Before I became a teacher, I think I considered almost every career possibility in existence at the time. Some, like accounting and everything science-related, had to be discarded immediately because of the training and education requirements. Other professions, like sales, seemed to require skills and personality traits I lacked.
But I had an epiphany after an unusually difficult day at work. I realized I was indeed selling something to my students. It wasn’t the specifics of identifying nouns or verbs, or being able to explain the sequence of events in a story, though those are both important.
I was trying to sell an idea. A dream. My students lived in a neighborhood where most of the residents struggled financially. Many people were out of work, while others who had jobs often contended with low pay. People who wanted to get ahead found they could only do so by furthering their education. And without being aware of it, I was attempting to sell the idea of education and accompanying financial prosperity. Maybe if my own training focused more on a sales approach, I would have been more successful. I don’t know, but the experience showed me that teachers who are looking for a new career should at least consider exploring the possibility of a sales career.
Like teachers, salespeople contend with unfortunate negative stereotypes. They’re perceived as trying to make money at the expense of a poor sucker they convince to buy something. But true salespeople know they also have to educate their consumer. They’re not really persuading someone to buy something; they’re providing information, showing their clients the benefits of their product and guiding the client to a well-informed decision. Whether you realize it or not, as a teacher, you’re doing the same thing: providing access to knowledge, helping student see the benefit of education and how what you’re teaching them fits a larger scenario, and helping them learn about themselves so they can make well-informed decisions about their future.
Of course, every teacher will not necessarily make a great salesperson. To be honest, after a great deal of thought I don’t think I’d be very good at it. But if you already discarded the idea as you research new careers, maybe you should rethink it.
- Teachers; the Best Salespeople
- This article has a short snippet about textbook sales, which is the most natural transition for a teacher, but it’s not the only option.
- This thread from Indeed.com covers transitions to pharmaceutical sales, one of the more challenging areas to enter. Though difficult, it’s not impossible, and I’d imagine someone with science teaching credentials would find their background especially well-suited.