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25 Highest-Paying Alternative Careers for Teachers

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Teacher burnout is a very real phenomenon, pushing many teachers to leave the profession every year, but what you might not realize is how many skills learned in education degree programs and on the job can transfer to alternative careers. What is a teacher, after all, but a project manager, HR rep, life coach, motivational speaker, and creative entrepreneur all wrapped up into one. Just because your degree is in education, that doesn’t mean teaching is your only option. In fact, there are many great career changes for teachers out there, whether it means moving up the ladder or looking into jobs in education field besides teaching. 

Second careers for teachers can take many different forms. For some, it means a complete career change out of teaching, looking for jobs for teachers outside of education. For others, it means going back to school and earning a higher degree – such as a Doctor of Education – and moving into administration. Teachers may add a psychology or counseling certification and become career counselors. Some teachers can even make more as education consultants. A career change out of teaching may just be diving deeper into the world of education. 

College Consensus editors have put together this ranking of the highest-paying alternatives to teaching with a focus on jobs that make use of the special skills, knowledge, and experience of teachers. Careers are listed based on their average salary, according to current Payscale data. 

1. Administration – Principal, Vice-Principal, Superintendent

principal

If you love helping kids learn, and you’re ready to take your career path to the next level by searching for jobs in education field besides teaching, it may be time to step your game up and become an administrator. As an administrator, you may be responsible for a specific facet of your school or district (such as operations, instruction, or culture) or you may be responsible for several aspects of your school or district’s success. An administrator wears many hats throughout the day, from meeting with parents to helping teachers refine their instructional approach. If you’re moving into administration at a school at which you were previously a classroom teacher, you have the benefit of knowing your school’s families and employees on a level that will garner instant respect as you step into your new role. 

While the requirements for school administrators differ depending on your state and whether you’re in a public or private school, most administration jobs require a master’s or doctorate degree, as well as a principal certification. As a school administrator, you can expect to make $88,000-$118,000 per year.

Average Salary: $88,000-$118,000

2. Standardized Test Developer

testing

Working as a standardized test developer can be one of many great career changes for teachers. If you love doing the hard work of making sure that students are hitting their learning outcomes, developing high quality standardized test questions can help inform students, parents, teachers, and administrators of where students are succeeding – and where they need some extra work. In this position, you’ll not only need to be an expert in your subject area – you’ll also need to be an expert in creating high quality assessments with questions that vary in level of difficulty. In this position, you may work in an office, or you may work in a school (especially if the school is large, and creates their own periodic assessments to prepare for state testing). 

In order to become a standardized test developer, you’ll likely need a master’s or doctorate degree in your specialty area. While your exact salary will depend on your education, your experience, and the cost of living in your area, you can expect to make approximately $65,000 per year. 

Average Salary: $65,000

3. Educational Consultant

consultant 1

If you’re an educator who is looking for jobs in education field besides teaching, and you still want to be involved in helping kids learn, working as an educational consultant can be a great way to continue to affect young minds in a positive way. As an educational consultant, you’ll likely serve several schools within one district. Most educational consultants have an office at a district building, and travel from school to school over the course of a week. If you work for a private educational consulting company, you may work with several school districts in one area. Your responsibilities will vary as the district’s needs change. Sometimes, you may work directly with principals and assistant principals, and other times, you may work directly with teachers, helping them to improve their instructional process. 

While the exact educational requirements differ from district to district, most require at least a master’s degree, and some require a doctorate. Many school districts also require educational consultants to have a valid teaching certificate, as well as keep up with continuing education requirements to maintain a valid certificate. As an educational consultant, you can expect to make approximately $64,000.

Average Salary: $64,000

4. Homeschool Consultant

homeschool 1

Homeschooling parents want to provide the best education possible for their kids, and this sometimes means reaching out to an expert for their input. This is where you come in. When it comes to jobs in education field besides teaching, working as a homeschool consultant allows you to help provide kids with a great education – even though you’re not the one delivering the instruction. You’ll work with parents or small groups of homeschoolers to help them refine the educational process. You may observe parents while they’re teaching, help with lesson plans and curriculum design, and work with parents to help them assess their children and ensure that they’re meeting learning objectives. Homeschool consultants can work on a freelance basis, or can work as a part of a larger educational consulting company. 

If you choose to work on a freelance basis, you’ll be responsible for deciding what credentials are necessary for your desired clientele to value your services. Most homeschool consultants have at least a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate, while many have a master’s or doctorate degree. If you work with an educational consulting company, it’s likely that you’ll be required to have a master’s or doctorate and a valid teaching license. You can expect to make approximately $64,000 per year as a homeschool consultant.

Average Salary: $64,000

5. After School Program Director

afterschool

If you love interacting with kids in a setting that allows them to develop their interests, a great career changes for teachers option for you may be a job as an after school program director. As an after school program director, you’ll work with teachers and coaches to design an engaging, robust program for your school. You’ll likely have an office within the school, but much of your time will be spent visiting various extracurricular activities in the afternoon. The hours for this job are a little different than that of a teacher, as you’ll be at the school after most of the staff has gone home in order to interact with students and educators participating in after school activities. 

In most schools, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in order to be an after school program director. You may or may not need a teaching certificate. In this position, you can expect to make approximately $62,000 per year.

Average Salary: $62,000

6. Curriculum Design

curriculum

As a former teacher (or a teacher who is thinking about leaving the classroom), you know the ins and outs of your subject area. From common misconceptions that students already had when you began your lessons to tips and tricks to make learning sticky, you understand how a curriculum needs to be designed to best meet the needs of students. Working as a curriculum designer can be a great career changes for teachers. The curriculum design field provides many jobs in education field besides teaching to former educators who are experts in their subject area. In this position, you’ll work with instructional leaders within your district to create a curriculum that’s perfect for students. 

Most curriculum design jobs require at least a master’s degree in education, as well as experience in the classroom. You may need a teacher’s license to become a curriculum designer, depending on the requirements of your school or district. In this position, you can expect to earn approximately $62,000 per year.

Average Salary: $62,000

7. Instructional Designer

instructional design

Instructional designers are often teachers who loved creating lesson plans, and succeeded at creating work for students that met them at the nexus of ability and challenge. Working as an instructional designer is a great career changes for teachers who want to help students, but prefer to do so without the pressure and pace of working in a classroom. In this position, you’ll create rigorous objectives, develop hands on activities, and create checks for understanding and assessments that allow teachers to engage their students. You’ll also utilize feedback from teachers and administrators to change current instructional design and make it more effective for the classroom.

In order to become an instructional designer, you’ll likely need a combination of a master’s degree and several years of experience in the classroom. In this position, you can expect to make approximately $62,000 per year. 

Average Salary: $62,000

8. School/Child Psychologist

school psychologist

If you love working to help kids fulfill their potential, looking into jobs in education field besides teaching in the area of student psychology can be a great way to transition out of the classroom. As a school/ child psychologist, you’ll get to spend your time working one on one with students, getting to know them on a different level than you were able to while you had a classroom full of kids. You may also lead group therapy sessions, as well as work in classrooms that are struggling with social and/ or bullying issues. You’ll work in an office within the school, or you may travel from school to school to see students. 

A school or child psychologist needs a doctorate degree and you’ll need to be licensed by your state. You can expect to make approximately $62,000 per year.

Average Salary: $62,000

9. Corporate Trainer

training

As a teacher, you know how to talk so that people listen. You understand how to teach lessons in ways that are engaging and appropriate for your audience. Working as a corporate trainer can be one of many great career changes for teachers who are ready to move out of the classroom. You’ll develop trainings, work with employees, and may even teach supervisors how to better explain topics and goals to their employees. You may work at one location, or travel between various locations of the company. 

You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree to become a corporate trainer, and you may need a master’s degree. In this position, you can expect to make $56,000 per year.

Average Salary: $56,000 

10. Education Policy and Research

policy 1

If you’re passionate about helping students, but you want to affect change on a large scale, working in education policy and research can provide many jobs in education field besides teaching. Professionals working in education policy and research can work for politicians, advocacy groups, non-profits, and more. Working in this area provides opportunities for many different types of work, from observing teachers in classrooms in high need areas to working with lawmakers to impact educational change. 

To work in education policy and research, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree, but many positions will require a master’s or doctorate. You can expect to make approximately $53,000 per year.

Average Salary: $53,000

11. Textbook Author

textbooks 1

Expert in your subject area? Working as a textbook author can be one of the great career changes for teachers. If you’re a former teacher, you don’t just know the subject matter – you know how to explain it in a way that resonates with people who are just beginning to learn your area of expertise. Becoming a textbook author is one of many great career changes for teachers who love what they do, but are ready for a move out of the classroom environment. You’ll get to study the latest research in your specialty area, and use that information to inform the education that students will receive in their classrooms. 

For most positions as a textbook author, you’ll need at least a master’s degree – many positions require a doctorate. You can expect to make $51,500 per year as a textbook author.

Average Salary: $51,500

12. Curriculum Representative/Sales

sales 1

If you’re passionate about your subject area but aren’t enjoying your time in the classroom, working as a curriculum representative can be one of the great jobs in education field besides teaching that may be a great fit for you. Working in curriculum sales can be an excellent position for education professionals who want an exciting job that allows for travel. In this position, you’ll spend time becoming an expert on your company’s curriculum, and traveling from school to school to talk to education professionals about why your curriculum is the best fit for the needs of their students and teachers. 

You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree to work as a curriculum director. In this position, you can expect to earn approximately $51,000 per year. 

Average Salary: $51,000

13. School Counseling

school counselor

Many educators who love spending time with kids, but hate dealing with grading and administrative tasks, find that working as a school counselor is a great fit. Moving into counseling can provide opportunities for great career changes for teachers. As a school counselor, you may work in one school, or you may split your time between several schools in your district. You’ll meet with students, help them through issues they’re having at school and at home, and evaluate students for learning and behavioral differences. You’ll also spend some time meeting with parents, updating them on their child’s progress, and you’ll work with teachers to help them accommodate their students’ needs. You may also work directly in classrooms from time to time, talking with students about personal and social issues in a group setting. 

In order to work as a school counselor, you’ll need at least a master’s degree, and you’ll need to be licensed by your state. The average school counselor salary is $50,500.

Average Salary: $50,500

14. Recreation Director

recreation 1

Love spending time outdoors, helping others to get the most out of their opportunities for health and fitness? Working as a recreation director is one of the great career changes for teachers who enjoy planning social, physical, and entertainment events for others. As a recreation director, you can work at a camp, a university, a boarding school, and other environments where students spend live while they’re also learning. You’ll develop recreational programs (such as competitive and intramural sports), implement activities for students, and troubleshoot programs that aren’t working for the organization. In this position, it’s important to interact with students regularly, finding out what new programs they’d like to see, and working to make those programs a reality.

As a recreation director, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree – many recreation director positions require a master’s degree. In this position, you can expect to make $50,000 per year.

Average Salary: $50,000

15. Life Coach

career counseling 1

You love helping others, but you want to do something different than teaching in the classroom. Working as a life coach is one of the great career changes for teachers who form positive, upbeat relationships with others. As a life coach, you have options for how you’d like to work. If you’re a self-starter, you can create your own business. Many people who want to get into life coaching choose to start their business while working at their full-time job. Others work with a life coaching agency. No matter what route you choose, you’ll be working closely with clients to help them develop and achieve their goals. In this position, it’s important to be motivating, encouraging, and upbeat. While positivity is key, you’ll also need to be able to give tough love when your clients need it. As a life coach, you’ll work hard with clients, and you’ll get to share in their success when they achieve their long-term goals as a result of your guidance. 

As a life coach, you can expect to make approximately $48,000 per year. If you run your own business, your income will be determined by your number of clients, and this can increase steadily over time. While there’s no specific education required to be a life coach, there are many online and in-person courses that can provide you with life coach certification. Achieving this certification can help your clients to see that you know your stuff when it comes to guiding them toward their goals. 

Average Salary: $48,000

16. Career Counseling

career counselor 1

If you want to work with people of all ages and help them shape their futures, one of the jobs in education field besides teaching that might be a great fit for you is working as a career counselor. There are many different opportunities for career counselors. If you want to help students who are graduating from college get started on their first career, working in a university career counseling center might be a good fit for you. If you’re interested in working with people who have already made headway in their career, working at a career center may be a good fit. There’s also the option to work in private practice, allowing you to create your own hours. Some career counselors work in private counseling centers with other groups of counselors, providing clients with many options for guidance. 

As a career counselor, you can expect to make approximately $44,500. You’ll need a master’s degree to become a career counselor, and you’ll need to be a licensed counselor in your state. 

Average Salary: $44,500

17. Adult Education

adult education 2

Prefer working with adults instead of kids? A great career changes for teachers can be making the move from a children’s’ classroom to a classroom full of adults. There are many different settings in which adult education is needed. If you want to work with adults who are working to get their GED, teaching night classes can be a great way to help them further their education. Teaching at a community college is a great way to help adults get the education they want to further their career. You may also want to consider working at a career center where adults come to learn soft and hard skills that can help them train for a new job. 

As an adult educator, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree. While there is not an adult education license, you may be required to get a teaching license, depending on the rules within your organization. As an adult educator, you can expect to make approximately $43,000 per year. 

Average Salary: $43,000

18. Student Life Coordinator/Director

student life 1

One of the jobs in education field besides teaching that attracts many teachers who enjoy helping students improve their lives, a student life coordinator/ director gets to directly affect the lives of young people in a positive way. As a student life coordinator, you get to work on a college or high school campus, creating and implementing initiatives that allow young people to thrive. Whether you’re working to create support groups for students who are away from home for the first time or organizing a campus-wide carnival, this position requires positivity and high energy. 

In order to work as a student life coordinator or director, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree. You can expect to earn approximately $42,000 per year.

Average Salary: $42,000

19. Preschool Director

preschool

If you love working with little ones, but don’t want to teach in the classroom, becoming a preschool director can be a great career change for teachers. In this position, you’ll support teachers, work with students, develop relationships with parents, and develop and execute goals for the preschool as a whole. 

While some preschool director positions only require a bachelor’s degree, most require a master’s or doctorate degree. You may also need a valid teaching certificate, depending on the requirements of your organization. In this position, you can expect to make a salary of approximately $41,500 per year.

Average Salary: $41,500

20. Camp Director

camp 1

One of the great career changes for teachers who want to continue working with kids is to make the move to becoming a camp director. As a camp director, you’ll work with counselors to support campers, create schedules for the camp, handle day to day issues (such as maintenance and camper issues) and ensure that operations run smoothly throughout the camp season. You’ll likely live at the camp during the times that camp is in session. 

As a camp director, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree, and you may need a master’s degree (depending on the camp’s requirements). In this position, you can expect to make approximately $40,000. Room and board may be included during the camp season.

Average Salary: $40,000

21. Freelance Writing, Blogging, Podcasting

podcast

If you’re passionate about education but don’t want to work in the classroom, working as a freelancer can open up many jobs in education field besides teaching. When you freelance, you get to talk, write, or create media in your areas of interest and expertise. Many educators begin freelancing while also working their full-time teaching jobs, and eventually segue into freelancing as a full-time career as they begin to gain a client base and/ or an audience. 

While freelance pay rates can vary greatly, you can expect to make approximately $40,000 per year when freelancing full-time. As a freelancer, you’re your own boss – your education and continuing education requirements are your own decision. 

Average Salary: $40,000

22. Residence Life Director

residence life

Many residence life directors regard their move from the classroom to the dorm room as a great career changes for teachers. Working in residence life allows you to get to know college students and support them socially and academically. You’ll work to manage dorms by coordinating resident assistants, maintenance staff, and other student life professionals. You may also be responsible for conducting disciplinary hearings for students who are in violation of university policies. Day to day responsibilities can change often in this position, and it’s important to be flexible and comfortable with the idea of an ever-changing to do list. 

In order to work as a residence life director, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree. Many schools require a master’s degree for this position. You can expect to make approximately $37,500 per year as a residence life director. 

Average Salary: $37,500

23. Admissions Counselor/Recruiter

admissions 1

One of the jobs in education field besides teaching that attracts teachers who are deeply invested in students’ futures, working as an admissions counselor or a college recruiter can be just as rewarding as the hard work you’ve already done in the classroom. In this position, you’ll talk with students about your higher learning institution, helping them to decide if it’s a good fit for their career goals. You’ll likely work in an admissions office, and you may travel to visit high schools and talk with prospective students. 

In this position, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree. You may also need a master’s degree in counseling, depending on your university’s policies. You can expect to make approximately $37,000 as a college admissions counselor or recruiter. 

Average Salary: $37,000

24. Museum Education/Tour Guide

museum

Working as a museum educator and/ or tour guide for teachers who want jobs in education field besides teaching, but still want the opportunity to help others learn. This job can be an especially great fit for teachers who love a niche area, such as modern art or American history. In this position, you’ll help students and guests learn more about the museum, and you’ll answer their questions about your exhibits. You’ll spend most of your time working in the museum, but you may occasionally visit schools or other educational programs to teach kids about your museum’s specialty. 

As a museum educator or tour guide, you’ll likely need a bachelor’s degree. It’s also important that you have a deeply vested interest in the subject matter of the museum. As a museum educator or tour guide, you can expect to make approximately $36,000 per year.

Average Salary: $36,000

25. Tutoring

tutor

If you love working one on one with students, but don’t want a traditional classroom environment, working as a tutor might be one of the great career changes for teachers that makes the most sense for you. As a tutor, you’ll work with students to help them overcome challenges in the classroom. You’ll work to reteach lessons they’re struggling with, and you’ll get to know their unique learning style so that you can help them succeed. As a tutor, you may work on a freelance basis, or you may work with a tutoring agency. 

Tutors need at least a high school diploma and subject area expertise. As a tutor, you can expect to make approximately $36,000 per year. This number may grow and you gain experience and grow your client base.

Average Salary: $36,000

What Kinds of Companies and Organizations Hire Former Teachers?

So where are all the companies that hire teachers? No other professional has the work ethic of teachers. These are people who spend 8 hours a day wrangling the bored, the frustrated, the distracted, and the unwilling, and then go home to spend even more time grading, planning, and putting out fires. What company wouldn’t want those people on their team? 

Some of the best jobs for ex-teachers are in start-ups and tech (what are often called “new-collar jobs”), where the soft skills of teaching can combine with the hard skills of coding and developing. Technology has made deep inroads into education, and the next big transformation in education will come from the virtual tools being developed now. Having experienced, knowledgeable teachers involved in these projects help ensure that they will be useful and valuable in the classroom. 

There are also many small companies that hire teachers, particularly in areas like corporate training and talent development. Many teachers display a high level of emotional intelligence and management skills, which are highly prized in smaller companies. Teachers’ exceptional ability to motivate people and bring out the best in each team member is key to these sorts of jobs. Often the best jobs for ex-teachers still involve working with people. 

Why Do Teachers Leave Teaching?

Teacher exhaustion and burnout are endemic to the occupation, but it’s also often taboo for teachers to discuss. Teachers who speak out about why good teachers quit are accused of whining and complaining; teachers who strike or call for unionization can get blackballed.

But teacher burnout statistics are troubling. More than a quarter of US schools are overcrowded, and that number is only expected to increase with the population. More than half of teachers work hours that are considered “unsustainable,” well over 40 hours per week. That is, after all, just the hours in the school day – not the evening, night, and weekend hours that all teachers commit to. 

For those who wonder about teacher burnout causes, the evidence is clear – overcrowded classrooms, excessive hours, financial stresses (many teachers dip into their own pockets for supplies when the school budget falls short). So it comes as no surprise that more than 40% of new teachers quit in 5 years, and more than 50% of teachers consider quitting. It’s no mystery why good teachers quit – but many can find greener pastures in alternative careers. 

What Can Retired Teachers Do?

Second careers for teachers can be careers after retiring from teaching. After all, many public school teachers who begin their career straight out of college can put in their 25 years to get retirement as young as their 50s. There’s plenty of time for a second act, in other words, and second careers for teachers allow them to make use of their skills in other ways. 

For instance, consulting jobs for retired teachers can be quite rewarding. A teacher with many years of experience can come back to education to mentor young teachers, guide curriculum for schools, advise school districts on teacher’s needs, or advocate for teachers professionally. Education consulting can be lucrative; many schools and school systems hire outside consultants  when they have a problem they cannot solve on their own, and consulting jobs for retired teachers give them the chance to use their knowledge to improve education for everyone. 

Retired teachers may also find rewarding jobs developing testing material, designing curricula, or even providing one-on-one tutoring for struggling students. Some jobs may be high-paying, some may be volunteer, but retired teachers still have a lot to give. 

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