When you've been in the education system for a while, you may not realise how many jobs for ex teachers are out there. The best thing to do is keep an open mind, especially if you haven't decided on an alternative career path. If you're leaning towards the government sector over private enterprise, it's worthwhile to consider the differences between the two, as well as the benefits of the public service.

The public service is run by the government and has the largest number of employees in Australia. After researching, you may feel that the public sector offers the best jobs for teachers who are moving out of education but still want to make the most of their qualifications and experience.

There are many jobs available in the public sector that could be perfect for you.
Your teaching skills can be put to good use in many public sector positions. (Source: Visualhunt)

Public employees work in a range of areas, including:

  • defence, law enforcement and safety
  • education
  • employment
  • foreign affairs
  • health
  • housing
  • transport

There are many more fields that could be added to this list, and many of them offer professional, technical and clerical roles. Any career change can be daunting, and if your teaching job was in the public system, you may prefer to remain in this sector because of the job security and other benefits offered.

Jobs in the public sector are traditionally said to be more stable, notwithstanding the chance of redundancy caused by restructuring or economic downturn.

In addition, the public sector offers numerous benefits you may not get in the private sector, including flexible work hours, superannuation schemes, leave packages and mobility.

Alternatively, there are also many reasons you may choose to seek employment in the private sector, such as competitive salaries.

The Best Jobs for Teachers — What are Your Options?

Not all public service jobs involve sitting at a desk. If you want a more practical, physical and mentally challenging role, the defence forces or emergency services might be worth considering. These roles are often perfect jobs for ex teachers with their exceptional interpersonal skills.

However, if you're not sure you're ready to commit to the intensive training required, there is nothing to stop you from volunteering as a firefighter or with the SES, or applying for the Defence Reserves. These can be done part-time and give you valuable experience while you decide if you want to follow this career path.

As a former teacher, you will have numerous transferable skills, such as the ability to communicate with a wide range of audiences, work in high-pressure environments and outstanding organisational capacity. These skills will allow you to forge a new career in your local, state or national government.

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Use your public speaking skills to effect change
There is nothing to stop you from pursuing a new career in politics. (Source: Unsplash)

As far as alternative jobs for teachers go, a career in politics could be ideal. Teachers are clear and confident communicators and have a great understanding of their local community. It is likely you are passionate about the issues that affect the families you have worked with, would be a strong advocate and are well known already. The next logical step would be to put yourself forward as a member of your chosen party.

Other Jobs for Teachers in the Public Service

Of course, not everybody is cut out for the world of politics. However, applying to join the Australian Public Service will allow you to continue working with the community while remaining unaligned in a political sense.

The public service works on a range of projects, managing discussion and providing advice to various government institutions and organisations. Positions are varied and range from administrative roles through to correctional officers, and community support to educational management.

Many of the job openings in the public service do not need you to have specialised training or credentials. If there are specific skills or pre-requisites, they can often be gained via onsite training opportunities. It is worth investigating what your particular career options require.

What's the first step?

If you are a new graduate, or meet other eligibility criteria, you can join the Public Service via the APS Graduate Program initiative. This program places graduates in public service jobs, rotating them through a variety of roles while providing on-the-job training and mentoring support.

If you are not eligible for this program, you will need to search for jobs you are interested in, and apply via the normal avenues. Public Service agencies conduct their own recruitment processes and will advertise in the Public Service Gazette, their own websites, recruitment agencies and job search websites such as Job Active.

How do I apply for jobs in the Public Service?

Once you've found a job you're interested in, you can download an information pack with everything you need to supply in your application, including your resume, cover letter and selection criteria statement. When you write your application, you should highlight your skills, abilities and experience, and how these align to the job you're applying for.

After the application period has closed, a short-list of prospective candidates will be drawn up. In developing this list, you may be contacted for further questioning or testing.

If you make the shortlist, you will be invited for an interview.

During the interview, you will be asked a range of questions. Depending on the job, you may be asked to expand on your experiences, or given hypothetical situations for discussion. In some cases, you may also be given a work sample test, or asked to deliver a presentation or complete group work activities.

As part of this process, agencies will develop a merit list, which is kept for 12 months. This means that, even if you are unsuccessful for this particular job, you may be offered a similar job with a different organisation within that 12-month period.

If you are unsuccessful at any stage, you may also seek feedback on your application or interview. This is highly recommended as you can then use this feedback to improve future applications.

We all love a holiday but the best way to experience another country and its culture is by living there. Working abroad is another option to consider.

There are a few ways you can do this, including opportunities for this within the public service.

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Get your passport ready - you can find the best jobs for teachers overseas
Once you're in the Public Service, you can apply for job postings overseas. Or you might want to explore teaching opportunities. (Source: Visualhunt)

Apply for a Transfer Overseas with the Public Service

Many government public service departments, such as DFAT, Austrade and AusAID, have opportunities for employees to secure both long-term postings, and short-term missions and visits to other countries.

According to Smartraveller, at any one time, there are approximately one million Australians living and working in jobs abroad. In fact, data shows that an increasing number of Australians are moving overseas permanently for business reasons.

While there are concerns raised from time to time about taxes, job security, re-employment opportunities on return to Australia and even keeping your house if you're away too long, Australian citizens who work abroad with the APS should have little to worry about.

Working overseas in an Australian Public Service field, such as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), is a good way to ensure you and your family will be looked after, both internationally and upon your return to Australia.

Now that you mention it, what is the role of DFAT?

In a nutshell, DFAT has 109 overseas posts whose role is to liaise in country on trade and policy matters and provide aid and consular assistance. Basically, one of their main roles is to maintain an Australian profile and keep us safe.

If you work for DFAT, your role may include:

  • advising the Government on  foreign, trade and development policy advice
  • working to coordinate global, regional and bilateral interests
  • negotiating agreements between Australia and other countries
  • coordinating and managing aid programs
  • maintaining high standards in consular affairs, and the provision of assistance.

With a presence in 5 continents, DFAT ensures Australian security throughout the world.

So, what sort of jobs for ex teachers could there possibly be with DFAT?

This is where you need to start thinking laterally.

Are you a languages teacher? DFAT's business is often conducted in one of the 31 languages of the countries they do business with.

Perhaps you're a maths teacher, or economics, or a computing teacher.

As we mentioned previously, you do not need to have specific qualifications or special training to work in any Public Service department, including DFAT. If you have a background in a specialist field, such as economics, you may even be sought after. And, any training you do need, in order to upskill, will usually be provided on the job.

Remember the transferable skills you possess, as well: initiative, ability to communicate and negotiate with a range of clients, diverse experiences, etc.

DFAT looks to recruit a vast range of people, from new graduates to people who are looking for a career change. They also embrace diversity in all forms:

DFAT recognises the importance of valuing diversity and promoting inclusion. Moreover, as the department that represents Australia to the world, it is important we reflect the diversity of the Australian population. (DFAT Diversity and Inclusion page.)

For more information about the roles and opportunities that exist both in Australia and overseas, have a look at DFAT's website.

Teaching jobs overseas can be rewarding and fun.
It is relatively easy to find a job as an English teacher in Asia. There are opportunities everywhere, from international schools to business people who want to hire English tutors. (Source: Pixabay Credit: Nguyen Tuan Hung)

Live Overseas and Teach English

To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world — Chinese Proverb

While this is a lovely way to look at language learning, the fact is that English is the global language of business and over one in four people speak English at a functional level. That's a lot of people teaching English around the world!

In many countries, like China and Japan, teachers are respected and honoured, but professions are also often family traditions.

In Australia, however, most people tend to pursue a teaching career for the joy and personal satisfaction it brings.

A love of sharing knowledge and a desire to change people's lives is also frequently cited as the driving force behind teaching.

So, why is it, then, that Australia is facing a potential teacher shortage, as hundreds of teachers resign each year?

Maybe you've had enough of fighting the system in Australia but the thought of leaving teaching devastates you because you still love it. It's okay — you can have your pick of teaching positions in overseas countries.

If you're a native speaker of English, there are teaching opportunities for you throughout Asia, the Middle East and eastern Europe. They can't fill the job vacancies fast enough!

Teacher recruitment criteria are different in each country, and often different between school, but your base-level qualifications tend to be a degree at Bachelor's level (not necessarily in education), TEFL or TESOL certification and some sort of experience teaching (although this is not always a concern).

Teaching enthusiastic international students can be one of the greatest jobs for ex teachers (or nearly ex) because you know what you're doing, have the degree and getting an English teaching qualification is relatively easy.

What are the perks of international teaching jobs?

  • Reduced face-to-face hours: at many schools, you will only be required on class a few hours a day. You might need to do some extra things, like Conversation Clubs, homework groups and other club activities (and faculty meetings) but look at these as a way of getting to know people, and improving your own language study.
  • Increased autonomy: as long as you're speaking English, and engaging the students, how you teach is entirely up to you. Make exciting teaching resources, use interactive activities like role play and games. Enjoy what you're doing.
  • Accommodation is provided: not only will you be given somewhere to live, it will also often be cheaper than the going rate. Make sure you give a little back to your neighbours though.
  • A mentor or supervisor: this person's role is not to report back on you, but to help you navigate daily life in your new country and familiarise you with customs and the basics, like banking and bill-paying. They'll probably teach you some expressions, or even meet you for conversation tutorials to boost your communication.

What other personal benefits are there?

  • Be immersed in a different culture: soak it all up. You gain so much more insight and understanding of different cultures when you love there. Make sure you get to know your local community and participate in cultural events.
  • Practise or learn another language: at the very least, you'll learn how to order a meal in a restaurant and ask for simple directions. If you already know a bit of the language, here's your chance to become fluent and add another skill to your list.
  • Travel and exploration: you discover so much more about a country when you have the time to step away from the tourist circuit. Make the most of every opportunity to look around, jump on a train or bus and just go!
  • Reigniting your teaching passion: sometimes all you need is to get away from the administrative side of teaching to remember why you went into it in the first place. Embrace the opportunity to really teach without having to worry about assessment and pedagogy you don't agree with.
  • Experience: make sure you list this work on your CV. Overseas experience tells employers a lot about you.

What's not to love about it?

Teaching abroad is brilliant if you're single but what if you have a family? You can't leave them back in Australia!

English teachers who have families in tow are not as uncommon as you may think, and many overseas schools will have this covered. If your children are school-aged, they may be able to enrol in an international school, or even attend the local school for their own language and culture experiences. Your partner will likely be able to secure a part-time job teaching English as well, or they may enjoy volunteering in the community. Also, remember there will be a mentor or liaison person to assist your whole family to settle in to their new life.

Should I be concerned about political unrest or personal safety?

China, Japan, Thailand — most of the countries that advertise for English teachers are considered safe and politically stable. Make sure you keep in touch with your closest Australian Consulate and follow the laws of the country you're living in, and there should be no cause for concern.

It is really important to be aware of, and attend to, local customs. There are often explicit expectations of foreign teachers, who are paid generous salaries and it is essential you adhere to these. For example, if you are female and working in Dubai, you need to be aware of the rules around what you wear and how you behave in public.

Finally, for your own wellbeing, make sure the school you are going to be working for is recognised as legitimate. Ask the consulate if you aren't sure. The last thing you want is to pack up and set off on your adventure, only to find you have no job to go to, and nowhere to live.

There are many horror stories out there of teachers who ended up living in appalling conditions, with an unrealistic workload and a contract they couldn't be released from. Don't let that happen to you — most schools are legitimate, but it's always best to check.

If in doubt, make sure you get some advice and investigate the school or position yourself before putting your trust in a too-good-to-be-true recruiting agency.

Charity or Community Work

Caring, nurturing roles, based around community needs, can be the best jobs for teachers who know they will miss the rapport and relationships when they leave the profession. This career path could see you working with youth, the aging community or within a charity. Some jobs have links with educational institutions, others don't — but all of them rely on the skills and traits found in great teachers.

Working or volunteering in community-based roles is great use of your skills if you're transitioning out of teaching.
If you get personal satisfaction from helping people, community work could be your dream job. (Source: Visualhunt)

In Australia, whenever your role requires you to work with children, youth or other vulnerable people (including the elderly), you will need to have a national police check and/or register for a working with vulnerable people card (WwVP — or similiar, depending on the state/territory you are in). These checks not only provide employers with peace of mind, but also make employees more aware of the needs of vulnerable people and the challenges that can be associated with this line of work.

Although challenging, the work can also be very rewarding, especially when positive outcomes are achieved. In the face of dwindling in-class and external support, many ex-teachers will have developed their own strategies to deal with difficult situations. These strategies, and the experience of working with a broad range of people, are valuable in all areas of community work.

Whether you're working in a youth work role, supporting elderly or disadvantaged community members, or working for a charity organisation, your communication and interpersonal skills will be put to great use. Above all, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you've helped make people's lives that little bit happier. Your job search in this field could see you stay in the public system, or you may find your new job in the private sector.

How do I go about pursuing a career in community work?

The type of qualifications or experience you need will be determined by the area you wish to work in. For example, charity work is unlikely to require extra training, however, if you wish to go into an aged care role, or become a youth worker in the public sector, you will have to look at further study.

Local and government organisations, including some schools, are the biggest employers of youth workers. In your role, you may find yourself facilitating community events, organising fundraisers or supporting teenagers at school.

Within the vast range of youth work fields, there are many alternative jobs for teachers which will suit their strengths, interests and skills.

So, if this is what you want to do, you will need to find out what extra qualifications you will need. Even though you will already have an education degree, the specialised and diverse nature of youth work means you will also need an Associate Degree, Advanced Diploma or Diploma in the field you are interested in. Accredited courses for youth work (and other community work fields) can be found through the Australian Community Workers Association (ACWA). Bear in mind the time commitment required for these courses is, at minimum, one year.

After gaining the relevant certification, the next step is to start applying for work.

The personal satisfaction and intrinsic rewards to be gained through being a youth worker are second to none. Yes, it can be challenging, but for former teachers who are passionate about improving a child's future, and are keen to be involved in their communities, the benefits outweigh the challenges.

Alternative Jobs for Teachers in Education (But Out of the Classroom)

Working for the Department of Education, in the government sector, has many benefits. Many teachers find this working environment to be rewarding and supportive and, therefore, may be reluctant to leave. Classroom teaching is not, however, the only option available to you.

Think about your areas of expertise and professional talents that make you a fantastic teacher. To start with, you'll probably have:

  • ambition and drive to improve
  • great teamwork skills and independent work skills
  • initiative and creativity
  • an innate understanding of and responsiveness to people and their behaviours
  • strong motivation and sound work ethic
  • resilience and the ability to cope with pressure
  • curiosity and a desire to learn.

Taking into consideration your raft of qualities, experience and your qualifications, there are many other jobs available to you in the education sector which will either get you out of the classroom environment or into a different learning space. It can also be helpful to work out why you don't want to teach in your current role anymore, as well as what continues to keep you there.

What do you still feel passionate about? Perhaps it's working alongside our younger generation ... or giving advice and assistance on a personal level? Maybe you aspire to a leadership role, or enjoy being responsible for a team?

Recognition of the need for targeted mental health and wellbeing staff is growing in our educational institutions, at all levels from primary school to higher education. If you feel strongly about student advocacy and support, you may consider staying in the school environment in this role. You will maintain your current benefits but be able to redirect your attention to an area that may be more meaningful for you.

In your career, it is likely you have been involved in a mentoring role with preservice (student) teachers. If you enjoyed helping your student teacher develop their teaching skills, you may find you have an interest in working in teacher training and recruitment. Being involved in teacher development, from preservice training to promotional, is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of education and help drive growth and quality advancement.

If you know you have strong leadership skills, are innovative and have a sound knowledge of curriculum, current trends and education goals, you may be the perfect candidate for a role within your state's Department of Education or even with ACARA. Using your experience at a different level by being involved with policy and strategy decisions, or in a managerial role, could be the refreshing change you need.

Investigating the different opportunities available, by looking at departmental websites and talking to people 'in the know', is the best way to find out whether a shift to an education officer role is likely to be a successful career change for you.

From Teacher to Student Counsellor

As a classroom teacher, part of your job would have been: to make your classroom a supportive place and treat your students with compassion and respect; to listen, with an open mind, to their academic issues and social or personal problems; and to offer advice, or sometimes direct assistance, to help them find a solution. If this was you, and you found yourself being sought after by students, becoming a counsellor could be a logical next step.

Extra training is required if you want to work as a counsellor. Of course, you can do a longer Bachelor of Counselling but this is not absolutely necessary — graduate or diploma level courses may also be sufficient, depending on the counselling field you would like to enter. Check the Australian Counselling Association (ACA) or the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors (AIPC) websites for more information on courses available throughout Australia.

All courses mentioned through the ACA and AIPC are accredited, which means they are recognised by all counselling providers, including those in educational institutions, community groups and other counselling services. Courses can be taken online, externally or in a combination and range from short professional learning to diploma, and graduate through to masters levels.

Teachers do not have to stay in classroom jobs forever.
There are other jobs for teachers beyond the classroom but still in government education. (Source: Visualhunt)

Many teachers pursue a career in counselling as an alternative to staying in the classroom. However, there's more to it than just deciding to 'become a counsellor' — it's important to know the details of different roles so you can make an informed choice about the pathway that is right for your strengths and your goals.

The questions are simple, but necessary — adults, adolescents or children; specialised or general; what about the work environment? Narrow down your options so you can target your training.

Once you've decided on the type of course, make sure you search for one that is accredited by the ACA — the last thing you want is a hard-earned diploma that does not meet Australian standards because this means you won't be getting a job here.

What are the steps to becoming qualified?

Obviously, you need to decide on your course and level. At this point, you should also investigate whether you are eligible for for 'recognition of prior learning' as an experienced teacher who already holds a Bachelor's degree at least. The length of your course will be dependent on the level; you may be able to apply for part-time study, or flexible learning.

Qualification NameAcademic LevelCourse DurationCost
Introduction to CounsellingLevel 28-12 weeks£220
Certificate in CounsellingLevel 21 year (part-time)£490
Diploma in Therapeutic CounsellingLevel 42 years (part-time)£1542

There are practical components throughout all the courses, which are essential to allow you to get as much 'hands-on' time as possible, preparing you for your eventual role.

If you don't think you can commit the time, for whatever reason, to complete your qualifications, these courses may not be right for you at this moment. However, if you are certain this is the right career path for you, all the extra training you can get can only benefit you in terms of experiences, practices and confidence.

What About Private Tutoring?

Many teachers are torn because they still love teaching but have burnt out owing to the stress of classroom teaching or the demands placed on teachers by various governing bodies. A wonderful solution to this is to transfer to the private sector and work as a home-based tutor. If you decide this is something you'd like to try, Superprof can find you jobs tutoring throughout Australia — from Perth to the Canberra, Townsville to Launceston, Darwin to Adelaide and all the places along the way.

By law, people working as sole traders do not require specialised qualifications — including a teaching degree. However, as the market becomes more competitive, a Bachelor of Education degree and prior teaching experience is definitely a selling point, although the demand for extra academic or specialised assistance is showing no signs of diminishing.

Of course, pedagogical knowledge and experience, combined with specialised subject knowledge, means you are likely to be able to command higher fees. If you market yourself carefully, you can make a good living from private tutoring — doing something that you love.

More and more teachers are transferring out of the education system and into tutoring, lured by flexible hours, reduced pressure and increased autonomy in what they teach and how. Working one-on-one with students, who are there because they are keen to learn, can also be incredibly rewarding.

As with any new business, marketing yourself to prospective clients can be intimidating — particularly if you're not used to talking up your skills, or setting the hourly fees that you deserve.

Remember, clients will value your expertise and experience, so tell them who you are and what you do. 'I'm a qualified Special Education Teacher with a background as a Science Teacher.'

Be self-assured. Confidence is everything! 

If you're not ready to break out on your own, there are other jobs for teachers in schools but in small group settings. More and more Australian schools are employing learning support staff in intervention and extension capacities.

Try Working as a Relief Teacher

Have you considered changing from full-time teaching to relief teaching? Relief teachers (substitute teachers) have the best of both worlds — the joy of working with young people in the classroom, coupled with the joy of finishing at 3:30 pm, with minimal preparation, no marking and no meetings. Yes, it can be challenging when you don't know the students or the school, but a lot of teachers enjoy the variety and the challenge.

Once the realm of retired or newly graduated teachers, relief teaching is becoming increasingly enjoyed by teachers of all ages — the biggest drawcard being work life balance.

Depending on your level of experience, and the state/territory you work in, relief teachers earn around $70 an hour (at the top level), with the average working day being 6 hours.

It is likely that, as a relief teacher, you may be dumped with daily playground duty, and it can be frustrating not knowing where things are kept (like the coffee). There is also the factor of significantly reduced weekly pay, no sick leave and the off-chance you might not get a phone call for several days at a time — however, the reduction in stress levels and less after-hours time being needed for preparation could make the disadvantages worth it for you.

With an education degree and a host of transferable skills, as an ex-teacher, you have so many alternative career options in front of you. Build your confidence if you have to at first by testing the waters with different teaching roles in familiar environments. When you're ready, update your goals, investigate your options, tweak your resume and let your credentials, qualifications and experience do the hard work for you as you make your way to a new career in the public system.

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Kellie is an editor, a children's writer, blogger and a teacher. Any remaining time she has is spent on a dragon boat.