The education sector recruits and trains huge numbers of graduates annually in the UK.
It’s a challenging, rewarding and inspiring area in which to work, with audiences ranging from pre-schoolers to those undertaking the highest levels of academic research.
Entry points and training requirements vary widely, as do salaries and career paths.
Jobs within the sector include:
- early years, primary, secondary, further education and higher education teacher
- special educational needs teacher
- private tutor
- teaching laboratory technician
- community education officer
- training and development officer.
Types of employer
Opportunities exist in private and publicly funded sectors, charities and research institutions.
In this sector, you could work for:
- private nurseries
- special, independent or state maintained-schools
- further education colleges
- pupil referral units
- young offenders institutions
- charitable or private tuition organisations
- exam boards
- adult education departments
- supply teacher agencies.
Skills and abilities
You will need:
- Organisational skills – teachers are often balancing many demands including pupils needs, lesson preparation, behavior management and assessments.
- Communication skills – you need to be able to communicate with a wide range of people. You also need to be able to convey your knowledge to your students in an engaging and understandable way.
- Energy and enthusiasm – not just for the subject you teach, but also for working with the age group you wish to teach.
- Subject knowledge – a depth of knowledge in the subject and relevant curriculum will enable you to build good foundations for learning.
- Self-confidence in your ability to teach and the capacity to be a good role model.
- Team working – you need to be an effective team member as you'll need to engage with your colleagues for planning, resources management, behavior management, pastoral care and continuing professional development.
- Resilience – working in education can be demanding and stressful at times, and you also need to be flexible and adaptable to the changes that happen in the field of education.
- A good sense of humour.
Breaking into the profession
How you get your teaching qualification all depends on where you'd like to teach:
Each of the home nations have different requirements for training to teach:
- training to teach in England
- training to teach in Wales
- training to teach in Scotland
- training to teach in Northern Ireland.
If you want to teach in schools, the most common route is a one-year university-based Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE).
Alternative routes in England include School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) and School Direct. SCITT programmes are largely practical and school based, but also include academic study. Most SCITTs lead to a PGCE qualification as well as Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). School Direct is a school led training programme which offers the prospect of employment at the end. You apply for PGCE (primary and secondary), SCITT and School Direct through UCAS Teacher Training.
In Wales, as well as PGCE training courses, you can also undertake the Graduate Training Programme (GTP). The GTP is an employment-based route for graduates and is managed by the three regional teacher training centres in Wales. You'll need to apply directly to the regional teacher training centres.
Teaching in schools in challenging circumstances
Teach First is a two-year employment based training programme where you will be teaching in schools which are in challenging circumstances.
The programme leads to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) after the first year and you complete your NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) year in the second year, with the option to work towards a full master's qualification. You'll need to apply directly to Teach First.
If you have a PhD
Researchers in Schools (RIS) is a teacher training and development programme exclusively for PhD graduates. The programme runs over two years, with trainees achieving QTS in their first year and completing their NQT year in year two.
You'll also receive ongoing CPD training and deliver research-driven activities to support target pupils. If you remain in the classroom in the third year, you'll continue to develop your teaching skills and also be eligible to join the Research Leader in Education Award. This is an innovative professional qualification that equips you to develop your educational research skills and deploy them within schools.
You'll need apply directly to the RIS.
It's possible to get a teaching job in further education without a qualification, but getting one will increase your chances of securing employment.
There are qualifications available at award, certificate and diploma level in education and training, as well as a PGCE in post-compulsory education. For most of these courses, you apply directly to the training provider, however you can apply for some of the PGCE courses through UCAS Teacher Training.
To become a lecturer in higher education, you normally require a master's or PhD qualification in your specialist subject.
A formal teaching qualification is not essential, but there are often opportunities to complete a teaching qualification in post. For example, there is PGCE for Post Compulsory Education and Training here at the University.
Improving your employability
To improve your employability skills and increase your chances of getting onto a teacher training course, you can sign for free workshops, courses and masterclasses as well as:
To boost your chances of getting onto a teacher training course, you'll want to undertake work experience in a classroom setting. Many of the courses have specific requirements for how much experience they want you to have, so it's worth checking with the providers you want to apply to.
Classroom experience will enable you to find out about the role of a teacher, see what skills and qualities are required to be an effective teacher and make decisions about what age range or area of teaching you want to work in.
We also suggest that you volunteer in schools. Contact schools in your local area, schools you attended or maybe utilise links with family or friends who are teachers.
Find out more about where to find volunteering opportunities here and abroad. If you're a current student, you can also register for classroom-based opportunities with the Work Experience Team, based at 51a Park Place.
Experience outside of the classroom, but still with the relevant age range you wish to work with, can also be useful – such as Scouts, Girl Guides, youth centres, sports clubs and Camp America.
If you're a current student
The Classroom Experience Project sources and manages classroom-based work experience opportunities for Cardiff University undergraduates and postgraduates who are looking at a career in teaching.
The project seeks to match and place Cardiff University students in all types of schools and colleges within Cardiff including nursery, Welsh-medium, and special-needs schools. Find out more by logging into the student intranet.
Come along to the Autumn careers fair in October and internships, works experience and volunteering week in the spring, as well as some of our other careers fairs and employer workshops to find out more about job opportunities and network with employers.
To improve your employability, think about joining a professional body or special interest group. Professional bodies often have free or low-cost student memberships. You can also find careers information, member directories and jobs boards on their websites:
Find out more
Careers and Employability
- Telephone:+44 (0)29 2087 4844