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How to Become a Teacher: A Step-by-Step Guide

March 29, 2023

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Are you passionate about education and eager to make a positive impact on the lives of young people? Teaching can be an incredibly fulfilling career, offering opportunities to inspire, mentor, and shape the minds of future generations. However, the path to becoming a qualified teacher can seem daunting, with many steps to navigate.

That's why we've compiled a comprehensive guide to help you get started. In this article, we'll walk you through the essential steps to becoming a teacher, from choosing your teaching path to landing your first job in the classroom. Let's get started on your journey to becoming a qualified teacher.

1. Choose Your Teaching Path

Teaching is a diverse profession, offering a range of paths to suit different interests, skills, and experience levels. The first step towards becoming a teacher is to choose the right path for you.

Here are some of the different teaching paths you could consider:

Primary Education

Primary school teachers work with children aged 5 to 11 and are responsible for teaching a range of subjects, including English, maths, science, and humanities. To become a primary school teacher in the UK, you will need a Bachelor's degree in Education (B.Ed) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

Secondary Education

Secondary school teachers work with children aged 11 to 18 and teach specific subjects such as English, maths, science, history, or languages. To become a secondary school teacher, you will need a Bachelor's degree in Education or a subject-specific degree with QTS.

Special Education

Special education teachers work with students with special needs, such as learning disabilities, physical disabilities, or emotional and behavioural disorders. To become a special education teacher, you will need a Bachelor's degree in Education with a special education focus or a relevant subject degree with QTS and additional special education training.

Further Education

If you're interested in teaching vocational courses and academic subjects to students aged 16 and over, further education (FE) could be your path. As a further education teacher, you'll work in colleges and vocational schools, preparing students for work or higher education.

To become a further education teacher, you'll typically need a subject-specific degree or vocational qualification and a Level 5 teaching qualification such as the Diploma in Education and Training (DET). The DET is a recognised teaching qualification for FE teachers, providing you with the skills and knowledge needed to teach in a further education setting. Other qualifications, such as the Certificate in Education (CertEd) or Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), may also be accepted.

If you’re looking for a job in further education, Bolt Jobs is a great place to find job opportunities, you can find roles such as lecturing jobs and other teacher jobs.

Higher Education

Higher education teachers work in universities and colleges, teaching undergraduate and postgraduate courses in a specific subject area. To become a higher education teacher, you often need a PhD in your subject area and teaching experience.

When deciding what level of education you would like to work in, it's essential to consider your interests, strengths, and passions when choosing a teaching path. Do you enjoy working with younger children, or are you passionate about a specific subject? Think about what motivates you and what you can bring to the classroom.

2. Choosing Your Subject to Teach

Once you've decided on the teaching path that interests you, the next step is to choose a subject to teach. This can be a difficult decision, as there are many subjects to choose from, and each subject has unique challenges and rewards. However, by considering your interests, skills, and experience, you can decide which subject is right for you.

Start by thinking about the subjects you're passionate about or are interested in. Do you have a natural talent for science or maths, or do you love literature and language?

Consider your educational background and any qualifications or experience in a particular subject area. You might also want to consider the job prospects for different subjects and whether there is a demand for teachers in your chosen subject area.

Seek Advice from Professionals and Peers

Talking to other teachers, friends, family members, or professionals in your chosen subject area can be incredibly helpful when choosing the right subject to teach. Here are some reasons why seeking advice is important:

Gain Insights into the Day-to-Day Realities of Teaching

  • Talking to people who have experience teaching your chosen subject can give you a better understanding of what the job involves on a day-to-day basis
  • They can share their own experiences and insights into the subject and the teaching profession as a whole

Weigh up the Pros and Cons of Different Options

  • By discussing your options with others, you can weigh up the pros and cons of different subject areas and teaching paths
  • They may be able to provide a fresh perspective and help you see things from a different angle

Explore Your Options and Make an Informed Decision

  • Seeking advice and talking to professionals and peers can help you explore your options and make an informed decision about which subject to teach
  • You'll be better equipped to choose a subject that you're passionate about, and that will keep you engaged and motivated in the classroom

Remember, seeking advice is an essential step in choosing the right subject to teach. Don't be afraid to contact professionals and peers for their insights and advice, as they can help you make a more informed decision about your teaching career.

3. Get Educated

Once you've chosen your teaching path and subject, it's time to get educated. As mentioned earlier, you'll need to meet specific educational requirements to become a qualified teacher in the UK. These requirements vary depending on the type of teaching path you choose but generally involve completing a degree program and obtaining Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

Teaching Degree

To become a teacher in the UK, you’ll need to start with an undergraduate degree. This is because teaching requires a high level of knowledge and expertise in a particular subject area, and an undergraduate degree is often considered a minimum requirement. While the specific degree requirements may vary depending on the teaching path and subject area you choose, having an undergraduate degree is generally seen as a critical step in becoming a qualified teacher. This is because it demonstrates that you have a strong foundation in your subject area and are prepared to take on the challenges of teaching. If you don't already have an undergraduate degree, you may need to undertake an additional study to meet the educational requirements for becoming a teacher.

There are two types of degree programs:

  • Bachelor's Degree in Education (B.Ed): A degree program designed for future teachers that provides a strong foundation in education theory and practice.
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS): A degree program that combines subject-specific knowledge with teacher training, leading to QTS.

Entry Requirements for Teacher Training

Becoming a teacher in the UK requires meeting specific entry requirements, which may vary depending on your chosen teaching path and subject area. Here are some general requirements to keep in mind:

You'll need a degree (or equivalent) of a 2:2 or above. If you want to teach in secondary or further education, your degree should be relevant to the subject you wish to teach. Contact a training provider if you want to teach a subject not covered by your degree, as you may be able to take a subject knowledge enhancement course.

You'll need at least a grade C/4 or equivalent in GCSE English and maths. If you want to teach primary or early years, you'll also need a grade C/4 or equivalent in a science subject. Some training providers may accept equivalency tests, but check with them first is important.

You must declare any previous convictions and undergo a criminal records check through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). This check is required to ensure that you don't have a criminal record that would prevent you from working with children.

Meeting these entry requirements will allow you to apply for teacher training programmes and start your journey towards becoming a qualified teacher. However, it's essential to research the specific requirements for your chosen teaching path and subject area and to consult with admissions offices or career advisors if you have any questions. By being well-prepared and meeting the entry requirements, you'll be on the right path to a successful career in teaching.

Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)

The Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) is a popular route to gaining Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in the UK. It's a one-year programme that combines academic study with practical training and is designed to prepare you for a career in teaching.

Combination of Theory and Practice

  • A PGCE provides theoretical knowledge and practical experience, allowing you to apply what you learn in a real classroom setting.
  • The programme is structured to provide a solid foundation in teaching theory and practice, giving you the skills and knowledge you need to become an effective teacher.

Preparation for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

  • A PGCE is an accredited route to gaining QTS, meaning that successfully completing the programme will enable you to apply for QTS and start teaching in a state school in England or Wales.
  • The programme is designed to meet the requirements for QTS, ensuring that you receive the training and experience necessary to meet the minimum UK teaching standards.

Career Prospects

  • Completing a PGCE can improve your career prospects by making you a more competitive candidate for teaching jobs.
  • It can also provide opportunities for career progression, such as taking on leadership roles within a school or moving into education policy or research.

While a PGCE is not the only route to gaining QTS, it is a popular and well-respected option for those looking to become a teacher in the UK. If you're considering pursuing a PGCE, research different programmes and requirements, and consider how it fits into your overall career plan. By making an informed decision, you can ensure that you're well-prepared for a successful career in teaching.

Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) is a certification that shows you meet the minimum standards to teach in a state school in England and Wales. This certification is awarded by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) and is usually required to teach in other parts of the UK.

To obtain QTS, you'll need to complete an Initial Teacher Training (ITT) course, which can take various forms, including:

  • School-based training involves training in a school, with a mentor teacher providing guidance and support.
  • University-led training involves training at a university or college, with school placements.
  • Employment-based training involves training while working as an unqualified teacher in a school.

Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS)

However, if you're interested in teaching in a sixth form or a further education college, you may need to obtain Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) instead.

QTLS is a professional teaching qualification equivalent to QTS, recognised for teaching in further education colleges and sixth forms. To obtain QTLS, you'll need to demonstrate that you meet the professional standards for teaching and complete a period of professional development, along with providing evidence of your teaching experience.

While QTS is generally required for teaching in state schools in England and Wales, QTLS is often required for teaching in further education colleges and sixth forms. However, the requirements may vary depending on the institution and the subject area you want to teach. Researching the requirements for your chosen teaching path and subject area is important to determine whether QTS or QTLS is necessary.

Obtaining QTS or QTLS is a key requirement for becoming a teacher in the UK and is an important recognition of your skills and abilities as a teacher. Once you have the appropriate certification, you'll be eligible to pursue various teaching roles and opportunities, whether in state schools, further education colleges or sixth forms.

Master’s Teaching Degree

While having an undergraduate degree is a minimum requirement for becoming a teacher in the UK, many educators choose to pursue a Masters in Education as well. Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether a Masters in Education may be beneficial for your teaching career:

Advantages of a Masters in Education

  • Advanced Knowledge and Skills: A Masters in Education can help you develop advanced knowledge and skills in a particular area of teaching, such as curriculum design or educational research.
  • Career Advancement: A Masters in Education can make you a more competitive candidate for leadership and management positions within schools or other educational institutions.
  • Salary: In some cases, having a Masters in Education can lead to an increase in salary, particularly in specific sectors or roles.

Disadvantages of a Masters in Education

  • Time and Cost: Pursuing a Masters in Education can be time-consuming and expensive, requiring a significant investment of time and money.
  • Career Relevance: Depending on your teaching path and subject area, a Masters in Education may not be directly relevant to your career and may not offer significant career benefits.

Ultimately, whether a Masters in Education benefits your teaching career will depend on several factors, including your career goals, subject area, and teaching path. It's crucial to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing a Masters in Education and to consider how it will fit into your overall career plan. If you're considering pursuing a Masters in Education, research different programs, speak with career advisors, and consider the time and cost involved. By making an informed decision, you can ensure that your investment in your education is well worth it in the long run.

4. Induction Period for Newly Qualified Teachers

Once you've completed your teacher training programme and gained a QTS or QTLS, you'll need to complete an induction period to become a fully qualified teacher. The purpose of this period is to provide you with additional support and training as you transition from trainee to fully qualified teacher. Here's what you can expect during your induction period:

Support and Mentoring

You'll be assigned a mentor who will provide you with guidance and support as you begin your career as a teacher. Your mentor will help you set goals, provide feedback on your teaching practice, and offer advice on how to improve your skills.

Professional Development

During your induction period, you'll have opportunities to participate in professional development activities, such as workshops, training sessions, and conferences. These activities will help you develop your skills and knowledge and keep up-to-date with the latest teaching practices and trends.

Assessment and Feedback

Throughout your induction period, you'll be assessed on your teaching practice and provided with feedback on how to improve. This will help you identify areas for development and ensure that you're meeting the minimum standards required to become a fully qualified teacher.

Completing the induction period is an important step towards becoming a fully qualified teacher in the UK. It's a time to learn and grow as a teacher, to gain valuable experience, and to build your confidence in the classroom. It's important to approach the induction period with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn, as it will be critical to your success as a teacher. By completing the induction period, you'll be well-prepared for a rewarding and fulfilling career in teaching.

5. Essential Qualities and Abilities for Teachers

In addition to meeting the educational requirements and completing the necessary training, there are certain skills and qualities that can make you a successful teacher. Here are some key skills and qualities that you'll need to develop as a teacher:

  • Communication: One of the most important skills for a teacher is the ability to communicate effectively with students, colleagues, and parents. This includes being able to explain concepts clearly, listen actively, and provide constructive feedback.
  • Adaptability: Teaching requires a high degree of adaptability, as each day can bring new challenges and unexpected situations. You'll need to be able to adjust your teaching style to meet the needs of different students and be flexible in your approach.
  • Organisation: Being organised is essential for managing the workload of a teacher. You'll need to be able to plan lessons, grade assignments, and keep track of student progress.
  • Patience: Patience is a key quality for a teacher, as it takes time and effort to help students learn and develop. You'll need to be patient when working with students who are struggling and be willing to provide extra support when needed.
  • Passion: Finally, a passion for teaching and a desire to help students learn and succeed can make all the difference in your career as a teacher. You can create a positive and engaging learning environment by showing enthusiasm for your subject and a genuine interest in your students.

Developing these skills and qualities takes time and effort, but they can be invaluable in helping you become a successful teacher. It's important to continually work on developing these skills throughout your career and seek opportunities for professional development and growth.

Wrapping It Up

Becoming a teacher can be a rewarding and fulfilling career that can make a real difference in the lives of your students. Following the steps outlined in this guide, you can take the first steps towards becoming a qualified teacher in the UK.

Remember to consider your teaching path and subject area, research the educational requirements, and seek training programmes that meet your needs. Be sure to develop the skills and qualities essential for effective teaching, such as communication, adaptability, organisation, patience, and passion.

And when you're ready to start your job search, check out the teaching jobs on Bolt Jobs. With a wide range of teaching opportunities available, you're sure to find a job that fits your skills and interests. Good luck on your journey towards becoming a teacher!


What qualifications do I need to become a teacher?

The specific qualifications you'll need depend on your chosen teaching path and subject area. However, you'll generally need at least a 2:2 degree or equivalent, a GCSE grade C/4 or equivalent in English and maths, and Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

How do I become a qualified teacher?

To become a qualified teacher in the UK, you must complete a teacher training programme that leads to QTS. This can be done through a university, school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) programme or school-based training (School Direct).

What are the different teaching paths I can choose from?

You can choose from several teaching paths, including primary, secondary, special education, further education, and higher education. Each path has its own requirements and qualifications, so it's important to research them before making a decision.

What skills do I need to be a good teacher?

Effective teachers possess several skills and qualities, such as communication, adaptability, organisation, patience, and passion. These skills can be developed through training and experience.

What is the induction period for newly qualified teachers?

The induction period is usually a two-year period that newly qualified teachers must complete to become fully qualified teachers. During this period, teachers receive additional support and training to help them develop their skills and confidence.

How much do teachers get paid?

Teacher salaries in the UK vary depending on the teaching path, location, and experience level. According to the National Education Union, the starting salary for a teacher in England and Wales is currently £28,000 per year. However, salaries can increase with experience and additional responsibilities.

It's important to note that teacher salaries can also vary depending on the school or organisation you work for. To better understand what teachers are earning in your area and at different stages of their careers, you can check out the salary survey on Bolt Jobs. This survey provides insights into salaries and benefits for teachers across the UK and can help you make informed decisions about your career.

Can I become a teacher without a degree?

If you do not have a degree, you may be able to take a course such as a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or a School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) program.

How long does it take to become a teacher in the UK?

The time it takes to become a teacher in the UK depends on the pathway you choose. A PGCE takes one-year full-time, while other pathways may take longer.

How can I improve my chances of getting a job as a teacher?

You can improve your chances of getting a job as a teacher by gaining experience in different schools, volunteering in your local community, and ensuring you have a wide range of necessary skills.

What support is available during training?

During your training, you will be supported by experienced teachers who will provide feedback and guidance. You will also have access to online resources and training materials.

Is there a demand for teachers in the UK?

Yes, there is a demand for teachers in the UK, particularly in subjects such as maths and science.

Can I teach in the UK if I am from another country?

Yes, you can teach in the UK from another country, but you must meet specific requirements and obtain the necessary visas and permits.

Alex Lockey
Director | Bolt Jobs
Founder Alex Lockey is an expert in further education, learning, and skills sector. He leads cost-effective hiring solutions and is known for successful talent placements. Dynamic and driven, Alex seeks innovative solutions to solve sector hiring challenges.