When Teachers Leave the Profession: Is It Time to Make a Change?

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The Educator’s Room is a daily website dedicated to showing that teachers are the experts in education. If you are interested in submitting a piece for publication, please send a draft to info@theeducatorsroom.com.

By: Lynette Walters

 Ok!! So you’re fed up! You just can’t take anymore! Your season has ended, you’re bored with the job or no longer feel challenged, the kids are too difficult, or you just need a change….Whatever the reason, whatever the rhyme, you’re ready to leave teaching and do something different.  It’s time to explore the options!

Changing careers and/or reinventing yourself can be a little scary.  Nonetheless, no one deserves the torture of having to show up for a job that is mentally, physically and emotionally draining.  At some point and time, teaching was the “bees knees” or the “cat’s pajamas”, and you reveled in the thought of educating today’s youth into oblivion. Sound familiar? Sure it does.  But here comes reality….somewhere, somehow, you lost your luster and now are faced with the dilemma of choosing another career, or at the very least coming out of the classroom.
Where do you start? Well, first and foremost, you have to decide whether or not you desire to remain in the educational realm.  If so, there are always alternatives, i.e., administration, school counseling, academic/graduation coaching, Vocational Director, or perhaps even teaching another discipline. In others words, there are always a variety of choices.  Perhaps you should switch grade levels for a fresh perspective on things?? Many times ‘burnout’ is limited to the classroom, but you still have a clear, concise fondness for education.  If none of the before mentioned job selections float your boat, then you may consider looking into a job at the district level? If you current certifications/credentials don’t match up then it may be inevitable that you go back to school to expand your knowledge base and marketability.
Now let’s just say for the sake of argument that (God forbid) you don’t want anything at all to do with education, or other people’s children.  You may have to reinvent yourself and start fresh. In the new millennium, this transition is not entirely unheard of especially among middle aged professionals.  Many employees in their thirties and forties are experiencing changes of heart surrounding their current vocations.  Which requires additional soul searching. My advice? Weigh the pros and cons as they relate to what you can and can’t tolerate in a 40-hour work week.  That’s right, remember, your occupation takes up one-third of your life.  Research the job market and even review your retirement package to ensure you’re making a sound choice for yourself and your well being  Is your entrepreneurial spirit yearning to be unleashed? Well then try business ownership on a part time basis  prior to jumping ship. Being your own boss can be rewarding yet time consuming.  And after years of having someone else in authority, will the freedom of running your own show be a culture shock thereby setting you up for failure?

And last but not least, comb over your transferable skills.  Being an educator has brought much diversity to the table.  You are an adviser  caseload manager, instructor, counselor, facilitator, assessment specialist, organizational planner, creative director, lawyer, mediator, mentor, manager, discipline specialist, lesson planner, secretary, hall monitor, police officer, resource specialist, and leader all rolled into one.  And with a resume like that, there’s no limit to the places you’ll go!

We’d love to hear from former educators that have made the transition into other careers as well as those who remain in education, just not in the classroom. Weigh in and provide the voice of experience to your peers! They’ll be forever grateful….I promise!

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By | 2016-11-01T14:42:26+00:00 October 6th, 2012|Elementary Classrooms, From the Front Lines|18 Comments

About the Author:

The Educator’s Room is a daily website dedicated to showing that teachers are the experts in education. If you are interested in submitting a piece for publication, please send a draft to info@theeducatorsroom.com.


  1. April October 16, 2012 at 2:13 am - Reply

    I am in my 7th year of teaching and I am so burnt out! I want to get out of the classroom but I’m not sure where to begin looking for a new career. Are there any former teachers out there who can give me some insight?

  2. bigteacherinasia November 2, 2012 at 9:43 pm - Reply

    I'm in my 11th year in education and I love it. We have a rigorous curriculum which we are expected to teach, but are not mandated to assess solely with standardized tests as our "bottom line". We are exploring multiple ways to assess student learning have great professional discussions around of use of authentic assessment, project based assessment and digital portfolios. We have a good professional development structure at our school which keeps me engaged and always learning. This professional development ensures that we are at the forefront of utilizing technology as a tool (and not a distraction) to make our lives easier and give students the skills required to compete in the 21st century.

    Yes, teachers need to be accountable for student learning, however, it seems like the powers that be are trying to model education reform after a factory production model for pumping out automobiles one after another. Learning is not such a tangible thing and every learner needs time to develop their competencies.

  3. Shawn November 10, 2012 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    I have taught for 25 years and am leaving education at the end of this year. I guess you can say I'm "burned out". I don't have the passion I did years ago, and I don't want to continue if my heart's not in it.

    A year and a half ago I started a business, a "cart" at a local mall. I sell electronic cigarettes, which helped me quit smoking after 28 years 🙂 I wanted to make a little extra income as well as help others like me out. Since that time, My little cart has grown into a full-size kiosk, and this summer I opened a brick-and-mortar store in another town. I have 8 employees, and the income from my business is much more than my teaching salary (that's not too tough…)

    I've been running both businesses while teaching, which of course is exhausting. So at the end of this year I'll be resigning from teaching and running my business full-time, probably adding a third store. It really is liberating to be my own boss. No hoops to jump through, no silly procedures that don't make any sense and don't do any good; if it's not actually beneficial, I don't do it!

    • Latrice August 30, 2013 at 8:25 pm - Reply

      I think that it is great that you gave it 25 years. I really like that you are leaving because your heart is not in it. What I mean that is that some people have lost the passion and they stay and the children suffer. Good luck with your business!

  4. Caz November 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    I have been teaching for 14 years and was recently made redundant. I really do not want to go back to teaching but do not know what else to do. Most jobs I have seen pay alot less than teaching and as I have a mortgage on my own, I can't afford a huge drop in salary. Can anyone help? Can anyone suggest any jobs which pay well and which take on teachers.

  5. jan February 2, 2013 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    Why should we all be leaving teaching if we once loved it? After reading "The Exhaustion of the American Teacher" article and people's comments, it sounds like instead of being forced out of our jobs, we need to all stick together and just stop teaching to the test, stop following these government mandates, stop with all the paperwork and bring creativity, problem-solving, handwriting, cursive, and other teaching methods we used to use that worked. If we all stick together and fight back for what we know is right, then maybe things can change in education. Obviously the unions and the government aren't listening to us. If we keep following the way they want things done, there will be no good teachers left. I am frustrated with teaching as well, but I don't want to be forced out of my career that I dreamed about being since I was a young child.

    • kathy February 21, 2013 at 4:40 pm - Reply

      I quit teaching this past Thanksgiving. I would LOVE to teach the way that I use to teach back then. However, the way that I LOVED teaching was not acceptable by the powers that be. Leaving where I was was the best thing to do. However, I am now in another school district as a para. WHAT a different world I am NOW in. I was welcomed with open arms by the principal. Today, I was complimented by the teachers I go to classrooms with the students. AND…complimented by a parent of one of the students I attend classes with. They teach the way I would teach: interaction, hands on.

      LOL, I even wrote down what I would do if I had my own school. Boy, that would be different than the brick/mortar school.

  6. Danielle February 13, 2013 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    I can't stand it and don't care anymore. I am absolutely miserable ever day of my life now. It's a nightmare (both the kids and the politics). I am about to take the first job offer that comes along. No looking back for me when this is over.

    • fed up teacher February 17, 2013 at 4:26 pm - Reply

      Daniel I have been teaching for 10 years and feel the same exact way. I have a prospering photography business I have been wrking on for 3 years now and want more time with my family. You think you will have more time for your own kids when you go into teaching in reality besides the summer you have less than your friends with 9-5 jobs that all sem so much happer than you. I prefer not to be tortured by these kids in my room and teach to a test. I have a room full of kids and parents who could care less about their education. So DONE. Teaching used to be a joy, now I m like you Daniel I hate to go to work and come home wanting to cry daily.

      • Kathy February 21, 2013 at 4:43 pm - Reply

        I was where you are now. My job affected my kids to the point where they saw there mommy cry at the drop of a hat. I quit Thanksgiving this year and have been subbing as a para or teacher. I realized that it wasn't me that was the problem, it was where I was teaching. Through subbing I have seen districts that know how to treat their staff and also kids that respect their teachers and staff.

  7. Janet February 17, 2013 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    It was Great to read the comments. I have taught for 25 years contracted or 30 if you count subbing. I loved it for so long. Then we got a new principal. She declared me crazy , made me go for a forensic evaluation. Got together with a district level person and made it so I had to resign. Well I have to tell you, it was a gift from God. I gave SO much for So long, I had nothing left for myself. I was burnt out. My mind and body had suffered from all the stress. I still hear from former students. They say I am a positive roll model for them. Why is it that if you are liked by the students, others assume you are letting them do as they please. I showed them love and respect. Taught morals and values. Now I am on disability.

  8. Lori February 17, 2013 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    I feel the same way, like I was born to teach but my health and constant anxiety level is telling me that it’s not worth it. I have nightmares every night and wake up literally holding tight to the bedpost in stress. Where do you go next, especially when you’re in the mid 40s?

    • Kathy February 21, 2013 at 4:46 pm - Reply

      I am almost 42. I am subbing in districts. It isn't my dream job at 42, however right now, it is a relief of my anxiety and depression. I can come home and not have to worry about lesson plans, grading papers, and IEPs. This is not my dream job subbing however it did relieve the stress off of me and my family. I am trying to get my foot in at a district where I can be a para. I feel more useful by assisting than teaching.

    • Stephanie December 7, 2016 at 2:36 am - Reply

      I feel for you, Lori. I guess we’re on the same boat. I got so depressed after resigning. I want to change career but confused on how to transition. My husband would encourage me a lot. He kept on saying that I’m way smarter and better than the people he works with. However, I dunno….it’s just hard right now. Struggling on transitioning and new life here in Sydney.

      It’s been 3yrs. How are you now? We’re you able to transition? How did you do it? ‘would love to hear and learn from you.

  9. Dave February 17, 2013 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    If you are willing to move to remote areas (Alaska, N. Dakota, or in Canada, Saskatchewan, N. Alberta) there is always demand for someone with ANY kind of degree.

    • Kathy February 21, 2013 at 4:47 pm - Reply

      LOL! If you have any type of degree, you can be an alt. ed teacher in PA.

  10. Ace May 25, 2016 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    I really appreciate people sharing their experiences. I just finished my masters in elementary education taking two classes to substitute for two not so great student teaching internship experience. It feels great to be done, and having read so many articles about teachers burning out and having anxiety due to planning lessons or the surrounding environment within the school, I realized that’s a big part of what it was for me. I’m much more relaxed now, but need to find a full-time job that will help me live independently–a job that I will enjoy. If there is anything in particular I’ve learned from my experiences in education, it’s that I enjoy the autonomous freedom of it. Thanks again for sharing your experiences everyone 🙂 Best of luck for what’s to come!

  11. Stephanie December 7, 2016 at 2:30 am - Reply

    Teaching has been a great part of my life. I taught professionally for 15 yrs and got burnt out. My last year was very stressful and extremely full of pressure as a Grade Level Head in an international school. It hugely affected my health. I moved to Sydney to be with my husband but confused on what to do now. I love kids and teaching but I’m not happy anymore with it….perhaps a good rest will do. I’m greatly confused on what to do next…how to transition to another career. How to start a new career. I’m scared and overwhelmed with the changes happening to me. I wanna start a new career but I dunno how to.

    It makes me feel better reading that there are others who are somewhat in or had a similar situation. I need help how to get back on my feet and fight depression. I need help on how to fix my resume and get a job which will suit me. I’m not ready to be a teacher again…what should I do now?

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