10 Alternative Career Paths out of ELT

Some teachers of English love being in the classroom and working with students, so they spend their whole lives teaching while there are some teachers taught English for a while and then changed their careers making use of the skills that being a teacher helps them to acquire. There are also some teachers who wanted to remain working in the field of ELT but developed their careers in other areas of the profession. Fortunately, ELT offers alternative career paths and opportunities for teachers. The following are the top ten of them.

1. Senior teacher

Teachers with lots of experience can take on roles outside of the classroom, such as organizing examinations or mentoring newer staff. Those teachers who are called “Senior Teachers” need to develop organizational and managerial skills, in addition to their teaching experience.

2. ELT supervisor

In the rapidly expanding world of English Language Teaching business, there is an increasing demand for not only teachers of English but also ELT supervisors for Language institutes, centers, or schools. Experienced teachers are usually the target of recruitment for such posts. ELT supervisors should be equipped with the appropriate knowledge and experience to carry out management and leadership duties. They should also understand the language supervisory process. In addition, they should be able to transform their teaching skills to management skills.

3. Examiner

At certain times of the year, large examination boards such as Cambridge English or Trinity need examiners to carry out speaking examinations with candidates or to mark written papers. Many of these examiners are also teachers with at least three or four years’ experience and who are very familiar with the examinations. To become an examiner, contact the exam board directly.

4. Teacher trainer

You can combine teaching with teacher training doing some kind of training with the staff in your school. At the teachers’ meetings, you can share some professional ideas or run a workshop on an area of ELT that interests you and develops the teachers professionally. Some schools also have a teacher training department, so once you’ve built up a range of experience, you could try to become a trainer in that department.

5. Director of studies

The primary role of the director of studies is to oversee the academic well-being of the school and the enrolments of the students, so if you decided to apply for this job, you would need to have plenty of teaching experience and be ready to manage teachers, students, and school curricula.

6. Materials writer

Most teachers have experience of writing their own materials, but to make an actual living out of materials writing, you will probably want to approach an ELT publisher such as Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Pearson, Macmillan or Cengage Learning. These publishers are generally associated with publishing coursebooks, but this is only one aspect of the work they do. They also need materials writers to provide online materials and test materials. You should build up a portfolio of work before approaching a publisher. Documents that prove to attend and give talks at conferences or have materials published in professional journals are good documents in your work portfolio.

7. Working in marketing and sales

ELT is an industry that requires people to market and sell a whole range of services, e.g. courses, examinations, classroom materials, etc. ELT marketers and salespersons usually start out as teachers before moving into this kind of business. In fact, the communication skills the teachers learn as teachers make it is easy for them to transfer to work in marketing and sales.

8. Editor

If you would like to become involved in the editing industry, there are lots of opportunities for anyone with good editing skills. Some of the larger publishers advertise job vacancies on their websites and will recruit and train people as editors. They are looking for people who can look at materials with a critical eye, have a sound knowledge of grammar and punctuation, and have a tendency for writing in order to edit other people’s work.

9. Freelance consultant

Working as a self-employed consultant requires you to have built up some specialist knowledge in an aspect of ELT. In recent years, for example, there has been an increasing number of consultants offering expertise in using online technology in the classroom or advising on aspects of ELT classroom management. Before taking this step, you’ll need to have many years of working in ELT and a highly developed network of contacts.

10. Language institutes owner

The more entrepreneurial-minded language teachers often consider setting up their own center, academy or school. Some teachers have started out small by teaching a few students in their own homes before developing the business and recruiting teachers. Alternatively, you might find a language institution owner who wants to sell the business. Before taking this big step, it is worth considering whether you are ready to make that transition from teacher into business-owner, as they are two quite different disciplines.


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