Should You Become a Teacher in Retirement?
As a retiree, one of the most fulfilling ways you can share your skills and experience is to start a second act as a teacher. Using your top talents to give back in a classroom can give some structure to your retirement schedule while also providing meaningful interactions with other people.
But teaching is also as rewarding as it is challenging. And, depending on your level of formal education, teaching might require a substantial investment of time and money before you can work with students.
Answering these three questions will help you clarify your teaching aspirations for retirement.
1. What certifications will you need?
Qualifications for teaching vary across the country. For example, some states only require substitutes to have a GED or high school diploma. Standards generally rise from there for elementary classroom teachers and above. However, many states have seen such a high rise in teaching vacancies due to retiring boomers and COVID disruption that if you meet certain basic requirements, you might be able to teach while you earn your certifications.
Teach.org has a step-by-step certification guide that can help you find the best path in your state.
2. What am I qualified to teach?
There might not be many teaching opportunities for retirees who have reached a high level of specialization without earning a master’s degree. But proficiency in math, reading, writing, computer programming and web design, or a foreign language will always be valuable in a classroom.
Perhaps a better question is, what do you want to teach? Think about the parts of your job that brought you the most satisfaction. For example, did you really enjoy marketing? Or did you enjoy writing and editing copy?
And if the twists and turns of your professional career led you away from your core bachelor's degree, continuing that discipline and earning your master’s might be a quicker and more stimulating path to certification. You may have become the CEO of a bank, but that undergrad who majored in philosophy has something to give back as well.
3. What are some other options?
One of the reasons that alternative teaching certification programs exist is that burnout is becoming more and more common among teachers. COVID safety procedures and at-home learning added even more stress to a job whose demands and compensation are rarely equitable. In addition to being responsible for students' progress, you'll be responsible for their safety, their social development, and their compliance with school rules. You'll also have to meet the demands of parents who expect more communication with teachers than you probably did when your own children were in school. Teaching older students and adults can be even more challenging, especially when a casual misstep could land you in the court of public opinion on social media.
If you don't need payment, benefits, or all that hassle, you might consider some less formal ways to teach:
- Reach out to your local senior or community center about hosting a seminar or workshop. These can be ideal venues to help other retirees improve basic skills, such as using a computer or practicing a second language.
- If you enjoy the atmosphere of a school but don't want to commit so much of your retirement schedule to earning certification, you could volunteer as a tutor.
- You could also tutor at a local nonprofit that helps adult students earn their GEDs or improve their reading and writing skills.
- Are you a social media enthusiast who's comfortable in front of a webcam? Start your own master class video channel or podcast.
- Do you have grandchildren? Their parents would probably love to have another adult on hand during the week to help with homework.
If you're ready to take those first steps towards the chalkboard, let's talk about what financial resources you're going to need and how teaching might recalibrate some parts of your Life-Centered Financial Plan.