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Communication, Instruction, and Complex Thinking Skills

Educators in some parts of the U.S. have started seeing the economic repercussions of the pandemic. Some places have started to shed staff as budgets crumble and belts tighten.

In other places, teachers are finding returning to teaching in the fall in either virtual or classroom models incompatible with their mental or physical health and are being forced to weigh options for change.

Fortunately, no matter what difficult circumstances you may find yourself in, you’ve been in a career that lends itself to many skills that easily transfer to other careers.

Even if you are not in a position where you are looking for employment now, we know some states are bracing for financial impact within the next year, or at the latest, the next few. Keeping these details in mind and preparing for several future possibilities is important to how you will fare in the future. 

Remember, we don’t know what the next school year will look like, much less the one after that. It’s more important to prepare now than it has ever been.

Here are some of the skills most teachers have gained and can use when looking for a career pivot to get through this difficult time. Teaching is so complex and involved that we’ve divided these skills into seven subgroups: Communication, Instruction, Complex Thinking, Leadership/Management,  Data Skills, Technology, and Social Skills. 


Educators spend a lot of time communicating. It’s the centerpiece of our vocation as we lead students in learning, but we’re also responsible for communicating with families, administrators, colleagues, and to some extent, the general public.

In many ways, teachers are also held accountable for communication in their personal lives. Your words and ideas are much more likely to be publicly scrutinized on social media, and privacy may not be a thing you’re allowed to have. While some teachers find that to be a disadvantage, it can be a great asset for future employment outside education circles.

Here are some of the skills you may have that will set you apart from other candidates in job searches outside of education:

Public Speaking and Presentation Skills 

This one may seem obvious, although many teachers prefer not to speak in front of adults. If you don’t mind it, though,  you may be a shoe-in for quite a few jobs.

General Communication Skills

Again, with the heightened demand for advanced written, verbal, listening, and reading skills, you are at an advantage over many other applicants. Be sure to express your experiences and expertise in these areas. 

Analyzing and Improving Systems

Teachers know what works and what doesn’t, and we’re constantly changing our systems of management in our classrooms, our instruction, and all other aspects of our jobs. People outside of education may not realize how much of this we do, so be sure to let potential employers know what an asset you are with that ability. 

Creating or Identifying Engaging Materials

If you aren’t engaging your students, they aren’t learning, and you aren’t doing your job. Teachers know that engagement is incredibly important. Being able to assess that engagement and alter materials as needed is a big advantage in many possible careers. 

Evaluation of Data 

While testing data is often the bane of the educator’s existence, there are many careers where those skills are coveted. The ability to gather, disaggregate, and interpret data in a way that helps people understand the issues presented in a functional way can be incredibly useful. Don’t underestimate the value of those skills. 


Of course, one of the biggest transferable skills you have may be the ability to offer instruction in and of itself. If you do well coordinating synchronous and asynchronous learning, you may be in very high demand.

The fact that we understand learning strategies, can multitask, pursue or create engaging materials, and understand the usefulness in data can all give you an advantage in careers like corporate training or human resources.

Taking data one step further, using it to make data-driven decisions in instruction can truly make your contributions cutting edge. 

Every vocation has some element of learning and professional development involved. Follow your secondary interests to help you discover what niche works for you and you may be able to find a “temporary” career - or even one that steals you away from the classroom permanently. 

Complex Thinking

Teachers use complex thinking skills strategically on a daily basis. You often put your brain to work solving complex problems with many elements. Your judgment and decision-making skills define your success daily, and you coordinate a lot of moving parts to make things work.

Educators tend to have access to higher critical thinking skills, as well as the above-mentioned ability to analyze and improve systems. Complex thinking also helps as you use it to work with data and make decisions based on what the data says. 

Be sure to note those areas as strengths if you’ve honed those skills in your time as an educator so far. You’ll be an asset to any team that needs those types of skills. 


In our next article discussing your most marketable skills, we’ll be covering Leadership and Management Skills, Data, Technology, and Social Skills. 

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