Getting a Job in Alaska

Making the decision to go teach in Alaska can be a difficult one. There are so many things to consider before taking the plunge into the unknown.  Do you want to live urban or rural? Do you need access to amenities like restaurants or health care services? Are you a natural adventure seeker? Do you enjoy extreme climates and places? Are you committed to learning about a new culture? Can you live with an incinerator toilet?These are all important questions to ask yourself. 


For me, the decision was an easy one because I fell in love with Alaska while living in King Salmon seasonally back in 2010.  I knew that I wanted to live and teach in the bush. Somehow, I ended up teaching in Juneau instead though, and was able fall madly in love with one of the urban areas of the state too. There are pros and cons to both, and it is important to make the right decision for you.  Know your comfort levels and your "must-haves" before interviewing and job searching so that you can narrow down your search to places that fit your criteria. With all of that said, here are my top tips for securing a job teaching in Alaska. 

1.) Use the Alaska Teacher Placement (ATP) website.  This website in the best way to research districts, connect with fellow educators, and apply for jobs. The ATP forum (located within the website) is a great way to  ask veteran Alaskan educators specifics about villages, districts, or teaching in general.  The people there are always super helpful. Once you've done your research, this is also the place that you submit your application through. (Note: The "Big 5" aka the urban districts do have their own application system, but I believe they still post all their openings here.) 

      

2.)  Research the districts, and by research I mean learn everything you can.  Some districts are on the tundra, while others are in thick forested areas, while others still are deep in the mountains or on little islands out at sea.  Once you've narrowed down your desirable regions and climates you can start to find out the specifics (climate and region DOES matter, if you can't handle months of dark then the North Slope probably isn't for you).  Google, ATP, Wikipedia, and the State of Alaska communities website are all good places to find information. Crime reports can also be helpful in deciding where to go, and there's no shame in checking out the statistics.

3.) Read as many blogs as you can.  There are teachers, just like me, creating new blogs every year. You can find blogs from teachers in literally every district.  It's important to keep in mind that some teachers just aren't cut out for a location and may make things seem worse than they are, and vice versa.  I've found that blogs were incredibly helpful to me in my decision making process though because you do learn a lot about the pros, cons, and daily operations of a district this way. I recommend this one (Lake and Peninsula School District), this one (Lower Yukon School District), this one (Northwest Arctic Borough School District), and this one (Yukon Flats School District). There are a million of them out there, just type in some variation of "Alaska bush teacher blog" or even "(insert village name here) Alaska teacher blog."  

4.) Attend a job fair.  ATP hosts a few job fairs every year.  I know quite a few people who have gone to one or more of these and been offered contracts on the spot.  Aside from the ATP fairs, many districts attend jobs fairs throughout the US at colleges.  Check at colleges nearby you.  The district that I got a job with frequently recruits in Pennsylvania, and I know that Lower Yukon was recruiting at Northern Michigan University this year.  Look around at the big university job fairs near you during hiring season (February-May).

       

5.) E-mail and/or call districts that you are interested in.  This is super important because districts do receive many applicants.  Take my current position, there were no openings in February when I started looking, but I knew that I wanted to work for LPSD.  I e-mailed their HR Director and Superintendent directly.  Within a couple of weeks I had an interview, and I was offered the job at the conclusion of the interview. Along this same vein, I received interviews from many other schools that I pursued myself. Each one mentioned that they liked that I pursued them because it showed that I was really interested and it wasn't just a fleeting idea.

6.) Trust your instincts. This spring, I was interviewing with multiple districts all in the same week and I had multiple offers on the table on top of the one I took, but LPSD just felt right. My interview with them was seamless, and I felt connected to my interviewers immediately, which  I always take as a good sign. They offered to put me in touch with other teachers from the district right away, and offered up easy access to many of their staff for questioning. On the flip side, another district I interviewed with kept having missed connections with me, which ultimately contributed to me declining their offer because it didn't seem meant to be.

Note: If you are not a teacher, but you are still interested in working/living in Alaska check out CoolWorks and WWOOF

Your turn...What are some of your job hunting tips and tricks? 
Currently listening to...Dog Days - Florence and the Machine

Comments

  1. This sounds fantastic! Great information about how to get a teaching job in Alaska. Not sure if Alaska is for me because I'm a gardener and a journalist. There are no journalism jobs and gardening is seasonal and, alas, Alaska's growing season is too short for me. If there were journalism jobs, Alaska would be a great place for me because it is adventurous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sounds like, if you're ever interested in Alaska, that the Southeast region would be right for you! It's a temperate rain forest, which is ideal for gardening, and Juneau has a nice newspaper :)

      Delete
  2. Sounds like a great adventure. Can recommend WOOFing as a way try living and working in an area. It helps out the guys you are working for too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you been a part of WWOOF before? I have a few friends who have done it and always highly recommend it.

      Delete
  3. I'm past my adventuring days, but I've always wanted to visit Alaska. I don't think I'd be cut out to live there, though. This is a great resource for those who might want to teach there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the kind words. This will be my third Alaskan adventure, and this time I think my husband and I will settle in the state for good. It's a wonderful place to live. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  4. Okay, what is an incinerator toilet?! Off to go Google that, lol.

    Job tips and tricks, in general - the blog thing is a good one. You can also try Glassdoor too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely google the incinerator toilet! Not all school sites in Alaska have plumbing in the traditional way we think of in the lower 48 states. Thankfully, my new place will have flushing toilets. Haha.

      Delete
  5. I think I could live in Alaska, how could you not fall in love with it's gorgeousness? The scenery is just incredible, what a grand adventure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree! When we used to live there, everyday was a surprise when it came to scenery. New and beautiful things to see around every turn.

      Delete
  6. Haha to Liz's comment! I had to Google the toilet, too! That is definitely not something I've had to contemplate anywhere I've lived. I don't know that I could live and work in Alaska, but I would totally visit!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, traditional plumbing was on my list of things I wanted in a new home/job. Haha. Alaska is an amazing place, but living there has got its quirks.

      Delete
  7. Moving to Michigan from North Carolina was killer for me and I can't imagine moving to Alaska. It is beautiful there and I would love to see it some day though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. North Carolina is gorgeous! Have you been happy with your move there? This is our second move to Alaska, and it's always overwhelming and crazy, but we love living there.

      Delete
  8. This is good advice for getting a job anywhere. I wish you best of luck and can't wait to hear about your adventures.

    Wonder how many kids you will have in your class??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the kind words! There are roughly 11-14 kids in the whole school (k-12) and myself and the one other teacher will be splitting them fairly evenly.

      Delete
  9. This is going to be such a fun experience. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Leave me a comment :)

Popular posts from this blog

Pilot Point Needs a Teacher!

Pros & Cons Of Living In Alaska

Winter is Here