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Professional Development: Alternative Careers for Teachers

Janelle Cox

Many students go to college to get a degree in education in hopes of someday becoming a teacher. However, it doesn’t always pan out as planned. Sometimes it’s because it’s hard to get a job in the school district that you are in, or it may be that you were let go from your current teaching job due to budget cuts. Other times, teachers get their degree then decide becoming a classroom teacher was just not for them.

Whatever the scenario may be, your training and degree can prepare you for another career. Here are a 10 alternative professional development ways to use your education degree.

Professional Development: Guidance Counselor

A guidance counselor assists and helps students with any school-related issues they may have. They may also help with any home-related issues as well. Their duties may consist of setting students class schedules, filling out college applications and arranging college visits, dealing with school-wide tragedies, delivering character education programs, or even providing counseling for personal issues. If you want to consider being a school guidance counselor, then you would have to go on to get your master’s degree in education.

Librarian/Media Specialist

Someone who receives a degree in education but is not going to use it to teach can become a librarian. Some school districts require that school media specialists also be a certified teacher. Their duties may consist of, but aren’t limited to: Ordering books, cataloging books, delivering lesson plans related to the library, assisting students with research, advising teachers on materials, and integrating technology through research. If becoming a librarian is of interest to you, you will need a master's degree in library science (or MLS).

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Health Educator

A health educator teaches students how to live a healthy lifestyle. Their subjects might range from nutrition and physical education, to sex education and substance abuse prevention. As a health educator, you are responsible for regular teaching duties like lesson plans, assigning homework, giving tests, etc. Health teachers must be able to handle uncomfortable and embarrassing topics in a non-judgmental way. If being health educator is of interest to you, then you would need to go on to earn a master’s degree in health education.

GED Teacher

A general education development (GED) teacher is the perfect job for adults who want to continue to be an educator but not teach young children. Depending upon the state in which you live, you can teach basic skills to adults who are in need of a GED or who are new to the United States. Some states only require you to have a bachelor’s degree, while others prefer more experienced candidates who have a master’s degree.

Education Writer

In this digital age, an experienced teacher with an education degree can get a job as an education writer, online or off. Duties may include writing lesson plans or writing informative articles on current trends in education, as well as professional growth, technology, behavior management, or testing. If you love to write and want to share your knowledge and expertise with other, then this may be the job for you.


Editors evaluate and guide others’ writing. They also select content for publication. If you are great at expressing yourself verbally, have a knack for writing, and love to edit work, then this is the career change for you. With a degree in education, employers may only require that you specialize in a particular field or subject area.

Instructional Coordinator

If you are looking for a job that will have an impact on children’s’ education, but no longer want to be in the classroom, then an instructional coordinator is an alternative option for you. Instructional coordinators help teachers develop new curriculums and teaching strategies. If this sounds of interest, then you would have to go on and get your master’s degree in curriculum design or instruction. You would also have to pass your certification testing and have received your teaching license.

Instructional Designer

Instructional designers create educational programs for schools as well as companies. Their job is to determine how to best present information to students. This can be through videos, podcasts, textbooks, photography, etc. Generally, you would need a bachelor’s degree to be hired as an instructional designer, along with some editing and social skills. However, there are master’s programs in instructional design, so many companies may expect you to have one.

Non-Profit Organizations

Adults with a degree in education are in high demand with non-profit organizations. They like to utilize them as grant writers, public speakers, for after-school programs, or as an event coordinator. If you like to do any of the above mentioned, then this may be the route you should take.

School Administrator

As a school administrator, your job is to be the head of the school. If you are a natural born leader and love to be in charge, this is a great option for you. However, in order to have this type of career, you will need a master’s degree in education administration.

What do you think of these alternative career options? Did we leave any out? If so, please feel free to add to the list in the comment section below.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for, as well as a contributing writer to and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.

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