10 Exciting Alternative Careers for ESL Teachers to Transition to

By Altiné Mni

Teaching, particularly ESL, is one of the best jobs that opens many doors. According to this Forbes article, companies like hiring teachers because of their exceptional communication, presentation, and leadership skills, which are also often underrated.

The skills you acquired as an ESL teacher are in high demand in the corporate world. These skills include: 

  • Creative and critical thinking
  • Leadership and mentorship
  • Conflict resolution
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to use technology 
  • Problem-solving kills

If you are looking to transition from ESL teaching to other jobs, here are 10 exciting alternative careers for ESL teachers to transition to. 

1. Social services manager

Social services managers coordinate by evaluating clients’ needs (families, children), identifying needed services, and creating a plan to provide specific care. 

Additionally, community organizations and social services need people with extensive experience dealing with families and children. 

The same skills required to be an effective social services manager are also essential to becoming a good ESL teacher. 

ESL teachers are experienced at developing lesson plans based on their students, making them effective social services managers who tailor activities to the clients’ needs effortlessly. 

2. Standardized test developer 

Standardized test development can be another alternative job for ESL teachers. Working as a standardized test developer requires you to be an expert in your subject area and develop high-quality assessments with questions that differ in difficulty level.

Developing high-quality assessments with questions that differ in difficulty level is one characteristic of a good teacher. This will facilitate your transition into this role. 

3. International student recruiter for universities

Universities like to attract international students because they pay higher fees. To recruit these students, they are always looking to send representatives to different foreign countries.

Your experience teaching ESL oversea will come in handy. It will help if you know the country and have connections with the schools you are being sent to. 

The job of international student recruiting consists of:

  • Visiting high schools in foreign countries 
  • Interacting with students on the Internet via diverse channels
  • And hosting campus visits with prospective students

4. Starting your own online tutoring business

Tutoring is increasingly growing and is an excellent opportunity for ESL teachers. You can start your own online tutoring business. I suggest you focus on a specific area; for example, you can focus on: 

  • Helping students prepare for standardized exams, including TOEFL, IELTS, or CELPIP
  • Conversation classes for non-native students
  • Essay-writing support for high school students

You might be wondering about How to Become a Successful Tutor and How to Successfully Market Yourself as a Tutor.

5. English language teacher trainer

ESL teachers with a master’s in education or a DELTA can move to school administration roles or even go into English language teacher training. 

To pursue this role, your teaching experience and your TEFL or TESOL certification will prove helpful. 

As an English language teacher trainer, you will use your expertise and experience to help form the next generation of ESL educators and prepare them for success in the classroom. 

Along with conducting training, you will also do evaluation work and create teacher development programs.

6. Customer service manager

ESL teaching evolves around interacting and pleasing different types of people, including parents, children, and school administration, and this particular skill translates well to customer service. 

As a customer service manager, your main job is to ensure that a company’s customers are satisfied by providing outstanding customer service, motivating the customer service team, creating loyalty programs, and designing customer satisfaction goals.

7. ESL content creator

Another opportunity for ESL teachers is creating ESL-related content, including publishing, editing, and proofreading textbooks.

Writing can lead to tremendous opportunities like freelance writing work, creating teaching materials, and proofreading other writers’ work.

One thing I suggest you do is to start a blog on the subject you teach. I teach math and just started a website where I answer the most commonly asked math questions and share them with students worldwide. 

8. Human resource specialist

Among the required skills to be a good human resources specialist are problem-solving, attention to detail, leadership, and excellent written and verbal communication, according to Louisiana State University.

The good news is the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates 5% employment growth for human resources (HR) specialists up to 2028.

9. An interpreter or translator

Becoming an interpreter or translator requires you to know more than one language. And one thing that ESL teachers must be good at is English, and if, along the way, you picked up a second language, this job will be perfect for you. 

Nowadays, interpreters and translators are in high demand. For example, authors, websites, and even big companies are looking for ways to reach a wider audience worldwide. 

I encourage you to check out this article to learn more about making money online as a translator

10. Other related roles you can do as an ESL teacher

  • Program director
  • ​​Admissions officer
  • Student advisor
  • Registrar
  • Librarian
  • Program coordinator
  • Corporate trainer
Written by Altiné Mni for TEFL.NET July 2022
Altiné is from Toronto, Canada, and currently teaches mathematics at a high school in Guangzhou, China. He has a master's degree in International Economics and Finance from Ryerson University in Canada and is passionate about helping people worldwide through his blogs. He writes about TEFL Teaching and Health and Fitness. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, running, traveling, and anything that allows him to experience the beauty of nature. You can find him at altinify.com.

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