When looking for a new career after teaching, it’s important to keep all your options open if you are unsure of what exactly you want to do. Jobs in the public sector offer different career options and benefits, so it is worth weighing up the pros and cons.

The public sector is the part of the economy which is controlled by the state, and it is therefore the biggest employer in the UK. You might decide that you prefer the work available in the public sector, and that this is where your teaching skills and character can be best put to use.

Find the right public sector job for you!
Teaching has many transferable skills that can be applied to all sorts of careers. Source: Visualhunt

There are many fields within the public sector, including:

  • Local government and council
  • Central government
  • Civil service
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Police, firefighting and armed forces
  • International development

This list is just a few of the main examples of where you could consider launching a new career in the public sector. When searching jobs for ex teachers, you might find that continuing work in the public sector is the right choice for you because of the many benefits and the security involved.

One of the main benefits of the public sector is that employees usually have job security in positions of long-term and stable employment. This does not mean to say that these jobs are invulnerable: economic factors can sometimes come into play, and redundancies are not uncommon.

That said, public sector employment is still much more secure and sustainable that that of the private sector in many ways. You will also receive government benefit plans and secure pensions, which often drives people’s decisions when deciding between sectors.

Equally, you might feel as though you would prefer working in the private sector for a non-governmental organisation or private business.

Exploring Different Options after your Teaching Career

The public sector includes many practical careers that require a hands-on, logical approach. Jobs such as police, fire fighters and the armed forces are all a part of the public sector, and have many benefits involved.

They require specialised training, and are extremely selective career paths. In some cases, such as police special constables, voluntary firefighting or army reserves, these careers can be started on a part-time basis. Joining a public service such as the police is a good option for former teachers who tend to have advanced people skills due to their time spent with children and their parents.

Alternatively, you might feel that your teaching experience has given you strength in communication. A role in local council, or local or central government, would require great communication and interpersonal skills, along with other strengths, such as organisation and the ability to work under pressure - skills that all teachers usually have.

Explore the field of government and politics!
Use your leadership and public speaking skills to make a difference. Source: Visualhunt

Perhaps you would like to put your public speaking to good use and get into politics. If you are passionate, strong-minded and consider yourself a great advocate for your community, you could start getting involved with your local party of choice. As an ex-teacher, you will have experienced all sectors of your local community by both educating its children and working at the heart of it. Teachers are community figures - everybody knows them - and this means that you will already have plenty of experience of being known to many people, so standing as a political candidate should come naturally to you.

Civil Service Jobs for ex Teachers

Or perhaps you feel you are not destined for a politically-charged career and wish to remain more neutral whilst still working with and for the public. The civil service is a politically neutral organisation which provides support and advice to the government in regards to delivering policies and public services.

The civil service is comprised of many different fields within various government organisations. Roles could range from support managers, administration, prison officers, occupational health, community support, administration, education commissioners – the list is wide and incredibly diverse.

Many careers within the civil service don’t require any specific qualifications or training – and most offer on the job training and development. Different roles involve different skills and qualities in a person, so identify which jobs might suit you.

So, where do you start?

There are many ways you can become a civil servant, however, one of the most popular routes is to join the Civil Service Fast Stream. The Fast Stream is a government-run scheme which takes on graduates with an aim of making them into leaders to ensure a successful future for the Civil Service.

Though this tends to be thought of as an option reserved for recent graduates, it is also available for those leaving teaching jobs. One good example of the variety of routes available to Civil Service fast streamers is of one teacher-turned-civil-servant who took on roles in various areas of healthcare and HMRC before going onto his guaranteed job in the Civil Service.

Although there is plenty of time to find your area of interest while on the Fast Stream, you will have to narrow your options down during the application process by selecting up to four 'schemes' which represent areas of work within the Civil Service. The four schemes you select should be in the areas where you have at least some relevant experience.

Here are just a few of the schemes to choose from:

  • Government Economic Service
  • Digital, Data & Technology
  • Finance
  • Project Delivery
  • Diplomatic Service
  • Human Resources

If like many people, you have no real preference in terms of the department in which you would like to work, there is also a Generalist scheme. The Generalist scheme is for those with skills which can be applied in many different areas in lots of different ways, and for this reason, those who choose to be a Generalist will experience working in a range of government organisations from the DWP to corporate services.

What does the application process look like?

The first thing you will be asked to do is to complete two online tests which you have five days to complete. Following this, you will have to complete an E-tray exercise lasting approximately 80 minutes, which is aimed at assessing your decision-making capabilities. You will also have five days to finish this. The final part of the initial online application process is a video interview lasting 25 minutes.

If you are successful in the first stage, you may be required to submit further information or complete a numeracy test before progressing to the next main step in the application process.

The second step in applying to the Civil Service Fast Stream is the 5-hour-long assessment centre where your leadership qualities and analytical skills will be tested.

The final part of the application process is the final selection stage, where you will undertake further assessments and decision will be made on the success of your application.

Applications for the Civil Service Fast Stream open at the beginning of the academic year - so don't let the hustle and bustle of the new school term make you forget about starting on your journey towards a new career in the Civil Service!

What About Taking Your Talent Overseas?

Holidaying abroad is one thing, but have you ever thought of relocating overseas? Seeking out a position in one of our Commonwealth countries or nations we have diplomatic relations with?

There are a couple of ways to go about doing so...

Hope your passport is up to date; we going to find teaching work overseas!
Hang on to your passports: we're going to find what jobs exist for teachers overseas! Source: Pixabay Credit: Blue Budgie

Civil Service Positions Overseas

In the interest of full disclosure – and the fact that you would soon find out on your own if you investigated these opportunities, 2010 saw a service-wide hiring freeze in civil service positions. To this day that freeze remains in place, limiting active recruitment to the Diplomatic Service Fast Stream.

This should not be a cause for despair or for believing that this career field is closed to you. Rather, it signals the opportunity for a new, exciting chapter in your life!

Besides, the Foreign Commonwealth Office or FCO participates in other Fast Streams even if they don’t hire directly from them.

Fact: a 2017 census revealed that at that time 1.3 million Britons were living and working abroad.

In spite of Brexit – fears that leaving the EU could cost them their overseas position, the number of British expats working overseas has surely grown in these intervening 2 years... as have the Brexit concerns, the more contentious the negotiations get.

Working for the FCO overseas in an official capacity effectively removes any uncertainty over your employment status in the face of Brexit all while sanctioning your overseas sojourn.

That’s one hurdle cleared!

Next question: what, exactly, does the FCO do?

In short, it represents Great Britain and our country’s interests abroad.

The longer answer would take some time to read as FCO services, both in the UK and abroad, are extensive.

  • As an executive agency, it manages its own revenue and expenditures and receives no government funding.

    • That means that each office, no matter where in the world it is located, has the power to engage in business, with other branches of the UK government and with outside businesses.

  • The business end of the FCO, called FCO Services, has been developing a secure cloud computing platform to support other British government entities.

    • That is in conjunction with other secure support services the FCO provides both at home and to customers abroad.

  • FCO Services, a public sector organisation, works all over the world to keep customer data and assets safe.

“But... I’m a teacher!” you might wail.

Are you an IT teacher? A math teacher? What about Economics – right now, the FCO is actively searching for candidates with an education in Economics.

Do you know anything about computers? Do you believe assets have to be data, property or money?

Remember: working in civil service does not require any specialised training (although they do require at least a 4-year degree for the positions mentioned in this section). More to the point: what training is needed will be provided – except for specialist fields, meaning that you have to have a background in economics, for example. Training in economics will not be a part of your training as a civil service worker.

What’s more important to earning yourself a civil service position is the intangible qualities you bring: diversity, resourcefulness, experience dealing with a range of personalities...

We hope that by giving individuals from a range of backgrounds the opportunity to sample working at the FCO they may consider the FCO as a future employer, as well as gaining beneficial work experience. - As quoted from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office recruitment page.

Think about it: how diverse of a background can a university student have?

Clearly, they mean people like you: (soon to be or already) former teachers with vast classroom experience who are looking for new avenues to pursue on the path of their personal growth.

You should check out the FCO’s official web page and peruse the links to read all about what opportunities await you, either on our land or abroad.

You might be pleasantly surprised to discover teaching jobs abroad
Teaching English in Asia definitely has its perks! Source: Pixabay Credit: Nguyen Tuan Hung

Teaching English Abroad

I wanted to train as a doctor but my father said it would be better if I studied English – Zhang Li Jin AKA Berry, English major student at Wuhan Institute of Technology.

Unlike in China, where families often make all decisions for their progeny including what major to select at university and what career path to follow, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to what we will do with our lives.

Unlike in that country, where the majority of English majors go on to teach English themselves as sometimes dictated by family adults, in our country, people choose to become teachers for the love of teaching.

Often they are driven by an altruistic, noble ideal, too.

That makes one wonder why UK teachers are leaving schools in droves, doesn’t it?

Regardless of the reasons – that would make for a fascinating discussion in itself, if you are one who loves teaching but cannot endure the difficulties of teaching in the UK, cheer up: there are plenty of teaching opportunities overseas!

Countries all over Asia and eastern Europe, as well as the Middle East, are recruiting native English speakers to teach language classes at a breakneck pace!

Hiring criteria varies from country to country (and from school to school) but minimum requirements include a Bachelor’s degree, a TESOL or TEFL and teaching experience.

As a (former) teacher, you are already in possession of two of the three requirements and earning your TEFL would be a snap!

What are the advantages of teaching abroad?

A more relaxed pace: most schools only require a minimum of classes to be taught; however, you would be expected to participate in extracurricular activities such as homework labs and English clubs, and possibly department meetings.

Another great feature of these English classes is flexibility: often you would be permitted to create your own teaching materials and make use of new-age teaching methods such as role playing and cognitive skill building (provided they are not too far out of the norm for your host country!).

Allocated housing: most schools with foreign teachers on staff provide them with living quarters as well as utilities – often subsidised!

A local liaison: as you would not be expected to know the language of the country you teach in, someone would be assigned to help you navigate local bureaucracy and help you get familiar with the culture. You may even be treated to language lessons!

That’s the official end of things. What else is in it for you?

Learning a new culture... by living it! In most instances, teaching abroad, you would not be restricted to campus or otherwise confined. In fact, it would be expected that you would mingle and interact with your local community.

Learn a new language: because you would shop at local stores and eat at local restaurants, you would certainly have to learn at least a bit of local language.

Lots of travel opportunity: our lovely island is admittedly limited in range; we can only go so far before encountering water no matter which direction we go. The Asian continent, by contrast, is vast and gridded with rails; a train journey to some exotic-sounding city is not out of the question!

A means of rediscovering why you got into teaching in the first place: compared to all of the pressure and administrative tasks UK teachers are expected to manage, it would be downright refreshing to not have to worry about teaching to the test or what your students’ exam scores suggest about your pedagogy.

A sterling feather in your cap: an experience you could proudly list on your CV that will most certainly show favourably to future employers!

It all sounds great, doesn’t it?

Of course, there are concerns. Let’s say you have a family; surely you would not abandon them to gallivant off to some foreign land to teach!

You may be pleasantly surprised to find that many schools hiring foreign teachers also have an international school nearby that you can enrol your kids in. Furthermore, most are prepared to help your entire family get acclimated to their new surroundings: securing visas, school enrolment, health checkups and so on.

What about political instability?

Most countries recruiting foreign teachers are actually quite stable and very safe: Japan, China, Thailand and South Korea are countries that constantly advertise their need for native English speakers. As long as you follow local laws, there would be no reason for you to be any type of political target or a victim of a crime.

Naturally, you would be expected to observe local customs and laws. For example, if you teach in Kuwait or Dubai, both countries that offer high salaries to foreign teachers, you must be aware of the rules, especially those regarding the conduct and appearance of women (if you are a female teacher).

One final caveat: ensure that you are offered a contract from a legitimate school before packing up and leaving home.

Plenty of teachers with a yen for adventure took off without doing any checking and found less than stellar living conditions and a workload that did not at all match the job posting they responded to. Worst of all: their passports were kept in the school's administrative office, meaning they were effectively bound to that campus until they could get their passports back!

For that reason, you should seek out a teaching position abroad on your own before relying on any recruiter.

Community Based Work

A career path which in many ways reflects the qualities of a school teacher is community-based work, such as youth work, caring for the elderly, and all sorts of charity posts. You could work alongside an educational organisation, or indeed completely separate to it: the human traits and professional skills of an educator are well suited to this sort of role.

Community-based work is a popular choice for ex-teachers!
Explore the options of community and youth work. Source: Visualhunt

It is almost always a requirement in community-based roles such as these to have a DBS check (formerly known as CRB checks). Having this certificate already makes you qualified to work with young people and vulnerable adults, and also makes you aware of the risks and challenges of this work.

Many people, especially ex-teachers, do find this work incredibly rewarding. Those who have an insight to state education tend find that there is a significant lack of support and guidance. Experience of a tough classroom environment, and working with people of all walks of life would help in securing a role like this, and tackling difficult tasks in the future.

With community-based support work, you get to put your skills of communication and relationships to work, and help make a difference to people’s lives, particularly those from a disadvantaged background. You might even find that this work takes you out of the public sector, if you decide to pursue a non-governmental organisation.

So, what are the first steps towards a community-based career?

It really depends on the role you wish to pursue. Let's take a look at public sector youth work as an example.

Youth Workers are usually employed by local authorities and work in a range of fields, taking on responsibilities including the organisation of community projects, fundraising and working within schools to support students.

As a former teacher, your developed communication abilities will give you promise in your pursuit of a successful career as a youth worker.

The first step towards youth work is getting certified. As you will already hold a degree, you'll likely need to gain a JNC-approved postgraduate qualification if your first degree isn't in youth work. A list of the approved qualifications for professional youth workers is available on the National Youth Agency (NYA) website. All of these qualifications take at least one year to complete, so getting into youth work is not a decision to be taken lightly.

Once you're qualified, applying for youth worker jobs is like applying for any other kind of job: you'll need to look for job vacancies and apply for them.

Becoming a youth worker is a fantastically rewarding alternative career for certified teachers, not only because of the way it draws on your communicative and educational skills, but also because it will allow you to view your community from a new perspective and will, therefore, give you the opportunity to be dedicated to your community in a new way.

Jobs in Education

As a teacher, you will already be familiar with the rewards, benefits and challenges of working in the public sector. You might find that working for a government organisation such as state education is a gratifying and enjoyable experience, and might therefore decide to explore other options within this sector, but outside of teaching.

Teachers have many important skills and qualities, such as:

  • A strong work ethic
  • The ability to work well under pressure
  • A creative, innovative approach to tasks
  • A good understanding of people and human behaviour
  • Working successfully in a team and independently
  • The ambition to constantly improve and develop

With these skills and your education degree, you will be qualified for many jobs within the field of education in the public sector. If you feel that you wish to remain in this area, then think about what it is that makes you not want to teach anymore.

Do you like working with young people and in schools? Do you like advising students and helping them develop? Do you like leadership positions, and managing a team of people?

Schools and universities have special departments specifically focused on student wellbeing and development. If you feel that you would still like to remain in this type of work environment, why not try swapping the classroom for work in student support? You will likely still receive all the same benefits, and in many cases will also maintain your teacher’s holiday allowance, but your tasks and activities will be refocused.

Or maybe you’re interested in the prospect of development and recruitment in teaching – teaching teachers themselves! If your talents lie in directing, leading, and innovation, then you might find that you’re destined to work in a behind-the-scenes role that facilitates the progress and improvement of state education.

Another way to apply your knowledge of school life is to get involved in the Department for Education itself. This is a great way to put your skills and experience to good use whilst enjoying a change of scenery as you go from working on the educational front line to working behind-the-scenes.

A good way to find out more about the opportunities which may be available to you is to do plenty of research. Visit job websites and find out whether a behind-the-scenes job offers what you're looking for in a career.

Counselling: Alternatives to Teaching

Within the field of student support, there are careers in counselling to consider. Do you consider yourself a compassionate person? Are you a good listener? Do you have a problem-solving mindset? You could be just the right kind of person to help students by creating a caring, supportive environment to work through their academic, personal and social worries.

Counselling does involve taking a training course, but the level of training depends on the level of counselling you would provide. You do not necessarily need a degree to become a counsellor – there are many further education courses available, for example through the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) or Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA).

These courses are widely recognised and could make you eligible for a counselling role in a school or university, in a youth group or local counselling service that lies outside of education. They range from introductory courses to higher level qualifications, at both certificate and diploma level, depending on who you wish to work with and in what environment.

Teaching doesn't have to be confined to a classroom!
Explore the different paths within state education. Source: Visualhunt

A surprising number of teachers choose to follow their passion for helping students with a range of issues throughout their education to become counsellors, however, simply knowing that you want to 'get into counselling' isn't enough - you'll need to narrow down your goals before you put the wheels of your career change in motion.

Ask yourself plenty of questions. Would you prefer to work with adults or children? Do you want to specialise in a particular area or would you prefer to take a more general approach? You'll find that there are as many types of counselling careers as there are questions to be asked - but this gives you plenty of options.

Before you set out to complete your counselling qualification, make sure that is it accredited by the BACP, the national leading body for counselling.

So, how do you become qualified?

The standard route to becoming a professional counselor with the BACP for those with no counselling experience is as follows:

Qualification NameAcademic LevelCourse DurationCost
Introduction to CounsellingLevel 28-12 weeks£220
Certificate in CounsellingLevel 21 year (part-time)£490
Diploma in Therapeutic CounsellingLevel 42 years (part-time)£1542

Obtaining these qualifications will ensure that you are prepared for your role as a counsellor as well as ensuring that you get plenty of hands-on experience during your study.

All three courses are offered by a range of higher educations colleges and can even be completed online.

If you're keen to get away from teaching as soon as possible, this may not be a viable option for you due to the duration of study being a minimum of three years. However, if you're absolutely sure of your calling to help others through talking therapy, completing these qualifications will open lots of doors to you in terms of learning experiences as well as job prospects.

Become a Tutor

If it is teaching that you enjoy most, but you no longer wish to work in a classroom or directly for state education, then you might feel more comfortable moving over to the private sector with a job as a home tutor. If you're looking to become a tutor in the UK, then why not register with Superprof for tutoring jobs London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast and everywhere in between.

Legally, you don't need any specific qualifications to become a tutor if you're offering your services as a sole trader, and while this may make the market for private tuition seem a little dodgy, rest assured that the demand for supplemental instruction in all subjects is incredibly high.

As someone with concrete teaching experience, your knowledge and skills are invaluable to students who want to aim higher in their education - and you can make a decent salary while sharing your knowledge.

Transitioning to a tutoring job from a teaching career is a popular move for many ex-teachers who dislike the hours and pressure associated with teaching and choose to tutor because of the flexibility and the ability to hone the unique skills of individual students.

Starting out as a private tutor can be daunting, but confidence is key!

Being clear about your skills and specialisms as well as your hourly rates will make you an attractive candidate for students everywhere. So, if you're an English teacher, science teacher or special education teacher, there will always be something what makes you stand out from the crowd!

And if you're not quite comfortable leaving the public sector to be completely self-employed, why not look for student support jobs within schools? Primary schools, in particular, have posts available for teachers who can guide select groups of students who may be struggling to keep up with their class or who are ready to move onto a higher level of the national curriculum.

Become a Substitute Teacher

Do you love teaching in the classroom, but dislike the demands of being employed as a full-time teacher? A change that is quite challenging, but that many people find relieving, is switching from teaching to supply-teaching.

This move is becoming more and more popular. You can continue to put your teaching certification and credentials to use, whilst maintaining a work-life balance to suit you.

Supply teaching can provide a comfortable income of around £75-150 a day on average - often at an hourly rate - and can give teachers a sense of freedom with its fewer hours, less marking and its detachment from the demands and politics of the school environment.

Supply teaching isn’t for everyone though – there isn’t the same level of security in supply work as there is in teaching, and you could face a sizable pay cut as you become a temporary figure. But if it’s the time and stress of teaching that’s getting you down, supply work could incorporate all the right elements for you.

An education degree can go a long way, and teaching has so many important and sought-after skills that are transferable to many different career paths. Review your career options, and your professional profile, and see how your credentials can be applied to other roles within the public sector - even if it means looking for familiar teaching opportunities as a start.

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Ellen is a writer and translator with a passion for literature, traveling and learning new languages.