Teaching is as much a calling as a career, but not everyone hears the calling early in life to become a teacher. People working outside of education may feel they’ve missed their chance to work in a classroom, but that is not the case. Graduate degrees are available that focus on helping professionals gain skills and certification to transition into a career in education.
For many, the prior experience they bring to these programs helps them become better teachers. They bring a fresh perspective to the classroom that can help students succeed academically and grow personally.
Statistically, about a third of all teachers changed careers to get into the field. One of the most convenient pathways to bridging the gap from their current career to becoming a teacher is a Master of Science in Teaching degree.
The professional world provides many benefits for those committed to excellence in their chosen field. But few can offer what a career in education gives: the opportunity every day to make a significant impact on the life of a child.
However, aspiring teachers often hit snags along the way, many of their own making. Some of the most common fears expressed by those who want to change careers to become a teacher are easily disproven by the facts.
It’s hard to find a job. Not true! Demand for teachers remains high across the country. Federal data projects an increase in the need for teachers at all levels, including a 4% rise in kindergarten and elementary school teachers by 2030. New York ranks near the top teacher employment and salary at all education levels.
It’s difficult to switch careers. Becoming a teacher requires commitment, the proper education, and certification, but many programs and resources are available to help you navigate the process. Earning an MST in Childhood Education is a critical step, as this provides skills and knowledge to help you succeed in the classroom, and a streamlined pathway to earning teacher certification.
It takes too long: While some career changes can be time-consuming due to the need to earn another bachelor’s degree, which could take several years, the MST degree is designed to be completed in just two years, with flexible night, weekend and online classes to fit into a busy schedule.
I’m too old. It’s never too late to make a change, especially in the education profession. Teachers with wisdom and diverse professional experiences often make the best teachers!
Teaching remains one of the most rewarding jobs available. But professionals with degrees in other fields may wonder what they can bring to the classroom. We Are Teachers interviewed four teachers who started other careers and how they make a difference for their students.
Life experience. According to We Are Teachers, career-changers going into teaching discover an opportunity to share “diversity and richness of life experience” with students. Teaching students the skills they need in the workforce benefits them while offering job satisfaction for teachers.
An innovative approach. One of the teachers interviewed once worked as a landscape architect. “I was trained to be a problem-solver and to analyze thoroughly before taking a particular path. That kind of thinking allows me to think outside the norm, which the profession needs,” she said.
Experience with children. Older teachers who have raised children have insight into children’s behavior. They can often tell when something is just a phase or a sign of a bigger problem, more so than younger teachers straight out of college.
The SUNY New Paltz School of Education recognizes the benefits that professionals motivated to become teachers as a second career can bring to the classroom. The MST program is designed with these people in mind, including those with little to no teaching experience. The focus is on childhood education 1-6 and early childhood education B-2.
The program's courses cover core educational studies, core elementary content, literacy and diversity, education pedagogy, fieldwork, and student teaching.
Student outcomes include:
Recent graduates with a bachelor’s degree in another field can also benefit from entering the MST program. Graduates in other fields can earn Initial Teacher Certification through alternative teacher certification programs by earning an MST.
For older professionals who want a career change and recent graduates in other fields, teaching provides a stable, well-respected profession that allows them to impact the lives of students and the community significantly.