The prospect of a career change may seem daunting at first, but you would be surprised to learn that such a change is not only practicable, but happens far more often than you might expect, especially if you are planning to become a teacher or early years practitioner.
If you have always wanted to teach, but have been sceptical or reluctant to leave your current career, you may be interested to learn that there is plenty of data suggesting you can find job satisfaction in the switch and that students and children in your care could find benefits from you bringing your professional background to the classroom.
More people than you think change jobs into education and teaching
According to a survey from the University of Phoenix, one every three teachers come from a different career. In detail, 34 percent of secondary school teachers are career changers, with 36 percent of those coming from a business background.
Why did those people decide to change jobs? One-third of career changers into education say that they have always wanted to pursue a career in teaching, whilst three in ten teachers were simply seeking a change of pace in their lives.
Are teachers happy?
As might be expected, taking the risk of moving from one career to another has to spark the question: How happy are teachers?
The same research shows that the majority of teachers are satisfied with their role as educators, with an impressive 93 percent of secondary school teachers saying they are well pleased with their career choice.
And what about the teachers who come from other careers? A vast amount of them are fulfilled with the choice they’ve made: 77 percent of teachers who joined the education industry within the last 10 years would highly recommend it to friends and family members.
Teachers attribute their job satisfaction to factors like making a positive impact on a child’s life. While there’s always going to be a certain degree of risk linked to any career change, the figures from the survey are on the side of those wanting to make the change and become a teacher.
Meet Ben, an Ex-Retail Manager and Career Changer into Education
Ben is 26 years old and has 4 years’ experience working in retail management. His career as a Retail Manager has been successful and fulfilling. And yet he is now a primary school teacher, with a drive for making a positive impact on children’s lives. We have had the pleasure to interview Ben to learn more about his transition into teaching.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
"I’m 26 years old and I am currently a primary school teacher. I started in September 2021 as a qualified teacher after completing a three year degree in primary education from a local university. Prior to this and after completing my A-Levels, I worked in retail management for four years across a range of roles and across two different employers."
Why did you leave your previous job?
"Whilst I was successful in the range of roles that I did and enjoyed most of the jobs I had in retail, I ultimately found I wasn’t getting the ultimate job satisfaction that I wanted. I was most satisfied when working with people and often when I was training and developing people, so I knew I wanted to do something with people. Two options came into my head: HR or education. And I chose the latter."
What’s made you choose a career in education?
"I think deep down I was always wanting to work in education. However, I didn’t know if this would be primary or secondary, teaching or non-teaching. Whilst working in retail I worked alongside someone who was training to be a teacher and she put the idea in my head initially. She pointed out the qualities and the strengths I had (such as coaching, training and helping others) would make me a great teacher. I arranged some work experience in my old primary school and loved it within five minutes of the kids coming in."
What was the worst thing about your old job?
"I think, looking back now, I realise how pressured retail was (like most professions and sectors), however now, working in education, I realise there are much more serious things in work and more so life to worry about."
What’s the best thing about teaching?
"I love the variety of working in a school. I love the sense of community you have within a school - each school serves quite different communities and different people make up those communities. I’m very fortunate in the role I currently have that I get to work closely with our parents and community."
What do you want to achieve as a teacher?
"I think ultimately I’m not driven by results, I’m driven by children leaving school happy and as decent human beings who are ready for their next step and ready for the world. You can’t really measure that in data, but I hope I am able to provide children with not just an education but an experience. Thinking back to my school life, I think about the experiences I had in school, those are the things I remember, not necessarily the every day lessons that take place."
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
"I’d hope to be in some sort of leadership position within a school, contributing beyond my phase, class or subject. Working in primary schools, you often get lots of opportunities to lead on a range of aspects of school life, and often quite early on. I’ve only been a qualified teacher for six months and I’m leading on student leadership, community, house system and collective worship. And I feel really privileged to do so. I think I would also be interested in roles relating to teacher professional development and teacher training; I loved developing people and watch them grow in my retail career. It is so rewarding."
How would your previous supervisor describe you?
"I think they would (hopefully) say committed, hardworking, caring, thoughtful and ambitious."
Which transferrable skills as an ex-retail helped you start a career in teaching?
"There’s more than I thought. I think the main one in the classroom is learning how to prioritise: what needs doing first, who needs me first. This is something when in retail I had to get quite good at as this was my daily life and role. This is the same now with children in the classroom."
Can you walk us through your transition from retail to education?
"So, whilst working in retail I studied part time to ensure I had all the qualifications I needed to be a teacher. I was applying at the time where you still needed skills tests and so I was revising hard for them. I also, whilst working in retail, volunteered in a school. It was tiring in effect working six days per week, but was so worth it. I volunteered in three different schools which gave me perspective and really helped. I then started my degree in 2018."
What advice would you give to somebody who is keen to change career and get into teaching?
"I would say do it, you have so much to give. Having been in a different career beforehand you will have a different perspective. I would also suggest network early on and build your network from the start of your teacher training."
If you are planning to change jobs, you should not take this decision lightly. Whatever your reasons for wanting to do something different, a carefully planned move can turn out to be incredibly rewarding. You can stay in the loop with our latest updates with regards to changing careers and transitioning into education by signing up to our newsletter.