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Switching Careers: What to Expect

Written by: Jamie Malinak
Published on: Oct 24, 2018

career switcher


So, you’re thinking about switching careers to pursue a position in education. Congratulations on your decision, and welcome to our world.

I have known several individuals who’ve entered the education field after shedding a previous career.   A common refrain from them all goes something like this: “Man, things are a lot different in education compared to the private sector.”  Having switched careers myself, I completely agree.

Here are some things you should expect as you begin your new journey in education:

  1. There are a lot more grey areas in your day-to-day decision-making.


We are working with young students whose lives are marked by external factors over which we have little to no control. So it’s good to keep in mind that a decision that works for one student may not work for another. Your administrator will face this every day as will those who work in the district. As a teacher, it is important to get to know each of your students so that you can help make decisions that are in the best interest of each of them.  


  1. Procedures and protocols may change often.


I remember in my first career in the child-protective services field, there was a time-tested procedure for everything.  If I didn’t know the procedure off hand, I could find it in a manual or by talking to a colleague. In the teaching field, procedures and policies change frequently as we navigate the changing world of technology, social environments, and the state and federal requirements placed upon us. Just remember to be flexible and know that there really is a reason for everything – administrators and central office decision-makers just might not communicate it very well.


  1. You will eat, sleep, and breathe your job.

You might believe that you did this in your previous career.  But you need to be prepared for a completely different definition of “overtime.” If you aren’t grading papers or writing lesson plans, you are worrying about your student who seems preoccupied and sad or the one who is being bullied, or the one who dominates your classroom attention with less-than-desired behaviors. You’ll worry about the students who are struggling to learn and about challenging the ones who already get it. It isn’t something you can turn off like a faucet, but it is something that can to be managed. Find your balance, and talk to colleagues about their strategies for not becoming overwhelmed.


If you are anything like me, you chose to switch to the field of teaching because you have a passion for educating young minds and a desire to make a difference. I have never second-guessed the decision I made 20 years ago to join the teaching family and I hope the same for you. We welcome you to our team.  You’ve made a great career move!



Jamie is an education professional with 20 years experience. She has worked as a classroom teacher, as a director for a large urban district, and as a specialist with a state education department. This wide array of experience gives her a unique perspective to share with current and future educators. 

The opinions expressed in the blog are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, TopSchoolJobs, or any of its publications.