How to Develop a Career in Education

Positions in education are varied, and if working with children or young adults appeals, and you have a good sense of humour and patience, there may be a role that suits your particular interests. Here we explore the main routes to a career in education - but there are many more positions to consider should your career take you this way. Seek advice from your careers advisor, or talk to colleagues who are already working in education to gather ideas.

As with any positions in which you may be working with children or vulnerable adults, you will need to have enhanced criminal record checks through the Disclosure and Barring Service - which used to be known as the Criminal Records Bureau - before commencing any of the roles described below.


Probably the most familiar role in education - most teachers in primary or secondary schools have followed either a university path, or work based training, known as Initial Teacher Education or Training. This leads to Qualified Teacher status, and the university route can involve either an undergraduate degree or a post graduate award. Many teachers have previous business experience and come into teaching later in their careers - a route which can be valuable, particularly if their experience is relevant when teaching specialist subjects such as business or science.

Although teachers may cover broad subjects in primary school, or more specialised areas for secondary education, all need to have GCSE passes (or equivalent) in English, maths and science, and successfully pass numeracy and literacy tests to be accepted into teacher training programmes. Teachers, once established, can move into leadership roles, such as Deputy Head, or Head Teacher positions, in which they develop and manage the school or academy in which they work, or Head of Department positions in which they lead a department of specialist teachers. In both cases contact time with students may reduce as it is replaced with more managerial tasks.

Teaching Assistant

Teaching Assistants work in the classroom, helping individuals or groups of students with their everyday work. In some cases, Teaching Assistants may have a specialist role, such as supporting children with special educational needs, or for whom English is a second language; in other cases the role will involve more general support to the class and teacher such as preparing the classroom for lessons and working alongside children to help them achieve their learning aims.

Local Education Authorities decide on the requirements to become a Teaching Assistant, which means that entry requirements can vary locally - although relevant experience or qualifications in childcare, youth work or any aspect of education should help. Many schools welcome volunteers to support - subject to usual disclosure requirements - and this can be a good way to experience the role and gain experience should this be a requirement in your local area. Check out the positions being advertised in schools close to home to understand the typical requirements in your vicinity.

English as a Foreign Language Teacher

Positions teaching English language and British culture exist both in the UK and abroad, and can be accessed with or without specialist qualifications. Positions all require an excellent grasp of the English language, including a good ability to teach and explain complex grammatical concepts, and a qualification, such as CELTA or TESOL, can enhance your chances of employment and lead to better pay rates.

Other positions in education

Outside of the better known routes, there are a number of different, and interesting positions in the field of education, including the role of Community Education Coordinator, working in family education, or with groups such as ethnic minority populations who may otherwise struggle to access the education they need. These roles exist in both the public and voluntary sector, and requirements are set by the individual employer.

If you would prefer to work with young adults or more mature populations, a position as a University Lecturer, Further Education Lecturer or tutor may appeal, offering academic courses, vocational teaching, or running hobby courses in subjects such as art or cookery.

You may also consider roles working as an independent tutor, if you have specialist knowledge and relevant experience. These jobs can be arranged simply with an advert in a paper, word of mouth advertising, or else arranged through agencies, and delivered in person or over the internet.

Roles in education can be rewarding and interesting, and lead to a rich and varied career. Explore the options open to you using the breadth of information available online (including the links provided here), volunteer or consider work experience to enhance your own experience and understanding, and build your network of individuals in positions that interest you, to help you tailor make the route into education that is right for you.


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