The Great Yoga Teacher “Shortage” of the 21st Century
by Lucas Rockwood
There has never been a better time to be a yoga teacher.
Despite the fact there are as many as 50,000 new certified teachers each year, I’ve never met a good yoga instructor who had trouble finding work (and I’ve been in the business for over a decade). How could that be?
Yoga class offerings exploded all over the world much faster than the teaching community did. While every studio would love to hire only 10-year veteran teachers, most hire teachers with a few months or a few years experience at the most because the senior instructors are rare and so in-demand that they’re usually not interested in teaching drop-in classes.
This supply-demand phenomenon goes in cycles and happens in many industries. In 1999, for example, anyone who knew the term “html” could get a job as a website coder. 10 years ago, there was a nursing shortage and nurses had amazing opportunities never before seen; and today, anyone who is well trained and competent can find an amazing array of opportunities to teach yoga.
The reality is that yoga studio jobs now represent only a fraction of the total opportunities available with schools, gyms, private clubs, and even government positions creating a demand for instructors like never before. And this is why it’s a great time to be a teacher.
There opportunities now to make a big impact, earn a comfortable living, and truly design a life you love. When I tell this to new teachers, their immediate response is usually, “But for every teaching job in my city, there are at least a dozen other applicants.” That is true, but to stand out amidst a dozen applicants is very easy, and it’s doable even if there are 5-10x’s that many.
When I do hiring rounds for my studio group, for example, I typically get 30-50 applicants, and it takes just 15 minutes to whittle that down to 5-8 based on the choices they make in their cover letters and resumes (note: if you’re a good teacher struggling to find work, you might want to review your resume and cover letter). In my hiring process, the next phase is in-person interviews and then a group practice class.
From there, it’s clear who the star teachers are.
And no, the stars are not those with the best practices, the most experience, or perfect bodies. The stars are the teachers that clearly take their practice and teaching seriously, are effective at what they do, communicate well, and are eager to learn. While it might seem obvious, standout applicants can also teach a good class.
Oddly, 90% of certified teachers who apply for teaching jobs didn’t actually learn how to teach during their coursework, so they really struggle to lead their classes. From public speaking to sequencing, rhythm and timing, most newly-certified teachers just don’t have the hands-on experience needed to stand up and lead a class for 60-90 minutes.
With this is mind, it’s easy to stand out from the pack at the entry-level, and for experienced teachers? The world is wide open. Ask any studio owner (I know dozens personally), and they’ll tell you they are always on the lookout for highly-qualified teachers to lead workshops, training events, and master classes. If you have experience and a clear teaching message, there are more opportunities than hours in the day.
For soon-to-be teachers, ignore the naysayers who insist the market is saturated; and instead, choose a great training course, and aim high. If you’re an experienced teacher, go as deep as you can with your specific area of expertise and explore new opportunities you might not yet have considered. Whether you’ve realized it or not, there’s a shortage of yoga teachers worldwide, and we need you.
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As yoga students, we all recognize the importance of a good teacher and a supportive community—this is how you grow. In business, it’s exactly the same, but why do most teachers try to do it alone?
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