Screen Your Hearing By Telephone. Free for AARP Members for a limited time. Learn More

Great Jobs for Retired Teachers

Personal training, tutoring provide rewards for those who love to help others learn and grow

After the last school bell rings, retired teachers have a leg up. Opportunities cut a broad swath from tutoring to substitute teaching to jobs a little further afield, such as fitness training.

Teachers have a combination of tools in their kit that many retirees don't — solid degree credentials, expertise in a specific field and a passion for helping people learn something new.

That triple threat proved to be the ticket for Dave Kergaard, a former high school physical education and health teacher. When Kergaard, now 64, retired from his position as assistant superintendent of Kent County Public Schools on Maryland's Eastern Shore, he knew just what he wanted to do: set-up a shingle as a personal fitness coach. "I've always worked out and been involved in sports," he explains.

Dave Kergaard personal trainer

Retired teacher, Dave Kergaard, finds enjoyment working as a personal trainer after retirement. — Charlie Archambault

As a young man, his football and wrestling prowess earned him scholarships to college. And after graduating, he parlayed his bachelor's degree in physical education and a master's degree in psychology into a 30-year career in education. He kicked off a rewarding career by teaching physical education and health in public high schools and coaching high school sport squads in football, soccer, track and basketball before segueing into administrative roles.

Kergaard has had both hips replaced, but this hasn't stopped him. Today, he usually clocks in 12 hours a week as a personal trainer at Club Fitness in Rehoboth Beach, Del., near where he and his wife moved in retirement. Trainers there can pull in anywhere from $30 to $60 an hour. The work runs the gamut from nutrition counseling to designing workout regimes with weights, bikes, balls and resistance bands.

He has embraced his newfound career — helping a wide range of clients, including a 90-year-old woman who ditched her walker after gaining back her strength via the exercise regime he custom-designed for her. Kergaard also works with high school athletes and  the 55-plus crowd alike.  "Some days I use my psychology degree more than my [physical education] one," Kergaard says with a laugh.

Beyond the moderate physical demands, the real challenge for a trainer is giving undivided attention to a student, er, a trainee.

"Many people won't push as hard unless you are there with them 100 percent," Kergaard says. "I love seeing the looks on their faces when they see the change in themselves that comes from what they're learning about fitness and health. You feel their energy and see the smiles — like the ones the kids had as they came down the hallways."

Sure sounds like a day in the life of a teacher.

Here are five great jobs for retired teachers to consider. Pay ranges, which will vary based on factors such as experience and geography, are primarily derived from the U.S. Department of Labor data.

1. Physical conditioner/personal trainer

The nitty-gritty: Fit as a fiddle means something in this world. Expect sweat. You'll be demonstrating exercise techniques, bending to set machines and lifting balls and weights. Prepare for some tough love. Honesty rules when helping clients gauge their physical fitness level and set reasonable goals. Creativity comes into play, too. Generally, you have free rein to design course plans for your clients' individual workout routines. And it's not all mats and machines. You need grounding in nutrition and diet issues, which go hand-in-hand with a fit physique. Most trainers work at health and fitness club facilities. But if you've got an entrepreneurial bent, one-on-one training at clients' homes is popular. Senior living communities, wellness centers, civic associations, and even large nonprofits like the Arthritis Foundation are often on the lookout for individual or small group trainers.
The hours: Flexible. Mornings, evenings, weekends, you name it. You book your own sessions.
Median pay range: The median scale is $17 to $30 an hour. But in larger cities, rates can roll up to $60 to $100 or more. Most health clubs collect the cost for the session from their member and dole out a percentage to you.
Qualifications: Certification is not required by law, but most fitness clubs insist. There are several national groups that offer some type of credential. These include the American Council on Exercise, the International Sports Sciences Association and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. For credentials, you must be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and pass an exam that consists of both a written and practical demonstration. These exams aren't for slouchers. You'll need to be up to speed on human physiology, understand correct exercise techniques, how to assess a client's fitness level and know the ins and outs of proper exercise programs. The groups sell study materials, including books and CD-ROMs, and offer exam preparation workshops. Renewal every two years via continuing education classes is standard. If you're an education junkie, you might step it up by enrolling in an adult education program at a community or local college to obtain a fitness training degree. In general, advanced certification will require an associate's or bachelor's degree in an exercise-related subject such as physical education or kinesiology. And like many people-oriented jobs, a peppy personality and a physique that shows you practice what you preach will attract and retain clients. Gym rats need apply.

2. Tutoring test prep and more

The nitty-gritty: For those of you who always wished you had more time to give personal attention to individual students, accepting tutoring assignments is a dream that comes true. The most common method is by setting up test prep review sessions at the student's home or a local library. Public and private schools often pass along tutor referrals to parents, so let the guidance counselors at schools know you're available and your credentials. You can also post on community bulletin boards, or even create your own website to market your business. You might opt for online test prep tutoring jobs, arranged through a tutoring website such as, Kaplan and, for instance, is set up so you work with the student inside a secure online classroom. You teach by instant messaging, drawing problems on an interactive whiteboard, and sending essays and papers back and forth via email attachments. While test prep is popular, there's a perennial need for private tutoring in a range of subjects to boost student grades and help adult learners. The subjects in demand are the core curriculum: world history, physics, science, math and English. Foreign language specialties also offer opportunities.
The hours: Online sessions may be as short as 25 minutes, but most in-person tutoring sessions range from an hour after school to three hours on weekends. Scheduling at least four hours a week during peak test prep times should be a snap. Fall and spring are the prime times for college-bound kids to take the SAT and ACT aptitude tests. Prep for a range of other standardized tests such as the GDE, GRE, LSAT and others are in demand year-round.
Median pay range: $10.27 to $24.21, but landing rates as high as $65 an hour isn't unusual.
Qualifications: A background in education and working with students in a classroom is generally a prerequisite. Some special areas to consider: A Wilson Language-certified trainer, who has mastered the Wilson Reading System, a program that specializes in teaching reading to children with dyslexia, is becoming a marketable tool for reading tutors. As more school districts and adult education centers across the country have added the reading and spelling technique to its classrooms, those who have the credential are sought after as private tutors to boost reading and language skills for students of all ages, especially during the summer months. You can add the certification through a rigorous program that combines online instruction, plus observation and feedback from a Wilson trainer. At, high-level math and science expertise is your best calling card. You'll need to take an online exam in the subject you apply to tutor, followed by a mock session with one of the firm's online tutors. If you sail through, there's a third-party background check and a final exam. As the saying goes, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."

3. Adjunct professor

The nitty-gritty: Still have a hankering for a classroom? Community colleges in your area can send you back to the front of the class with a short-term commitment. You'll have an opportunity to teach recent high school grads to career transitioning adults adding new skills or updating old ones. Part-time faculty comes in under various monikers — adjunct professor, instructor, lecturer and visiting professor. Technical schools also may have openings. Most community colleges have online applications. Stop by the registrar's office or go online to obtain a  copy of current course listings from the place you'd like to teach. Do some sleuthing to discover what courses are missing in your field of expertise. If you're tech savvy and at ease teaching a class via a computer Web cam, a growing number of community colleges now offer online courses for their students. To learn more about community colleges, go to American Association of Community Colleges website.
The hours: These vary widely depending on the number of courses you teach. Summer courses are common. Night and weekend classes are standard. Figure on one hour to two hours of classroom time per week for each course, plus your lesson preparation and grading time.
Median full-time pay range: An average of $1,000 to $1,800 per class taught. The pay can pop up to $5,000, however, depending on your degree level, teaching experience, the department and number of credits the course offers.
Qualifications: A master's degree within your discipline is usually preferred, but depending on your experience and the course you're applying to teach, it's possible to land a post with a bachelor's degree. You'll need to provide teaching references and probably perform a tryout session to demonstrate your teaching skills. Generally speaking, technical schools hire with only a bachelor's degree. As with most part-time teaching gigs, expertise, passion for the subject and experience trumps all else. The professor is in.

4. Substitute teacher

The nitty-gritty: Stepping out of full-time teaching, but keeping a toe dipped in has long been a way for retired teachers to stay engaged and supplement income. It can take on a fairly regular schedule, but it's your prerogative to just say no when the request comes in. The life of a sub can have its challenges. Picking up a course midstream takes some fancy footwork, memorizing two dozen students' names in a blink of an eye can be daunting and quickly gaining the respect of students trying to test you takes some special mojo. Some teachers will leave a prepared class plan. But if you are filling in at the last minute, you may be in improv mode to keep the class on track. Depending on your background, you may be tapped to teach a range of subjects in grade levels from kindergarten through 12. If you have a proclivity for special needs kids, you may find your services in demand. Never forget that flexibility is your calling card. School districts typically keep an active roster of substitutes on call who are willing to drop everything and step into a classroom with little advance notice.
The hours: Flexible half-days to several week stints for the entire school day.
Median pay range: Each school district sets its own pay scale for substitute teachers. Currently, the pay rate for substitutes is $20 to $190 per full day. The national average for a substitute teacher is about $105 per full day, according to the National Substitute Teachers Alliance. Generally, the pay will match the length of the assignment and the area's cost of living. Some subs may get benefits.
Qualifications: Most substitute teaching jobs require a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. The National Education Association's State-By-State Summary provides the minimum requirements. Your state's education department has the details. Learn about the full requirements for substitute teachers in each state here. You should expect a background check. Baby sitters need not apply.

5. Market and survey researchers

The nitty-gritty: Combining research and people skills makes these jobs appealing to those who have mastered academic life. In general, if you're a newcomer, you're often on the front lines conducting surveys of customers — either on the phone, online, through questionnaires via mail or door-to-door. You might even find yourself working a shopping mall booth to help get the "man on the street" snapshot of consumer preferences. Typically, you'll be asked to write a detailed report and provide analysis of your findings. In some instances, you're sizing up potential sales of a product or service. Other times it's pulling together statistical data on competitors, prices and more. The list of potential employers runs the gamut from consumer products firms to university research centers to financial services organizations, government agencies, health care institutions and advertising firms. You'll need to be a stickler for details since this kind of work tends to rely on precise data reviews. For information about careers and salaries in market and survey research, contact the Council of American Survey Research Organizations and the Marketing Research Association.

The hours: Flexible, project-based, full time for short assignments.

Median pay range: $17.01 to $53.80 hourly

Qualifications: A bachelor's degree is the baseline. A background in liberal arts and social science courses — including economics, psychology and sociology — is helpful. A master's or doctorate degree may be required, especially for more analytical positions. Quantitative skills are important for some survey research positions, so courses in mathematics, statistics, sampling theory and survey design, and computer science are helpful. An advanced degree in business administration, marketing, statistics and communications may give you an edge. Having some training in survey research methodology can help you get a foot in the door. Curiosity doesn't kill the cat — it gets him work.

Kerry Hannon is the author of What's Next? Follow Your Passion and Find Your Dream Job.

Member Discounts! Discover great deals and saving through AARP membership

Join the Discussion

0 | Add Yours

Please leave your comment below.

You must be logged in to leave a comment.

AARP Membership

Discounts & Benefits

    Next Article

    Read This