Private School Teaching Job Search Tips

Four things you need to know about teaching at private school

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If you’re thinking about starting your career as a teacher, you might want to consider applying for private school teaching jobs. Whether you’re a veteran teacher looking for something different, someone making a career change, or a new college graduate, check out these four tips to help you with the private school jobsearch.

1. Start your job search early.

Private schools don’t operate on a quick turnaround system when it comes to hiring, unless there's a mid-year vacancy, which is highly unusual. It may be surprising to know that private schools often start looking for candidates as early as December, for positions that will be open in the fall. Typically, teaching positions are filled by March or April, so applying for positions early is important. That doesn’t mean that teaching opportunities aren’t available after the spring, but private school jobs are at their peak in the winter months. Check out the National Association of Independent Schools to see what job search listings have been posted. If you have a specific geographic location you want to teach in, look for state or regional independent school associations, too.

2. Get help with your private school job search: Use a FREE recruiter

There are several companies out there that work with candidates to help them with the private school job search. These companies help candidates find the right private schools to apply to, and they often know of positions before they are publicly posted, meaning you have a leg up on your competition. A bonus to the job seeker is that the services of the recruiters are free; the school will pick up the tab if you're hired. Many of these companies, like Carney, Sandoe & Associates even have conferences dedicated to your job search. In these one, two or sometimes three-day events, you have the chance to participate in mini interviews with school administrators from across the country. Think of it like speed dating for jobs. These recruiting sessions can be hit or miss, but they can also help you meet with schools you may never have considered before because of the ease of making an appointment. Your recruiter will help you not only find open positions, but determine if the job is the right fit for you.

And, some of these companies don’t just find teaching jobs. Applicants interested in administrative positions can also benefit from these recruiting agencies. Whether you’re looking to serve as a head of school (akin to a principal for those who aren’t familiar with independent schools), development officer, admission officer, marketing director, or school counselor, just to name a few, there are hundreds of listings available. Similar to teaching positions, often the recruiters know of the open positions before they are advertised, which means you get to beat the crowd and be seen more easily. Plus, agencies often have listings for positions that aren't publicly posted; sometimes, it's all about who you know, and your recruiter is likely "in the know." Your recruiter will get to know you personally, which means he or she can also vouch for you as a candidate, which is especially helpful if you’re new to the industry.

3. You don’t need a teaching certificate.

Public schools typically require teachers to pass a standardized test to certify their teaching abilities, but that’s not necessarily true at private schools. While many private school teachers do hold teaching certifications, it’s not usually a requirement. Most private schools look at your own education, career and life experiences, and natural teaching abilities as qualifications. New private school teachers often go through an internship program or work closely with a veteran teacher to help them become accustomed to this new career path and learn as they go. That doesn’t mean that private school teachers aren’t as qualified as public school teachers, it just means that private schools don’t rely on standardized tests to determine a candidate’s ability to excel in the classroom.

This also makes teaching at private school a common second career for many individuals. It can be daunting for many professionals to even consider taking a standardized test, which means many qualified teaching candidates aren't even going to consider applying. Private schools capitalize on this opportunity to attract professionals looking for a change. Imagine learning physics from a former engineer who worked on projects for the International Space Station, or studying economics from a former investment analyst. These individuals bring a wealth of knowledge and real world experience to the classroom that can greatly enhance the learning environment for students. The admission office and marketing team also enjoy these second-career teachers, as they often make great stories for promoting the school, especially if teachers have non-traditional methods of teaching that engage students in studying. Think you fit that model?

4. Your hobbies can help you in the job search.

Private school teachers often do more than just teach. They also serve as advisors, mentors, club sponsors, coaches, and, at boarding schools, dorm parents. That means, you have the opportunity to excel in multiple ways, and doesn't mean that years of teaching experience will always win out. Yes, you still need to be a highly qualified candidate, but having multiple strengths can help a younger teaching candidate who can coach a varsity team edge out someone with more teaching experience but no coaching abilities.

Were you a high school or college athlete? Play on a local sports team just for fun? That knowledge of the sport and experience can make you more valuable to the school. The higher your level of experience in a sport, the more valuable you are to the school. Maybe you’re an English teach or even a math teacher who loves writing; an interest in advising the student newspaper or participating in the theater productions could make you more valuable to the school, and again, gives you an edge over a candidate who only excels in teaching. Have you lived in multiple countries and speak numerous languages? Private schools value diversity and life experience, which can help teachers better connect with students from around the world. Think about your experience and activities, and how they might help make you a stronger candidate. Always check out the sports and activities a school offers to find out if you might be able to help them in more ways than one.

Want more information on the private school job search?