Tips to Transition To or Within the Education Field

Want to make a transition into education or from one field in education to another? Here are some tips to get you started:


1. Decide what you want to do

Get clear on the work that you want to be doing and what it entails. You can explore options by looking at job descriptions on job boards like Idealist or on the EdPlus jobs page.

2. Find out the truth

Don’t skip the step of getting clear on what your new dream job really entails. Learn the pros, as well as the cons, of the career you desire to pursue by finding people who are already doing that work or know people who are in that field. Ask what they like, don’t like, wish they had known if they had to do it all over again, the future career outlook for that position, typical salary range, etc.

3. Talk to your network

Once you’re clear about the career you want to pursue, start using your network to find the job you want. Tell everyone you know what you’re looking for and ask for their suggestions on contacts, great organizations to consider, and resources to review. (And don’t forget to send a thank you note!)

4. Get experience

While you’re looking to find that dream job, why not get some experience doing it? Volunteering is a great way to get first hand exposure, pump up your skills (that you can also add to your resume!), and expand your network all while helping an organization whose mission you care about succeed. Consider joining a board as a way to use your skills outside of the education to charter schools or high impact education organizations. Charter Board Partners is always looking to add highly experienced, skilled, and passionate people to their network of candidates for board placement.

 5. Stay connected to what’s happening in your new field of interest

Learn the latest trends and what people are talking about in your chosen sector. Join social media groups on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Sign up for newsletters, subscribe to podcasts, and read books. Attend events for both networking and knowledge (Young Education Professionals-DC offers and shares information on great events of interest to people in various aspects of education).

6.  Determine which transferable skills you already have and can use in this new field

Standard advice suggests that your resume and LinkedIn profile reflect the job that you want not the job you have. So, be sure to highlight relevant skills you already have that align with the career you want. If you want to switch into school operations from a classroom teaching role, highlight the skills you’ve gathered around finance, project management, budgeting, and logistics when you apply for new roles. Or, if you’ve been a principal but now want to move into a nonprofit leadership role, highlight the success you’ve had in team management, budget oversight, and partnership development over curriculum development and classroom management.

 7. Consider applying to programs to support you through the transition

Want to be a teacher but never taught before? Consider joining an alternative certification/residency program like Urban Teachers or Teach For America. Interested in transferring your business experience into the education world? Look into the Broad Residency. Wondering how to use your skills and love for data and analytics in the education space? Check out Education Pioneers. Oftentimes established programs are the best way to gain the opportunity and access you need to make the most effective transition.

 8. Stay realistic

Only a lucky few have the pleasure of falling into a new dream job quickly, so be realistic about your timeframe for finding something you love. (Typical guidance is that you should expect the average job search to take at least 6 months.) Also, be realistic about the skills you can bring to your new desired career. For example, if most job descriptions you see for jobs you want require you to have advanced skills that you don’t have, it’s likely you’ll need to get the skills before you can expect to get the job.

9. Be mindful of your “why”

The job search process is filled with ups and downs, but staying focused on your “why” is the best way to keep your eye on the prize. Your why is that beautiful combination between the contribution to impact and serve others you want to have + what inspires you to the do the work you want to do. Though most of us also need to bring in income, note that pursuing a career just because of the money it might offer is not a good enough “why” for long-term professional happiness.

10. Be prepared to put in time and energy

Effective job searching requires committed time and energy to get the results you desire. Be prepared to spend nights, weekends, lunch breaks or vacation days engaged in resume writing, job posting research, networking conversations, interviews and more. Yet at the same time, be sure to pace yourself. Spending all day everyday on your search will not only make you weary but it is also an ineffective approach. Map out a project plan and update it regularly to both track your progress in one place and add new things you want to add. If this sounds like a part-time job, it kind of is! Don’t shortchange your success by taking the attitude that it’s a quick and easy process.

Need help reconnecting to your why, aligning your skills to your passions, deciding where you want to take your career, or maintaining the accountability you need to reach the goals you want? Learn how coaching from EdPlus Consulting can support you in your journey here.