Many workers in various industries around the world have recently joined the ranks of the jobless. Others have had to endure a drastic reduction in work hours due to the COVID-19 crisis. If you’re one of them, you’ve likely realized that you’re not only facing a challenging job hunt; you might also be coming to the conclusion that you will have to seek work in an entirely different industry than the one you had been employed in.
This is the harsh reality for sizable numbers of people. An unexpected career change will be obligatory for many unemployed workers, because things will probably not soon return to normal for the oil, hospitality, aviation and food service industries in the wake of the ongoing virus crisis. In fact, businesses in virtually all industries are scrambling to make changes to their operating procedures in hopes of remaining viable.
If you find yourself displaced from working in an industry in which businesses are no longer hiring, perhaps you’re wondering whether you could successfully transition into a career in academia. After all, education is something every person needs; and, whatever industry you used to work in, you no doubt have skills and experiences worth teaching to others. So let’s take a look at whether or not it would be viable for previously employed workers to transition to academic careers in the age of Coronavirus.
Where Are the Best Opportunities in Academia for Career Changers in during and beyond the Pandemic Crisis?
Every crisis brings certain opportunities along with it.
The Coronavirus crisis created a huge challenge for educators, because the social distancing mandates required them to figure out how to continue educating their students while maintaining a physical separation from them. The solution to this problem largely lies with distance learning and education technology. Therein, also, are a large number of resulting opportunities.
Careers in Education Technology
Education technology, also known as “ed tech”, is a relatively new niche that has come to prominence in the era of the internet. Mobile technologies have done even more to empower ed tech’s rising popularity. Distance learning was gaining traction even before the virus crisis disrupted the status quo; but, along with the virus came an accelerated demand for technology platforms that can bridge the gap between physical classrooms and students stuck at home in isolation.
So which sorts of jobs are available in education technology, and what kind of training does one need to get hired for them? Let’s take a look at several of the most widely implemented job titles and their requirements:
Educational Software Developer
Educational software developers spend their days creating, improving and testing educational computer programs intended for use by students or by anyone who wants to learn a new subject or skill.
Becoming an educational software developer requires proficiency with coding. Programming skills can be acquired either in school or independently. This is a field in which graduate certifications are available, and those could potentially be helpful for learning the skills necessary to successfully transition into the ed tech niche.
Many employers require their hires in this field to hold a bachelor’s degree, or sometimes even a master’s degree, in a related subject such as computer programming, software engineering or IT; however, this isn’t necessarily always a strict requirement.
Instructional coordinators provide guidance and oversight to teachers and administrators when a school needs to revise school curriculums and teaching standards. They’re sometimes also tasked with developing entirely new curriculums when the situation warrants it. They work to improve on and refine the instructional materials an academic institution uses, and to provide assessments of the resulting materials’ effectiveness.
This job typically requires applicants to hold a master’s degree even for initial consideration. A state license might also be a requirement in some locations.
Distance Learning Coordinator
A distance learning coordinator’s job description will vary depending on the employer’s needs; however, in many cases, this role will be similar to an instructional coordinator’s job, with the added distinction that the job will specifically entail a distance learning component.
In the past, these jobs were most typically offered at colleges, universities, trade schools and career training centers; however, with the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the administrators of primary schools, middle schools and high schools have also been realizing they need to improve their capacity for distance learning. This is likely to result in greater demand for distance learning coordinators.
These aren’t the only types of jobs available in ed tech. You can search current job openings in this sector HERE.
If you are willing to invest the time necessary for acquiring the essential training and skills for these jobs, these positions seem like they could be viable prospects for displaced career changers. Or, if you’re entrepreneurially minded, this could be a fantastic time to start your own business with a focus in ed tech. There’s a bright future outlook for ed tech companies, particularly those that specifically market their services directly to consumers.
Jobs to Consider If You Don’t Already Hold a Degree Relating to Education
The careers mentioned above all require specific training that you probably don’t have if your previous career was in an industry such as hospitality or travel. Perhaps you’re hoping to find a job quickly, without making a significant commitment to earning an advanced degree in a new field. In that case, you do have a couple of options:
Teacher’s Assistant (Also Known as Teacher’s Aide)
Teacher’s assistants can often find work even in cases where they haven’t yet earned a bachelor’s degree; it’s an ideal role for someone who is in the process of working towards a degree, but needs to earn an income in the meanwhile. If you want to become a teacher, but you’ve only completed a couple years of college by this point, a teaching assistant job could be a fantastic stepping stone for getting started in your academic career.
This is a vocation in which both free and paid courses are available to aspiring professionals. Both types of instruction can provide beneficial insights; however, the paid courses tend to provide more value for people who have already made up their minds that they want to seek work as a teaching assistant.
If you hold a bachelor’s degree in any subject that’s currently taught in elementary schools, middle schools or high schools, you might be able to find work as a tutor.
Lately, with widespread school closures having been implemented, many parents have made a sincere attempt to homeschool their kids; but more than a few of them quickly discovered that they are not cut out for homeschooling.
This situation has created numerous work opportunities for private tutors. In particular, there has been surging interest in tutors from affluent areas of the USA such as Sonoma county, California. Across many diverse regions of the country, there has been solid demand for tech-savvy tutors who are able to harness the power of video conferencing technologies to conduct virtual tutoring sessions.
Ongoing Global STEM Teacher Shortages
If you have an aptitude for math, science or any of the other STEM disciplines, and a willingness to acquire the needed credentials to teach them to others, you’re likely to enjoy a better-than-average chance at future employability. These are all areas where there have been ongoing teacher shortages in many areas of the United States, Australia and other countries.
The Job Outlook for Higher Education in the Age of Coronavirus
This isn’t the ideal time to seek work as a faculty member in colleges or universities in the United States. That’s because many US colleges and universities have recently implemented furloughs and faculty hiring freezes.
It’s anybody’s guess as to whether, or how soon, there will be a complete recovery for academia. Some experts predict that tough times lie ahead for academics. This is because states are likely to cut funding for universities, while costs to provide a university education simultaneously rise.
Academic institutions are forecasting massive economic losses for 2020 as they navigate their way through the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. Many are providing room-and-board refunds to their students while also making sizable investments into their distance learning programs. And a recent poll of college presidents revealed that 84 percent of them are expecting to see an immediate drop in enrollment. As a result, Moody has felt compelled to revise its formerly positive higher education outlook downward, to “negative” from the previously favorable rating of “stable”.
However, there is one bright side; and that is the historical precedent that academic institutions tend to do well in times of recession. This is because, in many cases, unemployed workers seek to upskill in hopes of securing better future work opportunities. So it is possible that this phenomenon might help to offset some of the losses that academic institutions are incurring.
There you have it: You’re now updated on the most significant trends that will affect the future job market in the education sector. If you’re researching a career transition, these are some of the most compelling considerations you’ll want to take into account as you decide whether education is the right niche for you to seek work in.