Can You Retire And Become A Teacher? A Step-by-Step Guide


As your retirement is coming closer you’re probably are wondering what to do in retirement. Perhaps you want to inspire younger generations by sharing your knowledge and experience as a teacher. And that is why you might wonder: can you retire and become a teacher?

Every retiree can become a teacher or have a teaching role in retirement. Without a degree, you can apply for teaching roles like mentoring, coaching, and substitute teaching. With a bachelor’s in any field, you can become a teacher after finishing a one-year state-approved alternative teacher certification program. With a master’s degree in any field, you can start teaching at private schools right away.

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about how to become a teacher in retirement, with or without a degree. So let’s start unpacking.

Step-by-Step Guide To Become A Teacher In Retirement

Being a teacher gives your retirement more meaning. Being surrounded by younger people keeps you young at heart. And staying busy, socializing, and keep learning are key ingredients to happiness in retirement.

The demand for teachers in the U.S. is high because of the enormous teacher shortage that is growing every year. This has led to states creating alternative paths for people to become aspiring public school teachers that are faster and very affordable. And makes the chances of you getting hired as a teacher in retirement much higher. So when you’re considering becoming a teacher in retirement, now is a perfect time.

But what requirements do you need to become a teacher in retirement? Well, to get started you need to be eligible to work in the U.S. but what to do next when you have a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or if you don’t have a degree? These questions are all answered below.

How To Become A Teacher In Retirement With A Bachelor’s Degree

The most traditional way to become a teacher with a bachelor’s degree is to get a master’s degree in Education. Either Master of Arts in Teaching or Master of Education. But you’re probably not looking forward to committing your hard-earned time in retirement to a full-time study. Let alone the costs of graduate school. As I mentioned earlier there are alternative paths to become a licensed teacher that is much more affordable and faster, so you don’t have to.

There are a wide variety of state-approved alternative certification teacher programs available that are designed for people to become a licensed K-12 teachers in a public school. Becoming a K-12 teacher means educating children between Kindergarten and twelfth grades. That’s anywhere between the ages of five and eighteen.

Once you finished the program you can then apply for a teaching job with the department of education in your state. Also, when you take the alternative route you can be eligible for financial aid provided by the government. And you don’t need any working experience to get a teacher certification this way.

These teacher programs can be followed online or in a classroom, depending on the options in your area. Following an online course gives you the advantage of staying in charge of your own schedule. One of the perks of being retired. But on the other hand, going to a classroom makes it possible for you to meet other people, socialize and make new friends. One of the most important key factors to a happy retirement. You can read more about getting on the fast track to retirement and so much more in my ebook: Five Steps To Happiness In Retirement.

Now, let’s continue on how you can become a licensed teacher through this alternative path.

Step 1: Pass Required State Exams

Before you can enroll in a teacher certification program in your state you need to pass the required state exams. It’s important to read the state’s requirements before you start your journey. This saves you a lot of time and money. If you want to teach in another state you need to check the requirements of that state because they are different per state. You can check out Teacher Certification Requirements by State for more information.

Step 2: Enroll In An Alternative Teacher Certification Program

When you’ve decided in which state you want to teach you can enroll in a state-approved alternative teacher certification program. For example, the teacher certification program in Hawaii from Teachaway. It’s an online core curriculum to complete in 6 months (15 hours a week) plus a 450-hour clinical placement which you can complete concurrently or upon the program. Once you completed the program you’re eligible for teaching jobs in Hawaii. And some other states through interstate teacher certification reciprocity.

Step 3: Complete The Course

The duration of the core curriculum can vary from anywhere between 6 – 12 months but some programs also offer self-paced studies so you can study whenever and where ever you want. It takes the pressure off while you get to enjoy other activities in retirement. And finish whenever you’re ready. But if you can’t wait to become a teacher it’s best to stay in the momentum and keep studying. After a couple of months you’re done and ready to go.

If you postpone your coursework you’ll get less motivated to finish, and then that teacher job looks far away.

The program will make you classroom-ready and equip you with knowledge and skills and everything else you need to know to be a good teacher, aside from the subject matter. You’ll get tools and information from classroom management to basic pedagogical approaches. But the best way to learn is in the classroom where you get to experience and put everything you’ve learned into practice.

Step 4: Get Valuable Field Experience

After completing the theoretical part you need to finish a mandatory field placement. Where you decide to get field experience depends on the program and your wishes. It and can take anywhere from three to twelve months, depending on the requirements of the state and program.

Some programs require you to get field experience in the same state, but some online teacher certification programs allow you to complete your field experience wherever you are in the world. For example the teacher certificate program of Arizona.

Step 5: Apply for State License

Once you completed the coursework and fieldwork you can apply for a state teacher license at the Department of Education. And this is perhaps the most frustrating part of the journey to becoming a teacher as it requires a lot of patients due to the bureaucratic process. They’ll do background checks and it’s sometimes is a hassle to have all the required documents in place. After that, you’ll get a teaching certificate so you’re qualified to apply for teaching jobs.

As I mentioned earlier in this article, the requirements vary per state. As well as the fees. Normally a license costs you between $50-$200. The validation of the license is between one and five years and you need to renew it every couple of years.

Step 6: Apply for teaching job

Now with a license, you’ll eligible to apply for teaching positions throughout the state. As well as other states when you decide to relocate. It’s often possible to transfer teaching certificates between states. Many states have reciprocity agreements to make it easier for licensed teachers to become certified in another state.

Also, because of the teacher shortage, there will be a lot of schools in high demand of great teachers. There are looking for you. Especially with the years of working and life experience, you’re an ideal candidate. Also, it says a lot about you that you have the ambition to become a teacher after retirement. So you’re in a luxury position because you’ll have the advantage to choose. Therefore make sure you look around and apply at different schools, talk with other teachers to get a sense of the working culture and environment.

Your retirement should be a time where you’re in control and have fun. So choosing the right kind of working environment is important. Even if you need the extra paycheck, working can be fun too. So be picky and ask the right questions to be fully informed about what you can expect before you commit to a teaching job. You can even suggest trying out a day to really feel and experience if the school and the students are the right fit for you.

How To Become A Teacher In Retirement Without A Degree

Now, when you don’t have a degree you might wonder can you become a teacher in retirement without a degree?

Well, if you want to teach in a public school system you’ll need a teaching license. But there are some private or non-profit schools out there that don’t require a teaching degree because they don’t follow the same regulations as public schools. However, they do look for applicants that have either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in a certain field.

Not to worry. There are other ways to teach without certification and a degree.

For example, you can get a supporting teaching position in a school. Or you can volunteer for teaching roles. Or become a substitute teacher.

Substitute Teacher

Being a substitute teacher is an excellent way to get teaching experience without a degree because states do not regulate substitute teaching. Every district has its own substitute teacher requirements that vary tremendously. This is also because the job varies per school. One school needs substitute teachers just to look over a class for a couple of hours, while in other schools substitute teachers need to teach all kinds of different subjects to different grades. It can be a fun retirement job because you never know where and what you’re going to teach next.

It’s best to check out some schools in your area to see what requirements they have for substitute teachers. Perhaps there is a chance you can start very soon. And along the way, you can complete some courses and assignments to get better skilled and experienced in being a teacher.

Keep in mind that schools are very interested in you as a substitute teacher candidate because of your work experience in a particular field. Make sure to highlight this in the conversations you have with different schools in your area.

YouTube Teacher

And just to give you some inspiration to think more outside of the box. You can teach anything on Youtube. Whether it’s a school subject you’re passionate about for example geography or sharing your job experience or hobby secrets in different videos. The classroom is the world and you’re the one that decides how you give substance to your role as a teacher. Without a degree and a boss looking over your shoulder. It’s just an idea to put it out there.

In my ebook: Five Steps To Happiness In Retirement, I show you lots and lots of more ways to think outside of the box and how to chase your dreams even if they seem impossible.

How To Become A Teacher In Retirement With A Master’s Degree

When you have a master’s degree the route to find work as a teacher is easy. In most states, you can become a teacher without an education degree or alternative certificate. As I mentioned private schools (colleges and universities) are especially interested in candidates with a master’s degree and years of working experience in a certain industry. But also public colleges and universities want to hire you.

How Much Can Teachers Earn After Retirement?

Now that we’ve tackled how to become a teacher, it’s also nice to know what you can earn as a teacher. Whether you want to teach to makes ends meet in retirement or just for fun, getting paid for it is always rewarding.

The teacher salary varies per state. According to niche.com: “The national average starting teacher salary is $38,617, while the average teacher salary in America (non-starting) is $58,950. Montana has the lowest starting salary: $30,036, while D.C. has the highest starting salary: $51,359.”

A better way to check is at Teach.com. They have a very handy website where you can check the teacher requirements per state but also what the teacher salary is in secondary and elementary school per state. They present the salary information in a clear way that is collected from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Also, when you continue to work after retirement you can possibly delay the start of collecting your Social Security benefits. The longer you wait after your full retirement age, the more you’ll monthly receive. But before you start working make sure to check with your financial advisor what other consequences you can expect financially when you start or continue to work in retirement.


Kirsten Veldman

I'm Kirsten. In 2017, my husband Léon, and I decided to retire from the rat race to travel the world and work and live location independently. In the last couple of years, I wrote over 100+ articles about retirement and did extensive research to help people prepare, enjoy and celebrate retirement in the best way possible.

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