musings on sociology, music, religion, higher ed, and whatever else is going on in my life
Wow, this is a hard question (especially since I have no actual knowledge of these sorts of transitions!). My sense is that it would depend a lot on how closely what you leave academia for matches up with what you did in academia. Returning after running a small business that is related to your field and in which you still interact with those in your field would probably be a lot easier than returning after running a small business that had nothing to do with your field. I chose "high school teacher" because it potentially has the least overlap in this way and, maybe more importantly, because of the large status/role differentials. Once others have defined you as a high school teacher it seems that it would be hard to overcome that when searching for a job. It would also be hard to develop a strong academic record as a high school teacher. Both of these reasons are similar to the problems that long-time contingent faculty have when applying for tenure-track jobs.