I finally decided to pursue a career in teaching at the age of 46. Prior to that, I worked in healthcare purchasing for 13 years and home health systems (delivering medical supplies and equipment to homes) for 1.5 years.
The first step I took was sending my transcripts to my alma mater to see what additional classes I would need for licensure. My preferred grade level and content was middle school math. I also asked about licensure in middle school social studies and high school math. Turns out middle school math was the most convenient path among my choices. Thanks to my degree in Finance, I only needed 6 academic classes and my Student Teaching to complete my alternative licensure.
The second step was becoming a certified substitute teacher in my home district. This gave me the opportunity to earn some money AND get some actual experience in a classroom to make sure this really WAS what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. As luck (or fate) would have it, my very first substitute assignment was for a middle school math teacher. I continued to substitute teach while also enrolling in the academic classes I needed for licensure. I had set out a schedule that would allow me to complete the classes and student teaching within 12 months time. I was able to exempt the first Student Teaching class because I received enough hours subbing in middle school to meet the contact hour requirement. That helped me reach my goal of finishing my licensing requirements within one year.
After finishing my student teaching, I was offered a part-time position teaching 6th grade math at the same school the following year. That went well, but the district did not renew my contract because they were dealing with budget cuts. They eventually relisted the position and I was granted an interview, but a candidate with more experience as a teacher and coach got the offer.
This year (two years after becoming licensed), I finally landed my first, FULL-time job teaching middle school math. Even though I've been licensed for nearly 3 years now, I'm still a "new" teacher when it comes to many of the daily duties. I had good classroom management skills as a substitute who had to get the class under control very quickly, but I'm finding the techniques I used as a sub who would be in a class only 1-3 days don't work as well for a teacher who sees the same kids 180 days in a year, so I've been working on plans to improve my management style.
In 2008, a series of events led me to realize teaching WAS what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and NOW was the time to go for it. Despite the job market and current demonizing of teachers in general, I don't regret my decision at all and cannot imagine getting a job outside of the education field.