There are a lot of different ways to become a teacher, and not all of which require you to pursue postgraduate study at university.

It’s worth knowing all of the different options and paths open to you, so that you can make sure you take the one which makes the most sense for your specific goals.

It all depends on what type of teacher you want to be, and how much training you want to do before you get involved with the profession.

Tips To Become A Teacher

Classroom with desks and teacher’s chair.
Practical experience in the classroom can give you the confidence to become a teacher.

Before we discuss all of the various potential options and routes into teaching open to you, we thought it’d be beneficial to provide some tips on how you can become a teacher.

That way, you know what to aim for, and you can work on bolstering your chances of being accepted into one of the many different teaching programmes, courses, or scholarships.

Many of the routes we will look at require that you have either studied at undergraduate level, or accumulated a lot of experience in the field of teaching. As a result, if you can’t claim either of those things right now, it’s worth seeing how you can work towards them.

The following are some tips we’ve gathered that could boost your application to a teacher training programme and set you apart from the competition:

  •  Gain Teaching Experience

While it might seem difficult to get teaching experience before you do your training, there are some ways you can do so which will lend weight to your application in future.

One option is volunteering. You can reach out to schools local to you and enquire as to whether there’s a chance they’d let you come in and shadow some of the teachers.

Another is trying your hand at tutoring. You can do this simply by posting ads in your local newspaper or signing up to an online tutoring platform like Superprof to find students.

Teaching abroad for 8 months is an option too, since you don’t need to be qualified to work as an English language teaching assistant through programmes like that offered by the British Council.

  •  Hone Your Skills

Another way to get ahead of the fierce competition is to hone your teaching skills and work on your ability to communicate complex topics simply.

One way you can do this for free is to practise on willing friends and family. Take a subject at random related to the subject you want to teach and try to explain it in a way that they would understand even if they had no prior knowledge of it. You could also practise managing a class too by setting down ground rules and expectations.

This might seem like a pointless exercise, but it will help you figure out your strengths and weaknesses and areas to work on. Plus, should you be asked a hypothetical question in your teacher interview some day, you will be prepared to assume your teacher role and tackle it with confidence.

The Importance of QTS and ITT

A teacher helping a student with their work.
Hands-on teacher training is a key part of ITT.

QTS

Before you consider the various routes, know that what you should be aiming for is to earn qualified teacher status, or QTS for short.

Once you have acquired QTS you will be able to take on teaching positions in both England and Wales.

It is essentially a certificate that demonstrates that you have the adequate training and skills to assume a teaching role in an educational institution.

As for Scotland and Northern Ireland, there is a different way to achieve the same sort of verification. There are General Teaching Councils in both nations which require certain teaching qualifications.

ITT

Initial Teacher Training, or ITT, is what you’ll need to have under your belt in order to earn the QTS.

A prerequisite for the QTS and its equivalents, ITT will get you on your way in your pursuit to become a teacher, and can be completed in a number of different ways.

Once you have this ITT, or you have a wealth of teaching experience from another source, you will be able to take an assessment to get your QTS.

The Different Routes into Teaching

The routes into teaching can be divided into different categories based on the level of study, whether you have previous experience teaching, and what type of training you would prefer. To get a job at the end of your training, you will need to undergo a teacher interview and pass it to move on.

Postgraduate Routes

Postgraduate programmes tend to be amongst the most common when it comes to becoming a teacher.

The most important of which is the PGCE, which is undertaken by many aspiring teachers.

  • PGCE

To land a job as a teacher, one of the most sought after jobs in education, it’s often recommended that you pursue the Postgraduate Certificate in Education, or PGCE.

The PGCE is a hands-on 9 month programme that will fast track your progress towards becoming a teacher. If you enroll in this programme you will study both the theory of teaching as well as going on school placements to learn the ropes.

The PGCE is a programme that can be offered by higher education institutions or schools, and will reward you with the QTS upon successful completion.

  • Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship

Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeships offer a practical route to becoming a teacher.

A full-time programme, this apprenticeship is salaried and recognised across the UK.

It is designed for prospective primary and secondary school teachers, and will have you working at a school so that you can pick up the trade on the job.

  • EYITT

Postgraduate Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) are meant for postgraduates who aspire to teach the youngest age group, using materials from the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Upon successful completion of one of these training programmes, the participant will earn Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS) which gives them the right to work with children up to the age of 5. This is essentially the equivalent of QTS, but for working with younger children.

These types of programmes can take either a year, or can be completed on a part-time basis. You could also take the assessment-only route, which we’ll cover in more detail a little later.

Direct Routes

Students doing exams at their desks.
Assessment only is a great way to bypass teacher training, provided you have prior experience.

There are a few routes into teaching which are more direct than others, and will involve you taking an assessment - at your own expense - to gain QTS or an equivalent.

  • Assessment only

The assessment only route is for teachers who have experience, but are as of yet unqualified.

To take this route you’ll need to prove that you’ve been working as a teacher for a while, and that you have what it takes to go professional. If you can, then all you’ll have to do is take a test to earn the QTS.

This removes the need to do a long and potentially expensive teacher training course. You will essentially be able to skip this stage by virtue of already having accumulated a wealth of experience teaching.

  • School Direct

The School Direct route is perfect for anyone who values on the job training more than the theoretical side of teaching. If you want to get stuck in and learn the trade while practising, then this might be your best option for getting into teaching.

To qualify, you will need to have a minimum of 3 years working. This means it’s an option that you’ll have to consider long before you can take it, so you can build the necessary work experience to enrol.

Upon completion of a School Direct programme you will potentially receive a PGCE qualification and get your QTS, while during it you will receive a salary as you work and train.

Other Routes into Teaching

If you didn’t study at postgraduate level, or have no desire to, then you may be interested in taking the route of an apprenticeship to become a teacher.

  • Future Teaching Scholars Programme

The Future Teaching Scholars Programme is a relatively new initiative that provides a different route into teaching.

This route is designed specifically for those who excel at Maths or Physics, and are keen to apply their knowledge and teach those subjects.

While you undergo an undergraduate degree and hone your skills in either subject, you will also engage in teacher training sessions, and online elements so you can immerse yourself in both the academic side of things and the teaching perspective.

If you are accepted onto this scholarship you will be given a generous grant while you study, and 6 years’ worth of teacher training and professional development.

You will also be given a place on an ITT course, so that you’ll have all the tools you need to succeed once you transition into the profession.

  • Level 5 Diploma

A Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training (DET) programme provides a valuable teaching qualification for those who fulfill certain criteria.

The main criteria you’ll need to satisfy to undertake this programme is a minimum of 100 hours of experience teaching.

This programme is ideal for anyone over the age of 16 who is looking to pick up a teaching qualification to back up their experienced gained teaching up until now.

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Samuel

Sam is an English teaching assistant and freelance writer based in southern Spain. He enjoys exploring new places and cultures, and picking up languages along the way.