How to Enter Teaching Through the Alternate Route Program with No Experience
Are you a business professional using the Alternate Route Program to enter teaching? Is becoming a new teacher a life-long dream? We have tips and steps for those with no teaching experience to help you make the career transition to education easier.
The challenge of creating a resume and cover letter, for a teaching position is daunting enough when your credentials, experience, and qualifications are rooted in the educational community. The task becomes even more formidable when you are one of the 50,000 individuals who come to teaching every year via the alternative route certification program. Without having classroom experience as a new teacher, you need to think creatively.
Like any career change, proper preparation and a career plan can smooth your transition to entering teaching.
The Alternative Route path allows individuals with a non-teaching bachelor's degree to upgrade their education by obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility, securing employment as a teacher, and then enrolling as a Novice Teacher for two years.
Upon completion of the mentoring and supervision program by qualified education professionals, and additional college/university training according to your teaching position (e.g., elementary, subject area, preschool, ESL), teacher candidates then receive a standard teaching certificate.
If you believe it will be impossible to become a teacher with no experience, think again. No experience as a teacher may describe you and it can make a transition into the classroom difficult if not approach strategically. You need to uncover and communicate what relevant teaching skills you do have.
Many job seekers in this situation overtly play down their prior work experience. These individual downplay this employment hoping to focus the prospective employer solely on the miniscule classroom experience they have gained through student teaching or practicum work. This classroom internship (a minimum of 24 hours of teaching experience is required before applying into the program). Whittling your work and life experience down to a few hours is a big mistake!
Steps to Apply for an Alternative Route Program
Identify skills teachers use – they need to be transferable between your former career and that of teaching. For instance, if you have spearheaded industry training programs or volunteered in an adult literacy program for non-English speakers, these are teaching skills you can highlight on your resume, as they are indicative of your teaching abilities.
Write an Education Resume Profile Not a Business Focused Resume Summary
Lead off your teacher resume with a strong, education-focused resume profile that details the strengths and unique value you bring to the classroom. Be sure to use relevant teaching keywords to demonstrate your understanding of teacher-speak, terms such as 'cooperative learning' or 'cognitive development,' and describe your classroom style or objectives.
Writing an Education-Focused Cover Letter to Show Your Passion for the Change
Use your cover letter to give your prospective reader some insight into why you elected to shift gears in your career with a transition into teaching. Seize the opportunity to discuss your talents and strengths, your enthusiasm and excitement, and your willingness to fully commit to do whatever it takes to make your dream of teaching a reality. Know how to structure a teacher cover letter and use the proper introduction for entering teaching routes.
Obtain Education Industry References
Try and add some employment references from the education industry to your application, if possible.
Are you a regular parent chaperone at school events?
Do you sit on any school committees?
Have you ever worked as a tutor or trainer?
Or perhaps you work closely with educators in a non-education context, as a committee member of local associations or an active member of your ski or golf club.
A positive letter from an education professional vouching for your professionalism, human relations skills and contributions to the community will impress hiring managers.
Be Proactive with Your Career Transition Plan - Get a Head Start
If you know you are going to apply into the Alternative Route Program, why not start taking some courses in advance. If you are already in a master's program or undertaking ESL training, you will impress your future education employer. If you are a stay-at-home mom, this is an opportune time to change careers to teaching and return to school and work towards formal teaching qualifications. A commitment to formal education also shows that you have given a lot of thought to, and prepared for, entering teaching as a second career.
Assess Your Transferable Skills to Make Teaching a Second Career
Brainstorming lists can help you draw out your experience related to education. Make the connection between:
- Nursing (e.g., Jared is appreciated for his caring and empathetic qualities. He has worked as a head nurse for the last 10 years exhibiting strong organizational and leadership skills. His duties include training nursing students.)
- Sales skills and product demonstration and training (e.g., Nancy trains doctors and nurses on how to use medical products as part of her sales job for a medical supply company)
- Administrative skills (e.g., Justine is a super organizer highly respected for running a tight ship for busy executives. She also develops and manages industry and association workshops. This requires hiring the workshop leaders and helping to develop an engaging half-day training course.)
- Trades (e.g., Mark is an electrical engineer who teaches a course at the community college and mentors several new employees each year).
Or you may be trained in a discipline and want to apply it to the education field:
- A counselor/psychologist transitioning to school guidance counselor
- A corporate training coach transitioning to learning coach
- An administrator transitioning to school administrator
- A business consultant transitioning to education consultant
Once you have brainstormed connections between your work, volunteer and social experiences and an education career, make a list of teaching keywords and skills to include in your teaching resume and cover letter.
Draw on the rich resources available to help you make the transition to a career as a teacher.
For ideas on how to personalize a teacher cover letter, review our teacher resume and cover letter examples. To walk through teacher cover letter writing steps, follow our blog posts on teacher cover letter and application writing help. While you are there, review tips on teacher resume and CV writing.
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