Burned Out Teacher Looking to Switch Careers

Lowspeid

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I'm a PE Teacher that is BURNED OUT! Part of the burnout is the fact I'm a 90% disabled vet (Non-Combat), and I deal with some of the toughest/most damaged/disrespectful/defiant humans I've ever been around. Don't get me wrong, I love my students. But constantly having to carry all their baggage along with my own is a burden too heavy. I've worked in 3 states, all levels, and it's the same everywhere I've been. I'm just "done". My family (wife and 2 kids) are seriously thinking about moving, and my wife (and VA Psych) thinks I should be finished with teaching. I live in the PacNW, and even as a teacher with a Master's degree and 10 years experience (and VA disability) I can't afford to buy a house here. Also, I hate it here. I miss sunshine, warmth, and ocean breezes.

I'm seriously thinking about becoming a guitar tech. I started learning how to do set-up several years ago because every time I took my guitars for "set-ups" by "big name" techs in the Seattle or Portland area I always got them back worse than when I'd dropped them off. I do basic set-up work for my friends at church, but nothing like re-frets or new nuts. I'm very good with tools, know how to work quickly, understand "professionalism", and I'm very well organized. I don't want to build guitars, I just want to take a guitar and make it play, feel, and look the best it possibly can for a fair price in a reasonable amount of time. I want to to treat other's guitars like I treat my own; as a very special gift.

So, what do you think? Do I need to go to school for this? find an apprenticeship? (or just keep teaching until the wheels fall off)?
 

tap4154

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If you can live off your wife's income for a while, why not go for it? I remember a member of The Squire 51 Forum that made this decision, went to a school to learn the craft, and opened up his own store in the town where I live. I saw his Yelp reviews and they were very good. I believe he started his business working out of his apartment, then when its client base was large enough, he moved into an ndustrial area. There's also a guy that I've been using forever for my guitar work, and he does treat guitars like they're his own. He had his own shop, but eventually he hooked up with a local mom-and-pop guitar store and moved his business into their shop.

I don't know how old you are, but why spend your life stuck in a job that you're not enjoying?
 
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GeneB

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A neighbor is/was a math teacher here in Tampa but quit last year because of the workload. She was teaching math, did PE classes and was forced to work in the cafeteria because of staff shortages. After talking to her I get what you're saying too. Below is a link to American Luthiers which lists schools where you can study to become one. Not sure where you are located but the one in Portland might fit the bill.

Good Luck!

Schools, Classes & Individual Instruction
 

imwjl

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@Lowspeid I have empathy via the challenges my wife has teaching in a big tough school. On top of teaching kids with language issues she's taken on what's been a 1.5 time job for years just from the challenges to hire teachers.

To start keep in mind the importance of skills the whole world pays a living wage for. I'm not sure a guitar technician would be in that realm but maybe you have other income or vet benefits.

In the current economy you would have a fast and easy path to get into training and HR.

I've had private conversations with @getbent on my wife's challenges but for now she's doing okay and I encourage all teachers to have an attitude my wife's developed. She still attacks it every day so even if it's a few kids, they get some consistency, skills building and some tough love they might not get at home. She's gotten better about the confirmed incorrigibles so she can still make a difference where it's possible.

You say you have kids. Our twins are HS seniors and the oldest in college. I think the way our kids have seen consistency and the ways my wife and I attack rotten work has been an element in their success so keep stuff like that in mind too. I'm convinced it really helped us have kids who don't want a life that sucks and aided their being good decision makers. Now all of a sudden their k-12 years seems like a short time so have patience too.

Good luck!
 

Jazzcaster21

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Teaching is tough if you don't love what you do for whatever reason and it sounds like you have fallen out of love with it. So yeah, if you can make it happen, why not become a guitar tech? Spend your days doing something that brings joy and fulfillment rather than dread.
 

Killing Floor

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Good luck to you.
Can’t speak for guitar tech opportunities. Some more knowledgeable folks will know. But I do know that teachers make wonderful sales people. Have you considered? Bad kids notwithstanding, you have all the tools you need as a teacher; patience, communication skills, time management, deadline oriented. Some roles don’t require you to leave home, some do.
Good luck.
 

philosofriend

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I'm a happily retired teacher, and I feel your pain. I also miss working with young people, the majority of whom are full of hope and life. The minority can be insane to get along with, a big problem for teachers, policemen and other jobs that used to be great jobs with a strong sense of serving a grateful public.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Most folks trying to make a living repairing guitars would look at a teacher's pay, health insurance and retirement plan with envy.

You might want to join the Luthiers Forum and see the day to day problems that guitar techs have to wrestle with. Our society is full of ornery people (many of them your students) including guitar repair customers. Competition is stiff as it doesn't take much capital to fix guitars. Going from not having made a nut or refretted a guitar to making a living at repair would be quite a leap. But if not making any money trying out your dream is OK with your wife, you could give it a try. You would still have a teaching certificate ...
 

uriah1

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Sorry about your job. Perhaps sub somewhere and then seek Luthiership. At least you would feel good about bringing in income. Guitar customers are not the best clients either. Wish you well.
 

Telekarster

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Man.... I sympathize with you. First, thanks for serving and sorry about your disability. I wasn't the best student but I tried and made it work, as did most others in my school. Those that were disobedient and disorderly were NOT tolerated, not in school or out of it. Most washed out and were shunned by the community. Those were different times and the stories I hear about today, I can't even imagine what teachers have to put up with, but I take my hat off to em for having the wherewithal to carry on.

If you're good with your hands and know your way around a shop, there's a whole lot of things you could probably do. Outside of building guitars and repairing them, I also restore antique furniture as well as timepieces as hobbies. If your passion is guitar work then I say go for it, if you think you can make a go of it. There are all kinds of online sources out there so maybe it's not necessary to go to an actual school these days, to learn the trade. Plus you've got an entire forum out here full of experts too! Win win! ;) Anyway, just sayin' that you've got options if you're good with your hands and tools. Good luck man, and hope all the best for you!
 

johnny k

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Teaching is tough if you don't love what you do for whatever reason and it sounds like you have fallen out of love with it. So yeah, if you can make it happen, why not become a guitar tech? Spend your days doing something that brings joy and fulfillment rather than dread.
Teaching is tough? I remember 20 years ago the clowns in my class making the teacher have a nervous breakdown... Not long ago, there were 3 different teachers in 3 weeks because the kids were so awful.

Teaching is not a calling or vocation any more. Do you know why teachers are still willing to do their jobs here ? in 2 words.

July, august.

spoiler (holydays here.)
 

getbent

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I'm a PE Teacher that is BURNED OUT! Part of the burnout is the fact I'm a 90% disabled vet (Non-Combat), and I deal with some of the toughest/most damaged/disrespectful/defiant humans I've ever been around. Don't get me wrong, I love my students. But constantly having to carry all their baggage along with my own is a burden too heavy. I've worked in 3 states, all levels, and it's the same everywhere I've been. I'm just "done". My family (wife and 2 kids) are seriously thinking about moving, and my wife (and VA Psych) thinks I should be finished with teaching. I live in the PacNW, and even as a teacher with a Master's degree and 10 years experience (and VA disability) I can't afford to buy a house here. Also, I hate it here. I miss sunshine, warmth, and ocean breezes.

I'm seriously thinking about becoming a guitar tech. I started learning how to do set-up several years ago because every time I took my guitars for "set-ups" by "big name" techs in the Seattle or Portland area I always got them back worse than when I'd dropped them off. I do basic set-up work for my friends at church, but nothing like re-frets or new nuts. I'm very good with tools, know how to work quickly, understand "professionalism", and I'm very well organized. I don't want to build guitars, I just want to take a guitar and make it play, feel, and look the best it possibly can for a fair price in a reasonable amount of time. I want to to treat other's guitars like I treat my own; as a very special gift.

So, what do you think? Do I need to go to school for this? find an apprenticeship? (or just keep teaching until the wheels fall off)?

I think stop teaching as quickly as you can... and look into relocating to a place with warm ocean breezes (maybe the Alabama or Mississippi coast? both are beautiful and affordable.)

There is a very good Lutherie School in Arizona Roberto Venn I think it is called. But, I'd imagine you could hang out a shingle just doing setups to get started... and there are training camps that are short and intense so that you could travel to them for shorter periods.

Either way, you don't need the aggravation and there is no reason in the world to accept burn out... you owe it to YOU to get out. Good luck on your search, I've known many guys who did guitar and amp tech work that were self taught and very good. it is possible. Worst case get a job at a guitar store in your area and start there... do some guitar flipping (buy broken, fix up, sell) and build your word of mouth business that way.

Good on you for demanding more. DON'T settle!
 

bgmacaw

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As with most music industry service jobs, a "fair market price" for guitar repair is about the same as it was in 1980. Getting more than that without being a brand name guy or building an online influencer rep is going to be challenging. And, yes, guitar players are also often disrespectful/defiant and maybe sometimes damaged.

It might work to get into it as a hobby or side business. I've kind of done that myself, both with guitars and furniture restoration/sales. But I'm a lot closer to retirement age and I have a day job that I mostly enjoy and it pays rather well. I might do it more full time once I retire but that would be to supplement retirement investments, not as a main source of income.

You might consider looking at alternative careers in things like corporate training, project management and such. That would give you some income while you built up a side business.
 

oldunc

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I can but wish you luck, it'll be tough making a living at it, but that's pretty true for anything that's actually worth spending your time doing, while opportunities in the making rich people richer category are legion. One drawback is that it will limit you geographically to locations with large populations of solvent guitar players. I suppose that guitar manufacturers hire people to do setups for them, which would certainly be a more dependable income source, but no idea what would go into landing one of those jobs, and they doubtless get pretty repetitive.
 
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tap4154

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Sorry about your job. Perhaps sub somewhere and then seek Luthiership. At least you would feel good about bringing in income. Guitar customers are not the best clients either. Wish you well.

When you do good work, guitar customers are very good, and you get a lot of job satisfaction. The guy I've been using does beautiful work, and he only gets compliments. I've been self-employed over 35 years doing trades work, and I'm semi-retired now, and I still enjoy doing a good job and having a very happy customer at the end. It's nice having control of something from the beginning to the end, and having it turn out well. You answer to no one but the customer. No incompetent middle managers or crazy parents to deal with, and no crazy agendas interfering in your work. You just do a good job, and that's all you have to do.
 

regularslinky

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I worked in social services with intellectually disabled people, then with troubled teens, for a couple of decades. A wise mentor told me that almost everybody in that kind of work eventually burns out. Some leave, others stay and become bitter and ineffective. I knew many people in the second category. I chose the first. You won't regret your decision.

It will be a struggle to start a guitar repair business, as it is for any business. But if you have the means, the skills, the market and the patience, it seems like a great gig. Good luck!
 




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