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Start a Career in Education

Education Careers in the UK - Start your professional training search here!

Why start a career in Education?

Generally considered to be virtually recession proof, a career in education gives you the chance to guide and inspire future generations, and is often considered to be one of the most rewarding professions.The UK's education and professional training sector offers a wealth of employment opportunities across a range of study disciplines and at various training levels.

We've gathered below the essential information on the most popular, and on demand, job roles in the UK's education sector today. also brings you a large selection of training programmes to help you start and advance your career in education. You can get a general overview of the key responsibilities of an education professional, at all levels, from Teacher Assistant duties through to University Professor responsibilities.

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How to start a career in Education?

There are many professional training courses to help you build the skills, knowledge and stamina to be successful in an education role. Foundation level training programmes at  post-secondary and university level help you decide the level and specialisation you wish to teach, while continuous professional development in his sector enables you to both increase their effectiveness and open the door to greater long-term career opportunities. works with training providers in the UK accredited to deliver courses and qualifications for those who wish to jumpstart a career in Education. Explore the key duties, training requirements and benefits of becoming a teacher, professor or professional trainer.

Teaching Assistant EFL Teacher Primary School Teacher SEN Teacher

Teaching Assistant

This entry level position in this career sector does not always require any formal qualifications and is therefore ideal for individuals who enjoy working with children and young people and want to play an active role in their education.

Individual schools, local education authorities and specialised training providers generally set their own standards as to what level of qualification or experience they wish candidates to have. Unpaid positions are often available to those who have some prior experience of working with children or are able to show potential employers that they have the necessary skills and right type of personality to do so.

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The exact nature of the job will depend on the age of the children being taught, but typical activities include:

  • Preparing classrooms for lessons
  • Assisting children with reading
  • Providing additional support for children struggling to follow lessons
  • Clearing away equipment and materials at the end of lessons
  • Assisting with sports events and school outings

Paid positions are usually only offered to those who either already have the following qualifications or agree to begin studying them soon after being employed:

  • Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schools
  • Level 3 Award in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools.

Further training courses and qualifications are then available to enable candidates to become Higher Level Teaching Assistants, taking on far more responsibility. Starting work as a teaching assistant is also a good idea for anyone planning to become a teacher as it can give a detailed insight in the day-to-day realities of the job.

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EFL Teacher

If you are looking for a teaching role that provides you with the chance to meet people from a wide range of countries and cultures, becoming an EFL teacher could be just the ticket. This is a job that requires patience and a solid sense of humour. You will also need a degree or a formal qualification in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) before you are able to work.

Typical duties might include:

  • Teaching language lessons and related activities
  • Having English conversation with those who do not have English as their first language
  • Setting and marking exams and exercises
  • Providing learning resources
  • Hosting social events aimed at improving an understanding of English

Once you have gained around two years of teaching experience, you can further develop your skills with additional qualifications including the Trinity Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and the Cambridge Teaching Knowledge Test. A TEFL certificate is usually a prerequisite.

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Primary School Teacher/Secondary School Teacher

Few jobs provide as great an opportunity to give young children the best possible start in life as that of primary school teacher. You'll need bags of enthusiasm, the ability to relate to both pupils and their parents and, as with all teaching jobs, a great sense of humour and lots of patience.

The most common route to becoming a teacher is take an Initial Teacher TTraining (ITT) course in order to obtain Qualified Teacher Status. To do this you will need GCSEs in English, Maths and a science subject and also a degree.

Working in both state and independent schools with children between the ages of five and eleven, you'll be responsible for the emotional and social development of your pupils as well as taking care of their educational needs.

As well as teaching lessons you are likely to be expected to:

  • Mark assignments and homework
  • Manage and monitor the behaviour of pupils in your class
  • Take part in discussions with parents and other carers
  • Organise social activities, sports events and outings
  • Attend meetings about school policies

Once your initial teacher training course is complete, you would need to spend at least three terms working as a teacher, under the watchful eye of a mentor, before you officially gain qualified teacher status. Teaching also provides a number of opportunities for continuing professional development, usually through through local authority workshops. These can help you stay fully up to date with the latest developments in the world of education.

If you want to teach in secondary school, you will need to specialise in one or two subjects. Because of this, the amount of time taken to qualify will depend on whether you already have a degree in a national curriculum subject. You can also take intensive enhanced courses in areas where a shortage of teachers has been identified to bring yourself up to speed more quickly.

Further training is also available for teachers taking on additional responsibilities or moving into managements roles, such as becoming heads of subjects. Training is also available for those moving up to the role of deputy head or headmaster for the first time.

If you, once you receive your qualified teacher status, you decide to change to a different age group, you do not need to obtain a separate qualification, however, most schools would want to see that you had at least some experience of teaching pupils from the age group concerned. This can be obtained on a voluntary basis.

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Special Needs Teacher

Special educational needs (SEN) teachers work with young people who have disabilities or learning difficulties that make it more difficult for them to learn than other children of their own age. Such children often exhibit extremely challenging behaviour so this role demands additional patience and understanding, above and beyond what is normally required of most teachers.

This job could involve working which children who have:

  • Impaired hearing or sight
  • Behavioural problems
  • Physical disabilities
  • Dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties

If you wanted to work in the special needs field your initial teacher training should include an element of this. Further training programmes, often delivered by the relevant local education authority may also be available.

A more academic route is to take a a formal qualification in special educational needs, such as a diploma, a master's degree or a postgraduate certificate. If you want to teach pupils with hearing impairment, you will need to take specific qualifications, such as a course in British Sign Language.

Teachers wishing to work with the visually impaired must take a separate postgraduate qualification to become a Qualified Teacher of the Visually Impaired.

Find courses that prepare you to become a SEN teacher

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Further Education Teacher Higher Education Lecturer Professional Trainer

Further Education Teacher/Lecturer

If you want to teach students who have a little more independence than those at secondary school but don't want to work for a university or pursue an advanced degree yourself, become a further education teacher or lecturer could be the ideal position for you.

Most Further Education teachers work with students starting at age 16 but some work with younger students studying vocational subjects.

In order to be able to teach, you'll need to have a qualification at Level 3 or above in the subject you want to teach, in addition to a standard teaching qualification. As well as colleges, you could find yourself teaching at community centres, prisons and a range of other venues.

Unlike other forms of teaching, working hours may be full-time, part-time or, in some cases, may involve weekends and evenings. One benefit of teaching in this environment is that, for the most part, the pupils are more engaged with their subjects as they are studying them on a voluntary rather than compulsory basis.

The types of courses you could find yourself teaching include:

  • Academic subjects, like maths and English - often leading to standard qualifications such as GCSEs and A levels
  • Vocational courses in areas such as catering, construction or childcare
  • Leisure and hobby courses, such as photography.

Further education lecturers can obtain Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills status which, since April 2012, also qualifies them to teach in secondary schools.

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Higher Education Lecturer/University Professor

In addition to teaching both academic and vocational subjects at a degree level and above, higher education lecturers carry out research, either on their on behalf or on behalf of the university or college they are working for.

Typically, you will need a good first degree to get started on this career path as well as a masters. Some educational establishments will expect you to have a PhD or at the very least, be working towards one. You will also need to have a substantial body of published work or show that you intend to be published in the very near future.

This role would usually involve:

  • Preparing and presenting lectures
  • Setting and marking exams and assignments
  • Hosting tutor groups
  • Acting as a personal tutor
  • Conducting research as well as supervising the research of others
  • Preparing research for publication

Training for this academic position usually takes place on the job with most colleges or universities having some kind of in-house training program. However, you can also supplement this with external courses that can enhance both your knowledge and your abilities.

You may be required to take a formal qualification, such as a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching (Higher Education). There are also a range of professional development options offered by the Higher Education Academy.


Professional Trainer

You can contribute directly to your peers' continuous professional development and lifelong learning goals by becoming a trainer. With numerous courses available today, you have the chance to join the professional education sector and become a trainer, coach or facilitator, for a specialised training company or within your own organisation's L&D department.

Your role would usually involve:

  • Prepare the course syllabus and training materials
  • Research your target group's requirements - be those individuals or organisations
  • Deliver the training session, workshop or tutorial
  • Ensure class interaction and facilitate knowledge exchange in class
  • Collect feedback from delegates
  • Provide post-course support

Explore the list of Train the Trainer courses

Last updated: 28 Aug 2014

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