Teaching is one of the most rewarding careers in the world. Beyond simply paying the bills, it also allows you to help children and young people grow, develop and discover who they really are. Even better, teaching allows you to put your skills to work – whether you’re teaching English, maths, science or another subject, there’s a way you can give yourself to the world.
There is a shortage of teachers in the UK, particularly in subjects such as maths, IT, science and modern languages. Generous training bursaries are available for some of these subjects and there are also schemes to encourage older people to return to work as teachers.
But once you decide to become a teacher, you have to figure out another question: how exactly should you start your teaching career?
This article will break down everything you need to know about getting started as a teacher, from career planning and applying for jobs to the basics and alternative certification programs.
Determine your age group
First of all, you should start your teaching journey by narrowing down the age group and subject in which you want to specialize. After all, working with teenage writers is a whole different world than working with a class of 5-year-olds.
If you’ve already completed your undergraduate degree, your secondary education major will already be narrowed down. The main question is whether you prefer to work in high school or elementary school. You may have a clear instinct about this. But it can certainly help sharpen your focus and increase your chances of being accepted into a suitable teacher training program if you have some experience working with children or young people in educational settings. This can often be gained through volunteering in clubs or helping out at school. For any activity involving children, you will need to complete a security check, known as a DBS.
Complete your prerequisites
Once you know what level of education you would like to teach, your next step is to note the basic requirements for becoming a teacher. These prerequisites vary depending on the location of your intended job.
Regardless of your location in the UK, you must have a bachelor’s degree to become a teacher. In addition to this, you must also have some form of training certificate.
U Wales, Northern Irelandand England, this certification is called Qualified Teacher Status (QTS); those pursuing an undergraduate degree can obtain QTS through them bachelor’s degree, while those who already have degrees can pursue an alternative teacher certification program. U Scotlandthe process is slightly different: you need to acquire an Initial Teacher Education (ITE) qualification, which can be gained either through an undergraduate course or post-graduate education.
In the case of Wales, Northern Ireland and England, QTS training available not only through universities, but also through independent organizations that may have different program entry requirements. On the other hand, in Scotland, ITE programs are offered exclusively in universities.
However, private educational institutions are not bound by the same requirements as state schools – non-state schools in England, for example, do not necessarily require a QTS to work as a teacher. However, certifications are invaluable in the application process.
Also, be aware that the requirements are also slightly different for those with teaching experience or qualifications from other countries. If this applies to you, check with your local education department in your area to find out more about whether you are already eligible to be a teacher.
Get your first job
Once you’ve completed your education and training to become a teacher, you’re ready to enter the workforce! You will have a wealth of classroom learning experience during your training and it is not uncommon for trainees to be offered a job at the school that has provided their placement.
Many people do adjunct teaching while or before applying for a teaching job. This entails substituting regular teachers when they are ill or unavailable, and while it is not the same as consistent day-to-day teaching, it gives you the opportunity to gain classroom experience and try out different school settings.
Alternatively, you can search job listings online or in the teaching press or register with a supply agency.
When putting together your application, keep in mind the reasons that motivated you to become a teacher in the first place, whether it’s your passion for learning, your desire to help others, or your thirst for knowledge. By bringing these elements to the fore, you’ll be able to project the best version of yourself in your applications, which is sure to make you stand out as an applicant.
In our rapidly expanding world where there seems to be more information than ever, teaching is more relevant than ever before. If you are ready to answer the call to become a teacher, start with the steps above. If you follow the traditional route or take alternative certification programs, you can quickly find yourself in the classroom.