- Assess Yourself
- Career Exploration Resources
- Common Career Settings
- Gain Experience
- Job Search Resources
- Advice for Application Materials
- Connecting your Skills to the Position
- Consider Common Concerns of Employers
There are many options that are open to you. Consider what would be a good match for your interests, skills, values, and lifestyle. Outside of professions that require some kind of certification, employers are often more focused on your relevant experience than a specific degree. As you explore careers, you want to make sure you are doing adequate research to understand necessary qualifications. For instance, you would need a specific certification and degree to be a school psychologist while a coordinator position at a non-profit may be open to any candidate with a bachelor's degree and relevant skills. Some options may be available after you have gained more experience (curriculum development, instructional coaches, etc.). Continue to gain experience and re-evaluate your career decisions based on your current values and needs.
Questions to Consider
- What are your strengths?
- What are your non-negotiables?
- How did you become interested in education?
- What type of impact do you want to have in a career?
- Are you willing to pursue additional education and/or certification?
- What do you not want in a career?
- What other factors will impact your career decisions?
- Why are you looking to change professions?
- Are there only aspects of your career that you don't enjoy or is it the field itself?
- Is it an issue with the age level, position, school, administrator, district, or state?
- Would a different setting make an impact? (e.g., public, charter, private, domestic, international)
Career Exploration Resources
As you begin exploring careers, use online resources like O*Net, Occupational Handbook, and What Can I Do With This Major? to learn more about careers. Find more information about these and other resources at Exploring Majors and Careers.
Informational interviews can be used as a technique to learn from professionals in career areas of interest. You may find professional contacts through many ways. The LinkedIn Alumni Tool can be a great resource to find Webster alumni to speak with.
Professional organizations often feature career information on their website. Research organizations in your field of interest to learn about topics such as certification requirements, career paths, professional development opportunities, and other relevant information.
Common Career Settings
There are several common career settings for individuals that are interested in education. Review the sections below to learn about some different opportunities in those settings.
- Higher Education
- Corporate Training
- Customer Service
- Educational Companies
- Educational Technology
- Publishing, Editing, and Technical Writing
- Test Development and Preparation Companies
- Tutoring and Learning Centers
Emphasize your impact and use appropriate business language to show how your skills could be beneficial in a corporate setting.
- Local or State Government
- Government Agencies
- Peace Corps
Familiarize yourself with the application process since government applications will often require a federal resume format and more detailed information than applications in the private sector. Develop related experience through student government, campaigns, community service, etc.
- Adult and Continuing Education
- Extension Services
- Field Placement/School Partnerships
- Lab Schools
- Service Learning & Volunteer Coordination
- Student Success/Academic Resource Centers
- Teacher Education Support Roles
Learn what institutions of interest call positions as these can differ by university. For instance, similar roles might be called student services coordinator at one university and outreach specialist at another.
- Coaching/Professional Development/Training
- Community Outreach/Program Coordinators
- Curriculum Coordination
- Human Resources/Recruiting
- School Counseling, Psychology, or Social Work
Some roles require more experience or specific licenses, but there are a variety of roles in K-12 beyond classroom teachers. Consider what settings may be of interest such as public schools, private schools, or even Regional Professional Development Centers like Education Plus for the St. Louis area.
- After School/Summer Programs
- College Access Programs
- Community Recreation
- Fund Raising/Development
- Immigrant and Refugee Service Providers
- Program Coordination
- Youth Organizations and Camps (e.g., YMCA, YWCA, Scouts)
- Zoos/Aquariums/Nature Reserves
Show your interest in the nonprofit sector through volunteering and building connections with other nonprofit professionals.
As you explore career options, search and evaluate job descriptions for positions of interest.
- What requirements do you already meet?
- What are areas you need to enhance?
In job postings, you will often see a distinction between required qualifications and preferred qualifications. Required qualifications are things that a candidate must possess (e.g. bachelor's degree or teacher certification) to be eligible. Preferred qualifications will make you a more competitive applicant, but you could be hired into the position without meeting those criteria.
If you are uncertain whether you should apply for a position, meeting 70% of the position requirements is often a good rule of thumb. Required qualifications should be met, but companies often are looking for the ideal candidate - which may or not exist in any given candidate pool. If you are mostly qualified, don't self-select out of opportunities.
Gaining experience in your area of interest will help you determine whether that career area will be a good fit for you. Seek out opportunities to gain experience through:
- Professional organizations
- Part-time/freelance work
- Formal or informal training on relevant skills
Job Search Resources
As you determine what careers and job settings you want to pursue, you can identify relevant job boards. It can be most helpful to find specific job boards for your industry or profession in order to find more relevant positions. Professional associations often have job boards on their websites. You can also search on specific organization websites if you are targeting particular employers.
Advice for Application Materials
Consider your target audience as you develop your materials and what type of formatting and language would be most appealing. Articulate why you are interested in that position/employer/career field. Since employers form first impressions quickly, you want your relevant information to stand out.
- Include an objective if it would be unclear what types of roles you are looking for otherwise
- Create specific headings to emphasize themes as needed
- Order sections based on relevance
- Focus on relevant skills whether those were developed through coursework, involvement, paid, or unpaid positions
- Emphasize accomplishments and include information that wouldn’t be obvious from your job title such as writing a grant or leading a committee
- Use professional and descriptive language, but avoid education jargon
- Tailor your cover letter for each position
- Express your interest in the position
- Sound positive and confident
- Avoid emphasizing what desired skills you lack
- Connect how your experiences and skills relate to the position to show the employer what you could do for them
- Speak to why you want to move into x, not leave y
Connecting Your Skills to the Position
As you analyze job descriptions to determine the needed skills, incorporate those skills into your application materials and responses to interview questions. Target your skill sets to the position and re-frame experiences to focus on transferable skills you have gained. Transferable skills are those skills applicable across settings. For example, you likely developed public speaking and presenting skills as you presented lessons to students. Below are some common transferable skills you may excel at.
- Public Speaking/Presenting
- Problem Solving
- Time Management
Consider Common Concerns and Stereotypes by Employers
If you are changing careers, employers may have some misconceptions about your background and experiences. Not every employer may have these concerns, but it can be beneficial for you to consider how you would counter these and what information would be useful to share with employers to show how you could be a good fit.
- They may be concerned about you having a different educational background.
- Employers may not understand all that you did in your role.
- Concerns may stem from the perception that you only worked with children and not adults.
- Employers may be hesitant if they think you don’t have experience in other work settings and would be unfamiliar with common business language.
Help employers understand how your skills are transferable and relate to the role you are applying for. When writing your application materials and choosing information to share in an interview, consider what competencies the employer is looking for and avoid using jargon. For instance, if you were asked about your communication skills for a business position, you might talk about having to adapt your communication style for different stakeholders like students, families, teachers, and administrators rather than just focusing on your communication with students.
Connect with the CPDC
Exploring careers can be an on-going process. To talk more about your career, make an appointment with your career advisor at the Career Planning & Development Center. Call the office at 314-968-6982 or login to Handshake and navigate to the Appointment menu option under Career Center to schedule an appointment.