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Teacher Appreciation Week: University of Phoenix College of Education Survey Finds One in Three Teachers are Career Changers

By University of Phoenix

PHOENIX, May 2, 2017 — Despite critical teacher shortages across the nation,¹ 93 percent of K-12 teachers are satisfied with their career choice, and two in three (66 percent) would recommend the teaching profession to others, according to a recent University of Phoenix® College of Education survey.² In fact, 77 percent of teachers who joined the profession within the last ten years would recommend it.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, University of Phoenix surveyed more than 1,000 K-12 teachers across the nation about a variety of education-related topics. Topics include the effects of the nationwide teacher shortage at the school and district level, the difference career changers are making in the classroom, how teachers feel about the profession and why they would recommend the profession to others.

“As we continue to face the reality of the teacher shortage in our classrooms, it is critical that we examine the reasons for the shortage and ensure we all are doing what we can to empower our educators for success in their profession,” said Pamela Roggeman, Ed.D., academic dean for University of Phoenix College of Education. “Attracting high-quality, passionate candidates with diverse skillsets and then providing resources and support for them within our schools is vital to the success of our students and future workforce.”

The Teacher Shortage Impact

More than two in five (41 percent) K-12 teachers say there is at least one unfilled teaching position in their school, with an average of 2.8 unfilled positions. Effects of the shortage include larger class sizes (39 percent), high turnover rates (32 percent) and more teaching toward the middle (23 percent).

Career Changers in the Classroom

Thirty-four percent of K-12 teachers in the classroom are career changers, with 36 percent coming from the business and management field. Top reasons for changing careers to become a teacher include always wanting to teach (36 percent), wanting a change of pace (31 percent) and more flexible schedules (23 percent).

“In my experience, those who change careers to enter teaching are seeking a profession with purpose and have an intrinsic desire to fulfill a need in their communities. A great way to accomplish this is through teaching,” said Dr. Roggeman. “Career changers bring rich knowledge and strong skillsets from their previous roles that often enhance the student learning experience.”

Other educators agree, with nearly two in three K-12 teachers (64 percent) saying “real world” applications are one of the key benefits of having career changers in the classroom. Additional benefits include fresh ideas (48 percent), more teacher diversity (46 percent) and unique teaching styles and perspectives on the material taught (42 percent). Eighty-five percent who have been teaching for more than 20 years see the benefits to having career changers in the classroom.

Teacher Satisfaction and Why K-12 Teachers Recommend the Profession

Seven in ten (70 percent) K-12 teachers say the ability to make a difference in children’s lives is an important reason to join the teaching profession. Favorite things about the profession include seeing students grow (68 percent) and the day-to-day variety that exists in the profession (36 percent).

Teachers also note they have more opportunities to assume leadership roles than in the past. Just under half (47 percent) of those who have worked five years or more in the profession say they have gotten more opportunities to assume leadership roles in the past five years, and of those who have, more than half (56 percent) serve on special committees. Additional opportunities for leadership include mentoring (45 percent) and running special after-school programs (34 percent).

“Every child deserves an amazing teacher, and it is our responsibility to empower our current and aspiring educators to be successful in a classroom setting,” said Dr. Roggeman. “The ability to profoundly impact the lives of students and prepare our current and future generations for success is one of the most noble pathways anyone can choose, and I would encourage all who feel a calling to the profession to get involved in the classroom to see if teaching is the right fit for them.”

There are many pathways to the classroom. For those interested in becoming a teacher, Dr. Roggeman recommends the following tips to be successful:

  • Educator preparation programs. Finding a preparation program that helps aspiring educators grow and refine their craft is key for long-term success in a classroom setting.
  • Choose a school that is willing to invest in you. Forty-one percent of K-12 teachers cite strong new teacher induction programs as important to bringing new teachers to the profession. Induction programs help first- and second-year teachers build their skillsets in areas critical to long-term success, including classroom management, lesson planning, instruction and assessment.
  • Seek a mentor. Identify a personal and professional support system, such as an experienced colleague, or support from a professional organization.

For important information about the educational debt, earnings and completion rates of students who attended this program, visit

For more information about teacher preparation programs, continuing teacher education and professional development programs at University of Phoenix, visit

About University of Phoenix® College of Education

University of Phoenix College of Education has been educating teachers and school administrators for more than 30 years. The College of Education provides bachelor’s and master’s degree programs for individuals who want to become teachers or current educators and administrators seeking advanced degrees to strengthen their professional knowledge. With education programs available throughout most of the U.S., the College of Education has a distinct grasp of the national education picture and priorities for teacher preparation. Faculty members bring on average more than 17 years of professional experience to the classroom. For more information, visit

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help working adults move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. As a subsidiary of Apollo Education Group, Inc., University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit


² This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix between March 29 and April 3, 2017. Respondents included 1,005 U.S. residents employed full-time as teachers in grades K-12 who have at least an undergraduate degree. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Amanda Barchilon at