Career Change: Becoming a teacher is the first guide in our Career Change series. We put the spotlight on a career and how to transition into it. In this guide, you’ll discover the benefits of changing careers to become a teacher and the steps you need to take to make the switch.
We’ve all had that one great teacher who we still remember fondly to this day. A good teacher can play a huge role in shaping a child’s future. As such, transitioning to become a teacher is an excellent choice for career changers who feel uninspired and unfulfilled in their job. If you feel like you aren’t making an impact at work, starting a second career as a teacher is a chance to shape the lives of the next generation.
Teaching is one of the most popular options for those looking for a second career. One of the main reasons for this is that career changers come with a host of transferable skills that are valuable in the classroom.
As a seasoned professional, you can draw on your own life experiences (both personal and professional) and put them to use in a school setting. For instance, if you have been a stay-at-home mum for the past decade, you know exactly how to deal with tantrums and playground scuffles. Similarly, a former copywriter has the experience and language skills to make a great English teacher.
While there are plenty of perks to teaching (long summer holidays anyone?), it is not for everyone. So, let’s first explore some of the advantages and disadvantages of making a career change to become a teacher.
Should I Change Careers To Become A Teacher?
Transitioning into teaching can change your life for the better, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t downsides to becoming a second-career teacher. Before making the leap into education, consider the upsides and the downsides.
- You can put your real-world experience and wisdom to good use, educating the next generation
- It’s an exciting new challenge that will test you and force you to grow and develop
- Teaching can be a rewarding career
- Working in a school is a sociable experience with plenty of interactions with pupils and fellow teachers
- You get to teach a subject you are passionate about
- Every day is different
- It’s a welcome break from the corporate world
- Teaching offers a steady working timetable, good holidays, and a pension
- Teaching is harder than it looks. You really need to have a passion for it, otherwise, it can be draining.
- There is a lot of preparation in your first couple of years as a teacher. On top of your teaching hours, you will need to make lesson plans, mark tests, and do other teaching admin tasks.
- In some parts of the UK, classrooms are overcrowded with very limited resources available to support teachers.
- It can be an emotionally exhausting experience. You will need to handle sensitive situations, bullying, and wealth disparities in the classroom.
If you’re still on the fence about a second career as a teacher, we suggest trying private tutoring or working as a substitute teacher. This will give you an inside look at what a day in the life of a teacher looks like. Alternatively, you could try volunteering with youth programmes or working at summer camps to gain more experience working with young people.
We also recommend browsing our live job board for teaching assistant jobs with no experience.
Your Career Change: Becoming a Teacher Later In Life
Many career changers know what profession they would like to break into, but get overwhelmed with how to get there. So, we’ve broken down how to become a teacher into 5 simple steps.
Step 1: Choose an Age Group
The first step in your career change to become a teacher is deciding the type of students you want to teach. For instance, as a teacher, you could work with:
- Early years – Under 5 years
- Primary level – 5 to 11 years old
- Secondary level – 11 to 18 years old
- Further education – Teaching 6th formers or adult learners
You may also decide to teach pupils with a disability or pupils with special educational needs.
The best way to make this decision is to gain some school experience before you begin training. This will allow you to build some experience in the classroom and decide the age group you’d like to teach. During your school experience, you will observe classes and interact with the pupils to learn more about the role.
2. Get the Relevant Qualifications and Training
To teach in a state school in the UK, you must have an undergraduate degree. Then, you will typically need to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). You can achieve this by following an Initial Teacher Training (ITT) programme. That said, you are able to teach in academies, independent schools, further education institutions, and free schools without QTS.
To teach at primary level in the UK, you will also need to have achieved the minimum requirements in the core GCSE subjects:
- science (if you want to teach primary)
Post-Graduate Teaching Courses
If you already have a Bachelor’s degree, you can choose from a number of post-graduate teacher training programmes.
A common pathway to becoming a teacher later in life is to do a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). This qualification is recognised across the UK and in many Commonwealth countries. As a result, you will have plenty of job opportunities available upon graduating.
A PGCE combines on-campus academic study with at least 24 weeks of school placements to build your practical skills in the classroom. PGCE students are regularly assessed and given feedback on how to improve their performance. If you successfully pass the intensive, 1 or 2-year course, you will receive a certificate in education and QTS recommendation.
On top of a PGCE, there are other teacher training courses available, such as a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) or a Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (ProfGCE).
Options for Those Without a Degree
If you are not in a position to go back to university but still want to pursue a career in teaching, there are other options available. For instance, you can teach in further education or language academies without a degree.
Teaching Pathways Specifically for Career Changers
Now Teach is a popular option for career changers looking to get into teaching. It’s a UK charity that supports career changers looking to become teachers. Through its partnerships with a range of schools, universities and training providers, Now Teach supports career changers in the transition process.
3. Check What Funding Options Are Available
Making a career change to teaching can be costly. Fortunately, there is a broad range of funding options available. In fact, in the UK trainee teachers can receive grants if they train to teach certain subjects that have a shortage of teachers.
As a trainee teacher, you can take advantage of the following funding options:
- Tuition fee and maintenance loans to help you cover your costs while you study. This type of loan must be paid back once you find full-time employment.
- Scholarships and bursaries. As we mentioned above, you may be eligible for extra funding if you’re training to teach certain subjects.
- Grants and schemes for parents and carers. If you’re a parent or have caring responsibilities, you may be eligible for extra government funding.
- Funding for people with disabilities. If you are living with a disability, the UK government offers extra financial support while you’re training as a teacher.
- International students. For overseas students, there are some options for receiving financial support as a student.
For more information on how to fund your teacher training, check the gov.uk website.
4. Apply for Your Teacher Training Course
As part of the application process, you usually need to provide 2 referees and a teacher training personal statement. Depending on the teaching qualification you have gone for, you can apply through the gov.uk website or ucas.com.
We recommend taking your time with the application. Teaching courses can be competitive, so you want to make sure that your application is as well-prepared as possible. If you feel overwhelmed, try asking a teacher training adviser for support with your application.
5. Update Your CV
Once you have completed your teacher training programme, it’s time to start job hunting. However, before you start applying for teaching positions, you will need to update your CV. Make sure that you add your new teaching qualifications as well as any relevant work experience.
If you have made a career change into teaching later in life, be sure to emphasise valuable transferable skills you have developed. Older workers can often be overlooked, so it’s important to write a compelling CV that underlines your vast real-world experiences and wisdom.
Our guide on writing a career change CV is full of advice on how to make your CV stand out from the crowd.
There are lots of benefits of changing careers. We spend such a large part of our lives at work that feeling unfulfilled or unmotivated can take its toll on our mental health. Switching to a new career as a teacher can help you regain your spark and feel inspired again. Having said that, a career change to teaching isn’t for everyone. Becoming a teacher takes hard work, patience, and dedication. So, it’s important to do your research and make sure it’s the right second career for you.
Once you have chosen the career path for you, retrained, and revamped your CV, it’s time to start the job hunt. Check out our dedicated career change jobs board to land your first teaching role.
For more advice on changing careers, we’ve compiled a list of career change support and resources to support you.