4 Career Pathways for Teachers

By new contributor Ann Davis from Haystack EDU


If you’re a teacher that is passionate about the field of education, but interested in a new profession, here are four career fields where you can hone your education skills while trying something new.

School Leadership 

If you are an experienced teacher looking to take on a leadership role in your school you may be interested in a school leadership position.  Great school leaders generally have experience leading groups of adults; have made great achievements in their classroom; and possess strong interpersonal skills.

First Steps:

1.            Shadow a school leader.  If your own school leader allows it, follow him or her around for a day or more to better understand the work that they do.

2.              Check your district and/or charter school’s leadership requirements.  Requirements for becoming a school leader vary from state to state.  Most states will accept an out-of-state license for a short period.  Many charter schools have their own training program for principals that don’t require state licenses.

Political Leadership, Policy & Advocacy

With experience as a teacher, you have the perspective and voice to address issues in education through public office, policy, advocacy and community organizing.  Political leadership in education includes positions such as school board member, superintendent, and executive director of a policy organization.

First Steps:

1.            Volunteer for a local campaign or advocacy organization.  Campaigns and organizations are always looking for volunteers that are willing to distribute literature, canvass, and hold fund-raising events.

2.            Apply to a graduate program in public policy.  Here is a list of the top public policy programs in the country.


A career in the non-profit world allows you to continue to be involved with education, but in a different setting.  As a teacher you know that the job is multi-faceted and goes beyond teaching into areas of mental health, family counseling, tutoring, after-school programs, arts-education and many more.  Working for a non-profit may allow you to hone-in on a particular part of education you really enjoy.

First Steps:

1.            Volunteer for a non-profit organization in your community.  Volunteer Match is a website that matches people with volunteer opportunities and includes a resource library about volunteer management.

2.            Read an overview of the non-profit world and what it entails from the Urban Institute:  http://nccsdataweb.urban.org/kbfiles/797/Almanac2008publicCharities.pdf

3.            Visit job sites that focus on careers in the non-profit world.  Resources include Idealist.org and CommonGood Careers.

Media & Journalism

If you’re interested in writing, research and reporting, the field of education journalism is growing.  As a teacher you have the opportunity to provide a genuine viewpoint within the education media environment, in which many reporters do not have an education background.

First Steps:

1.            Start a blog.  It’s an easy way to figure out if you’re interested in writing and reporting.  There are thousands of teacher blogs on the internet that you can view to get an idea of what is out there in education journalism.

2.            Check out Journalism organizations to learn more about the field.  The American Journalism Review provides a list of organizations.

3.            Apply for an internship in journalism.  The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) has a long list of internships.

Changing career paths may be scary, especially after many years working in a classroom.  However, by exploring new options in the field of education you have the opportunity to maintain some of your skills and your passion, with the opportunity to identify what may be your true calling.



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