10 backup careers for new teachers

Education degrees aren’t just for the classroom



I’m currently in teacher’s college at York University and sometimes I find myself worrying about my future career. The Ontario College of Teachers reports that one-third of 2010 education grads were unable to land any employment in the 2010-11 school year, not even supply teaching. In 2011, only 23 per cent had regular teaching jobs.

So what to do? Instead of focusing on how hard it’s going to be to find a job, I’m considering other options. It’s much better than depressing myself reading more discouraging statistics! With that, I humbly present 10 options every education graduate should consider.

1. Teaching abroad
There are many countries where English teachers are highly sought (South Korea, the Middle East, Japan). If you’re an adventure seeker with no immediate obligations, teaching abroad on a one or two-year contract is a great option. The classroom experience could prove useful when you return.

2. Move within Canada
If moving to a foreign country to teach seems daunting, you can at least broaden your search within Our Home and Native Land. Look for developing cities where new schools are being built and apply to the local boards. If you’re bold, try other provinces, the north, and Native reservations.

3. Private tutoring
You can work with tutoring companies such as Alliance or KUMON or manage your own students. Ask family, friends and high school guidance departments for contacts. I tutor six students now and set my hours in consultation with the parents. The rates are good—up to $30 per hour.

4. Private schools
I have never come across a fellow student who wanted to teach in a private school, due to the stereotype about affluent students being entitled and unpleasant to teach. But why not bust through those stereotypes? Also, I hear class sizes are relatively small and teacher resources are abundant.

5. The justice system
Who says you have to stick to the classroom? A classmate of mine is set on teaching prison inmates one day. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has also been recruiting education graduates lately to work in civilian jobs as instructors, youth workers or in victim services. Skills acquired in teacher’s college—flexibility, planning and multitasking—are useful in the justice system too.

6. Community centres
Why not apply for a job as a day camp leader? Not only will it give you the opportunity to practice taking control of a large group of young people, you’ll be getting paid to be creative and active while you work. It will also force you to stay up-to-date on first-aid procedures.

7. Tour guide
During your teaching practicum, you will interact with up to 90 people a day, so you’ll learn how to project your voice and handle a group. Working at museums, cultural centres, galleries and tour companies will allow you to practice these skills in front of an eager-to-learn audience.

8. Community College
Those with Master of Education degrees should look into this one closer. While you may need a few years of experience in your field, teaching at a college could be viable sooner than you think.

9. Become an entrepreneur
Someone I know was unable to find a job in teaching, so she took matters into her own hands and opened a kids’ physical activity workshop. She makes her living keeping kids fit. Sounds fun!

10. Nanny
Care-giving positions are in high demand. Wealthy couples often want a nanny to look after their kids and they’re willing to pay. If you’re specialized in the junior division or early education, looking after children as a part-time or a full-time could be the perfect fit.

The best thing about these options is that you can earn money to pay off your student loans while practicing the skills you learned in teacher’s college. Perhaps the job market for new teachers will improve in a few years. If it doesn’t, you may be closer to finding something else to love.

Either way, let’s keep our chins up. At least we now have back-up plans.


10 backup careers for new teachers

  1. Congratulations on your 7 years of education and 40k in debt, your dream of being a nanny is finally achieved.

  2. I work in the not-for-profit social service realm and know that applicants with a teacher’s degree often get hired in careers as diverse as caseworker, project assistant or outreach worker.

  3. I’ve taught 9 years in international schools overseas in both Asia and the Middle East.
    Best decision I ever made, and I had a good teaching job in Canada.
    The kids are fantastic, the professional development is abundant, and the perks are unparalleled.

    • Hi Are you the Paula that graduated from Queen’s in 1995 and then went to Indonesia and Singapore while I went to South Korea? If so, I worked for a Toronto Board from 2001 to 2008 and after I retired worked for 3 years in China. Compared to working in Toronto working in Asia was the best time of my teaching career. There is no comparison.


  4. I’ve been abroad for three years. I’ve taught in the Middle East and England. I’ve returned and am being told that I’ll just have to apply to the boards and just wait.
    So #1 isn’t applicable.
    I’m in consultancy at the moment, and found the job through a friend. That’s the case these days, you have to know someone to get in somewhere.

  5. “If you’re bold, try other provinces?” I’m assuming the article believes the be all and end all is Ontario, of course. My wife and I moved to the north of BC in 75. It was the best thing we ever did. We both worked for 32 years in the school system and raised two boys. Small town life worked for us. {Quesnel, BC} Unfortunately the student population is falling. There is less and less work and Quesnel will eventually be a very small town again in the future. The lumber industry is not what it used to be. Couple that with governments who try to balance their budgets on the backs of hard working teachers because they can get away with it. If those numbers are correct I would not go into teaching. Find another profession where people are wanted and needed. Less students to teach means less teachers are needed. Good luck to you all.

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  8. This is an old post that I just stumbled across – I can only say that I agree with the the first reviewer here (Dan). All of these alternatives are something a college student could do – or even high school (ex: I was a day camp leader when I was 14). Those of us who have Masters degrees in teaching are pretty much stuck in teaching unless we want to take drastic pay cuts and compete with 22 year olds for jobs at museums or as nanny’s for a maximum $2000/month in cities where that only covers the rent. Not worth it. Teaching is NOT the profession to get into. You are overworked and far undervalued on this continent. Go overseas – that is your best bet if you feel that it is truly your calling but do not expect to have that experience acknowledged if/when you return to Canada unless you are lucky enough to get into an international school on this side of the Atlantic. Stay far, far away. Sorry – but that is the reality these days.