Pursuing Teaching as a Second Career: Pros & Cons

Published November 29, 2021
middle age elementary science teacher second career

Are you ready to transition out of your current career to something new? If you've always thought you'd be a good teacher and are ready to do something different, you may be considering a mid-career change to teaching. If you have a passion for sharing your expertise with the next generation and are willing to put in the work required to become a certified teacher, this can definitely be a good second career to consider.

Pros: Great Reasons to Consider Teaching as a Second Career

There are a lot of great reasons to pursue a second career as a teacher. You might find that the advantages of pursuing a second career as a teacher are more than sufficient to motivate you to pursue this occupation once you're ready to move on from what you're doing now.

Impact on the Next Generation

Teachers have a unique opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of the students they work with. Being able to play a role in educating the next generation of adults while they are still kids is one of the most rewarding aspects of working as an educator. Teachers get to help students expand their minds and develop skills that will help them become productive members of society as they grow into adulthood. To someone with the heart of an educator, nothing is more rewarding.

Sharing Your Knowledge

If you're passionate about a topic, it can be so rewarding to share your excitement about the subject with others. Teachers get to do that every day. Not only do they get to educate their students about a subject matter that excites them, but teachers also have an opportunity to inspire their students to fall in love with the topic as well. It's exciting and rewarding to pass on what you know and love to others who can benefit from your knowledge.

State Employment

senior man second career as teacher

Most teaching jobs are with public schools that receive funding through the state Department of Education. The teachers who work at these schools are state employees. They generally receive a good compensation package and access to excellent benefits. Depending on what you did before, you may discover that your pay as a teacher is higher. Even if you made more money in the corporate world, you may find that the difference is more than balanced out by the affordability of health insurance and other benefits, as well as the state retirement system that you'll now be eligible to participate in.

Family-Oriented Hours

If you're looking for a career that will provide you with a work schedule similar to that of your children or grandchildren, there is no better schedule fit than teaching. After all, as a teacher, you'll be in class during the same timeframe that the kiddos you want to spend time with are attending school themselves. As a result, you may be able to spend more time with the youngest members of your family than if you had a different type of job.

Cons: Potential Drawbacks to Consider

Transitioning to teaching as a second career isn't without potential drawbacks. It takes time and dedication to become a professional educator. It's important to know what you're getting into before you decide to transition to a teaching career.

Work Outside of School Hours

Even though a teacher's official hours mirror the school day, teachers also tend to do quite a bit of work outside of school hours. All teachers have to spend time developing lesson plans, preparing for class, and grading assignments. Some of this work may fit into the teacher's planning period during the school day, but most teachers spend time after hours or on the weekends completing these tasks. Additionally, many are involved with after-school clubs and organizations. These activities lead to extended workdays.

Hard Work

People who have never worked in a classroom often have a misperception that teaching is an easy job. This is not the case. Working as a teacher can be quite challenging. Teachers have to fill every day with fresh, sound lessons and assessments that meet stringent curriculum requirements and achieve challenging performance results. They often have very large classes packed with students who have widely varying ability levels. In addition to teaching, they regularly interact with parents, other teachers, and school administrators, often regarding difficult and stressful situations.

Stringent Educational Requirements

One can't just decide to become a K-12 teacher. School teachers have to be licensed in the state in which they are going to teach. Requirements to become a teacher vary by state and grade level, though all include at least some formal education. In most states, teachers must have either a bachelor's degree in education or a bachelor's degree or higher in their teaching field (such as English, Science, History, etc.) paired with additional courses in education, or even a graduate degree.

Student Teaching Obligation

The path to becoming a K-12 school teacher doesn't stop with taking college classes. In most situations, people are required to complete a semester of full-time student teaching before becoming eligible for a teaching license. So, in addition to meeting class requirements, you'll also need to commit to a semester of unpaid student teaching. You'll need to plan ahead so you can be without an income long enough to complete your student teaching. This is generally done during the last semester of your required coursework.

Is Teaching Your Ideal Second Career?

It's not at all unusual for people to change from one career path to another occupation during their working years. For many people, teaching is the perfect occupation to pursue once they are ready to move on from their initial career. Is this path right for you? Only you can decide. If you choose to change careers and become a teacher, your students will certainly benefit greatly from the insights and expertise you gained as a working professional before you decided to transition into the classroom.

Was this page useful?
Pursuing Teaching as a Second Career: Pros & Cons