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Transition from Teaching to Tech

5 tips for a job in software and technology


Software companies are investing heavily in teams focused on teaching their customers about products and features. Teachers who come from public and higher education, as well as Learning & Development professionals, are positioned to take advantage of this trend in Customer Education. But often, teachers have specific skills gaps or don't know how to find Customer Education roles that are a good fit. This article will outline a few tips to help teachers make this transition.


Even though Customer Education is rapidly expanding, it remains difficult to find people with backgrounds in Instructional Design. People with teaching degrees understand the fundamentals of curriculum design, learning development, adult learning theory, and they often have experience with common course design software. When Covid-19 forced most public education teachers to deliver training online, teaching professionals developed many complimentary skills needed by software companies, who also train customers remotely.


If you are a public or higher education teacher and want to work in Customer Education, we have put together a few tips that will help you stand out when applying to software companies. Here's the list:


  1. Understand what Customer Education is

  2. Learn the roles

  3. Strengthen your resume

  4. Compile your portfolio

  5. Join a community


1. Become Familiar with Customer Education practices

Adam Avremescu wrote the book (literally) about Customer Education. We recommend this as a good starting point for understanding the practices and terminology used for this type of role. You can find the book here: Customer Education: Why Smart Companies Profit by Making Customers Smarter. This book not only gives you an overview of what Customer Education is, but dives into why it’s valuable to a company, and how they can leverage it to drive success.


You can also check out the CELab Podcast with Adam and co-host Dave Derington. Here are some of our favorite foundational episodes:



2. Learn the roles

Transitioning into a new career is at least 50% about understanding the terminology & how companies are structured and operate. We put together a Customer Education job roles and descriptions resource to help you understand the basic requirements and desired skills for each primary position in Customer Education. This resource also gives you a sense for what roles match your skill-set.


If you are interested in learning about salaries, companies, and roles, we recommend searching for Customer Education roles on Glassdoor.com or Salary.com.


There is also a fantastic job board associated with the customer education Slack community. You can view jobs and reach out to hiring managers for more details. It's a great way to skip the dreaded resume black hole so common to people switching careers.



3. Strengthen your resume

One way to stand out amongst other Instructional Designers is to improve your resume with some added certificates or training. Software companies are often small and want to hire people who bring a diverse background of skills, hoping they can handle multiple roles. By adding some high value skills, your hiring manager might take a second look in a crowded field of candidates.


Here are a few recommended skills to consider:


  • Take Linkedin Learning’s Become an Instructional Designer certificate course. If you don’t have design experience, this is the best place to start. Linkedin Learning is $24.99/mo after a free trial, and will be instrumental in earning badges and certificates, as well as making you visible to recruiters, and hiring managers.

  • Learn the basics of Adobe Captivate, and Articulate Storyline for course design in some of the industries most popular course development software.

  • Complete the Salesforce Admin Credential Exam. Salesforce is the most common Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software in tech, and having this credential will make you stand out.

  • Learn the basics of SQL. Structured Query Language is a basic language to communicate with databases. While this may not be a required skill, being comfortable running reports on data will put you ahead of other applicants.

  • Brush up on your Video Editing Fundamentals. Video production is one of the core types of content requested by software companies. It helps to have a firm understanding of this process so you can speak to it in interviews but also so you can deliver videos fast & efficiently.


Pro tip: research the companies you want to apply to and find out what tools and programs they use. Explore Linkedin, company websites, and social platforms to see what current employees list as skills, accomplishments, etc. Follow their lead.



4. Compile your portfolio

Ensure your Linkedin is up to date. This is the number one resource managers will use to learn about you. Add skills to your profile, let recruiters know you’re open for work, and sign up for Linkedin Learning.


Many companies will want to see a portfolio of your work. Instead of spending money on an expensive website, try building a free profile on Pory.io to showcase your work. If you don't have any public-facing content, pick a topic you’re passionate about and create some short how-to courses on that subject.



5. Join a community, and engage with professionals

Find communities on Slack, like CustomerEd.Org where professionals post questions, talk about best practices, and even share new job openings.


Explore subreddits like r/instructionaldesign and r/elearning, and see what's trending on a daily basis.


Search on social media for #CustomerEducation or #instructionaldesign, and start digesting, and engaging in conversation.


If you follow the above steps and properly prepare yourself to transition into Customer Education you’ll save yourself a lot of time, money and energy. Be generous and give yourself as much time as you need to go through this process. Once you do, you will be rewarded with a career that's more aligned with your skills, passions and one that fills you with more purpose.