As someone who didn't really figure out what my personal path was until later in life, I can say with absolute certainty that I love my job. I'm good at it! I get rewarded for being myself! I'm also thrilled that my enthusiasm seems to be infectious in that I get multiple emails a week asking me how people can do what I do.
I've written quite a few blog posts about how I became a sex educator, how one can become a sex educator, tips for becoming a sex educator, and some of the not so great parts of being a sex educator. Even though I identify myself and my career mostly as a sex educator, search engines recognize me mostly as a sex coach.
I have some practical advice for people who are looking to work in the growing field of sexuality.
One of the best things you can do is to take an inventory of how you feel about sex and sexuality. This is hugely important, and I can't stress this enough. Talking about sexuality is not the same thing as being sex positive. Let me repeat; talking about sexuality is not the same as being sex positive.
One of the things I pride myself on and consistently get positive feedback on is how I can talk about the spectrum of sexuality and not tense up when it comes to certain topics. Here are a few examples:
- What about people who engage in unprotected sex while being HIV positive and an active drug user? Great, let's talk about it.
- I'm curious about anal and vaginal fisting? Sure thing!
- Tell me more about about fetishes that are seemingly so mysterious that they are kinda underground? Hey, I may not have the exact answers to everything, but I bet I can find someone who does.
- What does it mean to be abstinent? Let's talk about it.
- What does someone mean when they say they are asexual? Great question!
When you are a sex educator and people ask questions, they look to you for answers as much as they look at you when you answer them. They want to know if you are able to accurately hear and answer what they are asking as much as they are looking to see how comfortable you are with the subject matter.
My deal is this: not knowing an answer is totally ok. After all, there are few educators who have all the answers. I have no problem letting someone know that 1) they are asking a great question, 2) I don't have the exact answer for them, and 3) I bet I can find a person who can get their question answered. I know that my personal knowledge about sex and sexuality covers a ton of information, but that I am not an expert in all topics.
If you are looking to have a career in the field of human sexuality then one of the best things you can do is to figure out what personal triggers you have when it comes to sex and sexuality. This isn't always an easy task, and sometimes you have to admit to being sensitive to certain topics you wish you were more open minded about.
It may seem a little contrary, but I have found that group training is one of the easiest ways to figure out what triggers or limitations a particular person has. I've gone through sexuality training in San Francisco where people claim to be sex positive yet firmly state that they hate the idea of porn (and would not sit through any porn viewing), where people repeatedly used the wrong pronoun when referring to someone who has already stated their gender identity, who believe that everyone who is HIV positive should be criminally prosecuted for having unprotected sex, people who strongly judge and openly mock certain fetishes, and much more.
Sex will always be a hot button issue for certain people. However, I have to admit that I've met a few people who are working in the sexual health profession who should probably strongly consider a job in a different field.
My other suggestions for working in the sexuality field are to figure out if you want to work for a company or organization or work for yourself. Working for someone else has a lot of benefits that include things like a steady paycheck, health insurance, and being part of a team. Working for yourself also has a lot of benefits like setting your own hours, setting your own rate, and having ultimate creative control over what you do.
However, if you want to work for yourself (like I do), then you need to consider things like where are you going to meet and work with clients since it is not recommended that you use your home as a meeting place, are you focused enough to actually get work done on your own, what type of business are you going to have (a sole proprietorship or LLC), what business licenses and business insurance you need, who is your ideal target market, how are you going to brand yourself, and how are you going to get clients.
If you ultimately want to be a sex coach, you probably need to spend some time working or studying in the field of sexuality. Some people who do sex coaching call themselves "relationship", "love", or "intimate relationship" coaches. Lots of people advised me to change my title from sex to relationship coach. The title of sex coach can be problematic for some people because it is too in your face and overt. My feeling is that I am the first to admit that not all of my personal relationships are easy, great, or rewarding, so I would have a hard time calling myself a relationship coach.
I have found that working in the field of human sexuality has been incredibly satisfying and rewarding for me. Hopefully this blog post will help make your journey into the field a little easier.