In today’s episode, Carole Dorn-Bell hosts Michael Demana, who made a career change later in life to begin teaching. Demana provides tips for anybody who is considering making the switch to education.

“Our generation is really the first to experience the impact of that,” Demana says, speaking about how people are more likely to switch jobs and careers throughout their lives. “I know a lot of friends who have had to make midlife career changes.”

After a few other jobs out of college, Demana began working for an airline, which he believed would give him the time and energy to follow his dream of writing fiction. While he didn’t necessarily write as much as he planned, he was happy with his job and the travel it afforded him—until his airline merged with another airline.

At the time of the merger, he decided to try out another career path he had considered much earlier in life: teaching. Demana spent four years while working at the airline taking classes online and at night, then retired from the airline and became a middle school teacher.

“Middle school is the perfect age to teach because their minds are capable of critical thinking, yet they still love school and they still love learning,” Demana says. “I have college-level discussions in my classroom all the time.”

It’s the age you can really make a big impact, Demana explains.

On barriers and hurdles in making the career change to education, Demana was surprised and relieved how smooth the process was for him. He does suggest that people considering making the career switch will need to be incredibly motivated to get the job they want since the market for teachers is so competitive.

“I was actually on application number 72 when my phone rang with my first job offer,” Demana says. “You have to treat hunting for a teaching job as a full-time job. I would send out six to eight packets every morning.”

He says if you put in the hard work to get a teaching job, you’ll succeed.

“There are barriers, but not ones that can’t be surmounted by hard work,” Demana says.

He explains that his 18 years of working in the airlines taught him important lessons to make him a better teacher today. The life experience and stress from his previous job helps him work with his students much better than he believes he would have directly out of college.

Demana says that his favorite part about teaching is having the opportunity to bring history to life for his students.

For others who may be considering making a career change, Demana says first to make sure it’s definitely what you want to do. He knows several people who decided to switch to teaching and then realized that it wasn’t for them.

“If you’re in it for the summers off, don’t do it,” Demana says. “If you’re in it because you get a really good retirement after 30 years, don’t do it. You’ve got to do it either because you’re passionate about kids or you’re passionate about the subject.”

He says teaching is an amazingly rewarding career, and he’s so happy he made the change.