15 Transferable Skills from Teaching (2024 Guide)

Devlin Peck
. Updated on 
February 27, 2024
transferable skills from teaching

Ever wondered how to take the skills you’ve developed throughout your teaching career and put them into words in your resume?

You’re in the right place!

In this article, you’ll discover fifteen important transferable skills from teaching and how you can use them to boost your career in a new field.

Let’s dive in…

1. Communication

As a teacher, you probably spend a lot of time:  

All of these things improve your communication abilities — skills that are important in pretty much every industry.  

Communication is especially crucial in sectors such as sales and marketing, public relations, and human resources. When you’re presenting ideas, engaging with stakeholders, or managing other people you need to be able to explain information clearly and make connections with others easily.  

Having good communication skills also opens up opportunities for remote work in fields like instructional design. This is the process of designing and developing effective learning experiences, either in higher education, the corporate world, or for organizations such as non-profits. And, as I explore later in the article, it’s very common for teachers to transition into being instructional designers.

2. Problem-solving

Teaching is a fast-paced, demanding job which requires great problem-solving skills.

For example… Imagine that in a class, one student with learning difficulties continually asks questions, disrupting the flow of the lesson. You understand that they’re just eager to learn, but it’s impacting the other students. In that moment, you have to decide how best to support the individual student’s needs while managing the wider classroom dynamics.

Here you learn how to quickly assess the situation and decide on an appropriate course of action. You also learn to adapt your strategies based on real-time reactions.

These skills are essential in professional settings where situations can change quickly. For example, project managers and consultants in particular often need to deal with unforeseen challenges and changing objectives.

3. Emotional intelligence

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report shows that emotional intelligence is one of the top ten most important skills in the workplace. And it’s no surprise since it relates to so many other skills.  

Emotional intelligence, the ability to recognize, understand, and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others, helps employees to:

As a teacher, you’ve likely developed a high level of emotional intelligence. This is because you constantly have to put yourself in the mind of your students to support them in their learning. You also need to be able to manage your own feelings while leading a class and maintain a positive, inclusive environment.

4. Collaboration

Teaching often means collaborating with other teachers or administrators to come up with curriculum material or solve student issues. You may also work with parents to support a student’s progress and provide a comprehensive support system.

These connections improve your collaboration skills, including your:

Collaboration skills are highly valued, with recent research showing that they are currently rated as “very important” by over 75% of employers.

They’re also particularly useful in corporate roles in which you work as part of a team. For example, in human resources and business development, you need to be able to create a positive work culture and move toward shared goals.

5. Classroom management

Every teacher knows the challenges of navigating classroom dynamics alongside supporting individual students. And, because of this balancing act, most educators have a high-degree of adaptability, problem-solving abilities, and great communication skills.

This goes to show that the skills learned in the classroom don’t just provide value inside the classroom.

Classroom management skills translate to:

These are particularly useful in industries such as event management, leadership roles, and training and development where organization and oversight are key.

6. Coaching

As a teacher, you work closely with students to support them in learning. This teaches you empathy and coaching skills, including how to:

You can use these skills to excel in any industry where interpersonal relationships are crucial. For example, in sales, you might use questioning skills and trust-building to establish strong connections with clients, uncover their specific needs, and tailor your approach accordingly.

7. Critical thinking

Critical thinking refers to the ability to analyze and evaluate information in a logical way. This means you can assess evidence, consider alternative perspectives, and make informed decisions.  

Businesses often look for critical thinking skills because they allow employees to come up with creative solutions that save them time and money. They’re particularly important in fast-paced industries like IT and research and development.

Teachers very often develop critical thinking skills through lesson planning. By considering the most effective way to convey information to different types of learners, you take a step back and engage in a deliberate, analytical process to optimize the learning experience.

Creating assessments that measure students’ understanding also boosts critical thinking skills. For example, teachers have to consider how to structure tests carefully so they can assess skills such as analytic ability rather than just a student’s factual knowledge.  

8. Research

Explaining complex concepts to students forces teachers to thoroughly research their fields. You also learn how to test and refine your ideas, identify knowledge gaps, prepare for questions, find resources, and write clearly.

These skills are obviously beneficial in industries such as journalism and market analysis. But they can also be used more widely in sectors with a high level of innovation or strategic planning. For example, in management consulting, you need to prepare questions, find relevant resources, and present well-researched ideas.

9. Conflict resolution

As a teacher, you can be presented with situations that force you to use your conflict resolution skills.

To take an example, imagine that during a collaborative project, you notice that two participants are disagreeing on direction. You realize that things are becoming increasingly heated and step in. At this point, you need to know how to de-escalate the situation while hearing both sides and not taking too much time up in class.

This process teaches you a lot about patience, empathy, and diplomatic skills. All of these are important skills across industries since they form the foundation of relationship building. In particular, conflict resolution is essential in customer-facing roles where maintaining positive relationships is crucial.  

10. Instructional skills

Instructional skills refer to the ability to plan, deliver, and assess learning experiences to support students' engagement and understanding of content. And, when you’re working with a diverse range of students with different learning preferences, abilities, and backgrounds, you quickly improve these abilities.

Boosting instructional skills allows you to:

Present information in an interesting way

In this way, teaching offers skills that are directly needed for instructional design. This is a field in which professionals draw on best practices from education, design, psychology, systems theory, and creative writing to create eLearning, face-to-face workshops, job aids, and other performance support solutions. I share more about transitioning from teaching to instructional design later in the article.

11. Leadership

When you’re a teacher, you act as a guide and mentor to your students. This means you’re developing your leadership skills every day.  

As the leader of a class, you’re responsible for:

These developed leadership skills often mean that teachers are ready to transition into managerial positions. And with one recent Korn Ferry study showing that 70% of HR professionals are worried they don’t have the right upcoming leaders in their company, there’s clearly a huge demand.

But it goes beyond the obvious too. Leadership skills are also essential in industries such as management, hospitality and retail, consulting, and operations where fast strategic decision-making is important.  

12. Adaptability

One McKinsey & Company study found that people with a high level of adaptability were 24% more likely to be employed. This is particularly true in industries where market dynamics and technological advances cause rapid change. Tech startups often require staff to be flexible, for example, because the landscape can be unpredictable.  

Because of ongoing research and changing educational policies, the field of education is also constantly changing. This means that teachers will often have great adaptability. You will also be used to:

13. Creativity

Between creating lesson plans and keeping people engaged, teaching is creative work.

Even as, say, a math teacher, you’ll find yourself having to come up with new and interesting ways to present information. For example, one day, you might be introducing geometric concepts through a hands-on activity, and the next day, you could be involving students in a statistics-based real-world scenario.  

Creativity is an in-demand skill across industries since it drives progress, inspires fresh perspectives, and allows organizations to stay ahead of the curve. It’s also particularly necessary in industries such as marketing, product development and innovation, design, and research and development.

14. Time management

All jobs require good time management, but teaching takes this to a whole new level. Every week, you have to plan and deliver lessons, attend to individual student needs, grade assignments, collaborate with colleagues, and more.

By learning to juggle all these tasks, you learn to:

This makes you especially well-equipped for work in industries such as project management and event planning. Alternatively, you can use these skills in freelance work to optimize productivity and creative output.

15. Public speaking

If you have enhanced public speaking skills, you’ll stand out in the world of work.

Many employers are looking for a sign of your ability to communicate and connect with a diverse range of people. This is particularly true in industries such as sales or consulting where collaboration and persuasion are key.

Luckily, when you spend every day leading a class, you learn great public speaking skills. This includes how to:

How to use your transferable skills from teaching

Once you’ve become aware of the transferable skills you have from teaching, you can use these to further your career. Learn how here.

Include them in your resume

Recent research shows that over 70% of companies now use skills-based hiring to find their employees. This means they hire based on skills (often soft skills) rather than years of experience or qualifications.  

For example, in our recent Hiring Manager report, we surveyed hiring managers in the instructional design space. And 62.4% of them said that they consider hiring candidates without formal experience, even if experience still plays a role.

They do care about skills, though – such as writing strong learning objectives or understanding specific instructional design theories and models.  

You can stand out to these employers by clearly showing your skills in your resume.  

To do so clearly, you can add a section near the top of your resume titled "Key Skills" or "Core Competencies” and include a bullet list. This will help you to show up in Applicant Tracking Systems which search through candidates’ CVs for key skills.

Alternatively, you can use action verbs to bring your skills to life inside your employment history descriptions. For example, you could say "I effectively communicated complex ideas to diverse audiences" instead of “I have strong communication skills.”

Wherever possible, you should quantify your skills with figures. So instead of saying that you have “Great coaching skills,” you would say that you "Led a mentoring program for new teachers, resulting in a 25% reduction in first-year teacher turnover.”

You can also use examples and case studies to bring your resume to life. For example, I advise that when creating a standout instructional design resume, you link to concept projects and blogs.

Find a job that matches your transferable skills

Teacher burnout is on the rise and you might be considering how you can use your transferable skills to land a new position.  

As I’ve explored throughout the article, there are a lot of fields that you can move into from teaching. These include:

For instance, many people make the move from being teachers to instructional designers because of the high crossover in skills. You’re still designing and developing learning materials and using creativity, problem-solving, and other transferable skills. But with remote instructional design roles, you can do it all from the comfort of your own home and on your own time schedule.  

You also have greater freedom over what you create. Instead of spending your time managing a stressful classroom, you can put your time and skills into managing a career that can grow alongside you.

Learn more about instructional design and how you can move into the industry on our blog.

And if you want to learn more about the types of jobs that are ideal for former teachers, take a look at our posts here:  

Over to you

So there you have it! A complete list of transferable skills from teaching and a guide of industries you could consider moving into.

Interested in learning more about instructional design and how you can apply your teaching skills to this career?

Grab this free checklist to get started as an instructional designer.

Devlin Peck
Devlin Peck
Devlin Peck is the founder of DevlinPeck.com, where he helps people build instructional design skills and break into the industry. He previously worked as a freelance instructional designer and graduated from Florida State University.
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