Inside Independent Teacher Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Teaching Is Fun, Grading Is Not...
I love the actual teaching more than I expected, but I dislike correcting homework much more than I expected. I also dislike assigning grades, though I have to do it." (Teacher; 2014)

Career: 8 years of experience, currently based in Maryland, female
School: Studied English at UCLA in California; completed Bachelor degree in 1977

"Goal-Focused Class Content...
Teaching ESL has required me to be flexible and to move between different student groups with different needs. Learning how to teach ESL is very much about learning how to teach a skill, not a body of knowledge, and therefore must be goal- rather than grammar-oriented." (ESL Teacher; 2014)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Hawaii, female
School: Studied ESL Instruction at Hawaii Pacific University in Hawaii; completed Master degree in 2012

"Rewarding Teaching Job Outside The Classroom...
I was able to find a teaching opportunity outside of a conventional classroom. It goes to show there are lots of opportunities out there for people with education degrees who don't necessarily want to teach in a classroom setting. The current job I hold is less demanding than that of a classroom teacher as far as lesson plans go, but is extremely rewarding in the progress I see students make and in the relationships I've developed with the families who come and my coworkers." (Reading And Comprehension Consultant; 2014)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, female
School: Studied Elementary Education at Oakland University in Michigan; completed Bachelor degree in 2010

"Not Teaching The Correct Courses In College...
I was surprised at all the information my education classes did NOT provide me with the daily routine of teaching." (Music Teacher; 2014)

Career: 14 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, male
School: Studied Music Education at University Of Oklahoma in Oklahoma; completed Master degree in 2003

"Philosophy Majors Can Get Jobs...
Most people are surprised that as a Philosophy major, I got a job. What most don't realize is that an education in the humanities, especially philosophy, prepares individuals for rigorous and careful thought and the ability to write articulately about a broad range of topics. That's a versatile set of skills." (Sex Educator; 2014)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, female
School: Studied Philosophy at Central Michigan University in Michigan; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"I Quickly Became The Training Expert On Which Others Relied...
I was surprised at how rewarding it was to find more efficient ways to train people who were willing to learn. I also found that I enjoyed the challenge of successfully teaching people who didn't want to learn the information." (Project Support Specialist 4; 2014)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Maryland, female
School: Studied Business at Saint Johns River Community College in Florida; completed Certificate degree in 2007

"Subbing Joys...
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed subbing. I love seeing their faces when they see "Miss L" enter the classroom for the day." (Teacher; 2014)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Maine, female
School: Studied Early Childhood Paraprofessional at Kaplan University in Maine; completed Associate degree in 2012

"Fun For Kids Of All Ages...
What surprised me most about my current profession is how important it is to know about child development in planning after-school activities. It surprised me how you have to be able to meet everyone's needs in a multi-age group." (Afterschool Teacher/ Co Coordinator; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Vermont, female
School: Studied Psychology at Johnson State College in Vermont; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

"A Number Possibilities In The Educational Field...
There are a number of career opportunities out there, beside the traditional school setting, for those pursuing a career in education. Those looking to pursue a career in education can work privately with families doing homeschooling or other home-based programs." (Educator; 2014)

Career: 6 years of experience, male
School: Studied N/A at Gwynedd-Mercy College in Pennsylvania; completed Bachelor degree in 2008

"Unexpected Friendships...
I work mainly as an English teacher who does distance teaching with foreign students and professionals. What most surprises me is the close relationships I form with students over a period of time. I have many regular students with whom I really enjoy speaking and sharing." (Teacher; 2014)

Career: 13 years of experience, currently based in California, female
School: Studied English at University Of California, Davis in California; completed Bachelor degree in 1984

"English Teaching Involves A Wide Range Of Cultures And Nationalities...
I was surprised at the wide range of cultures I encounter in one class. In any given class I teach students who speak many different languages or come from multiple countries. Learning English is a shared experience regardless for them." (EFL (English As A Foreign Language; 2014)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, female
School: Studied Education at George Mason University in Virginia; completed Bachelor degree in 2010

"Autonomous Position...
For my part I've been somewhat taken aback by the autonomy and - I say this not in any pejorative sense - the thoroughgoing lack of structure involved in professional tutoring. While sessions with a given student tend to find their own rhythm after a few meetings, each student is quite different, requiring a different and distinct approach." (Latin Tutor; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Washington, male
School: Studied Classical Studies at University Of Idaho in Idaho; completed Bachelor degree in 2008

"There are a lot more opportunities out there for art majors than everyone thinks there is. After I graduated I was surprised to find that there are a wide range of possible places to find work: in museums, galleries, schools, media centers, arts non-profits, small businesses, working as a freelancer, etc." (Teaching Artist; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, female
School: Studied Studio Art, Photography at Point Park University in Pennsylvania; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Independent Music Professional: "The best parts of my job is working with the children and seeing them enjoying themselves and progressing musically. The worst part of the job is all the time required outside of the classroom. The prep time for each class is often longer than the class itself." (2011)

Director Of Lifelong Learning (Education & Programming): "The best part of my work is the interaction with a great variety of people of all ages in a setting that uses education to bring them satisfaction and to open new horizons on their personal and our communal embrace of Judaism. Confirmation on a daily basis to the power of learning and the power of human connections. A job that deals with the human condition on an intimate and daily basis." (2011)

Violin Teacher: "The best part of my job is that all day I get to be involved in my favorite subject - music. I get to interact with many different types of people of different ages and help them reach their goal of playing the violin. It's awesome! The only bad part of the job is when a student doesn't practice and doesn't see results. Usually I can find a way to encourage good practice habits, though!" (2011)

Tutor: "The best part of my job is working with students. I am lucky that most of the students I work with are eager to learn. They want to improve and do better in school. I really do care about what happens to the students I tutor. Long after we are finished with tutoring, I stay in touch with them. I like to know how they are doing. This is especially true if they are doing really well. The worst thing about my job is when I am unable to help a student. There are times when I encounter students who are forced to attend tutoring by teachers, parents, and sometimes even the court system. It is hard to help someone who does not want to help themselves." (2011)

Career Background

  Independent Teacher Salaries

Career Tips

"Be Prepared...
To work in this sort of job, you need to be organized, adaptable, and quick-thinking. Students sometimes have requests that are not necessarily included in my lesson plans." (Teacher; 2014)

"Helping Others Succeed Is Rewarding...
Anyone can be trained to do any job, don't be afraid to try. Identify the knowledge and skill sets related to the types of jobs you'd like to have and work toward acquiring them." (Project Support Specialist 4; 2014)

"Believe That You Can Do Anything...
If you are looking to work in education, do not be embarrassed by starting out in support roles at a school (e.g. paraprofessional, substitute, etc) before you actually get your own classroom. Most people (including myself) who got their foot in the door usually ended up as a teacher in their own classroom. Also, don't limit your sights to working in a traditional school or classroom. There are a number of public and private opportunities out there for teachers." (Educator; 2014)

"Real World Experience Is Key...
Make sure you have as much real-world teaching experience as possible. You'll be amazed at the curriculum gaps left out by your university, and your behavior management skills will far exceed those of your peers." (Reading And Comprehension Consultant; 2014)

"Train In Educational Theory...
If you want to succeed as an ESL instructor, be sure to educate yourself in educational theory alongside language-specific theory. The breadth of your student body will require your ability to change tactics on a contextual basis." (ESL Teacher; 2014)

"Observe The Field From Day One...
If you would like to be a good educator you should observe as much as possible from your freshmen year of college, volunteer at schools, and get to know teachers and ask them what are the areas they wish they knew more about before they began their career." (Music Teacher; 2014)

"From Text To Practice...
To be successful, I highly recommend reading your textbook, saving ALL of your work in ece classes, and volunteer anywhere you can. This will help put what you have learned in the college classroom into practice." (Teacher; 2014)

"Writing Teachers Should Write Professionally First...
If you want to be a writing teacher it is good to have done some professional writing first. That gives you some insight into what students will have to know as they progress in their careers." (Teacher; 2014)

"Internships Lead To Connections For The Future...
Seek internships and jobs in areas that you enjoy i.e. video games, politics, book publishing, anything you like. Aside from enjoying your classes and pushing yourself to learn at a deep level, making connections is crucial to finding a position after graduation." (Sex Educator; 2014)

"Children And Trauma...
If you want to be a person who works with children, it is very important to take classes on how to deal with kids and trauma. When working with kids, you are also dealing with their previous and current experiences. You also have to learn how no d-escalate a child who is reacting in a way that could harm themselves or others." (Afterschool Teacher/ Co Coordinator; 2013)

"Build A Strong Range Of Kid's Music...
Develop a broad repertoire of children's songs that you can call upon at a moment's notice. Develop a solid understanding of what is appropriate for each age-group you are teaching. If you teach to far beyond their understanding or too simply you will lose their attention and your classes will be ineffectual at best and anarchic at worst. Network with other teachers and pick their brains for repertoire and activity ideas. They are generally happy to share tried and true activities that work for them and are thrilled to learn new ideas from you." (Independent Music Professional; 2011)

"Create A Positive Learning Environment...
Be prepared to advocate for good working conditions when you find the job you want. This is a job that requires and encourages creativity. Stay motivated to bring creative ideas to your work and to mold your ideas to your setting, which you need to understand well. Dream big and create conditions to bring creative learning to your work setting. The rewards will come in the excitement and appreciation of those who benefit from it." (Director Of Lifelong Learning (Education & Programming); 2011)

"Pay Attention To Your Teacher's Techniques...
Pay attention in your own lessons. See how your teacher is teaching you techniques that are difficult or hard to master. Listen to a lot of good music. The more you hear, the more you will have to teach. Care more about the student than the music. This may seem counter-intuitive, but your students will advance much faster in an atmosphere in which they are aware of the fact that they matter to you. Remember, you are teaching human beings!" (Violin Teacher; 2011)

"Take A Couple Ed Courses...
If someone wants to be a tutor, they need to pay close attention to their coursework. All academic skills become important. College coursework in education, English, and Math are essential for this job. I would also suggest that anyone considering this career take courses in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology. These courses teach you about how people learn, different learning styles, and about educational software. They also teach you about computer skills that you will frequently use in the educational setting." (Tutor; 2011)