Changing Careers: Is it a Smart or Dumb Move?


A couple of weeks ago, we received the good news that my husband, Jim, had passed all of his tests and requirements to receive his second master’s degree in education administration. He has worked extremely hard to keep up with written and practical work while teaching 5th grade, volunteering for several committees  at work, and being a Dad.

His first master’s was more to satisfy state requirements without much change in status or salary, this one would open the door to whole new positions with higher pay grades. In fact, he has an interview tomorrow for a position that would give him quite a bump in salary. While I really hope he gets the new job, I am also nervous. Is changing careers at this point a smart or dumb move?

We’ve Had Lots of Change Already

Over the past two years, I have completely changed my work schedule and am rapidly closing in on the point of not owning my own business. Owning your own business is never a sure thing, but at least you can’t get fired. I have three different part time positions now that seem pretty solid, but I could lose one at any time.

He is a Really Good Teacher

While I am biased, Jim is an excellent classroom teacher. He taught seventh grade reading for several years, then moved to 5th grade. His 5th grade class has had the highest scores in the distict for three years running.  I can’t tell you how many people have told me how great he is or how much their son or daughter loved him. I tell him it’s because he operates on a 10-12 year old level, but he seriously does try to treat pre-teens as people. He’s very strict, but fair, and tries to relate on their level, even if that means playing Justin Bieber music in the background during class. His school district is one of the worst paying ones in the state, and often loses good teachers to admin positions or to other districts. I’m happy for us, but sad for the students who won’t get to have him as a teacher.

New Positions are Fickle

Since Jim has been teaching for 12 years, and he does a good job, his position is pretty secure. Unless he does something crazy, he really won’t get fired. In about 11 years, he can retire and receive a small pension for the rest of his life (as long as the state doesn’t go broke!)

 All administrative positions are at will, so if he gets this new job, he could be let go for any reason. This position is new and won’t be popular, I’m afraid.

Colorado is in the process of adopting a new teacher evaluation system. It would mean that teachers will be evaluated on merit, test scores, and student surveys. Essentially, bad teachers with tenure can’t stay forever if they suck. The position Jim is interviewing for is as a coordinator for the new evaluation system. He has been on a test committee for the past year to determine requirements. The state said districts have to implement this policy, but didn’t say how it should be done, so this committee has been deciding how the new evaluation system would work, and the new position is to make it happen. While any change is scary, good teachers aren’t too worried, while the crappy ones are a bit nervous. I’m doubtful things will change much for a while, but change has to start somewhere, and the person in charge is not generally popular with those who might have to actually work a bit harder.

Even if he didn’t get this job and was able to get hired in another position, like principal, it’s still at will. Principals get fired all the time, especially in districts with bad test scores.

Sometimes You Have to Go For It

We decided a while back that if a position came available, Jim would go for it. While nothing is ever a guarantee, we’ve made huge financial strides over the last few years, and I think we could weather a job loss. At worst, he’d have to go back into the classroom, essentially taking a demotion. While it might be hard on the ego, we’ve talked about it, and he says he would do that if necessary. 

I think burnout is a reality with most jobs if you are there long enough. Neither of us wants to be that person who hates his or her job but keeps showing up because of fear or complacency. So, I’m nervous for this new change, but also very excited. Fingers crossed that Jim gets a new job!

What do you think of teacher evaluations? Would you give up a secure job for a more risky one if it paid better and was more exciting?

Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, hiking.


  1. I am very interested in the teacher evaluation system stuff, curious to hear what they will do and how it will work.
    The pay bump will be nice, I’m sure, as will the opportunity to do something brand new.
    I’m sure things will go swimmingly. Plus, with his track record, I’m sure he would have no problem at all getting back into a classroom.

    1. I think many would see going back into the classroom as a blow to the ego, but I honestly think he’d be fine if he had to do that.

  2. That’s a tough one Kim. If he loves his current job and it pays well and has perks then it’s up to him what he really wants to do. I quit my life and moved to a new country so anything is possible if you believe. I was also realistic knowing that I may not find a job. I didn’t because I didn’t have enough “Canadian experience” so I was told. I went back to school to start a new life and a new career and it paid off for me. There is always a risk when you change careers that anything could happen. The job may not work out as one might not be a fit for the organization as originally thought. The most important part is to keep the faith.

  3. My fingers are crossed for Jim to get that administrative job 🙂 Life is about taking chances, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but if you never play then you never know…Good for Jim for taking chances!

  4. I’d probably go for the more risky job (easy to say that now since I’m in a “comfortable job”). I think the important part for me is being happy. I don’t love what I’m doing right now, but it’s OK. I’m still working on finding exactly what I wand to do, and when I find it I’m more than willing to take the risk and make the move.

    1. I think that was kind of what happened. He doesn’t dislike his job but was ready for a new challenge with more opportunities.

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