Whether you’re just starting out in employment, or you’ve already worked your way to the top of the career ladder and you fancy a change, teaching is one of the most rewarding professions to work in. Influencing and encouraging young people, problem-solving and passing on knowledge are part of every day, and can make for both a satisfying work and personal life. Like all industries, it’s not without its challenges though – but the trick is to be prepared for anything. We’ve rounded up some great tips to help you on your teaching journey.

Do Your Homework

The best thing you can do to kick off your teaching career is to research the field; there are plenty of plus points about working in education, but as with any industry, there are also the negatives. Many people assume teachers work part-time hours – and term-time only – but this simply isn’t true; teacher training days, paperwork, marking, parents evenings and lesson planning all take up vast amounts of time, and you’ll often find yourself still in the classroom past 5pm.

Find out the facts; talk to people who already work in schools and universities, read professional journals and magazines, and even arrange visits with local places of education to get a feel for it. Another important thing to consider is which age range you want to teach – the training and studying for Early Years Education, for example, tends to be different to that of someone who wants to work in Secondary Schools or Universities.

Return To Studying

Even if you’re already educated to degree level, you’re almost certainly going to need to further your learning before you can become a teacher – and there are several different routes you can take. If you’re just starting out, an Undergraduate teaching degree that includes QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) is a great choice, and can be completed either full or part-time – they also include the option to specialise in a subject.

For anyone who already has a degree, Postgraduate Teacher Training is an excellent route and will leave you with a PGDE (Professional Graduate Diploma in Education) on completion. If you’re already working and starting afresh isn’t an option, opt for a distance learning teacher qualification such as an MA in education from an online course provider like the University of Exeter. Studying this way will mean you learn everything you need to know, but won’t have to make any financial sacrifices.

Finally if you’re a professional aiming to move into teaching, Now Teach provides a programme which retrains people utilising the skills they’ve already acquired throughout their careers; training is completed on-the-job, and candidates receive a bursary to help with finances.

Get Some Experience

As with any industry, experience counts for a lot – so be prepared to get stuck in to bolster that CV. Start by offering to volunteer in local schools with pupils in the age range you want to teach; typically this will mean you could be doing anything from helping with numeracy and literacy to leading after-school club activities, assisting on school trips and helping with events such as sports days. Once you’ve got some experience as a volunteer, you could apply to become a TA (Teaching Assistant) – although it pays to know that competition for these roles is usually extremely high. While you don’t necessarily need a degree to become a TA, it can be an advantage – and you will need to have GCSE or equivalent level skills in Maths and English, and prior experience of working with children and young people. Getting experience in the classroom setting really is invaluable; not only will you have the chance to learn from experienced teachers, you’ll also be demonstrating your commitment to the role.

Consider Financial Implications

As with any period of study or career change, before you set off on your teaching journey you’re going to need to consider your finances. If, for example, you’re the main earner in your household, is your partner or spouse going to be able to pick up the slack if your salary drops? The good news is that there are a range of bursaries and grants available for anyone working on Postgraduate Teacher Training, with extra financial support provided for anyone who is a parent or who has an adult dependant or disability. The bad news is that other methods of study are usually not funded, and can be pricey – you also need to think about whether you’re going to be able to fit in studying around your current job. Another thing to consider is whether you can afford to take a pay cut; teachers salaries often start at around £23,719 for newly qualified entrants – and if you’re used to being at the top of the career ladder, this is probably going to be a pretty dramatic decrease. On the more positive side, there’s always room for advancements within the industry, which will obviously be accompanied by an increase in wages.