How to become a Teacher?

So you want to become a teacher? Fantastic! But are you struggling with understanding where to start, what options are available to you, the difference between your PGCEs and PGDEs, QTS's and ITTs – well you're in the right place!

Let us guide you through your journey, point you in the direction of the training options best suited to you and kickstart your career in teaching.

Is teaching right for me?

I suppose the first question you might have is – is teaching right for me?

From graduate career specialist Bright Network, to be a good teacher you need:

  • Patience

  • Creativity

  • Enthusiasm

  • Communication

  • Confidence

  • Dedication

  • Conflict Resolution

  • Organisation

Before progressing and making the jump into teaching, make sure you spend a few days asking yourself whether it's the right career for you and you're doing it for the right reasons. Can you visualise yourself in a classroom, preparing lessons, marking homework – and importantly, will this make you happy? Here are some more resources for you to take a look at before you make this decision.

Made your decision? Fab!

So let's get stuck into the increasingly confusing question of...

How do I become a teacher?

To become a teacher (primary or secondary) in the UK, you need to achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Some undergraduate degrees will include QTS, such as a Bachelor of Education (BEd), but if you're looking to change careers there are a number of different options available.

For those with a non-QTS degree, you will need to go through one of the many different teacher training programmes.

The most popular route to take to becoming a teacher is through a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), a one- or two-year qualification you can achieve during your teacher training. The PGCE is internationally-recognised, providing you the opportunity to work abroad if that's something you're interested in. The course includes a minimum of 24 weeks in a school placement.

Courses can be found here - Find Postgraduate Teacher Training - where you can filter your results for a 'postgraduate certificate in education with qualified teacher status' only. Bear in mind that not all PGCEs award QTS, so ensure you're looking at the correct programmes.

Got some management experience?

If you have an established career and want to retrain as a teacher, you can apply for bespoke teacher training support programmes developed exclusively for career changers. These include:

  • Now Teach, which is a programme recruiting career changers in London, Hastings, the West Midlands and East Anglia. They will support you along your journey, where you will work alongside a recruitment adviser to help you identify a teacher training provider. Express your interest here.

  • Transition to Teach are supporting candidates in the North West, North East, Yorkshire and the Humber and East Midlands. The programme looks to support those looking to train in maths, computing, MFL, chemistry and physics, and is a free service funded by the Department for Education. Express your interest here.

Before you apply

Before you jump right into applying, there are a few things worth doing to ensure your application is successful.

  • Teaching events – which provide a brilliant opportunity to find out more about teacher training and what a career in teaching has to offer. These also provide a great way for you to meet the schools and universities that lead teacher training.

  • Classroom experience – a fantastic way to stand out in your application is by bringing relevant classroom experience to the table. Getting school experience isn't as tricky as you might think, and the Government provides a simple service for you to find opportunities local to you.

  • Application tips – again, the Government provides a lot of resources to support you in creating the perfect application, including your personal statement.


I don't have degree 2:2 or above, can I still become a teacher?

To become a primary or secondary school teacher in the UK you need Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). You must have an undergraduate degree (2:2 or above) or an equivalent qualification to obtain QTS.

These courses generally take 3-to-4 years full-time, with the most common route for primary school teachers a Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree. For secondary school teaching, you can look to Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (Bsc) degrees, where you will concentrate on gaining specialist knowledge in your chosen subject.

Find out more about undergraduate options here.

I don't have a GCSE in Maths/English/Science above a grade C, can I still become a teacher?

To become a primary or secondary school teacher in the UK, you need to have achieved a GCSE in Maths & English at grade C/4 or above. Primary school teachers need an additional Science GCSE at C/4 or above.

There are many online courses that will guide you through a retake of any of your GCSEs, including ICS Learn here.

Alternatively you can register for exams directly through the examiner's website as a private candidate, e.g. here. If this is the route you want to go down, it would be worth looking to free online courses to help you brush up on your chosen subject. Khan Academy is a fantastic tool for this kind of preparation

Can I have a salary whilst training to become a teacher?

If you want to make the jump into teaching, but require a salary, there are multiple options for you to explore. As long as you have a degree, you can look to a Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship, which offers a combination of classroom teaching, practical learning and a salary, with 20% of your time allocated to off-the-job learning as you work towards QTS.

School Direct is another option, similar to a Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship, where you'll have the opportunity to earn a salary and train to become a qualified teacher. You can have a look at different salaried options here Find Postgraduate Teacher Training, by filtering your results for ‘only courses that come with a salary'.

Finally, if you are a career changer with a 2:1 or above, you might also be eligible to join the popular Teach First training programme. You’ll develop considerable teaching and leadership skills, while you earn a salary and gain a Postgraduate Diploma in Education and Leadership, which is worth double the master’s credits of a Postgraduate Certificate in Education. Additionally, you’ll gain a qualified teacher status in your first year and completing your newly qualified teacher placement in year two. Find out more on the Teach First website.

Want to brush up on your specialist subject first?

If you're hoping to become a secondary school teacher, it might be worth brushing up on your specialist subject before you begin your programme. The Government provides Specialist Knowledge Enhancement courses, which you can look through here, or you might want to take a look at the multitude of free courses out there, such as on Khan Academy.