Want to leave teaching, but now sure where to start? Guest blogger and freelance writer Melissa Gerke talks us through how she left teaching and moved into a freelance writing career without looking back. Take it away Melissa.

‘Mass Exodus’, ‘Teacher Shortage’ and ‘Teaching Crisis’ are all headlines we’ve heard before. Why would a teacher leave a profession with such wonderful hours and three months of paid holidays?

According to a 2018 OECD survey,  60% of Australian teachers feeling ‘quite a bit’ or ‘a lot’ of stress in their jobs. Then last year, COVID-19  led to an increase in parent-teacher engagement over remote learning, with not every engagement being positive. The lack of school carnivals, assemblies, excursions and camps just added to the long slog.

It’s no wonder so many are thinking of leaving.

If you’re reading this, chances are you are among lost considering a career change. But you’re not quite sure how to make the leap.

How I made the transition from teaching to freelance writing

After teaching for 17 years, I was ready for a change. To put it simply, I wasn’t enjoying the profession as much as I used to. Teaching is one of those careers that you really need to love to do it well. Everyone has an opinion on a teacher they loved and one they hated. Chances are the one they hated, was one that hated their job but was too scared to leave.

So, I made my mind up to look at other alternatives.

My checklist

Whatever I chose had to meet my following requirements:

  • The pay would eventually be as much, or more than, teaching
  • No extended years of study
  • Not much daily travel time
  • No big cash outlay
  • Used me brain power
  • Enjoyable

At first, I looked at moving sideways into something related to education, such as a school counselor. But that meant years of study and the pay was less.

Then I thought of writing. I started a course through the Australian Writer’s Centre on freelance writing, which I loved. Next, I did its copywriting course  and Master Class program, all while teaching science and maths.

Other than the fact I developed a severe case of imposter syndrome whenever an English teacher walked by, I was enjoying taking concrete steps in the right direction.

How to leave teaching and successfully transition to a new career

This is what worked for me. We’re all different so you may form another plan of attack.

  • Complete any study while teaching. It’s hard, but you can fit it in.
  • Use long-service leave at half pay
  • Give yourself a year, you can always fall back on casual work
  • If your school allows it, ask for more long-service leave
  • Have a goal and a plan. Casual is a great, well-paying safety net.
  • Don’t consider your transition as a ‘side hustle’. It’s your profession.

You need to surround yourself with positive like-minded people. If you go freelance and start your own business, you might find that no one will congratulate you.

Here’s where you’ll find the right people with the right attitude.

  • Freelance Jungle Facebook group
  • Your local business chamber of commerce
  • People who work in, or with, your industry
  • Other local networking groups

Yes, school holidays, superannuation and sick leave are nice, but so is loving what you do. Have a plan and the conviction to see it through, and you will.

You can make the change.

“If you believe it’ll work out, you’ll see opportunities. If you don’t believe it’ll work out, you’ll see obstacles.” – Wayne Dyer

Looking to leave teaching or some other profession? Meet the community that can help you make the leap now.

Melissa Gerke is a freelance article and SEO Copywriter based in Sydney. She has a background in education and a biological science degree. When not writing wonderful words of wisdom, you can find her out on a SUP or playing in the great outdoors. Melissa’s website is https://melissagerke.com


The Freelance Jungle has a Facebook community, virtual catch-ups for stress reduction and networking, and a commitment to education via podcasts, blogs, and online learning.



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