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Your Transferable Skills in Education Might Qualify You for These Other Roles

Teachers were already fighting for scarce resources. Now, thanks to the coronavirus, some of them — and other employees like school bus drivers, cafeteria workers and tutors — are being furloughed or let go.

Happy teacher in her classroom with students

Unless there's a dramatic change in fortune, things will probably get worse before they get better for public school employees. School finance experts say that soon states will be forced to make dramatic budget cuts that could have an effect before the school year's up. With schools currently closed, the real impact of COVID-19 on education jobs might not be seen until the fall. For reference, however, during the recession in 2008 nearly 300,000 teachers (and support personnel) lost their jobs.

Yet there's hope for those looking for work. If you've been laid off or furloughed, you can and should begin your job hunt now, before everyone else is looking for a job. When the coronavirus panic wanes, the market will be flooded with competition. Those in education have an advantage: Your skill set is desirable to employers in many other industries. Here, we outline where your skills will fit best. Some openings — in remote or online education, for instance — will be familiar to you. Others would take you in a new direction.

How to get a job in online teaching

Online education was steadily becoming more popular before the coronavirus. Now it's a necessity. A couple of key digital teaching startups are seizing the moment by signing up out-of-work teachers as quickly as they can.

The first is Outschool. This live educational platform is hiring 5,000 new part-time freelance teachers to meet the demand created by the coronavirus. Outschool offers live online classes for kids ages 3 to 18. Enrollees live-video chat with teachers and classmates on a platform powered by Zoom. To join, you must fill out an application form, record a brief introduction video and pass a background check.

If you're approved, you can create classes, and students have the option of enrolling in them. Outschool does not require formal teaching credentials with the belief that "many adults can offer rewarding classes based on their experiences and interests."

The second is W Tutors, a tutoring platform that is expanding its workforce of part-time online tutors. W Tutors is a digital marketplace in which anyone can sign up and select from tutors all around the world to meet their learning needs. Sessions are conducted over video. To apply, you must have earned at least a high school diploma (or its equivalent) and received a minimum A grade in the subjects you're teaching.

Transferable skills and training to emphasize on your resume

From elementary, middle and high school instructors to bus drivers to substitute teachers to office workers, school employees possess talents and experience that are useful in many other sectors. Skills that add value across multiple fields are referred to as transferable skills.

We can break these skills into three categories: 

  • Soft skills are social and personality-driven, like strong work ethic and emotional intelligence.
  • Hard skills are measurable knowledge and training, such as being fluent in a foreign language.
  • Technical skills involve mastering specific programs and tools like Zoom and online learning platforms.

Here's a list of skills from each category you likely learned while working in education:

Soft skills: Emotional intelligence, verbal and written communication, public speaking, creativity, teamwork, time management, leadership, problem-solving, and critical thinking.

Hard and technical skills: Hard skills such as: Education plans, grading exams, course management tools, whiteboard applications, and foreign languages. Technical skills such as: Microsoft Office Suite, Google Apps, Moodle, Blackboard, SMART Notebook and Zoom.

Certifications and training: Your state's teacher certification degree (find a state-by-state breakdown), as well as American Red Cross certifications in CPR, Heimlich maneuver and automated external defibrillator (AED) use.

Education: To teach kindergarten or elementary classes, you need at least a bachelor's degree in elementary education, or in a different subject with the relevant certifications. To teach 7–12, you need a bachelor's degree in secondary education, ideally majoring in the subject area you plan to teach. For non-teaching roles, the qualifications vary.

These industries are hiring people with your skills

If you were in school administration, including assistant principal, dean, education administrator, principal, provost, superintendent or vice principal, you might consider the following roles:

  • Offsite tutor (for example, at a university or self-employed)
  • Field supervisor (for example, at a certification program like Indiana Teachers of Tomorrow)
  • Project/program coordinator (for example, at a nonprofit like The Education Trust)
  • Executive director (for example, at a nonprofit like Center for Nonprofit Management)
  • Manager (for example, at an essential retail or ecommerce company like Walmart)
  • Online teacher (for example, at an online-only education program like GoGo Kid)
  • Online tutor (for example, at an online-only tutoring program like W Tutors)

If you were a preschool, K–12, adult or secondary education, substitute or after-school teacher, you might consider the following roles:

  • Online teacher (for example, at an online-only education program like Outschool)
  • Online tutor (for example, at an online-only tutoring program like iTutor)

If you were a cook, custodian, crossing guard, coach, career counselor, school nurse, librarian or another member of the staff, you might consider the following roles:

  • Sales associate (for example, at an essential retail store like Menards)
  • Customer service associate (for example, at a hospital)
  • Cook (for example, at a restaurant open for take out like Red Robin)
  • Receptionist (for example, at a transportation company like UPS Freight)
  • Cleaning technician (for example, at a nursing home)
  • Caregiver (for example, at a nursing home)
  • Delivery driver (for example, using a delivery app like Postmates)
  • Stocker (for example, at a grocery store like Vons)
  • Bank teller (for example, at a financial institution like Bank of America)
  • Warehouse associate (for example, at an ecommerce company like Amazon)

How to apply for these roles and what you'll need

If you are applying in person, you will need a current email address and phone number, a resume and identification, such as a driver's license or passport.

Many jobs you are pursuing, especially high-level ones, will require an online application. To apply online, you will need a current email address and phone number, a resume and identification, such as a driver's license or passport.

How to find these jobs in your community

How to create a resume that will capture an employers' attention

In the middle of a crisis, your resume is an important way of highlighting your skills and showing potential employers you have relevant experience. The best way to do this, by far, is to read the employer's job description. By working keywords and phrases into your resume, you will increase the chances your resume makes it through the ultra-picky application tracking system.

Cover letters are similarly important when you want to make a career transition. Whatever isn't fully explained on your resume can be detailed in a short paragraph in your cover letter. Use this valuable real estate to explain how your skills will translate into a new role.

As you begin your job search, here's a sample education resume that might turning a hiring manager's head:

Text resume example: A substitute teacher applying for an online teacher role

Name: Allen Griffin
Address: Houston, TX 77027
Phone: (555) 555-5555
E-Mail: example@example.com

Professional Summary

Adaptable and focused substitute teacher with demonstrated success in managing organized classrooms, updating records and providing both group and individualized instruction. Looking to assist struggling students and enhance learning in an online teacher role.

Skills

  • Following lesson plans
  • Group and individual instruction
  • Classroom management
  • Clear communicator
  • Student progress reporting
  • Safety awareness
  • Organizational abilities
  • Conflict resolution

Work History

Substitute Teacher
Clear Creek Independent School District Houston, TX
August 2017 to Current

  • Followed classroom plans left by class teacher to continue student education and reinforce core concepts.
  • Leveraged classroom discussion strategies to engage over 25 students per day, promote topics and boost learning opportunities.
  • Kept accurate and current attendance records and assignment sheets to maintain file compliance.

Substitute Teacher
Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District Houston, TX
August 2016 to June 2017

  • Took over up to 15 classes per month, managing all classroom assignments, student needs and recordkeeping.
  • Implemented outlined grading and assessment techniques to document growth, development and knowledge advancements during teacher absence.
  • Upheld classroom routines to support student environments and maintain consistent schedules.

Teacher's Aide
Tinsley Elementary School Houston, TX
August 2015 to June 2016

  • Assisted teachers with classroom management and document coordination to maintain positive learning environment.
  • Supported instructor with test administration, curriculum development and assignment grading.
  • Set up visual aids, equipment and classroom displays to support teacher's lesson delivery.

Education & Training
Bachelor of Arts Elementary Education
May 2015
University of St. Thomas – Houston, TX

Educator Preparation Program (EPP)
2015
Rice University – Houston, TX

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Donald Sjoerdsma

Career Advice Expert

Don is a freelance writer with more than five years' experience in digital media. His work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Oprah.com, Yahoo! and HuffPost. While at OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, his creative use of archival content was a driving force in the company's success on YouTube. He received an M.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University, where he specialized in media innovation.