Burned Out Teacher Looking to Switch Careers

24 track

Telefied
Ad Free Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2014
Posts
20,045
Location
kamloops bc
Firstly i see you need to find your center and persue it ( wisest words from my mother) , what do you want to do?
I have had some really soul sucking jobs and at the same time followed my aspirations as a back up with some success. As i was able to pay the bills and do what i was, and still, passionate about.
but be ware almost all employment will have some dispicable and mentally trying days ,fraught with stupid and bad descisions.
I say go for it if it is your time to do so.
 

Greggorios

Poster Extraordinaire
Gold Supporter
Joined
Jun 18, 2016
Posts
6,316
Location
NY
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.
+1, I think this is solid, good, advice. There's an old saying, "You know way more than you realize." Whether it be sales or another line of work I'd investigate how the specific skills you've developed from your time teaching, your time in the service and any other work, pastimes, hobbies, etc. you've done in your life can be applied outside of teaching. Most folks don't realize how many of their accumulated skills can be used in other lines of work. I believe this is even more true today than ever. Don't despair, just put one foot in front of the other and try to stay positive. I'm not sure if you're physically able to but physical therapy might be an avenue to explore with your athletics background. Training folks in any number of fields might be another. Outside of the box thinking is key to opening yourself up to the possibilities. Good luck man, wishing you all the best.
 

THX1123

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Aug 24, 2006
Posts
1,031
Location
Gibsonville
I think you only go around once. It is better to fail than to never try.

But "going for it" also means you better be prepared to fail. Speaking from experience, I've made ambitious and risky life choices (many music related) and lived in lots of awesome places, many of both that turned out to be not so awesome (Handy tip: It's great living on a Caribbean island with pristine beaches until you realize toilet paper is $20 a 4pk, 4 AA batteries are $20, and the power and internet are out again and there's nothing you can do but wait and sweat, and no tomatoes or the car part you needed came on the boat this week).

I've objectively failed most of the time, but the upside is that I regret very little of it. I actually did those things that I wanted to do. The downside is that I have no wife & family, no huge retirement savings, and have never put-down roots, but that's the result of the choices I have made.

Many of my oldest friends are nearing retirement. The best years of their lives are now gone. They live in the same places and have been doing the same jobs for 30+ years. I have problems relating to them now. All of them have major regrets, and I can't talk to them honestly, or about myself because I can tell they don't want to hear about what I've seen and done.

My Mom told me once that even if you move you bring your problems with you. Perhaps it's a good idea to identify those before you leap.
 

Lowspeid

Tele-Meister
Joined
Feb 4, 2021
Posts
320
Age
44
Location
Pac NW
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!
Thank you. I really appreciate that.
 

getbent

Telefied
Gold Supporter
Joined
Mar 2, 2006
Posts
48,075
Location
San Benito County, California
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.)
I"m going to patently disagree with you. Teaching is and will always be a calling and a profession. I have several family members who are teachers in VERY difficult situations who love it and are thriving.

I work with teachers every day. True, some are struggling, but many are doing great and love their work and are successful and their students are succeeding.

I think your comments are woefully misinformed and cynical. Teaching is not for everyone, like anything else, and the times are very challenging, but, I get to see great teachers every single day and I get to see people succeed every single day and most of them are looking forward to July and August when they are taking student groups to Europe, taking classes and prepping for the fall.

There are teachers who thrive, we don't hear about them because they aren't suffering.
 

KokoTele

Doctor of Teleocity
Vendor Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2003
Posts
14,803
Age
47
Location
albany, ny [not chicago]
Boy, do I feel this one. I stepped into teaching (English) as a second career at age 31. There are *way* more English teachers here than there are jobs, so I bounced around filling in for teacher leaves, long term subs, that kind of thing for 5 years until the recession hit and suddenly jobs were being cut. It didn't take long for me to figure out that I wasn't returning to teaching and I hung out my shingle as a guitar repairman while I figured out what to do, but I was a bit burnt out at that point. Mostly it was due to parent and administration politics, but I'd been averaging almost 80 hours a week during the school year. Ultimately, I found another job in education. I'm about to leave that job to pursue guitar repair full time.

Here's some of what I have learned:

  • It's tough to build a client base.
  • If you have to go to school to learn this trade, you’ve got an uphill climb. If you work in someone else’s shop or for a music store or something, the pay is not great. The high end seems to be about $20/hr, but will vary by location. (That’s about $40k/year.)
  • Going to school doesn't increase your business prospects. It may make you more hirable, but there's no accredited luthiery program, so there's no real standard of what you need to learn.
  • Your gross revenue is not your income. Plan on losing about 40% of your gross in taxes, expenses, etc.
  • You probably can't make a living if you're competing on price. I started at $20/hr 12 years ago. Now I charge $100. It took a long time to get to the point where I could start charging real money and think about making a living. Even at that price, I’m still backlogged.
  • You can only ethically bill for about 2/3 of the time that you work. You’re going to spend more time than you think talking to customers, sourcing parts, finding something that you should have done better the first time, etc.
  • Repairing guitars is something that takes a *lot* of practice to do really well.
  • Renting space is probably more expensive than you think. Utilities for commercial properties are much more expensive than they are for residential. If you can reasonably set up space to work in your home, it probably makes the most financial sense.
  • If you're not busy, it's worthwhile to spend the time to build/modify tools to save money. Either way, you need good tools.
  • If you're busy, it's worthwhile to invest in good tools that help get the work done faster.
  • Repairing guitars is something that takes a *lot* of practice to do really well.
  • Hobbyists almost always want whatever they read about on the internet, whether or not it's true or fits what they want out of an instrument. I try not to argue customers, but when they ask if they’ll be happy with the thing they want, I give my honest opinion. Everyone knows they shouldn’t believe everything they read on the internet, but they don’t always believe that it applies to them.
  • Musicians in general are fickle people, and are more likely to look elsewhere than complain if something isn't right. I have a lot of customers that come and go. I try not to take it personally.
 

johnny k

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Jan 15, 2011
Posts
9,693
Location
France
I"m going to patently disagree with you. Teaching is and will always be a calling and a profession. I have several family members who are teachers in VERY difficult situations who love it and are thriving.

I work with teachers every day. True, some are struggling, but many are doing great and love their work and are successful and their students are succeeding.

I think your comments are woefully misinformed and cynical. Teaching is not for everyone, like anything else, and the times are very challenging, but, I get to see great teachers every single day and I get to see people succeed every single day and most of them are looking forward to July and August when they are taking student groups to Europe, taking classes and prepping for the fall.

There are teachers who thrive, we don't hear about them because they aren't suffering.

I have got to agree with that.
 

bottlenecker

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Dec 6, 2015
Posts
6,006
Location
Wisconsin
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 know a lot of luthiers and former luthier school students. By all acounts it takes a long time to get good, and the pay is bad until then, and sometimes even then. Some luthiers do make a living building, and some luthiers make a living doing only repair, but I don't personally know anyone making a living just doing setup work.
 

Midgetje94

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Jun 22, 2021
Posts
2,337
Age
29
Location
Texas
Thank you for your service! As a veteran myself. Part of that mystic E4 mafia. We were the guys Chiefs turned to to get results. I was Navy. We had a undesignated seaman (new recruit with no assigned rate) he had a horrible attitude. He pissed me off one day. So I took him outside, and pointed to a tree. “See that tree? It’s whole purpose in life is to give you oxygen. I want you to go hug it and apologize for wasting it’s time”

Kid thought I was joking. We stood outside for 15mins until he did. Hugged it and all. surprisingly no further issues after that. Chief got a kick out of that.

But hats off to you man. I couldn’t handle that many ****heads.
 

Killing Floor

Poster Extraordinaire
Silver Supporter
Joined
Feb 3, 2021
Posts
9,060
Location
Austin, TX
+1, I think this is solid, good, advice. There's an old saying, "You know way more than you realize." Whether it be sales or another line of work I'd investigate how the specific skills you've developed from your time teaching, your time in the service and any other work, pastimes, hobbies, etc. you've done in your life can be applied outside of teaching. Most folks don't realize how many of their accumulated skills can be used in other lines of work. I believe this is even more true today than ever. Don't despair, just put one foot in front of the other and try to stay positive. I'm not sure if you're physically able to but physical therapy might be an avenue to explore with your athletics background. Training folks in any number of fields might be another. Outside of the box thinking is key to opening yourself up to the possibilities. Good luck man, wishing you all the best.
My wife has worked in health research for V.A., state government, etc. and actually earned a PhD, defended a week ago in her 50s. She sometimes ribs me about sales. I just ask her "how did you get funding for your project?" She'll go round the moon to tell me the process and eventually she'll realize she "sold it" to the decision makers. Selling doesn't mean high pressure, just understanding the need that someone is asking your help to solve. It's more about listening and responsiveness and asking questions to expose an opportunity.
 

JL_LI

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
May 20, 2017
Posts
8,851
Age
72
Location
Long Island, NY
@Lowspeid , I looked at your profile. You’re 43. How long until your maximum pension benefit is secured? Don’t leave a year before the payout. Do you have family someplace warm? Can you establish residency? You have a MA. You must test well. You have time to find a civil service job and qualify for a second pension. You’d be surprised what you can find in the public sector that pays reasonably well and requires only a nonspecific college degree.

In spite of that, your best long term advantage is to stay put. Can you move to a different school? Have you thought of an administrator certification. You may be able to find a position with less day to day interaction with the terminally unmotivated.

Last but not least, are you sure about someplace warm? California and Hawaii are very expensive. The Gulf Coast is cheap for a reason. Nevada or Arizona? More questions but maybe livable for you any your family. Texas has all the extremes of weather and other extremes as well.

Good luck. I don’t envy you. There were many times I thought of walking away from my employer and career. I’m comfortably retired now at 72 and very glad I didn’t.
 
Last edited:

drf64

Doctor of Teleocity
Silver Supporter
Joined
Jul 24, 2009
Posts
11,045
Age
58
Location
Ada, MI
I'm sleep deprived. I read the title as "burned our teacher with switch cleaners." I was thinking maybe somebody lit a can of contact cleaner on fire! but I know what being burned out in a career feels like and I hope you find a satisfying solution.
 

Greggorios

Poster Extraordinaire
Gold Supporter
Joined
Jun 18, 2016
Posts
6,316
Location
NY
My wife has worked in health research for V.A., state government, etc. and actually earned a PhD, defended a week ago in her 50s. She sometimes ribs me about sales. I just ask her "how did you get funding for your project?" She'll go round the moon to tell me the process and eventually she'll realize she "sold it" to the decision makers. Selling doesn't mean high pressure, just understanding the need that someone is asking your help to solve. It's more about listening and responsiveness and asking questions to expose an opportunity.
In complete agreement. Too many people automatically see used cars or Willie Loeman when they think of sales. My own experience is that a key element of sales is developing, nurturing and maintaining relationships which is also something teachers do every day.:)
 

OmegaWoods

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Nov 10, 2020
Posts
1,543
Age
54
Location
East TN, USA

CCK1

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Jan 23, 2018
Posts
1,351
Location
North Of Atlanta, South of Disorder
Consider a career in IT. I just retired from a 35 year career in Information Technology. My actual degree is in Electrical Engineering, but around 1986, the company I worked for evolved to little need for an EE, but PC's were just becoming common in the workplace. In IT, often, degrees are not nearly as important as certifications. I got my certification as a Microsoft Certified System Engineer, and a Cisco Certified Network Professional, along with a few others. Really portable skills/certifications, and for the most part, the job can be done from anywhere with an internet connection.
 




Top