Career Steps

Career Steps

Teachers look for career steps for a variety of reasons.
  • You may not have graduated or have been out of the workforce for a while, but want to enhance your chances of obtaining a teaching position when you do graduate.
  • You may only want to work part-time or you may be retired and want to do something with students part-time.
  • You may want education-related employment, but not in a school.
  • You may not have gotten a teaching job and school has started.
  • You may feel the job you have is not what you want, but the job or school you want is not available to you right now.
  • You may have decided you would like to be a teacher leader or administrator.
  • You may be considering further education and are not quite sure about the direction you should take.
  • You may be seeking employment in higher education.

Part-time or Volunteer Work Enhances Résumés, Answers Needs
As an undergraduate, there are lots of things you can do to enhance your chances of getting a good teaching job. Now is your time to get summer jobs working with youth the ages you want to teach and to volunteer with youth organizations. If you are seeking to re-enter teaching or transition into teaching from another career, you also have a serious need for experience working with youth the ages you want to teach. You can do that through part-time jobs and volunteering. These lists are also good for teachers who are retired, only want to work part-time, or want non-school work to consider.

Summer or part-time job ideas:
  • Local YMCA – all offer childcare, camps, and a variety of lessons and are always needing paid workers and volunteers
  • Local schools – apply for a position as a paraprofessional, library helper, or school bus monitor
  • Daycare centers – many daycare centers run programs in the summer for school-aged children
  • Camps – if you were a scout or in 4-H or another youth organization, seek out their camp in your area and see what you can do – they are always short-handed
  • Public library – you’ll work with all ages and learn all about the best books
  • Be a private tutor or nanny – let it be known at schools in your area that you are available
  • See the 25 best jobs for teachers – some of these are not really education-oriented, but they are worth thinking about
  • Look on for “Summer Education Jobs” or “Summer Education Internships”
  • Museums and outdoor education centers as well as parks hire summer help and love having education majors. They also need help throughout the year for doing programming.
  • Substitute teacher (in a variety of settings) – this shows you are flexible, willing to do whatever you need to do, and have acquired classroom management skills.
  • Literacy tutoring organizations need certified teachers to train volunteers and lead programs.
  • Corporations need people with teaching skills to do training or write manuals.

Volunteer Positon ideas:
  • Teach in a children’s program in your place of worship. This does not even have to be long term because there are Vacation Bible School opportunities, Awana, Pioneer Girls and Boys, and other programs run by churches. Many offer a Parents Day Out program.
  • Volunteer for a church-based or community-based English as a Second Language program. You may teach adults, but some also have programming for children.
  • Volunteer with organizations that provide free tutoring to students. Look for programs that provide help for low-income students, homeless students, or as part of an after-school program.
  • Public library – many have story times and would love to have extra help and the adolescent area of a public library may be very busy after school and need someone to help students find materials.
  • Museums, parks, and outdoor education centers all love having volunteers. Just be sure to tell them you want direct contact with children and specify an age group if you have one in mind. Otherwise, you could simply be setting up displays or spreading mulch.
  • If you have skills or knowledge to help local Girl or Boy Scout troops with badge-winning content, this is a great way to work with students. Once you do it successfully for one troop, they will tell others and you’ll get to repeat it.
  • Schools usually welcome volunteers, but you may not get any actual teaching experience because often volunteers work with individuals who are struggling. If they know you are an education major seeking experience, you are more likely to work within a classroom or to work with a small group of students.
  • Literacy programs for adults who are semi-literate or illiterate are wonderful ways to hone your skills or share you life with someone who needs what you have to offer.

No Teaching Job, But School Has Started
It’s scary to realize the teachers have gone to prepare their classrooms and now the children are going to school, but you don’t have a job. Do not despair! Many new teachers get hired after the start of a school year for a variety of reasons – more students than anticipated in a grade level, teacher who just found out her husband is being transferred, maternity leave, etc.

That does not mean to just sit around and wait. There are things you need to do.

  • Call all the schools where you have applied and ask the secretary if all the positions have been filled or if you might be hearing from them soon.
  • Look online at the school’s sites and see if there are new job listings. Even if a school or district already has access to your application, many of them require you “apply” for each individual job listing, so you may have to activate your application for the jobs that are now open.
  • Decide in which school you would most like to teach and go introduce yourself to the office staff and ask if there are any part-time positions (library aide, playground monitor) for which you could apply. These will have some pay associated with them and give you experience working with the kids. It will also help you become known in the school and give you opportunities to meet the teachers and principal and let it be known you really want to teach there.
  • Offer your name at the front office as someone who is available to tutor should a parent call and ask for a tutor.
  • Branch out. Apply at any charter or faith-based schools you can. Apply to online schools. Often a year or two in a charter or faith-based school will help you obtain a position in a public school. Or, you may really love that school.
  • Look at the part-time jobs and volunteer positions above and see if you can do any of them to get experience.

Not Able to Get Into the School You Want
This is fairly common. You finally landed a job, but it isn’t your dream job.

Don’t wait too long to start the application process again for the school you want.

  • If you are presently teaching, have someone video you teaching a lesson, working with students in small groups, and other situations.
  • Add an introduction at the beginning of each video clip (after editing) and a reflection at the end.
  • Put these on a flash drive along with your résumé and cover letter, three recent letters of recommendation, your philosophy of education, and copies of the lesson plans you were teaching.
  • Print a letter to introduce you and tell what is on the flash drive and why you want the principal to watch you teach. Before you print, make sure to pay attention to spellcheck and grammarcheck – misspelled words or poor grammar are deal breakers.
  • Hand deliver the flash drive and letter to the school where you want to teach and ask the secretary to make sure the principal gets it.
  • A week or two later, call the school and ask for the principal. If you can’t speak with him or her, ask if you can leave a voice message. Either in a voice message or through the secretary simply ask the principal if you could have 15 minutes of his or her time to chat about what they saw on your flash drive.

Whatever happens, you want to do the very best you can where you are. You need good evaluations and evidence you are getting better as a teacher. And you will want some of your present colleagues to write you letters of recommendation.

Want to be a Teacher Leader or Administrator
Good for you! There are many ways to become a teacher leader. Most schools have team leaders and in many cases it is a position you apply for within your building. Many buildings have their own professional development from time to time, so if you feel like you have something other teachers need or need to know, offer to present it at a faculty meeting or staff training time. Get lots of ideas from The Power of Teacher Leaders.

Becoming a principal, assistant principal, or curriculum director usually requires you to get more schooling. What that schooling is varies somewhat by state, so check your state requirements. Read Further Requirements for Administrators. And see your state’s department of education website. To learn more about becoming an administrator, see Administration.

Considering Further Education
If you are considering starting work on a Master’s or Doctorate, see Considering Grad School.

Community colleges will usually hire adjunct faculty who have a master’s degree, but to teach in a four-year college, you need a doctorate or need to be working on one. Get more information at Securing a Teaching Positon at the Post-Secondary Level.