What are some Alternative Careers for Teachers (Part 1)

If you told me 5 years ago that I was going to become a Career Coach- I would have thought you were crazy!!!!

From Teacher to Career Coach: A Little about my Story

Five years ago – I took my first career break to travel to South America. The previous school year had been tough for me – challenging classroom behaviour and my expectations of myself were high, paperwork, corrections and colourful displays, spending evenings and weekends on school stuff – early mornings and late evenings in school – meant that by the end of the school year 2014 I was burned out. Nothing new there, huh?

After 7 years teaching and by March 2014, I was terrified. I was playing around with the idea of applying for a career break to travel and rest. It was just an idea at the time – but I felt that I couldn’t face into another year like I’d just had. I wasn’t happy. I felt stressed. I had no energy or enthusiasm left for teaching and my personal life was suffering too.

I was worried – how would I cope with not having an income for the year? What would other people say? Where would I go? What would I do? Could I do this alone? 7 years teaching – Teaching was all I knew.

A few days before the cut off date to apply for a career break, my principal asked in a throw-away question as he was busying himself doing something else – was anyone on staff thinking of taking a career break? I was stumped. I wasn’t ready to admit it to myself, much less – declare it to my staff but…. here goes…. I submitted my letter and was granted it (cue fear and questioning my actions!) but I began planning my trip. Things came together when I made my first big step – booking my flights – and I HAD THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME!

One year later, lying on a beach in Brasil, once again I was struck with fear – to apply for another career break or not??….. but the sunshine and caipirinhas made it a little easier this time! I applied for another year to further my career break adventure – and each year after that it became a little easier to apply for one. Each year brought a little more clarity for me – telling me I was changing and that I no longer wanted to return to that school, the paperwork and the stress of full time teaching. Five years later, in February this year, I resigned from my permanent job. It was scary, but I know it was the right decision for me. What helped me make that decision?

  • Personal Development – During my time on Career Break, I invested in myself and in courses of interest to me and I now have further skills that I can use for my future career/s.
  • Acceptance that outside of the Public Sector (especially the teaching area) there is no such thing as a career for life. People reinvent themselves and their careers all of the time.
  • A greater value on happiness than security – I want to be happy. Yes, my life is not as secure as it one was with my ‘permanent, pensionable job’ but I am happier and helping others in a different way.
  • Networking – I met with others from a wide range of backgrounds (from who helped me realise that I have a unique insight into change, employment and innovation. That means that the strengths of persistence, ‘bouncebackability’, communication and service mean that I am suitable (right now!) as a self-employed coach.
  • Learning about the latest Job Seeking Skills – I attended courses, workshops and I volunteered with a job seeking charity while I was finding my path. I learned best practice in creating CVs that get noticed, how to use LinkedIn as a self marketing tool and how to network effectively.

In 2016, I asked that same question to a career coach that you’re now asking – “What should I do?” It’s led me on an interesting journey to do exactly what she helped me to do.
Read on to find out what I’ve learned since then….

In 2017, I qualified as a Career and Life Coach. I now help others to find their path from teaching to alternative careers – in which they feel happy, valued, successful and make great use of their facilitation and communication skills. When clients come to me these are important stages in their career exploration:

In my next blog, I outline how can you find your best alternative career for you. In the meantime, If you have any questions I’d love to hear from you – simply email me at hello@orladempseycoaching.ie


Are you ready to explore new options in life? Are you feeling tired and frustrated? Do you spend your time planning lessons for others and not enough time planning your own life? Are your personal and professional relationships suffering at the moment? Are you ready for a change?

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