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WRITTEN BY Kian Northcote • 7 mins

Kian Northcote is a freelance journalist and writer with a background in education.

US teacher in the classroom

Searching for a new teaching job during a global pandemic that’s caused so much economic uncertainty might seem like a pretty daunting task. 

But following the news that most U.S. schools plan to re-open within the next three months, now might be the right time to start planning for your next position.   

Yes, COVID-19 has redefined the job search process, with virtual recruitment now favored over the traditional face-to-face interview, but that doesn’t mean you must completely rethink your job search strategy.  

It’s still important to remember that success, in almost any job-hunt, usually stems from following three classic rules: (1) you need to prepare, (2) be professional and (3) you need to stand out from the crowd. 

But the pandemic has thrown a few unexpected curveballs into the mix, so with that in mind, here are five top tips for how to find teaching jobs in 2021. 

  1. Know where you want to live and teach.
  2. Prepare properly for virtual interviews. 
  3. Research alternative certification programs. 
  4. Consider teaching online. 
  5. Get valuable experience as a substitute teacher. 

1. Know where you want to live and teach.

Are you prepared to move out of state, or would you rather stay put? 

Typically, younger teachers who are newly certified are often more willing to relocate in search of first-time opportunities because they may not be limited to a specific region by personal circumstance.  

The obvious advantage of being flexible about where you live and work is maximizing your job application output. 

But you still need a clear strategy.

Demand for teachers differs around the country. 

It’s important to consider both your subject-specialization and the age groups you’re qualified to work with because this can impact your chances of finding employment in different states.

Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Education publishes an annual report on teacher shortages across the country, and you can even modify your online search by state, subject and discipline.    

When searching for your ideal teaching job, you might be tempted to google the “best states to teach in” but most of the time the results you get will be generic and based mainly on teacher salaries. 

Here’s what else you need to consider:

  • What’s the average living cost?  
  • Would you prefer an urban or rural environment? 
  • In general, does the state/district value education? 
  • What’s the student-to-teacher class ratio? 
  • Will you feel safe living/working there? 

It might seem like these are difficult questions to answer, but there are resources out there that can help you. 

Here’s a handy report that considers most of the above on a state-by-state basis.  

And with COVID-19 still spreading across the country, here are two additional points you might want to consider:

1: Most states are planning to vaccinate teachers within a similar timespan, but a few discrepancies could potentially affect where you would be willing to relocate to, at least in the short term. 

2: Reliable and centralized data will soon be available for educators and school leaders who want to track and predict COVID numbers in different school districts accurately. Again, this may impact your decision. 

Knowing whether you want to move and where you’re willing to relocate to will help you refine your job search strategy.  

Students in the classroom

2. Prepare properly for virtual interviews.

Crucial to any teacher-job search is the need to prepare for potential interviews. 

But the pandemic means more recruiters than ever now favor virtual interviews over the traditional face-to-face kind. 

And even though you’ll still encounter a lot of similar questions, it’s essential to take heed of a few basic tips:  

  • Practice: If you’re not used to virtual interviews, you must get some practice before your interview.  Prepare a list of likely interview questions and then send them to a friend or relative who can video call you and take on the role of interviewer. 
  • Avoid embarrassing situations: Yeah, we’ve all seen those cute clips on social media of pets and children zoom bombing interviews to everyone’s delight, but in reality, if you’re already nervous, this could be disastrous. Plan ahead by finding a secure and quiet location. And remember to put your phone on silent.  
  • Pay attention to your environment: What’s on the wall behind you when you switch on your webcam? What’s the lighting like in your preferred location? Are you clearly visible on the camera? These are all small details that can make a big difference in your interview. 

This may sound like common sense, but often mistakes are made when we become overconfident and a little too relaxed. 

And even if you’re a dab-hand at online interviews, it’s still worth conducting a little self-audit on your interview prep routine in case there’s room for improvement. 

3. Research alternative certification programs.

Traditionally, and even for many college graduates, becoming a fully licensed teacher involved going back to school and parting with a lot of cash too. 

Now, things are different. 

If you already hold a bachelor’s degree and you’re interested in pursuing a career in education, alternative certification could see you step into the classroom as a fully qualified teacher by the end of this year, and for a lot less money too. 

Online courses like Klassroom’s Teacher Certification Program were created to help tackle our nationwide teacher shortage. 

They work by fast-tracking talented graduates who are passionate about becoming teachers but have neither the time nor the money to enrol in graduate degree courses that can often exceed $45,000 dollars on average.  

Teacher Certification Programs (TCP’s) are typically much more affordable than traditional courses, and there are other benefits too

Core curriculums are delivered 100% online, which means you can learn at your own pace without having to worry about social distancing on campus and the possibility of learning being disrupted by local COVID lockdowns. 

And if you know where you want to live and teach, Teacher Certification Programs can help you gain full accreditation in specific states. 

Fancy living and teaching in Hawaii? 

We can help you get a full teaching license in the Aloha State and grant you access to thousands of teaching jobs.

4. Consider teaching online.

The best place to find teaching jobs can be in the online classroom world. 

Spending on online education is expected to reach 350 billion by 2025.  

Restrictions on in-person teaching and the realization that virtual learning can help make education more efficient and cost-effective when combined with traditional face-to-face classes has led to a surge in demand for digital content

Learning how to transition from traditional classrooms into the virtual world needn’t be time-consuming, but it is crucial. 

Rapid investment in any growth industry is usually followed by increased competition, which means if you’re not tech-savvy, you’ll need to upskill before you can find the best online jobs. 

The best places to find online teaching vacancies are usually bespoke job boards because they are industry-specific. 

Land the right gig, and you’ll have regular work and a consistent income too.

Here are three additional benefits to online teaching that are worth considering:

  • Reduced financial costs: Travelling to and from work can be expensive, especially if you’re also spending money on refreshments.
  • Increased productivity: Not having to travel means you can save time as well as money. This means you can prepare appropriately for your classes without worrying about your workday eating into your own leisure time. 
  • Greater efficiency: Access to online resources like videos, podcasts, and game-based learning platforms means teachers can create fun and immersive lessons that go way beyond the traditional school textbook. 

In a post-COVID-world, growth in online education will likely stabilize as classrooms around the country re-open. 

But virtual learning is not going to disappear because when it’s used effectively, there are simply too many advantages.

Right now, there is a clear digital divide in education which must be solved. Online learning has the potential to create a more equitable education system by giving children in remote locations instant access to virtual platforms

This could benefit students from all economic backgrounds and create more long-term job opportunities for teachers.  

Teacher in the classroom

5. Get valuable experience as a substitute teacher.

What if you would rather gain some hands-on experience in a classroom before committing to a teacher training course? 

Depending on where you live and your local school district’s current COVID-19 policies, you might be able to use your existing skills to help tackle our nationwide shortage of substitute teachers.

The pressing need for more substitute teachers has resulted in many states lowering their requirements for potential candidates. 

Connecticut, Iowa, Missouri, New York and Nevada have all recently dropped college credit requirements for subs, in response to the pandemic. 

Some school districts are also offering pay increases for substitute teachers

Although there are question marks around quality control and further disruption for students, some states simply have no choice at the moment. 

If you’re considering a career in education, this could be the perfect time for you to gain valuable classroom experience and make a big difference in your local community.  

Another benefit of becoming a substitute teacher is that it’s great for networking. You’ll familiarize yourself with local schools and hopefully get to know both experienced educators and school leaders who might be able to help you land a permanent position in the future. 

Working as a sub can also provide you with the kind of flexibility you would not usually get in a permanent teaching role. 

You may well have the option to pick and choose when you work as well as where!

This can be ideal for aspiring teachers who also have other commitments. 

Here’s a useful resource that will help with your substitute teacher job search. 

Looking ahead.

In some ways, securing a teaching job in 2021 is not dissimilar to previous years. 

You still need to plan, prepare, and develop a consistent job search strategy. 

If you are thinking about relocating, it’s a good idea to consider where you’re planning to move to and whether or not it’s even feasible during the pandemic. 

There are now more opportunities in online education as a direct result of the restrictions that have been put in place to combat the spread of the virus. 

Tip: Job-search boards are the best place for new teachers to find consistent work. 

But what if you’re not quite ready to commit to a career in education?  

Our current shortage in qualified teachers means now is a good time to get your feet wet by finding work as a substitute and discovering whether you have what it takes to make a great educator. 

For more information about getting a U.S. teacher’s license and unlocking high-quality jobs in 2021, check out our homepage.