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How do I Start to Retrain for a new Vocation outside of Teaching?

From Ellen, published on 29/05/2017 We Love Prof - UK > Tutoring > Advice for Tutors > Retraining for Jobs after Teaching

There is no one way to tackle a career change: there are many different ways to prepare yourself for a new profession outside teaching, and you have to take the time to really research the role and plan for how you can attain it.

When searching for alternative jobs for teachers, one of the main difficulties people face is that they just randomly apply for jobs that they feel only somewhat interested in. This usually leads people to a dead end, for the simple reason that they have not properly taken the time to understand the job they are applying for, and haven’t thought about what they can bring to the role.

In order to find the right path, you need a more strategic approach. It’s crucial that you know exactly what you are embarking upon, and that it is something you have a genuine interest in. There are ample resources – such as careers advice and online help – to support you in the process.

Many of the most successful career changes come from following a hobby. There often is very little retraining involved if you have the talent, know-how and some experience to get you ready for the job.

For many people, career changes are about following a dream they’ve always had but never properly realised. Whether it does stem from a hobby, or if, for example, if you have always dreamed of owning your own business, preparation and market research is the key to smooth-sailing and success.

But career transitioning isn’t always a simple task – it can entail complications, and the input of lots of time and money sometimes too. Saying that, it can often be fairly straightforward, as long as you put the time in and seek all the information you possibly can.

Some jobs don’t require completely new training or entry qualifications, and many tend to require training on the job. Some careers will also accept, and sometimes even provide, distance learning, so that you can train as you work.

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Start with small steps

Get on the right track to your new career as an ex-teacher Sometimes it’s hard to know how to get from A to B. Source: Visualhunt

To get the ball rolling, you can start by identifying the position you’re currently in. Ask yourself what strengths, qualifications and experience you have. Perhaps your current credentials could be applied in ways that will suit new professional roles.

O*Net OnLine is an excellent website for finding out what different job roles entail and for careers assessment. You can search for careers you are interested in, and then explore the various jobs, along with their general descriptions and activities, that fall under this career category.

You need to build up a clear idea of what it is you want to do. Saying ‘I want something less chaotic’ or ‘I know I want to work in business’ is not enough. By using databases such as O*Net OnLine, and speaking to people who can advise you, you can see the breadth and diversity of careers that are available to ex-teachers.

Think about what makes you stand out, what are your selling points? As a teacher you will have a degree, a vast knowledge of your subject area, and many transferable skills. So write them down and analyse how they could be put to use in a new and different professional role and work environment.

It’s important to remember what you want to gain from a new career, and how you wish to develop as an individual. Think about what you dislike in your current job – you might gain a whole new perspective on changing careers! This will give you a better idea of what you want in terms of the organisation, personal development, salary and benefits, for example.

You might also find that it the organisation itself or the exact job role that you don’t like, so a change of scenery or a different position within a similar organisation might be the change you were after.

You don’t need to start retraining straight away

There's no need to rush the transition! Take the time to research your career options. Source: Visualhunt

Career changes can turn your life upside, for better or for worse. Take your time and start with the steps above to make sure this is the right move for you. Once you’re sure, you can start exploring the possibilities of retraining and preparing for your new role.

You can also perform a Myers Briggs Type Indicator, or other similar quizzes, to test your personality and decision-making methods. This can show you  what kind of career might suit you, and help you find a job tailored to you.

You might find that employers will take you on with exactly the credentials you already have. This is more likely to be the case for careers that aren’t too drastically different from your current work.

Allow yourself the time to adjust to a new career prospect, and to reinvent yourself for the new role so that you can apply your current skills in different ways.

Make sure, as well, that you have really studied the career you plan to move into, whether it’s a move into the private sector or staying in the public sector in some capacity. Sometimes when people get bogged down in their current work, it can feel like a dead end and any alternative can seem more appealing.

Career changes often mean going back to square one. Looking at websites such as Prospects can therefore give you a good idea of how to get started.

Take a long, hard look at the target job role. Research the day-to-day activities, the nitty-gritty. Is the job as appealing as you originally thought? Is the daily activity and workload what you expected? Does it actually excite you more?

Use your network to find out as much as possible before making any drastic moves. Ask people you know, such as friends and colleagues, if they have any insight or information to offer. Read widely, maybe consider speaking with a careers advisor or visiting a careers fair.

For specialised roles where you do need specific training – for example, nursing, law, police, or counselling – you might want to do your research into the types of training available, such as diplomas, courses and apprenticeships, including the time it will take and how much it will cost.

Some careers require training which is provided by the government, or on the job by the employer directly. This is worth considering when weighing up factors such as time and money. You might find that you have the time but not the funds, or reversely, that funding isn’t the problem, but you haven’t got enough time to commit to retraining.

Remember, you don’t have to immediately quit one career for the next. You can continue your work, perhaps switching from full-time to part-time, and try to fit and necessary training around your current life. There are also many evening and online training courses available for some professions, so find the best fit for you.

Night courses are an especially good idea if you need to keep your day job. These tend to be available for more vocational and creative courses, such as languages, massage, floristry or electronics, for example.

The transition doesn’t have to be immediate. By not jumping straight into a full-on retraining program, you can allow yourself to keep earning and gain experience as you build up to making a change. By giving it time and integrating the career move into your current life, you can ensure that the change is sustainable and that you are truly ready.

Start adjusting your CV

Reinvent yourself by adjusting your credentials Adapt your CV to suit a new career profile. Source: Visualhunt

Retraining for a new career isn’t always a technical process – it can rest heavily on personal preparation and redefining yourself as a professional to help you understand which career profiles would suit you best.

A huge part of this process is looking back at your previous experiences, and at your current role, and start thinking about how you would fit in with the career you wish to move into.

Appealing to employers and selling yourself for a new job role all starts with your CV. At this stage, your CV will probably heavily reflect your life as a teacher, and you might feel like your work experience isn’t what employers are looking for.

Start by breaking down your CV section by section. Look at your skills – how can you transfer these to the target career role? As a teacher, you will have all sorts of important skills and qualities that will fit well into many careers, such as communication, interpersonal and organization skills.

Are there any elements you could add or change to make your skills applicable to a new career? You can perform a basic skills assessment online to determine this.

Look back at your work experience and identify where you have developed, what you have accomplished, and what skills you have learned. Think about how these experiences have affected you both personally and professionally, and direct the focus to suit the criteria of the target job.

In teaching and education, there are all sorts of situations that you will find yourself in. The breadth of teaching will demonstrate your flexibility and ability to juggle multiple pressures at once. You will have ample experience of dealing with people of all levels, and of navigating some very difficult situations.

In the workplace, there are always similar patterns of challenges and objectives. Look for evidence of times when have met certain targets, worked under pressure or handled a difficult situation. Start tailoring your CV, removing anything completely unrelated or irrelevant, and show that your focus is the target career.

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