Teaching & education Career Pathways & Advice
Teaching is one of the most important jobs in the world - whether you’re working in a school, for a charity or in adult education, your days will be dedicated to widening people’s opportunities, bolstering their future prospects, and shaping their view of the world around them.
As with any industry, there are various different types of teaching jobs out there. You could work in a primary school, for example, or at a higher level in a secondary school, sixth form college or university. Your skills could also see you working in non-profit organisations, charities or in adult education.
So, do you want to be responsible for inspiring and shaping the minds of the future generation? Do you want to inspire individuals to become thoughtful, engaged citizens? Do you think you could pass on your love of education to those who might not feel inspired to engage with it?
Teachers pass on a huge amount of skills to their students, whether they are teaching in an infant school or in an adult learning environment. The job involves long hours in the classroom and a lot of lesson planning and preparation, but the satisfaction of the job is good enough pay-off for the majority of teachers.
Teaching & education Jobs
People with all different kinds of personalities can be amazing teachers, but there are a few key skills you'll need. These include patience when dealing with difficult students, tact in dealing with tricky situations, and an ability to build relationships easily. You'll also need loads of passion for what you do - this is how you'll get your class excited and engaged in what they're learning, whether your students are five or 45.
When working in education, in whatever role, you will be in a position of responsibility and will be looked up to by those that you are teaching. For this reason, the skills required by teachers are similar across the board. You will of course also need a very strong knowledge of your subject, and be prepared to learn along with your students in a large number of cases.
The first step after your Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) is to become a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), and eventually a Qualified Teacher (QT).
From here, progression could see you become a form tutor, head of department, head of year, and/or eventually a head teacher.
You can find specific information about what you need to do to teach at different levels at the Training and Development Agency for Schools website.
In a university setting you are likely to start by hosting first year seminars as part of your PhD, before taking on more responsibility for students later on in their studies as your standing within the department increases over a number of years.
In terms of training, as a teacher there will be opportunities for professional development and continued learning throughout your career. You will of course also be expected to ensure your subject knowledge is up to date.
The government and organisations within the sector provide opportunities for further training for teachers. In autumn 2017, for example, the £75 million Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund was announced, with the aim of providing teachers with skills and knowledge-based training in areas including leadership, early reading, and best practice in teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. Opportunities such as those provided by this and similar schemes will be facilitated by the government through individual Local Education Authorities (LEAs) and individual schools, so you won’t need to take personal responsibility for pursuing the opportunities these schemes offer.
A teacher just beginning their career (known as a Newly Qualified Teacher/NQT) will earn a minimum of £22,917, or £28,660 in inner London, as of 2017-18.
Salaries can increase to over £30,000 relatively quickly, especially in London, where schools have been given the freedom to develop their own pay scales in order to attract the best teachers.
Those working in inner city or private schools traditionally earn a higher amount than the majority of teachers, as do those who are qualified to work with Special Educational Needs (SEN) children.
At the highest end of the scale, headteachers in inner London can earn a maximum of £116,738.
There are also a number of perks that come alongside a teaching salary, including long holidays and a generous pension. You can also benefit from Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) payments: bonuses of between £2,667 and £13,027 for taking on responsibilities beyond your designated role.
You can see more details about teachers’ salaries here.
Qualification requirements & subjects to study
Degrees in any subject can lead you into primary school teaching, as long as you complete your PGCE afterwards. Because of the soft skills required, many graduates in humanities or education-based subjects choose to go down the primary teaching route.
For secondary teaching and higher, the majority of the time you’ll need a degree in your chosen subject first, again followed by a PGCE.
Because of a national shortage of teachers in certain areas, you may sometimes be able to move into teaching in certain fields without an undergraduate degree in the exact subject. Topping up your knowledge with a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course can lead you to a career as a teacher in one of the following areas:
- Design and technology
- Primary maths
A SKE course is likely to be for you if your degree wasn’t in your chosen subject but was closely related, you studied the subject at A level but not at degree level, you have an unrelated degree but relevant professional experience in the subject, or it's been a long time time you used the knowledge gained in your degree.
You can also get a tax-free bursary of up to £5,600 to support yourself whilst studying your SKE course. Courses last between eight and 28 weeks, depending on the amount of time needed to top-up your knowledge.
How to get there
Work experience is essential if you want to become a teacher, to gain practical experience as well as to ensure that this is the area you want to pursue as your career. Schools are often very open to volunteers coming in to shadow teachers or help out in the classroom, so see if you can do this at a local school. You may need to complete a CRB check to ensure that you can work with children before your placement begins. If you are completing your PGCE you will complete placements in schools as part of your course.
Once you have finished your degree, you will need to complete your teacher training. There are various different ways that you can do this.
- School-led training: courses based in schools, giving practical training from the beginning
- University-led training: courses provided by universities, which will give you both the practical and academic skills required and will include school placements
Both these routes should include a PGCE, which is the practical qualification needed to qualify as a teacher.