You clutch your portfolio in your hands as you sit down in a room full of young-enough-to-be-your-children individuals, all of whom are interviewing for the teaching position you covet. As you look around the room, you begin to wonder whether this is, perhaps, a lost cause. These spring-chicken candidates bring with them an energy level and bubbly youth that you can't match. Should you even bother? The answer, quite simply, is yes. If you play your cards right, you can land a teaching job -- even if you're over the age of 50.
To pick up employment as a full-time teacher at a public school, you'll need a teaching license. Though requirements vary from state to state, most require that license holders take education-specific coursework. Because of this, your current bachelor’s -- or even master’s -- degree may not be enough. If you're dedicated to teaching, seek an alternative pathway to licensure. Many states offer programs specifically tailored to people looking to change careers and move into teaching. Follow the program of this type approved by your state to get the license you'll need to make yourself a viable candidate.
Get Your Foot in the Door
You might have more success in landing that teaching job if you can build some relationships with people in education before applying for full-time work. Start off as a substitute teacher, the AARP suggests. In many states, getting a substitute license requires only a bachelor’s degree of some form, so you can start working in this capacity even before you finish getting your required credentials. While working as a sub, you can meet others in the district and prove that you have the energy and enthusiasm necessary to successfully perform the duties of a teacher.
Sell Your Experience
When interviewing for a teaching job, focus on what you have that other candidates likely don’t -- extensive work experience. Explain specifically how this work experience will help you be an outstanding educator. By focusing on the distinctive benefit you have as an older candidate, you can make your age an advantage instead of a liability.
Take a Pay Cut
Depending on how established you were in your preteaching career, stepping into the classroom to teach may mean tightening your belt. Many later-in-life teachers must willingly accept a sizable pay cut to successfully obtain a position, “U.S. News and World Report" reports. If you're unwilling to work for less than you've earned in previous fields, you might not succeed in finding a job, as many school budgets are too tight to allow for high salaries. Consider this factor before making your career transition. If you're willing to work for a reduced salary, make this clear to hiring committees during the interview process to ensure that their perception of your high salary demands doesn’t prevent them from offering you a position.