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Teachers Interested in Leaving K-12 Should Consider a Career in Training

Monday, March 18, 2019
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Teachers in K-12 are quitting their profession at a higher rate than ever before, noted a Wall Street Journal article last year. You have undoubtedly seen in the news what has been dubbed the “teacher-strike tsunami,” by the Washington Post, still washing over the country. Many teachers are tired of the low salary and high cost of benefits that come with their profession. But teachers are not the only ones who are dissatisfied in their workplace; as much as 70 percent of the U.S. workforce is dissatisfied with their work situation.

And, perhaps because of this dissatisfaction, people are job-hopping more now than they have in the last 17 years. The prevalence of the Internet and increasing availability of finding jobs online has helped many skilled workers in America find new jobs easily within their area. One hop for teachers that could come with a higher salary and lower cost for benefits is the talent development profession.

The talent development profession is set to grow by 10 percent year over year—a rate much higher than the national average job growth rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the 2017 ATD Salary Report, the average talent development professional makes between $80,000 and $89,000. And teachers are skilled in many of the same areas in which trainers, talent development managers, and instructional designers are skilled.

Instructional designers are tasked with analyzing and understanding what their audience needs to learn; creating and designing that coursework, along with developing instructional materials, handouts, and job aids; then assessing what the audience has learned. While the models may sound different and the audience may be a bit taller with more facial hair than what K-12 teachers are used to, the fundamental skills are based on the same components.

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Moving from the classroom to the talent development space can seem daunting for some; but for many, the love of teaching is the main reason why they make the switch—and find themselves so good at their new jobs.

“After feeling like such a failure in the public school sector, this job (teaching adults technology) really helped me gain back my confidence in my own teaching abilities. I also found that I was actually a very good teacher!” said Hillarie Hunt, learning and development director at the NWEA and a former high school teacher.

Of course, many of the challenges teachers experience transfer to the training space. And to be honest, teaching a roomful of adults on a concept as dry as compliance is not going to give you the same fulfillment as teaching a child how to read or helping them discover that space and time is continuous. For all the pluses of the talent development field, there are certainly a few drawbacks as well—and many feel very similar to those in the K-12 environment.

No organization or role is without its problems or downfalls, but for those considering leaving teaching K-12, a natural next step in your education career might be moving to the adult education space and the talent development profession.

To find out more about moving from teaching to instructional design, please sign up for this free webcast on Thursday, March 21, with former teacher Kari Knisely.

About the Author

Lisa Spinelli is the Content Manager for the Career Development and Finance communities as well as the ATD Job Bank administrator. Prior to joining ATD, Lisa worked as a content strategist, editor, and journalist for over 14 years. She has managed teams, websites, and social media accounts as well as reported and edited articles for places like America's Blood Centers, ID.me, Red Herring, the Boston Phoenix and Patch. Some of her works have been published with Fast Company, Huffington Post, Mental Floss, Northern Virginia Magazine, Houston Chronicle, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Associated Press, to name a few. With her diverse and inside knowledge of content development and creation, along with content acquisition, management and marketing, Lisa brings a fresh unique perspective to the role. She resides in Northern Virginia with her three divas and Air Force veteran husband. Follow her on Twitter @atdcareerdev.

9 Comments
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Thank you all for helping these teachers and for reading this blog post! I hope we can encourage more teachers who already want to leave the profession to explore this great career opportunity!
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I resonate so much with this article! Getting my Masters Degree in Training Development (M.Ed) was the best thing I could have done for myself, professionally. I was able to find a field where I wasn't so out of touch with my teaching skill-set and I was also taught the theory of learning and education. For me, it was important to leave the classroom with a transferable skill set. There is intentionality behind wanting to impact learners-training and development fills that gap!
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Lisa is right on! We've been experiencing an increase in teachers enrolling and transitioning to a career in training in our Boise State University's Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (opwl.boisestate.edu). The teachers-to-trainers transition do need support! We have created virtual volunteer workplace experiences to assist them with building their professional portfolio as well as offer a 1-credit course in which students’ partner with a career coach to identify and land jobs.
Hi Jo Ann,
Boise State's OPWL program (Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning) has been a great way to help teachers transition from the classroom to the workplace and leverage their previous background. As Dr. Villachica in our Instructional Design class tells us, workplace training and the classroom are closely related but not identical twins. I have found the OPWL program helps me specifically speak the language of business and translate value to a corporate setting.
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Hi Jo Ann,
It is exciting to see a familiar face! I agree with Lisa as well! I currently work with someone who had this same journey. Unfortunately, she did not have the support that the OPWL program offers. She started as a high school teacher and transitioned into the role of a corporate trainer. She loves it!
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