Transitioning into a teaching career comes with great responsibility, but it can be incredibly rewarding as there is an opportunity to directly make a difference in the lives of others. With this, making a career change to teaching requires logistic preparation because teachers need proper training and knowledge to carry out their roles with skill and integrity.
Decide What Type of Teacher You Want to Be
The first step in making the leap to a career in teaching is to make the decision of where and what you want to teach. This includes first and foremost deciding on the level of education: elementary (PreK-6) or secondary (grades 5-12). This step is essential because it will dictate the degree program and certifications you need to pursue. If you are considering secondary education, you should also evaluate the subject matter you are most interested in teaching, as the majority of middle and high schools have specialized teacher roles.
Beyond this, you should begin to envision where you want to teach. This includes private or public school and your desired location, including the state of employment and setting: urban, suburban, or rural. This helps to set the framework for you to make logistical progress toward your dream teaching career.
Get Familiar with Your State’s Licensure Requirements
Each state has a unique set of licensure requirements for its educators, including rules regarding the level of education, completion of standardized exams, and continuing education needed for renewal. It is a great first step to review these requirements in your desired state of employment in order to plan a path toward a teaching career. These licensure requirements ensure that teachers are well qualified and have proper knowledge and training to be leading classrooms and support student achievement.
Gain Classroom Experience
Prospective teachers without an undergraduate degree in education or human development and professionals working in non-related fields often do not have any working experience in the classroom. This leaves a gap in understanding of the real-world application of classroom management and instructional strategies and school-specific interpersonal skills.
While evaluating the transition to a teaching career, seek out opportunities to step into a classroom in a professional role. This could include substitute teaching and long-term temp employment positions filling in for teachers out for an extended period of time. These positions typically do not require teaching licensure, allowing for those without experience to take their first step into the world of education.
Short-term teaching opportunities provide exposure to the day-to-day life of a teacher as well as the overall structure and procedures of a school community. Accordingly, gaining classroom experience on a smaller scale before fully pursuing a change to a teaching career helps reassure you that becoming a teacher is a good fit for you professionally.
Relationships Matter: Build Your Network
Building strong relationships is crucial when becoming a teacher, as you will be part of the complex interconnected network that is a school community. To be prepared, you need to gain the interpersonal communication and social-emotional skills needed to be successful in a teaching role. You also need to be familiar with the needs of students, families, and the school administration to become a trusted advocate and understand how you fit into a school’s network.
Some ways to build connections and better understand how relationships will impact your future role as a teacher include:
- Making connections during your short-term teaching experience
- Reaching out to teaching associations and individual teachers to ask questions and learn more about the profession
- Sitting in on a local PTA or school board meeting to understand the needs of current teachers, students, and families
Pursue a Graduate Program in Education
A graduate education program provides advanced knowledge and skills in today’s leading teaching pedagogies. It connects prospective teachers with higher-level coursework in curriculum design, professional preparation, instructional methods, assessment principles, and working with diverse learners.
Graduate programs also help you to become more comfortable in the classroom through required hands-on teaching experience, such as a practicum, internship, or student teaching placement. Due to the in-depth preparation provided by these programs, many school districts across the country require either a master’s degree or completion of a graduate credential for teaching employment.
Recognizing this need for advanced preparation, the University of Redlands School of Education offers a few pathways to begin a teaching career with extensive hands-on learning:
- Master of Arts in Education (MA) in Learning and Teaching - prepares students to teach in a PreK-12 public or private school setting
- Multiple subject track
- Single-subject track
- Education Specialist (special education) track
- Preliminary Teaching Credential: Multiple or Single Subject - prepares educators to teach either in an elementary or secondary school setting
Preliminary Teaching Credential: Education Specialist - provides preparation to teach special education students with mild and moderate disabilities
Make the Leap to the World of Education: Become a Teacher!
Enter the world of education and support student success by making the transition to a career in teaching. Start your path to a teaching career by getting to know the Department of Teaching and Learning at the University of Redlands School of Education.