How to Become
 a Teacher

By J&C Team

Teaching at every level offers more than just a regular pay cheque it offers you the chance to change people’s lives for the better

According to those already in the profession, it’s the job satisfaction of teaching that’s really hard to beat. This is a job giving you the chance to inspire the next generation and make a real difference to  young people’s development.

It’s a career where you can use your skills to give something back, making sure every pupil gets the same access to a quality education and the opportunity to succeed. You’ll discover and hone a range of new skills: you’ll learn to be a brilliant mentor, manager and consultant not to mention negotiator!

Once you’ve decided teaching is where your future lies, the next step is to find out the different options you have for getting into the profession.

You’ll need a degree if you want to train to teach in the UK. You can gain a degree and qualified teacher status (QTS) on a three or four-year course, combining academic study with learning practical classroom skills.

Visit for more information and advice.

Although the basic principle of teaching is the same across all areas of the education system, the way it is done depends on the circumstances in which you are teaching.

Primary and Secondary School Teachers will ply their trade in state (under local authority control), private and independent (self-funded and not under local authority control) schools, or the ‘alternative’ special schools such as Steiner Waldorf and Montessori schools.

Lecturers make their living working for one of the hundreds of universities or colleges of higher education.

Those working with special needs students may work across the entire educational system from primary schools up to universities and an increasing number of qualified educators are making a living by working on a self-employed basis as private Teachers or obtaining temporary contracts via a specialist recruitment consultancy.

Primary school

As a Primary Teacher, you’ll inspire young pupils by teaching a diverse curriculum that touches on a wide range of subjects. This can range from maths and science to literacy, history, performing arts, physical education and beyond.

Primary Teachers teach children from the age of five and prepare them for secondary school when they complete Year 6, at the age of 11. Then, they’re at secondary school until they reach 16 or 18 upon completion of their GCSEs or A-levels.

This gives you the responsibility and opportunity to make a big impact on pupils’ lives and ensure they progress into secondary education with the confidence and enthusiasm they need to learn and succeed.

Secondary school

If you’ve got a passion for a particular subject, then secondary teaching could allow you to share that with the next generation. You’ll be teaching from Key Stage 3 right through to A-level, giving you the chance to watch and help your pupils develop.

Certain subjects, particularly sciences and maths, attract extra bursaries and larger salaries as there is a shortage of Teachers in those fields.

Higher education

Further and higher education teaching is provided by Lecturers teaching students over the age of 16 in specialised areas in academies, colleges or universities.

Other areas

There are also other areas of teaching which are in high demand. Special Education Needs (SEN) Teachers teach children with emotional, behavioural or learning difficulties and those with gifted abilities that need to be nurtured.

The widespread usage of English overseas has ensured a continued demand for Teachers of English as a foreign or second language. And there’s a need for educators teaching prisoners a varied curriculum, from vocational training and literacy to Open University qualifications.


You can receive ‘on the job training’ which trains you to provide learning support in the classroom, working with Teachers, carry out duties such as lesson preparation, and work with small groups or individuals.

As an Apprentice, you’ll work under the close supervision of a class Teacher.

The advanced level adds more responsibility to the role. Anup Chudasama, who took an apprenticeship with City & Guilds, said he’d recommend this route to anyone - but remember, you get out what you put in.

‘As with any form of employment, nobody will hand you a promotion or a more senior job without you proactively seeking and working towards it.’

Moving on up

Once you achieve QTS, you will be expected to follow a programme of continuous professional development which will help you on your path to becoming Head of Department, Head of Sixth Form (secondary schools only), Head of Year, Deputy Head and even the Head Teacher or Principal.

Outside of the school system, the route to the top is slightly different. Further and higher education Lecturers, for example, can make their way up to Senior Lecturer, Curriculum Manager, Head of Department or Divisional Manager. Others choose to make the switch out of lecturing into traditional college management positions, such as those in finance, admissions, personnel or student career guidance.

Career progression in certain areas of teaching can be quicker than others. For those teaching English as a foreign language, for example, the movement from Teacher to Senior Teacher to Director of Studies followed by Principal can be achieved in a shorter period of time than the route to the top for traditional Teachers or Lecturers largely due to the smaller size of these language schools by comparison.

Getting your training

Regardless of whether you are  a university graduate looking for your first job or someone with several years’ work experience under your belt and looking to take your career in a new direction, entry will almost always involve your getting on to an initial teacher training course (ITT).

You can train to teach at a university or college, or direct through practical teacher training at established schools, some offering a salary while you train.

Call Teaching Line adviser, Freephone 0800 389 2500, or visit for more information.

School training

School-led courses are the school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) programme and the School Direct training programme, and you should use these terms when you search for a course. Whichever course you choose, your training experience will be the same.

School-led courses generally last a year and result in the award of qualified teacher status (QTS). Most courses include a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE), which is likely to carry with it Master’s-level credits. You should check the exact details of individual courses on UCAS Teacher Training.

Uni training

University-led courses run full-time over one year, or part-time over two years. Your training will include spending time at your university or college, working with other trainees and being taught by university colleagues.

You’ll also spend plenty of time in your placement school – a minimum of 24 weeks. This will help you develop your practical teaching skills and ability to manage and plan classes effectively.

All courses lead to QTS and a PGCE.

Wherever you choose to train, there are bursaries and scholarships available to help you financially.