Becoming a Teacher

Those who can teach, right? Or at least, so the recruitment posters used to say. It’s a snappy slogan but it aims to sum up how talented people with a passion for education can find a home in this most rewarding of professions.

But how do you actually follow up that goal and make the classroom your workplace?

You have, in effect, three paths into a teaching job:


The most common route comes through studying for a degree with a university or further education provider, but within this there are a raft of possibilities.

A young student who knows they are destined for a career in education can launch themselves straight into an undergraduate degree. This typically lasts three or four years and will explore the theory behind learning techniques and the academic side of education as well as placements in the classroom.

For those preferring to study for another degree in a different discipline, there’s the postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) – probably the most common and well-recognised route to getting a job in a school. This one year course typically involves two-thirds of the time in the classroom.

Whichever option you take you’ll need to achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) as well as your academic qualification.

On the job training

If you’re already in a job but want to switch careers and head into teaching, there is a route into the profession that should help you.

Those with a degree and three or more years worth of experience in a different field of work (this could be less with a tough-to-fill vacancy) can earn as they train through the School Direct programme. In this, jobseekers get taken on by a school as a trainee, often with a view to taking on a specific job down the line. There is also an unsalaried route to take as well. Schools partner up with a university to deliver the training required to help you to learn the job.

Free schools

The other option is to look for a job in a Free School. A relatively new innovation – these schools take state funding but operate entirely independently. One of the freedoms they have is in recruitment. If a free school thinks you have the skills to teach with them then they can take you on, regardless of your qualifications.


Teaching is a profession that is in demand. As such there are a number of incentives in place to encourage people to undertake training. Bursaries or scholarships of up to £30,000 can be used to study towards teaching in certain subjects, where shortages are most pronounced such as maths, the sciences and languages. At primary level, maths is the major specialism in the demand. The criteria varies depending on your circumstances and the course that you want to take on so you’ll need to research your options and bear in mind that university fees can run up to £9,000 a year.

As you can see, there are several paths leading to the classroom. You need to find the one that works best for you based on the stage you are at with your career, taking into account your financial, geographic and academic circumstances. There are more than 450,000 teachers in the UK – and still about 1,000 vacancies. Pick your route and join the ranks.

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