Search form

What Teachers Can Do - Job Skills Beyond Education

job skills

The other day, I was scrolling through my social media feed and ran across a post about what it takes to be qualified for professions outside of education. How, the teacher who created the post wondered, does a background in education translate clearly to someone in the corporate world who is looking at job applications? The truth is, teaching comes with a set of highly enviable skills that most employers would be more than happy to take advantage of. Who wouldn’t want to hire someone who is accustomed to the unpredictable, dynamic life that working in a school building necessitates and who can build meaningful connections with any number of individuals, especially those with diverse perspectives? If anyone is looking to brush up a resume for employment, remember that the skills below provide a distinct edge – especially when they’re supported with specific evidence during a job interview.


On any given day, fires both large and small (metaphorical, let’s hope) occur that disrupt the flow of day-to-day operations. Instruction might be interrupted without warning, a child may have a breakdown in the middle of class, or perhaps the internet connection crashes and lesson materials become unavailable. Whatever occurs to threaten progress, teachers know how to make quick adjustments to practice. The agility that comes with problem-solving on a regular basis is a highly desirable trait for any prospective employee. Having a few anecdotes at the ready to exemplify what that looks like in action is a particular asset during an interview. For example, anyone might have been frustrated when a carefully curated slideshow was unavailable to students one day thanks to shaky WiFi, but sharing how we taught the content “old school” style by thinking on our feet is a powerful way to demonstrate capacity.

Decision Making

Second only to air traffic controllers, teachers make the highest number of decisions in a day. From what to focus on during instruction to whether a child should be permitted to do an assignment in a different way, teachers make any number of snap decisions with one lens in mind: what works best for students, both individually and collectively. Even with seemingly small choices, the stakes can be high. If we go back and reteach a concept that seems to not be sinking in, for example, will other units of study that kids need before they reach the next academic year be in peril? From a behavioral standpoint, there is also so much to figure out. What to do about the child who keeps falling asleep, no matter how many times he is awakened? If a livelier class does a fun activity, will everybody lose control and not be able to regroup to do a more serious task? All these spontaneous judgment calls may be exhausting, but they also make teachers prime candidates for any profession that requires a confident response to unpredictability.

Presentation and Public Speaking

No matter the day, it is almost a guarantee that teachers will be presenting information to students, usually in creative ways that increase engagement. Kids are hardly a voluntary audience, which makes capturing their interest a significant challenge. The ease of talking to groups is often accompanied by comfort with public speaking in general, though it should not be assumed that all teachers enjoy getting up in front of adults. However, educators are generally considered to have an edge over many other professionals when it comes to being well spoken, and that advantage translates much more consistently to having communication strategies for sharing information in a way that is both clear and appealing.

Management and Leadership

Teachers are used to taking the lead, both inside and outside the classroom. From managing student outcomes and behavior to facilitating teaching teams, the option to sit back or be passive simply does not exist. Think about all the moving parts that teachers supervise each day, from making logistical choices (what happens when, and how) to prioritizing instructional needs for a differentiated range of learners. On top of that, teachers are often successful, charismatic leaders who inspire kids to learn with continuous dedication and enthusiasm for their work. With so many balls in the air, a teacher who moves student growth forward has an excellent framework for project management or supervisory roles in professions outside of education.

Interpersonal Communication

If adults think communicating with one another clearly is challenging, imagine how the ability to work effectively with multiple age groups across a range of differentiated needs increases someone’s hiring appeal. On any given day, teachers collaborate with one another in teams (not always an easy task), with a variety of students, and perhaps with leaders or parents. The skill it requires to move nimbly from one style of interaction to another is considerable, not to mention a clear asset to anyone who wishes to work in a field that requires a lot of facetime with others. 

Structure and Organization

Teachers thrive on orderly systems that make learning possible. It takes some impressive maneuvering to set up methods that allow kids to learn in the most functional environments possible. From developing learning routines at the start of the year to facilitating complex setups like station rotations, teachers know how to create structural building blocks that deliver ideal results. For a job position that requires that kind of strategic thinking, anyone who has organizational skills from classroom teaching already has a strong foundation to develop structures in any job field.

Reaction to Change 

Changes to curriculum? No problem. A new data platform? Sure, bring it on. While many teachers would be hard pressed to say that they love change, they are certainly used to it and can roll with the punches. In a rapidly changing world, more professional fields are looking for individuals who can respond to change productively. When teachers interview for positions, clearly expressing their comfort with change gives them a leg up. Let’s face it: if someone can teach a brand-new grade level while simultaneously being trained in an unfamiliar intervention method, they can probably handle any number of demanding requests. 

Whether they take credit for it or not, teachers are talented people with any number of enviable abilities. Even if someone isn’t looking to leave education and enter a new line of work, a better awareness of the myriad skills that educators bring to the table might increase a general appreciation of teaching skills. But either way, it’s never a bad idea to brush up any dusty resumes. One never knows when an updated CV might come in handy!

Written by Miriam Plotinsky, Education World Contributing Writer

Miriam Plotinsky is an instructional specialist with Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, where she has taught and led for more than 20 years. She is the author of Teach More, Hover Less and Lead Like a Teacher. She is also a National Board-Certified Teacher with additional certification in administration and supervision. She can be reached at or via Twitter: @MirPloMCPS