Career changers may be one of the nation’s best hopes to fill an anticipated 1.5 million teaching vacancies over the next decade, according to a national survey released by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and funded by MetLife Foundation. For the full release with results, visit" templateURI="tcm:0-0-0" showOnFailure="false" urlTarget="" popUpParams="">

The survey, Teaching as a Second Career, finds that 42 percent of college-educated Americans aged 24 to 60 would consider becoming a teacher. Of those who responded positively, nearly half were women between 50 and 60. They were also more likely than others to have a postgraduate degree, to have attended selective colleges, and to report having higher-than-average grades than other college graduates. Additionally, they are somewhat more likely to come from engineering, science, and information technology fields. 

 “Career changers could help address persistent teacher shortages in hard-to-staff schools—given the right compensation and the right preparation,” says Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. “Raising starting pay is the single most important step, but money alone isn't the answer. Potential teachers also want better working conditions and high-quality preparation.”

Findings indicate that more people would consider teaching as a second career with starting salaries beginning at $50,000 and quality training and support. More than two in five (43 percent) potential teachers rated salary competitiveness with other professions as the most important trigger for career change.

“Professionals from other fields are an untapped resource and could help schools solve crucial staffing problems in key shortage areas, such as math and science and hard-to-staff schools," notes Sibyl Jacobson, president of MetLife Foundation. “The survey identifies who we need to recruit and how, and provides important clues into developing policies that will encourage more people to enter the teaching profession.”

Roughly a fourth (23 percent) of potential teachers said developing the right kind of training to ease the transition to teaching is important. This finding was supported by Encore Performances, a research synthesis also supported by MetLife Foundation, which reveals that few programs for college graduates and midcareer professionals design their coursework to match candidates’ work experience and clinical placement needs. Based on this research, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation is developing a national and state fellowship program to attract prospective career changers to the teaching profession with a tailored program based on their needs.

The survey was conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc. and based on phone and online interviews with 2,292 college-educated adults aged 24 to 60 between February 5 and 25, 2008

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation ( identifies and develops the best minds for the nation’s most important challenges. In these areas of challenge, the Foundation awards fellowships to enrich human resources, works to improve public policy, and assists organizations and institutions in enhancing practice in the U.S. and abroad. 
MetLife Foundation supports education, health, civic and cultural organizations. Education is a major focus of the Foundation, informed by findings from the annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher. For more information visit


Ted Mitchell