Ask The Work Buzz! I’ve got a degree in education, but no job

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helpCourtney writes to us with a concern I’m sure many of you can relate to: I graduated college three years ago with a degree in elementary education. There are not very many teaching positions out there, so I’m looking to other avenues. I’d like something that would pay more than minimum wage but I am unsure of what I can do with a degree that doesn’t specialize in anything but education.

Well, there are other options!
When you’re looking to switch industries, you need to look beyond just the title of your degree or current profession. Switching industries can include switching from your educational background or from your work experience.  In most cases, employers will overlook those differences if you prove you’re a right match for the responsibilities of the new job. The best way to do that is to break down what experience and strengths you have. And if you don’t yet have a job on the horizon, it’s also a good way to discover what jobs you could be suited for.

Ask yourself these questions.

  • What are my strengths in communication–verbal or written?
  • Am I a leader?
  • What’s my customer service experience? (Do I normally deal with them one-on-one or am I behind the scenes?)
  • What about my last job/training did I like?
  • What career goals did I initially have and can I achieve them in another field?
  • On my resume, if I covered up my industry’s name (in this case “education”), what sort of jobs do I look prepared for?

Some of those questions might sound obvious or even silly, but they’ll get your mind thinking about your future beyond simply what you were trained for.

In the case of education, specifically elementary education, you probably have the following:

  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • Strong leadership skills
  • Experience thinking on your feet
  • Creativity (seeing as you’re constantly thinking of new ways to engage the students)
  • Conflict resolution skills (education courses often involve various classroom re-creations)

Some jobs that encompass these qualities and are often good for educators:

  • Instructor for a business
    Businesses often hold in-house training sessions on a topic related to that industry or on continuing education. An education background makes you an ideal candidate for these positions.
  • Textbook editors and advisers
    Seeing as you are an educator, your brain is ripe for the picking when it comes to creating course texts. You know what works, what doesn’t work, what’s lacking, etc.
  • Admissions directors
    Your education experience also makes you a prime candidate for working with incoming students and aligning the admissions department with the school’s goals. (This could be at a variety of schools, including post-secondary.)
  • Sales in education-related jobs
    Working in any school, you’re aware that businesses are constantly approaching educators and institution about new products, tools and resources.  Many educators are able to tap into their experience and realize what teachers need and how they want to be communicated with in order to sell these products.

Depending on the specific organization, you might need more training for these jobs, or maybe just an additional certification. Or maybe not. Workers constantly switch industries and employers know that expertise doesn’t just come from a certification or degree title. You can’t count yourself out of any job because you think you’re only trained to teach elementary school and nothing else. Look at your qualifications and then look at the qualifications in job postings and you’ll be surprised.

Have you been in Courtney’s situation and made an industry switch? We’d love to hear how you did it.

22 Comments
  1. Have you tried subing? It is a good way for a school to get to see what you have to offer with out putting you in a position, I think of it as a car rental instead of test drive!!!

  2. Have you tried volunteering at one of the schools you are interested in teaching. This is a good way to network and get to know the school staff and principal which can lead to employment.

  3. My son has went to National Instute Technology,
    He has A plus; security plus, network plus, microsoft certified professional, microsoft certified systems administrator 2003. Where can he start at with this background and what companies and where are they located in the U.S.
    He is 32 years old. Any suggestions or advice?

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  8. There are some online jobs for educators. Teachers can score standardized tests online. There are online research jobs that an education major could do. An experienced educator with additional training can go into counseling young people and parents. Teachers can start a tutoring business especially if you have a special education background. Former teachers can become sports coaches, provide private music or art lessons, and become religious leaders for youth. Educators are good at summer camps, after school care, and city recreation departments.

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  21. Hi I am 42 year old with hearing impaired, Just recently graduate with Bachelor degree of Applied Science Major, Small Business Management minors in December 2012. I am really having difficult of find a job that I can use my degree with. I also have Associate Degree in Graphic Arts Major. I am really interest in doing Graphic Arts stuff and using my bachelors degree. Anybody got any suggestion what can I use in with my bachelor’s degree. I was told there supose to be like job replacement after graduation, sadly they don’t. It been two months of searching of jobs, and still come up nothing, I don’t trust online jobs, because I don’t believe there is such as online job without getting scam. Please help with any suggestion and thank you for lending an ears. TB

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