For those who want to make a midcareer switch into teaching but don't have a bachelor's degree in education, there are alternative teaching certification programs offered by all 50 states and the District of Columbia. These programs have seen exponential growth in the past decade. About 62,000 teachers were certified through alternative routes in 2008 and 2009, which made up one third of all new teachers hired in the United States last year, says Emily Feistritzer, president of the National Center for Alternative Certification. She says there are 600 programs that implement these other paths for teacher certification across the country, and the majority require participants to pass the Praxis test to earn state certification. The programs cost on average between $5,000 and $6,000 and usually take two years to complete, Feistritzer says. One such program is the American Board for Certification of Teaching Excellence, which provides alternative teaching certificates accepted in nine states and was founded by a grant from the Department of Education. To complete the program, the participant must hold at least a bachelor's degree and then pass a background check, as well as a professional teaching knowledge exam and a second exam in one of the program's 10 different subject areas. The entire program, which generally takes eight to 10 months to complete, is offered through online workshops and videos, with the exams administered at local testing centers, says Mike Holden, an ABCTE spokesperson.
Science, mathematics, special education, and English as a second language are subject areas with the greatest need for new teachers, according to the Department of Education's Transition to Teaching program. The Transition to Teaching program is currently funding 219 programs with universities, nonprofit organizations, and school districts that take nonteachers, often midcareer professionals, through a pathway to becoming certified teachers. To find out the types of alternative teaching certification programs offered in your state, visit the National Center for Alternative Certification's website, or to see a certification requirements guide on a U.S. map. Additionally, each state's department of education website includes a list of programs that have been approved by the state.
With today's businesses becoming more globally interconnected and reliant upon technology, the field of information technology has grown exponentially. Specifically, the computer software engineer occupation is expected to increase by 32 percent in the next decade, with about 372,000 new and replacement positions available, according to the BLS. The median salary for a computer applications software engineer, who creates computer applications software programs, is $85,430. The median salary for a computer systems software engineer, who constructs, maintains, and expands the computer system for an organization, is $92,430. These positions both require a bachelor's degree in software engineering, computer science, or a computer-related field. "Experience and seniority help you to move up the ladder in the computing world," says Bobby Schnabel, dean of the School of Informatics at Indiana University. "The computing field is a more egalitarian field than many others."
In addition to recommending educational training to transition into a new career or advance in an existing field, career coaches suggest experiential learning in the field of interest. A company called VocationVacations, founded by career consultant Brian Kurth in 2004, offers people thinking about a career transition the opportunity to visit with around 500 mentors in more than 180 different careers for a two-day mentoring experience. Kurth says the most popular vocation categories include culinary, entertainment, tourism/hospitality, and fashion. Adult internships are also becoming more common as outlets for those interested in switching careers. There is one website that offers adult internships, part-time work, and virtual internships for people considering switching careers, says Lindsey Pollak, author of Getting from College to Career.