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Translate your Teacher Skills into Corporate Skills

I read a lot online from people burned out in lots of professions; how as “teachers” do you translate your teacher skills into corporate skills? Teaching is one of those professions where people are burning out[1].  As a teacher though, what can you transition to other than “teaching”?

I see all sorts of people asking for suggestions on what they could/should do, people looking for new ideas to apply their skills to as their day job or their side hustle, and people asking about emerging professions.

Before I discuss that, lets look at the teaching profession as a segment of the labour market.

How Much of the Labour Market involves Teaching?

A quick look at some summary statistics on the labour market and teaching profession shows about 50% of the “education and training” sector is comprised of school teachers (all grades and levels). This is followed by tertiary and adult education segments which are roughly equal in size.

Chart showing percentage of education sector by teaching role

That’s over 1.1 million people employed.

Pretty big sector, right? Numerically yes but as a percentage of the entire workforce of almost 14 million, not really.

Chart showing percentage of education sector by teaching role

Why is that important?  If you’re looking to translate your teacher skills into corporate skills and you only look at teaching/education industries you’re potentially missing 90% of the available jobs. Ouch!!

But I have an Education Degree and Teaching Experience?

Yes, you do and depending on how you look at it that either qualifies you only to teach, or it gives you broad skills base you can apply to any and all sorts of roles.

Granted some of that perception comes from the direct link between an education degree and teaching roles; you need the degree to become a teacher. That does not stop anyone applying their skills to other jobs though.

Me? My working life went from tertiary study of social welfare to residential support manager, to police officer, to intelligence analyst (including post graduate study), to IT account manager, to IT system manager and now a manager of a big data/Cloud analytics team. None of those latter roles after my post grad I studied for. I got them based on my competencies.

Saying you can ‘profession hop’ is not just something I say in good theory; it is something that is able to be done.

Your starting point for that journey is identifying your skills, and, where and how you can apply them.

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What Skills Do Teachers Have?

I am not a teacher but with the aid of a quick Google search this is the list of skills I come up with that teachers have:

Skills of teacher chart/graphic

While I am not a teacher, I am an employer and recruiter, and I see a lot of skills in that list that give you skills/competencies common to and therefore make you able to do a lot of jobs:

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Creativity
  • Patience
  • Writing
  • Organisation
  • Problem solving
  • Technology
  • Management
  • Learning
  • Adaptability
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Critical thinking
  • Time management
  • Language
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Computer literacy
  • Active listening
  • Collaboration
  • Teamwork
  • Confidence
  • Empathy
  • Teaching
  • Mathematics

I have moved teaching and mathematics to the end as those as the only ones I would categorise as fairly specific to teaching; mathematics (if you consider it as numeracy) would drop off that list too but that’s a very minor point. The main point is – you have a lot of skills.

Other Jobs According to Google

If you Google “what jobs can i do with teaching experience” you get a very ho-hum underwhelming list, but starting sensibly enough with other jobs almost directly related to teaching[2]:

  1. Childcare worker
  2. Substitute teacher
  3. School and career counsellor
  4. Adult education teacher
  5. Substance abuse counsellor
  6. Personal trainer
  7. Museum archivist
  8. Museum curator
  9. Event planner
  10. Life coach
  11. Instructional coordinator
  12. Human resource specialist
  13. Writer
  14. Wholesale sales representative
  15. Radiological technologist
  16. Post-secondary educator
  17. Personal financial adviser
  18. Dental hygienist
  19. Real estate agent
  20. Respiratory therapist

That’s not my list but there’s some fun and slightly left field things in there like Dental Hygienist.

I also think there are much better options.

Other Jobs for Teachers in the Public Service

As a teacher you’re likely but not certainly, already a state government employee. According to my friends at SuperProf[3]:

The public service works on a range of projects, managing discussion and providing advice to various government institutions and organisations. Positions are varied and range from administrative roles through to correctional officers, and community support to educational management. Many of the job openings in the public service do not need you to have specialised training or credentials. If there are specific skills or prerequisites, they can often be gained via onsite training opportunities. It is worth investigating what your particular career options require.

The bold sentence is the key one I want to discuss. This discussion will relate to:

  1. The administrative, not professional streams of state government. The professional stream requires you to hold a qualification as a lawyer, accountant, engineer.
  2. I’ll also distinguish between credentials and competencies. Credentials means qualifications. Competencies means the ability to do something.

Your teaching credentials (degree) will not get you a government job other than teaching/training and/or education roles.

Your skills will. Looking at the skills list again, I cannot think of a government job off the top of my head that does not require communication skills. Management roles require leadership. Analytical and policy roles require creativity, critical thinking and problem solving. Almost all jobs require writing, personal organisation, time management and adaptability skills. Technology and computer literacy pervades government, and many jobs are based on collaboration and teamwork. I would confidently say every teacher has most if not all those skills.

Your Skills are Key

Most teachers probably haven’t thought about their examples that show those skills nor how to apply them.

Jumping back to my own experience and translating it, how does 24/7 operational shift work as a police officer translate to personal organisation, time management and adaptability in a government role?

As a police officer there are two key competencies:

  1. 24/7/365 rotating shifts between days, afternoons, evenings, and night shifts (night shifts being 7 days starting at either 10pm or 12mn), and,
  2. Work that must be done – both responding to operational matters and emergencies that happen at any moment and you do not get a choice about going to, and, following up on investigations and matters assigned to you to deal with e.g., car crashes.

If you’ve ever tried to get hold of a police officer who is dealing with something for you, you know they’re never there. You can plan a day shift to catch up on files, but, that major car crash on the motorway doesn’t respect your plans, nor does that shift change to cover someone tomorrow evening. Amid all those people and events not respecting your careful planning, you also need to action and finalise matters.

To achieve those deadlines, you are constantly changing and juggling bookings with people, your work, getting up from a desk when you were just about to type a statement to go to an emergency. Not a day goes by where you are not managing your personal organisation, time management and adaptability.

Those skills for a police officer, nor a nurse nor a teacher nor a paramedic do not come from a degree or study; it something we all learn on the job and build competency in.

Your Skills Need to be a Story

To apply for a government job that is competency based, you just need that example (case study) that tells a story about you and shows your abilities; much like my statement above about shift work and getting things done.

For a job that requires planning, can you think of an example as a teacher of planning you have done? Again, not a teacher but what comes to my mind are:

  • A term of lesson plans based on the state curriculum, 
  • A school camp or incursion,
  • A science fair,
  • A guest speaker,
  • Reading groups,

I hope more come to your mind.

Teachers are constantly planning. Your planning is not only very intentional it is linked to achieving goals and standards; it is good planning for want of a better term. Yes, the example is a teaching example, but the skill you’re showing is planning.

Teachers probably do more regular and better planning than most public servants!

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Some other and final thoughts.

Finding Government Jobs

Some of the language you’ll encounter looking at jobs will have been exposed to but probably never thought about. You may know your admin staff are support officers or advisors, but don’t know what that means. That’s not a bad thing, it’s not something you needed to know before you wanted to move from teaching. Check out my finding jobs blog for a discussion of that language and finding a job to apply for.

Skills Audit

A new service offering for Criterial, book a one hour skills audit here (mention this blog in your booking and I’ll take 50% off) and we can discuss your examples and how you can apply them to different contexts.

Before you do – have a good think back through your work experience and the things you have done that are memorable because:

  • You were formally recognised or rewarded for them,
  • They were difficult, scope changes, complexity of design or numbers of stakeholders/co-workers/others involved,
  • You are proud of what you achieved, or,
  • You received feedback from supervisors/co-workers you can cite.

Don’t be too concerned about how you will apply the examples, or what context they can be used, just think about things you have done you can recall easily as examples.

During the discussion we will break them down and work through how you can use them. I promise you this will be an eye-opening exercise. I have done this many times with people and groups and it is one of my most fun activities to do.

If you think about a project manager, their “project management” examples will be able to address competencies like:

  • Project management
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Planning and delegation
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Working under pressure
  • Stakeholder management
  • Negotiation
  • Meeting changing deadlines
  • Written documents/artifacts

There are thousands of jobs you have the competencies to be able to do. It is a matter of thinking about and applying your experience, and, finding the jobs you want to do.

End Notes

[1] Quick end note, no judgement from me on why it’s happening or how people are responding; like a lot of things in 2023 the expectations keep rising, there is more work with fewer people, compensation is not appropriate, and it is a very real thing; people should always prioritise their mental health over their work as far as I’m concerned.

[2] You can also check out these blogs for more ideas and


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