Teachers in Transition: On the Market and in Demand
Workspan Daily
February 15, 2022
Key Takeaways

  • Educators are seeking new opportunities. Teachers are leaving their profession in large numbers, and employers are eager to bring their skills and experience to a more corporate setting.
  • Education's loss, hiring managers gain. The worsening teacher shortage is giving a boost to hiring managers in sectors such as IT services and consulting, hospitals and software development.
  • Teachers' skills prove transferable. Educators' ability to absorb and transmit information quickly manage stress and multitask are in-demand skills that are helping former teachers land roles in a variety of industries.
  • Employers can ease the transition. New employees transitioning from education or any industry will require a learning curve, and offering the same level of training, assistance and resources will help set them up for success.

The education sector is losing teachers at an alarming rate.

As the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, the rate of people quitting jobs in private educational services “rose more than in any other industry in 2021, according to federal data.”

Then there’s a recent survey of National Education Association members, which found 90% of 3,621 teachers polled saying that burnout is a serious issue for them and their peers. The same survey saw more than half (55%) of those still in the teaching profession giving serious thought to walking away from the classroom.

It’s no wonder why educators are weary.

“Throughout this pandemic, America’s educators have shown us how committed they are to helping their students thrive,” said National Education Association President Becky Pringle in a statement summarizing the aforementioned poll findings.

“But, as our new survey shows, after persevering through the hardest school years in memory, America’s educators are exhausted and increasingly burned out… This crisis is preventing educators from giving their students the one-on-one attention they need. It is forcing them to give up their class planning and lunch time to fill in for colleagues who are out due to COVID,” added Pringle, describing the ongoing exodus of educators “a five-alarm crisis.”

Teachers looking for a career change have no shortage of opportunities outside of education.

In December 2021, for example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 10.9 million job openings. And employers in other industries are eager to snap up those with teaching experience.

Indeed, the worsening teacher shortage is “proving a boon to hiring managers in industries such as IT services and consulting, hospitals and software development,” according to WSJ.

“Teachers’ ability to absorb and transmit information quickly, manage stress and multitask are high-demand skills, recruiters and careers coaches say. Classroom instructors are landing sales roles and jobs as instructional coaches, software engineers and behavioral health technicians,” the newspaper’s Kathryn Dill wrote.

Teachers’ experience and expertise should translate well to any number of positions and industries, said Rebecca Starr, area president of Gallagher’s HR consulting practice.

“Manager competencies are evolving due to work/life changes, the pandemic, remote work and the war for talent, for example,” said Starr. “There’s a line that can be drawn from these evolving manager skills and competencies to the attributes found in many teachers.

“It’s also interesting to note that not every individual in an organization is a manager, but every teacher is the manager of his or her classroom — having a direct impact on the performance of their students,” she continued. “They have a better understanding than most of the power of their influence and how that can affect a subordinate or colleague’s behavior, performance and loyalty to the organization.”

Daphne Gomez is a former teacher who has made the transition from the classroom to the corporate world. As CEO of Teacher Career Coach and Qualified Team Solutions, she now helps teachers “bring a variety of transferable skills to any business environment.”

In addition to strong written and oral communication skills, teachers typically “have wonderful active listening skills,” said Gomez, noting that these skills are applicable to many customer support and service roles as well as business/sales development positions.

A typical teacher is “passionate about helping others succeed,” she said, which makes them ideal candidates for learning and development roles, project manager positions or recruiters, for instance.

For all the transferable skills and experience teachers can bring to an employer from their first day on the job, it’s up to the employer to harness those strengths and make sure lifelong educators develop in the areas where they may need more seasoning, Gomez said.

For example, “it’s helpful for a team to understand the translations between corporate and classroom skills in case a strong candidate [coming from education] struggles with terminology,” she said. “It’s also important to remember that skillsets and job duties can be taught, but personality is always going to play a big factor in who can quickly [transition] into certain positions.”

Providing an educator making this transition with some room for error “is going to go a long way in helping a teacher feel comfortable with applying their own strengths,” added Gomez.

“Whether someone is coming out of teaching, the military or another unrelated industry, there will be a learning curve. It’s no different when hiring teachers, so offering the same level of training, assistance and resources that make any employee successful will be a big help.”

Gomez points to a strong onboarding process and mentors as being equally critical to a former teacher’s development in a more corporate role.

“Teachers are lifelong learners, so they’ll continue to grow in their abilities if you point them in the right direction and continue to give feedback. Showing them that you value what they do bring to the table, and having a plan to help them learn what they don’t know are going to put them at ease,” she said.

“Any training and additional resources offered will be a big help, but having someone they can go to for reassurance as they begin to exercise their new skills will help put their minds at ease and allow them to shine brighter, quicker.”

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