There’s nothing quite like watching your students’ eyes light up with delight when they’re finally able to have a conversation in English after weeks or months of hard work.
But as rewarding as tracking ESL is, there comes a time in many teachers’ lives when it’s time to move on from teaching or at least take a break for a while. But what other jobs can ESL teachers do?
ESL teachers can use their organizational and communications skills, combined with their love of other cultures, to do other jobs, including:
- Private Tutor
- ESL Resource Creator
- Virtual Assistant
- Workshop/Activities Leader
- Educational Consultant
- Life Coach/Counselor
- Tour Guide
Finding the right alternative to teaching ESL will depend a lot on why you started teaching ESL in the first place. But all of the jobs on this list are compatible with the skills that ESL teachers naturally already possess, making them suitable choices. You might also enjoy reading: What Is It Like Being an ESL Teacher?
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Alternate Jobs for ESL Teachers
Each one of the jobs we’ve selected pairs well with ESL teachers’ unique skill sets. Find the one that best matches your personality and interests, and you’ll be on your way to a fun new career in no time!
1- Private Tutor
If you love teaching English but aren’t so keen on reigning in classes full of unruly kids or are tired of dealing with the bureaucracy of educational institutions, we get it.
Fortunately, you might not have to leave teaching altogether, though. Many ESL teachers transition to tutoring, often earning more money while getting to know their students better. And remember, you don’t have to stick to ESL—you can teach anything:
Private tutoring is perfect for ESL teachers who need to get away from the grind but don’t want to leave teaching altogether. Here is a detailed guide on how to become a private tutor.
See also: Is Being an ESL Teacher a Good Career?
2- ESL Resource Creator
If helping others unlock their ability to learn English is a passion of yours, but you can’t or don’t want to teach anymore, why not use your educational know-how to create ESL content?
There are plenty of ways you can do this:
- Start an ESL blog full of resources for students or teachers.
- Create ESL content and lesson plans that teachers or students can access for a fee.
- Write an ESL textbook.
- Make supplemental materials to sell, like flashcards and ESL games.
Some of these won’t make money right away, but if you’re looking for a complete career change, these are good ones to work towards. Here is a sample of the type of ESL resource you can create.
3- Travel Writer
Many ESL teachers get their start as a way to travel the world and explore other cultures. Make the most of your travel lust and become a travel writer!
Travel writers get paid to write about:
- Personal travel stories
- Travel tips
- Location guides
Travel writing is a great way to keep your love of seeing the world alive without teaching.
4- Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistants are just like traditional office assistants, except they do everything remotely. If flexibility was a large part of what drew you to teaching ESL, virtual assistant work is worth looking into.
Virtual assistants need many of the same skills that ESL teachers already have:
- Organization skills
- Writing skills
- Research skills
5- Content Writer
One thing that ESL teachers need to be good at is, well, English. Fortunately, there is plenty of demand for well-written English language content for ESL teachers looking to leave teaching.
Use your natural communication skills to make a living writing, and enjoy the same amount of flexibility that you loved when teaching ESL.
Check out freelance websites like Upwork for jobs for content creators.
6- Workshop Leader
Another natural leap from teaching is leading workshops. Workshops can be on just about any subject and contain any size and type of participant group.
Workshops tend to be less stressful than classroom teaching since they usually only last for a few hours up to a few days. That crams your working time into a shorter time frame, leaving you with ample free time that you may not have when teaching a regular daily class.
Devise workshops of your own based on your interests, or look for existing workshops that need facilitators.
7- Activities Director
Activities directors plan and organize recreational and educational activities for places like community centers and retirement homes.
ESL teachers are adept at creating lesson plans based on their students, so they make great activities directors, effortlessly tailoring activities to the client’s needs. Flexibility learned while teaching will also come in handy, as this job involves plenty of thinking on your feet.
This job can be a lot of fun and give you the rewarding social interaction you may miss when leaving teaching.
Many ESL teachers love watching someone develop and learn, making them ideal nannies. The patience learned in teaching also translates really well to this job.
As a nanny, you’ll get to take your love of education and use it to help children learn about the world, and there’s not much more rewarding than that.
If you become an au pair abroad, you’ll get to travel and use your ESL skills as well, helping your wards learn English.
9- Educational Consultant
If you’ve been teaching for a while and it’s time for a change of pace but doesn’t want to waste your years of experience, you might want to consider educational consulting.
Simply put, educational consultants work much like school counselors but are self-employed or work with agencies.
They do two main things:
- Help students (and their parents) with educational planning, especially around the college admissions process.
- Help educational institutions plan educational curricula, classroom technology integration, etc.
10- Life Coach
ESL teachers are usually ultra-compassionate people who want nothing more than to see others succeed. That’s why life coaching makes complete sense for an ESL teacher.
Life coaches help people reach specific goals, such as improving their careers or relationships. This job requires:
ESL teachers are well-suited to help people by giving clear, direct, and actionable advice while being cheerful and motivating.
11- Camp Counselor
A job as a camp counselor is a combination of activities director, ESL teacher, workshop leader, and nanny, all rolled into one. If you have a lot of energy and love being around people, this is the job for you!
Camp counselors do a variety of things that won’t be unfamiliar to ESL teachers:
- Maintaining order while having fun
- Activity planning
- Activity leading (arts and crafts, sing-alongs, nature walks)
Camp counselor jobs are perfect for ESL teachers looking to replace their job during the summer months.
12- Tour Guide
ESL teachers need to be clear communicators with lots of energy and good enunciation, it also helps if they love people. Well, these are also the primary qualifications for being a tour guide!
Tour guides can work in tourist areas in major cities or offer out-of-towners a slice of local life in more remote locales. Tour guiding allows ESL teachers to share their love of interesting locations with people new to the area.
You can guide tourists in your native country, where your experience communicating with people whose first language isn’t English will come in handy.
Or you can pick the favorite place you taught English in and be a tour guide there for English-speaking tourists. Check out this article if you want to be a tour guide.
What to read next:
- Are ESL Classes Tax-Deductible?
- Maths vs. English: How they compare (including their importance!)
- Is ESL Teaching Hard? Here’s What You Need to Know.
As you can see, ESL teachers have many transferable skills that work equally well outside the classroom as inside it.
Whether you’re moving on from teaching permanently, or for whatever reason, it’s just not possible to teach ESL right now, know that there are a ton of other jobs out there that will be perfect for you.