I Couldn’t Find a Teaching Job. Now What?

Spring is coming! Most people think about putting away the snow shovels and dusting off the lawn mower - but spring has additional meaning for new teachers. By this time, schools are planning for the next school year, making predictions about their staffing needs, and posting vacancies. If you’re watching the ink dry on your degree and certification documents, you’re ready to begin your job search.

This is the challenging part. You might have visions of yourself setting up your classroom and welcoming students on the first day of school, but the universe might have other ideas. Ideally, you’ll land your dream position by this fall, but it’s important to have a fallback strategy in case you don’t find a job on your first try. Here are some ideas to help you gain some useful experience, which can build your résumé as you continue to seek permanent employment.

  • Take a substitute position. This is the most obvious route taken by many teachers who aren’t able to find a regular position. The life of a substitute can be unpredictable and challenging, but it’s never boring. The nature of the work means you likely won’t really know what you’re going to be doing from one day to the next. If you choose to focus your time and energy on one school or district, your days might take on a familiar feel, and you’ll be in a good position to meet people who can help you land a permanent position. If there’s a sudden, unexpected need to be filled, you’re potentially in a great spot if you have the right credentials. If you find that there’s not enough need for your services in one school, you can branch out to other districts, which may build your network of possible contacts, though it might be harder to build steady relationships. If the uncertainties of subbing makes you anxious, here are some tips to address your fears.
  • Consider another certification area. Going back to school might be the last thing you want to do, from a time perspective as well as a financial one. But if you’re finding a lot of competition in your specialty, adding another certification may open additional doors. Finding out which specialties are in demand in your region and one which complements your current certification area could make you eligible for more positions while making you more versatile and appealing to a principal. For example, a special education credential is a good qualification to have because the number of inclusion classrooms is steadily increasing.  Demand for teachers who specialize in English as a second language (ESL) is growing, with some schools struggling to fill vacancies. Though it would require a not-insignificant commitment, pursuing a second credential could benefit you in the long term.
  • Take a teacher aide or assistant position. As a certified teacher, you’ll certainly be overqualified for these types of jobs, and that may hinder your ability to land one in the first place. But there are a couple benefits you don’t get with subbing. You’ll probably have a set schedule, which brings in steadier pay than you make as a substitute teacher. And being in a school daily will make you more visible to principals and others who make hiring decisions. You can also look at it as an opportunity to further your education, because you may learn something from the teachers and students you work with.
  • Seek out alternatives. Public school jobs tend to be the most desirable. The majority of the positions are in public schools, which generally offer higher pay and better benefits than parochial and private schools. Charter schools and alternative programs, such as those that work with troubled students, offer additional possibilities. If you really want a steady teaching job, where you have your own students and a regular paycheck, don’t rule out these options. The Council for American Private Education features jobs openings in independent schools.
  • Teach online. Modern technology has changed many aspects of a teacher’s life. Computers and the internet facilitate record keeping, lesson planning, and communicating with parents, and more. While online classes have been around for years, they’ve primarily been for college students. However, opportunities for children to learn online have been growing, which creates demand for teachers. There are tutoring services, foreign language schools, and K-12 schools which operate entirely online. While it might not be what you envisioned, teaching virtual school could be a good way to build your résumé and earn a living from the comfort of home.

When you’ve looked forward to launching your teaching career for a long time, not landing a job right away can be difficult and stressful. But making the best of a detour can be a great experience, providing you with unique experiences which may help you fulfill your ultimate goal.