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It can be difficult to know whether the career you picked is the right fit for you until you are actually doing it. Sometimes, the career that was right for you five or 10 years ago is no longer what suites you because over the years you changed as a person and professional so your priorities can change. This leads many people to decide it is time to change careers. In fact, the average person changes jobs 10 to 15 times during his or her career and the “new normal” is for young professionals is to change jobs four times prior to age 32.

If you feel that your current job is not what you want out of your career and life, it’s time to consider a career change. One career that is currently in high demand and brings a sense of purpose, fulfillment and accomplishment on a regular basis is teaching. Helping the next generation grow in their knowledge and future selves is an important task and rewarding experience. If you are considering becoming a teacher, here are five steps that will help you get started.

5 Helpful Steps to Become a Teacher

  1. Make a list of what you want from your next career and decide which of those things are of the highest priority. Do you care more about your schedule, the fulfillment you receive from your job, or a high-paying salary? After you decide what you need, see if those priorities line up with a career in education.
  2. Consider what age group and subject area you would like to teach. Your past professional and education experiences are good guides to what your strengths are. For instance, if you majored in business during college, those skills could help you become a math teacher. If math interests you, start researching what level of math each grade level is expected to achieve to help you decide what level of difficulty you would be most comfortable with or most enjoy teaching. Also consider how you relate to others and what age group would be best to work with based on your personality.
  3. Research what steps you need to take to become a certified teacher in your state. Each state has different requirements, so your state’s Department of Education is one of the best resources. American Board recommends reading through the department’s website regarding teacher certification and the different routes available in your state before calling so you will know what questions you will want to ask or what route might be the best fit for your needs. For instance, if you do not have the financial capability to take time off work or away from your family, an online, self-paced certification program may be best for you. There may also be private schools and charter schools in your community that will hire you on so you can gain professional experience and earn a salary while working toward teacher certification.
  4. Contact your local school districts or schools to find out where they need teachers. Maybe you are trying to decide between teaching Elementary Education or English Language Arts. Finding out from your local school which position they typically have to fill more often may help you make a decision while also getting your foot in the door for a future job opportunity.
  5. Spend time shadowing a current teacher or serving as a substitute teacher.  Making this career change is a big decision, so getting in-person experience with what teaching is really like will help you decide whether it is the right fit for you. It may be difficult to work this into your schedule if you are still juggling a full-time job, but try to fit in at least one day of substituting or shadowing.

If you have taken these five steps and are ready to become a certified teacher, American Board’s online program may be the right fit for you. Learn how to enroll and you could be leading a classroom of your own within a year!

Want more insight? Other helpful tips from teachers can be found on this post from EdWeek’s blog.

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