the grind of standardized testing, the lack of opportunities for creative and, tbqh, financial growth. The phrase “looking for new challenges” might as well be stamped on my forehead.

I’m interested in learning more about technology, and in helping people. The idealist in me is still attracted to work that makes a difference, as well as opportunities for curiosity, variety, creativity, autonomy, flexibility, and pathways to advancement (both career-wise and financially). An industry where it’s still possible to get a good benefits package, including a decent amount of time off (to feed my need to travel), would be ideal. I’ve got that jack-of-all-trades liberal arts background going on, a big set of soft skills from teaching, I’m everyday-tech-savvy (although no background in computer science), and I learn quickly.

Possible fields
Fields that sound interesting, and like they might combine some of those elements, include public health, health informatics, health administration, human computer interaction, educational technology, and user experience design.

But it seems like moving into any of these fields would require another master’s degree. Are there other possibilities I’m overlooking that might not require such a large degree of retraining? What are your thoughts regarding the future growth and stability of these fields? Any emerging trends or red flags? If I needed to retrain, is it realistic that I could find a quality program that’s also part-time and online so I could keep working and avoid taking on educational debt? It seems like that’s more of a possibility with IT-focused programs, but public health programs want you there, in-person and full-time, for two years. And would having two master’s degrees be positive, negative, or neutral in a potential employer’s eyes?

Informational interviewing
I need to gather more information, and it seems like informational interviewing is the way to go. What are good ways to make contact with people in these fields in order to conduct informational interviews? Is a LinkedIn profile necessary? Any mefites in these fields who might be willing to share experiences?

Thanks in advance for your help. If you’ve got any other ideas or possibilities that would be interesting to consider, I’d love to hear them!
posted by the thought-fox to Work & Money (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know much about this, but it occurs to me that a background in political science and education might qualify you to work in education policy research. Washington, DC should be a good place to pursue that, if it interests you. I see that WestEd has a DC office. Somewhere there may be willing to provide you with more information about that line of work.
posted by reren at 2:45 PM on August 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

perhaps trying out one of those learn-to-code programs (like code academy) to see if that sparks any interest before committing to a big investment like another degree?
posted by carlypennylane at 3:02 PM on August 22, 2016

You could be a medical librarian. It does require a master's but I was able to get mine online in about 2 years. In the meantime, there are a lot of opportunities open to students that you could take advantage of, especially in DC. The NLM offers a postgraduate fellowship that I've always drooled over, but I don't live in the area.
posted by LKWorking at 3:03 PM on August 22, 2016

I work in education technology in Richmond VA and would be happy to give you an informational interview. Memail me and we can set something up.
posted by zebra at 3:45 PM on August 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Check your MeMail!
posted by coppermoss at 3:58 PM on August 22, 2016

I'm an instructional technologist with an educational background nearly identical to yours (my BA is in English and Sociology/Anthropology, and I have an MAT). I work in the teaching and learning center at a large university now. Before my current job, I was a (full time staff) research assistant on an educational research project that had a technology component (though I wasn't the one really doing all that much with the technology part--I learned anything I needed to learn on the job and what I mostly learned was just what's out there, how the sausage is made, and how to talk about technology like I know something).

I completely love what I do (wellll... I mostly love what I do, and the parts I don't love aren't so terrible that I have trouble putting up with them for the parts I do love). I solve people's teaching problems with technology. And I just generally help faculty of various levels of ineptitude hate their computers a little less. I develop and facilitate training workshops and write documentation targeted towards our users so they can learn to help themselves. It's really rewarding.

Feel free to Memail me for more info.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:02 PM on August 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

You mention a lot of public health related fields, and you are a teacher. Have you thought of becoming a health educator? is one place to start.
posted by oblique red at 8:23 AM on August 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

MeMail me — or check out the positions here. DC area, public health/health communication/UX/digital product development, checks a lot of your boxes.
posted by pants at 10:41 AM on August 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for the ideas and suggestions; I truly appreciate it! To those of you who so kindly messaged me, or invited me to send a MeMail, I'll be in touch tomorrow. Cheers!
posted by the thought-fox at 7:39 PM on August 23, 2016

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