Thinking of Starting a Teaching Career?

Updated on December 05, 2011
E.B. asks from Sour Lake, TX
20 answers

I've been a SAHM for 12 years now. I am an official "retiree" at another job (I'm 52) that I stand a GOOD chance of losing or having my pension/benefits reduced by them declaring bankruptcy. My kids are still pretty small 10/11 and my husband works alot so I need to make a new career work with my home life. Teaching comes to mind because of the benefits and the fact that it would work with my life pretty easily. Now the big question, I am so nervous about this. Is it crazy to do this when there have been so many cutbacks?? I am willing to be a sub, take a position that's not my ideal to work toward something I would like to teach. Does it take alot of after hours work?? I'm seeking feedback please. If you're a teacher or live with one I'd really appreciate your input regarding this change. It feels nuts to switch gears at my age but I'm trying to cover my tail so we can have a more secure future. Any advice??

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So What Happened?

Thank you so much for all the input. That was more than enough to evaluate this endeavor! :)

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answers from Austin on

Frankly, I would look at subbing for a while to get into the districts..... there are alternative certification programs if you already have a degree, and some places will hire with that. You can also apply as an aide if there are any openings. I've known teachers to get in by working as a secretary!

I'm 54, and got my certificate a few years ago via alternative certification. That being said, I realize I haven't worked as hard as I should to find a teaching position, since I was really hoping to work in my local school district. I've worked here as a sub for many years off and on, and also worked as an aide from 1997-2000. I am working in the school district as an aide, and really like the job. I do a lot of the things as a teacher, but don't have some of the responsibilities like grades, or having to deal with a class of 25 or more. (I usually work with small groups or one-on-one.)

However, I am afraid there will be more cuts this spring.... the cuts last spring were just the beginning. I am thankful that I have this position for now, since my husband was unemployed for over 2 years, and at least we now have benefits. I don't know what will happen in the spring, though.

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answers from Lafayette on

I work in the school system (public) and every teacher I know works 10-12 hour days, 6 days a week. The good thing is there is some flexibility in how you get it done, and summers are definitely more flexible, but not free any more (continuing ed mostly). And teachers are all miserable--I definitely would not recommend it to anyone at this point, sorry!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I love my job, but it does require quite a lot of time and energy. I've been teaching elementary school for 12 years (KN,1st,2nd, 5th) and there is a lot more documentation and paperwork behind the scenes than there used to be. Also, be prepared to meet with parents and work on professional development. I am not trying to scare you off, but you to really need to want to teach the kids, not just pick it because of the benefits and it works with your life easily. I just got back from going up to my classroom on the weekend for 3 hours. Teaching is a calling and requires way more hours than the official time. Although my official hours are 7:45-3:45 every day. I get to school at 6:40 and work til 4:30. I have one 45 minute break during the day to do work, but that is also my time that I meet with my team or parents. I tutor before/after school 3x/week and regularly bring work home to prepare/grade. I'd say I spend at least 3 hours/week at home doing stuff- often more. When you have students who are struggling academically or with behavior, you bring it home with you emotionally too. You want to do everything you can to help that child succeed and my mind often races at home with different ideas and plans to try. I often think that I need two of me because when I am giving 100% as a teacher, my home/family life takes a hit. Then, when I spend lots of time with my family and don't bring anything home or stay late, my teaching and classroom just don't feel up to par and as effective. It's a balancing act. I feel like I'm most effective when I stay late, but realistically I have a life and kids at home. Also, be prepared to spend quite a bit of your own money, especially the first few years, on supplies. Even now, I buy stuff often to use in my classroom. There are budget cuts and the school doesn't provide everything I need/use.

So, I sound a bit like a downer... AGAIN I LOVE TEACHING. If you are doing it because you love kids and don't mind doing whatever you can to help them succeed- go for it! :) Check into volunteering at your child's school. Also, I suggest subbing first- in different grade levels to see what fits you best. If you can get on as a regular sub, that's some great experience and will get your name out there. Perhaps you could get a job as an aide while you working on teaching courses. The teaching field is hard to get into at the moment, lots of cuts, but who knows in the future. They will always need teachers, but you might not get the ideal school/grade. You might have to get your foot in the door before you can switch around to your sweet spot. :)


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answers from Chicago on

Honestly, I am telling a future teachers to run! I've been teaching for eight years, and the profession is not something I enjoy anymore. Working with the kids is great, but the bureaucracy is too much to handle. Plus, it is so unbelievably difficult to find work, too. When you first begin teaching, you are putting in 60-70 hours of work for at least the first year. I think my second year it was down to 50-60. Now, after eight years, I feel like it can be done in 40-50, but I often have to leave work unfinished to be home with my three kids.

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answers from San Francisco on

I am a teacher (17 + years) and so is my husband. WE live in California. The first thing you need to do is to find a way to be in a clasroom (not as a parent volunteer in your child's class, but in a class where you will be able to work as a teacher's aide). You need to find out if you like teaching and if you can cope with what it actually requires you to do. I mention this because your first points of why you are interested in teaching were the benefits and that it would work with your life pretty easily. The benefits for most teachers are being cut/reduced and that is especially true for new hires. The workload is also becoming harder and harder to manage. Class sizes are increasing and testing has become a huge factor in how teachers teach and how they are viewed. I can tell you first hand that I spend a great deal of my "quality time" with my children multitasking like crazy so that I can also finish work. Other teachers I talk with have the same issue. I work most weekends for at least 3 hours a day.

It is also very hard to get full time, permanent positions. I teach at a community college and in my department four people have retired in the last four years and not one full time position has been created to replace them. I have a friend who has children the age of yours. She went back to school to get her credential because her husband had been laid off. She has been volunteering and subbing for about two years now and cannot get a full time position. The applicant pools are large and filled with laid off teachers who have more experience and more specialized training (technology, ESL, bilingual, special needs).

I do not want to be a huge downer here, but I also am very concerned about folks who are spending a lot of money to get credentialed who then have an impossible time trying to actual find work. If you feel a calling to teach, then by all means, go for it, but have your eyes wide open to the reality. If you do not have a calling to teach, I can guarantee you that there are other professions that will give you more job security, better compensation and less stress. I have a friend who finished a two year nursing program and now she is making 60K, for example.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I wish I didn't have to say this to you. Don't do it.

Teaching is one of the most stressful occupations there is. Legislation has created a monster..make the test scores or go into program improvement. The sagging economy is cutting deeply into school funding, resulting in job cuts. Many new teachers are non-re-elected at their 2nd year, so as to not give tenure, and districts simply hire another new teacher, at beginning salary level (saves money). Discipline has changed over the years, parents are permissive and many children arrive with poor behavior. Kids want to be entertained and have little work ethic. Administrators constantly introduce new programs you must work with.

Endless work, constant 'constructive' criticism, 10-12 hour days, teach to the tests, kids who aren't interested in anything except electronic games, trying to bring kids who barely speak English to proficient....[sigh]

Just trying to make a few more points than others did.

I've worked with kids my whole life and I love working with my students. You can have the rest of it and the stinking politics. Find something else that interests you to train for. You'll be lots happier and more secure.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

This will be the short version. I have been teaching for 15 years in your area. I LOVE teaching, but the last two years have been hideous because of the current cutbacks. I bring hours of work home every night and on weekends, and during Thanksgiving, Spring Break, etc. I feel like I am drowning. If I could retire now and do something else, I would. Don't get me wrong, I love the time I spend in the classroom with students, but everything else is killing me. They have taken away conference periods, and increased teacher workload. In my opinion, this is not the time to enter the teaching profession. Teacher morale is extremely low everywhere. I'm sorry I don't have a better answer for you.

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answers from Tucson on

I work 60-70 hours a week as a high school teacher. I love my job but it is definitely challenging. I am considering changing careers because of the increased workload and the difficulties in managing classroom discipline. I agree with the other posters that you need to get into classrooms in your community and see what it is really like. Good luck! I also do not want to be a downer, but the reality of teaching is way different than what it looks like from the outside.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

I didn't read the other responses, but I would do something maybe?

My husband and I both have Elementary Education degrees. I was let go 2 years ago (lowest on the totem pole, thankfully it wasn't both of us we worked at the same school) and my husband is currently in law school to try to get out of teaching. I stay home with our daughters. :)

It is honestly a thankless career. I hated it. I LOVED the kids and if my job was to teach them it would be awesome. But my job was hours and hours of paperwork, being everything for the children all while having people breathing down your neck. It didn't matter that a child that didn't know all their letters 3 months ago was now reading, I was in trouble that they were not "on level" Being drained and exhausted at the end of the day and hardly having enough left in me for my own daughter. Then having papers to grade, lessons to plan, kids to worry if they were getting enough to eat at night, love from parents, etc. The list goes on and on.

It takes a special kind of person to be a teacher, I always thought it was me. I think if I go back to work, it would be as a sub. :) Or I would go back to nursing school. Don't let the posted teacher hours or vacation time give you a false sense of the job. There are also workshops and meetings during summertime. :)

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answers from Charlotte on

You have to get a teaching certificate to teach. According to the laws of the state you live in, you probably will have to take a test to measure whether or not you can get into school. Then you have to take the classes for your specialty - K-6, middle school or high school. Or if it's music, K-12. (I don't know about art or PE).

Then you have to student teach (practicum) during your study stint (4 months teaching.) You will have another test to make sure they feel like you have learned enough in your field to teach.

During your student teaching, you have to write lesson plans. They have to be VERY detailed. It takes a tremendous amount of time. A lot of hours after school.

Then, after you graduate, you have to work to find a job. That's hard in this economy. The first year will be your hardest because it will all be new, and you will be the one in charge. If you can get through the first year, you'll have a chance to get into a normal pattern of how long it takes to do your work.

Teaching is tough. I have subbed, and I spent more time in the classroom observing and writing my own lesson plans than I spent in the classroom teaching. I was overseas and was paid very well for my work, but I do think that I probably made about $5 an hour if I count all the preparation! (I did it because I wanted to, not because I had to.)

E., my mom went back to school and got her certificate when she was in her mid 30's. She taught long enough to qualify for medical for the rest of her life and she has a decent retirement check. She felt that it was something she really needed to do, and boy, was she right.

I understand why you want to do it. But you must understand how much work it is. I have thought seriously of doing it myself, but I had too many medical issues to work through after coming back to the US to live, and I have just a few more years of my son in school. Between that and not knowing when I'll move again to see if I can even make it through school, I haven't done it. I WISH I had when I was in college the first time long ago! I do occasionally sub, but there are no benefits paid to substitutes.

Good luck,

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would suggest subbing first in all the levels you are considering to see if you like it.

I've been a sub for the last 10 years and love it. I only sub at the 1 elementary school where my daughter attended and all of my days are prebooked. I don't get the late night or early morning calls. IF I did take the late notice jobs, I would be at the school daily.

I prefer to sub 1-2 days a week, just extra small income... we believe in multiple income streams. My real job is mom and running our company from home which is a consulting/brokering business of raw materials (plastic).

I do know if the worse case happened, I would be hired full time in a second at this elementary school. It feels good to have a back up just in case.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Iowa City on

My SIL recently returned to college to become certified. She cannot find a teaching job and the sub positions are very competitive. She 'wasted' a lot of time and money. You will have to research your particular area as to specific teacher needs. Around here teachers pretty much stay put until they retire add to that the funding cuts and that makes for a slim job market. Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I'm a teacher! In Washington, not Texas. But here are my two cents...

The truth of the matter is that there are not many teching jobs out there...right now. If your state is like ours, education budgets are getting slashed all over the place. BUT, that's right now. I do think that it will get better.

If you want to teach, my opinion is to apply for as many spots as you can. If you don't get a job, sub and then apply again next year. Districts are much more prone to hiring someone they know - even as sub - vs. someone they don't. You might also think about a position as a paraeducator to start. Again, as with most careers, getting a teaching position is about getting your foot in the door. So, do what you can to do that (maybe consider subbing right away...and in more than one district). Make a name for yourself in schools that you're interested in (greet the principal, eat lunch with the other teachers, etc.), and then apply to those disctricts starting in March. Get that application in early, and be sure to ask for references from teachers you've subbed for.

Hope that helps! Good luck!

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answers from Naples on

My neighbors are both teachers and my parents both work for the school system as support staff. So I hear a lot about the teaching situation, at least in FL.
It seems like it is getting harder and harder to teach. Some trends I have noticed:
Increased Testing - prepping for standardized tests now takes up much of the year and at least here in FL, teachers are evaluated partly by their students' test scores.
Increased Observation/Evaluation - This year they just started a new program where teachers are observed by literally five different people each with a different set of criteria the teachers are supposed to meet.
Increased ESOL - More and more students speak English as a second language or barely speak English at all.
Decreased respect for teachers - in the current anti-government climate, teachers are targeted for their meager pensions and at least down here, people do not seem to respect teachers....which I'm sure results in their kids not respecting them either.

I will say this, though, my neighbors do not seem miserable. I have never heard them really complain. The wife does seem to work a lot of extra hours, but the husband is home by 4 p.m. every day and honestly does not seem stressed. Of course, they are seasoned teachers. To be honest, I myself may be interested in teaching one day and my mom is always offering to set me up to observe in some of her teacher friends' classrooms. I think that is what you should do. All you have to do is get to know someone who is a teacher, express your interest and ask if you could observe their class. Overall my opinion is, go into it with your "eyes wide open". You will have to be strong and accept the fact that the first few years will be really tough, but if you get through you could very well end up with an at least tolerable career, put in 15 years and then have a pension for life! :) Good luck!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I'm not a teacher and I'm not familiar with the job situation in TX. I live in MN. I do know people in MN who have made mid-life career changes to teaching. Specifically Special Ed. teachers. I am aware that the job prospects are best for teachers in math and science, and special ed. I have also heard that the prospects for subs is quite good.

I am also a student at age 50. I'm working on a PhD in Organizational Psychology. I encourage people often to pursue a second or third career. Some of us will be working until we are 70 or more. So we should always be updating our skills to stay more marketable.

And does your state have a website that gives predictions for careers opportunities into the future? MN has one called I shows the expected growth by career. You might check with the appropriate state agency in TX to see if they have this info.

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answers from New York on

I was a teacher for 5 years before I resigned. I moved overseas and gave up all my pretty good benefits as a single woman. Now I'm thinking of moving back to the U.S. and hope to find a teaching job again. The truth is after 5 years in JH, it got stressful at times. I was in many ways glad to leave my job. I can see how someone being in it for a long time can get "burnt out". It's a tough job, and rewarding at the same time. I also worked during the summers and only had two weeks off before the school year started again. Children are not easy at any stage of their lives, if they're not yours to handle the way you see fit. With different cultural backgrounds you have to be sensitive to their needs.

Now with two kids at hand, and a husband I don't know what it'll be like IF I can get in. Times are tough, and hiring isn't going to be easy. If anything I'll be open to almost any job that takes me.

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answers from Dallas on

I am a first year 4th grade teacher this year. I am 24 years old and am recently graduated from University of North Texas. I also have a 4 year old little boy, and am a wife.

This being my first year, it is hard for me to speak with experience but I can say that I love my job. I have worked very hard to get where I am at and this is what I am destined to do. Along with the great benefits, of course you do get those times off to be with your kiddos. It is not an "easy" job though. It is not something to turn to if you aren't sure what you want to do. We need passionate people who genuinely care about the future of our kids.

Being an elementary teacher, I work around 50 hours a week. Then, when I get home there is normally always something to grade or prepare for the next day. The thing about teaching is that is follows you home. If you can multi task-it's great! :)

A lot of districts (I am in Texas) are not hiring alternative certifications because of the many people who have a degree in education. It was tough this year and I wasn't sure if I was going to get a job--but it it's right for you then with determination and persistence it will happen for you!

Hope I helped some, good luck!

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answers from Phoenix on

I've heard good things about subbing. What about tutoring?

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answers from Houston on

Hi E., like you I am considering teaching when my youngest gets to be school age. I taught jr high art for one year before having kids and it was the absolute worst! My husband is a high school teacher so education would be a good fit in our family as well. If I go back into the education field, I think I would go with elementary. For a while I was thinking about going back to school to be a school counselor, but then found out you need 2 years experience in the classroom before you can be a counselor. So, to do that, I'd have to teach another year. Just food for thought :) Good luck!

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answers from Tulsa on

Working as an aid would allow you to see how much harder teaching is today than when you were in school. The first year will require many extra hours of prep. each day assuming you know someone who can help you get a job. You will be the age most teachers retire and many principals prefer young hires who they can train their way.

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