Life is a great teacher — and experiences you’ve had in your life might make you a great teacher, even if you haven’t been in a classroom since you were a student yourself.
A job already on your resume could be a steppingstone to a career in early childhood education, especially if you’ve worked in a service-oriented industry. Important skills in other fields translate well to the classroom, and teachers at Primrose schools are supported by leadership teams that make sure they have the tools and training to do the job well.
“Service-oriented professions can be a good fit for future early childhood educators,” says Dr. Maria Shaheen, senior director of education for Primrose Schools®. “Meeting the needs of others and making sure they have a positive experience is a critical skill set.”
Read on for fields that may be a great background for a future teacher. Have you had one of these jobs?
If you’ve worked in healthcare, you know what it takes to care for people of all backgrounds with a wide range of needs and abilities. You learned how to do your work while also showing compassion and care for others. Those skills are very transferrable to an early childhood education classroom, says Madi Calvert, a former Primrose teacher who is now a new school support coach for Primrose Schools. “The empathy and ability to multitask that you need if you’re a healthcare worker are really important for teachers as well,” she says.
Restaurants and Hospitality
Restaurant servers, hosts and hotel employees know how to connect with their customers, says Linsey Hartsell, school business consultant for Primrose Schools. Hartsell spent 17 years as a teacher and director at a Primrose school. “Being in the service industry, you’re interacting with people and taking care of people. In education, it’s also about the people: the children and their parents and your co-workers.” (And the hours are much more predictable than a hospitality job.)
If you’ve ever worked in a busy store, you’re likely ready for the fast pace and multitasking in a classroom. Again, the focus is on the customer, in retail and education. “You’re catering to someone else, in both settings,” Calvert says. “You’re providing that wow experience to your customer, whether it’s a woman shopping in the store or a child in the classroom.”
Obviously, taking care of children is good experience for a future job taking care of children.
Babysitters don’t implement a curriculum like teachers do, but they do keep children safe while providing fun and educational experiences. Even if you just watched your younger siblings, you may have developed skills that can be helpful in the classroom, from changing diapers to resolving toddler conflict and helping a preschooler write their name.
Music, Theater and the Performing Arts
You don’t need to be a talented musician or a perfectly on-key singer to teach in a Primrose classroom. But you will get the chance to help young children think creatively and explore the arts in various ways, from singing and dancing to role-playing and storytelling. Whether you’re leading a music lesson or using a hand puppet to teach a concept, “it helps to be a little theatrical, and not be afraid to look silly,” Hartsell says. “Children thrive off of that.”
No, you won’t be cutting hair or applying makeup as a teacher. But the hands-on service and face-to-face compassion required in cosmetology professions are helpful skills for caring for young children, says Hartsell, who hired teachers with cosmetology backgrounds when she was a director. “The common denominator is serving people and making a difference — giving people a reason to feel good.”
Community Volunteer Work
Each Primrose school is a community of families, teachers and staff who come together for a clear purpose: to nurture happy, healthy children. Previous experience contributing to your community, a nonprofit organization, or a church or service group can be useful in the classroom. “A lot of those roles provide good experience being with and leading children,” Calvert says, “and building a sense of community, which is an important part of each Primrose school.”