Breaking Into Tech After Working In Ed

Hi There, I’m currently a special education inclusion teacher at a private school (inclusive — sped children & neurotypical together the whole time, never pulled out). I love working with children, but have definitely felt the “burn out” and am looking for a change.I’ve been interested in tech & have a lot of friends in the field, but wondering how my skill set can translate into the field or what type of experience is needed? I have my BA in Behavioral Science & I would definitely consider getting an MA if it will help in transitioning to a new role in the future. Just wanted some advice or thoughts about this, thanks! 😊
Hi Kay,First off, congratulations on recognizing your burn out and wanting to do something about it! That’s a huge first step.The world of tech is so large that I might recommend first to explore a start ups hierarchy/ staff chart for ideas of what sparks some interest. Also, Do you want to stay in some sort of teaching capacity? If so, check out roles in enablement which are positions that either train staff or create the documentation to train up the staff. I know people who have left teaching to take on roles in Customer Success and operations, so you might check that out as well!Good luckGina
Came here to say the same about customer success roles! Where I work [Superhuman], we have customer onboarding roles where a few onboarding specialists have been teachers! You can see the roles here:
KP! One of my old colleagues and GREAT human/ex-teacher!
Thank you for sharing your story! For those in a similar position to @Kay81 : Hi! I'm Rachel Serwetz, an ICF-certified career coach. My background is at Goldman Sachs & Bridgewater Associates, before moving into the career space to systematize my novel career exploration and job search methods and tools.My mission in life is to ensure people feel supported in making these critical, impactful career decisions. These decisions can feel stressful and tough, but with the right support (which you deserve), you can feel relieved, excited and confident in your next steps. I have been coaching hundreds of professionals for over 8 years and have developed unique processes and frameworks so that you can confidently clarify your ideal career direction and efficiently job search to land a role you feel fulfilled by. Happy to chat directly and see how I can help! Best,
@kay81, you might also consider project management or Agile/Scrum facilitation/coaching. While I've been in and out of tech for ~20 years, I was a classroom teacher for five years. Lots of parallels, believe it or not.UX, as well, understanding user needs and translating those to product/service/customer outcomes, vs. understanding student needs translating those to learning outcomes...And you could explore roles focusing on accessibility in tech where there could be huge alignment with your experience as an inclusion teacher.
Hi Kay, just wanted to pop in and say that I could have written this myself! I was a Special Education major who worked as a job coach for adults with disabilities. While I absolutely loved working with my clients and their families, I felt a strong desire to go into tech.I had always loved design and connecting to others, so I decided to combine those two passions and enroll in a UX bootcamp. For the past year I've been working as a UX/UI Designer for an app geared towards users with disabilities, and I truly feel like I've found the perfect blend of my two passions.Feel free to be in touch if you want to talk more about switching from Special Ed to UX. Best of luck! :)
Hi Kay!A good place to start looking might be EdTech. If you currently use a product that you like, you should check out what positions that company has open. I work in EdTech and a lot of my colleagues are former teachers. As others have mentioned, look at project management, customer success, and training roles. Good luck!
Hi @kay81 - I have spent my whole career in edtech, first as a teacher/PD specialist, and then in edtech product. (Now I work as an investor in primarily edtech companies.). I run the NYEdTech Meetup and our community attracts lots of people in transition between the classroom/schools and tech companies, both in and outside of the educational technology sector. You are welcome to join us - it's free and we've been meeting up virtually through the pandemic and will likely keep at least a hybrid model. Here is the link: A member of our group has actually gone on to specialize in helping teachers find their next careers outside of the classroom. Her name is Dorit Perry, and you can use my name as a reference if you'd like. these help! I know it's hard to imagine how your skills translate outside the classroom, but I assure you being an educator has never been more important in basically ALL business settings. Good luck and let us know how it goes!
This is great stuff, Jessica! I would love to connect with you and Dorit! My new edtech company, is always looking for innovative teachers ready to transition to tech!
Hey Kay! Something I remember being helpful when I started my tech job search from working in schools (teaching & then school ops), was narrowing down the size/stage company I was interested in pursuing. For me, I hated feeling like a cog in a huge school network and wanted to make a big impact so I focused on early-stage startups under 25 people. From there, I did research on AngelList and LinkedIn and found companies whose missions resonated with me and did cold outreach to set up informational interviews to learn more about the companies/people's roles that looked interesting. Tech can be very insular so networking with informational interviews is a good practice, especially if you don't have an existing network in tech.
Hi! This was my path, with a stint as a stay-at-home-mom in between. I ultimately did a coding bootcamp to level up my programming skills.
Hi Kay, great to hear that you are reinventing yourself, you have strong transferable skills. I am actually looking to combine tech with education and/or healthcare, so I am looking into ed tech and/or digital health. Ive been in tech for over 10 years (business side), so we are kind of looking for a similar change but coming from different backgrounds. Have you considered the path of instructional design, education technology.? Agree with some of the responses on this chat, ed tech could be your sweet spot. Best of luck!
Hi @Kay81 - Congrats on recognizing your burnout and on exploring alternate career paths. I've been in the world of tech for about 30 years; I'm not a technologist, don't play one on TV, but have interviewed thousands of engineers, chief information officers, software developers, and more in a variety of reporting and editorial roles. Over your teaching career, you've developed multiple skills including (I am guessing here so please bear with me on this abbreviated list!):* Project management * People management (and all related skills)* Communication skills* Writing, editing, grammar, etc.For all those skills and more, you'd be an ideal reporter/ editor for a business-to-business (B2B) or consumer publication about tech in education. Many of my colleagues in various pubs had no journalism or tech background; they had a wide variety of histories, but those with expertise in the vertical were most expert when speaking to executives in the field. And these days, publications also use reporters in videos, webinars, podcasts, etc., so there are many different tasks, which is exciting.Those same skills nicely translate into roles at education tech companies, vendors of software and services targeting K-12 and/or higher-ed customers. From your description, you'd be a great asset in sales, marketing, customer support ... really any department at any of these types of companies!!! I suggest stressing all your various skills and interactions you have had, plus your ability to speak the language of education! Best of success! Once you've identified your target market/s, I suggest locating the companies you're most interested in, then looking into their openings, your contacts and connections, check them out on Elpha, Glassdoor and LinkedIn (salaries, benefits, women's hiring records), see what others say online, and hit the accelerator!!!
Hi Kay,Thank you for sharing your journey. I was in Higher Ed/Ed (both in the US and Japan) for over a decade before moving into the tech field. It's a lot more of us from Ed in the tech field than I realize but our skills are very transferrable. Some of my tech friends are in the following spaces: Program Management, Recruiting, People Ops, UI/UX, DE&I/DE&B, Strategy Operations, Sales, Engineering, Research & Development, CEOs, just to name a few. You would be phenomenal in the field :) All the best!
Hi Kay81 and anyone else in education wanting to make the switch--I was a high school teacher for 2 decades before I joined a startup in my 40s. I've been very successful-- it is totally doable and I've learned that the skills we teachers have are in high, high demand in roles that have "Customer Success" or "Solutions" in them. I did have some coding skills from an online bootcamp, but I did not have a master's degree in Computer Science or anything like that. My first role was as a Customer Success Engineer. My 2nd role will likely (waiting on) be as a Technical Account Manager. I also interviewed for several Solutions Architect and Solutions Engineer roles. I've also learned in the past 18 months at a startup that teachers' skills as Project Managers are well-developed. As teachers, we tend to take this for granted and we don't think we're as talented as we actually are! So look into Project Management as well.Job titles to look at (if you can code)Customer Success EngineerSales EngineerSolutions EngineerSolutions Architect (especially if you know cloud stuff like AWS)Technical Account ManagerSupport EngineerNot so much a coder, but tech-savvyCustomer Success ManagerAccount ManagerSupport EngineerSolutions Architect (for low or no-code software, for instance)Project ManagerProgram ManagerTechnical Writer or Documentation Manager (if you like to write)I avoided EdTech, Training, and Customer Education because I didn't want to be pigeonholed but those are always an option as well.I did research by Googling lingo I found in job ads and searching YouTube for topic videos, like "Customer Success" and "Account Management"- I'd watch videos on that and try to sprinkle my resume with the right jargon (i.e. the word 'enablement' means 'education', lol).Once I had my first role, the second job hunt has been much easier, btw. I'm overwhelmed with interviews right now-- you could just take something for 1-2 years to get your foot in the door and build your credibility.
Hello, @Kay81! I am building an edtech startup called We are always looking for teachers that have a passion for youth and are innovative in their approach to teaching... but often feel like they don't belong in traditional education settings. I hire them to develop curriculum and help lead the design of our new education model. I would love to talk. You can find me on LinkedIn - Erica Molett.