As anyone who has worked in education will tell you, teaching isn’t easy, despite how frequently teachers are told they’re lucky to “work from 9 ‘til 3 and get 6 weeks off in the summer.”
Recent strike action has demonstrated teachers’ growing discontent with heavy workloads, overwhelming pressure, long hours and inadequate pay, and a 2022 survey revealed that 78% of teachers experience poor mental health due to their work.
It’s unsurprising, then, that a third of teachers who qualified in the last decade have already left the profession, and recent research found that nearly half of all current teachers in the UK (44%) are planning to quit within the next 4 years.
So, where can teachers go if they’re looking to move on from education? What new career paths can they pursue to make the most of their many skills?
Is cyber security the answer for teachers looking for a new career?
At CAPSLOCK, we’re confident that teachers can find their next calling in cyber security.
In fact, we know they can, because a number of teachers have reskilled in cyber with our online bootcamps and launched new careers in the information security sector.
Now, we could sit here and tell you why teachers are so well suited to cyber security, such as their excellent communication skills, ability to disseminate information at varying levels of complexity, understanding of processes, policies and standards, appreciation for safeguarding and handling sensitive data... but we think it’s better if you hear directly from some of our alumni with teaching experience instead.
Here are four CAPSLOCK alumni who have shared why they transitioned from teaching to cyber:
Ben was a teacher for just under 20 years, originally working as a secondary school science teacher and spending the last 6 years of his career as a headteacher. Most schools he worked in were in areas of high deprivation and were often challenging inner city schools. He enjoyed and valued making a difference to the lives of young people on a daily basis.
However, health concerns ended up causing Ben to take a break.
“My last school was in an area of high pollution, and I developed chronic asthma and had a series of serious, recurrent chest infections. On medical advice I decided to take a temporary break. It gave me a chance to reflect on things, especially how much more time I had to spend with my wife and young children, so I decided that I wasn’t going to go back into education.
I wanted to transition into a new career area where there would be plenty of challenges and opportunities to use the skills and experience I had gained during my time in education. Cyber security seemed the ideal option, and my interest in it stemmed from a hack we suffered when I was a headteacher. We didn’t lose much data but there was still a considerable amount of work to do to secure our systems afterwards.
I was looking into whether it was possible to transition into cyber security, despite my age (45) and not having a background in the sector, when I discovered CAPSLOCK. It immediately grabbed me as being the perfect solution and after attending an online open evening, looking at the curriculum and reading testimonials from CAPSLOCK alumni, I decided to give it a go.
I especially enjoyed the Team Based Learning on the course, working in a small, close-knit team. I liked the fact that there was a full time and part time option, and the accessibility of the online learning was fantastic.
I'm now working as an Information Security and Data Protection Trainer and Consultant for an independent training organisation. My skills and experiences in education got me the job - as I was told during my interview, you can learn the necessary infosec and cyber security knowledge, but you can’t just learn how to teach and educate people.”
Ikechi graduated from CAPSLOCK last year with the highest overall marks of her cohort. Prior to reskilling in cyber, she ran a private tuition business for 17 years. This led to her pursuing a PGCE and gaining qualified teacher status, and she specialised in secondary school mathematics.
Ikechi decided to move on from teaching because she felt it was time to apply her skills in an evolving industry like cyber security. So, knowing that she’d need to retrain, she began researching different reskilling courses.
“I needed a programme that was well-structured and not just about rote learning. I wanted something that would expose me to a real-life work environment and afford me the opportunity to leverage the knowledge of other learners from different backgrounds. CAPSLOCK’s Team Based Learning approach ticked all the boxes for me.
The bootcamp helped me apply and improve some of the skills I learned during my career as a teacher. The careers team were at hand to help us identify those innate skills that were inherent in us but felt obscured.
I now work as a GRC (Governance, Risk and Compliance) consultant, a role I was head-hunted for following my success at CAPSLOCK. My education background and transferable skills, both as a former teacher and successful business owner, also helped me secure this role.
My key responsibility focuses on ensuring that organisations have the right systems and processes in place so that they are compliant with required industry regulations, as well as being secure against current and emerging cyber threats. In my client-facing role, being able to effectively communicate difficult concepts to a variety of clients has been a big advantage.
My teaching experience has definitely come in handy.”
John taught English as a second language for two years in mainland China, and also taught online during the pandemic. Prior to teaching English, he taught people how to sail for over ten years.
Feeling that the online teaching market was become more unstable and saturated in the wake of Covid-19, John wanted to move into an industry that was stable and secure. Cyber security piqued his interest after seeing a number of adverts about reskilling in cyber and having a discussion with an old friend.
"One of my friends went through a similarly tough time during the pandemic, and he had recently reskilled with CAPSLOCK. When he speaks about something with enthusiasm and energy, I generally see it as a time to listen! His recommendation got me to the website and then the pre-course material confirmed that cyber was going to be the new industry for me.
It made me appreciate that there are many transferable skills from teaching that are applicable to cyber. Teachers can help different people understand a number of different concepts at a number of varied levels. Teachers can work under pressure, manage time effectively, think on their feet, but also know when they need support from their own teaching community.
The course was challenging, demanding but ultimately very rewarding! I saw the strength of CAPSLOCK’s Team Based Learning approach from the point of view of a learner, and it became an area of interest for me.
Within the first few weeks of the course, I was interested in the idea of working for CAPSLOCK. After graduation, a vacancy for an Assistant Tutor role popped up and I got the job. It’s great to be teaching again in an industry that I find fascinating. Day-to-day I might be giving short mini-lectures to a cohort, marking learners’ work, and supporting learners with wellbeing issues to help them stay on the right path of learning.”
Marian had been in education for 18 years, including working as a GCSE English teacher and a librarian. During a career break from teaching, Marian decided to pursue other career options, and considered cyber security.
"I felt the skills I already had would be useful, and that I would be able to work in a highly regulated field like cyber security coming from a very regulated sector like teaching.
I chose to study with CAPSLOCK because their bootcamp was recommended to me by a friend who was already on the course.” Spoiler alert – that friend was Ikechi!
“I found the Team Based Learning process very interesting and helpful in developing my confidence, especially when it came to expressing my opinions and working on presentations. There were challenges in working with other people, but I was able to learn a lot and improve myself in the process.
Teachers have a lot of transferable skills that lend themselves well to cyber. The fact that teaching entails a lot of assessments, report writing and monitoring of data for various regulated authorities makes it similar to cyber security.
I think teachers would be particularly useful in the field of GRC, Auditing and Consultancy because of the soft skills they have, like attention to detail, time management, preparing presentations, communication, teamwork, assessment and report writing, and many more.”
The Final Word
It’s pretty clear that teachers and their unique skillsets can make excellent contributions to the cyber security industry.
Many of our teaching alumni have begun successful careers in cyber after reskilling, and some are showing that teaching doesn’t have to end once you’ve left the classroom.
You might want to begin working in cyber education, or start a cyber career which directly utilises your teaching skills. For example, a Training & Awareness role where you’d be helping employees understand the importance of cyber security.
Or, you might want to apply your broader transferable skills to a cyber jobs in areas like analysis, GRC, consultancy, offensive security, knowing that your prior experiences will come in handy.
If you’d like more information about CAPSLOCK’s online cyber security bootcamps and how we can help you reskill to launch an exciting new career, please visit https://capslock.ac.