How to get into teaching in the UK?

start a career in teaching

Sharing is caring!

Are you thinking about starting a career in teaching? Whether you’re only at the beginning of your working life or you already have a career in a different field but want to move into teaching, there are many different options and it can seem overwhelming to work out which route could work best for you. Read this guide and hopefully afterwards you’ll have a plan of action.

  1. Initial teacher training routes: To help you with understanding the different routes and requirements first of all, look at the overview here. This will enable you to already narrow down the paths you could possibly choose, depending on your personal circumstances:

University-led training provided by universities: Great for people with no or very little experience in teaching and who have no financial commitments as you have to pay tuition fees. However, you could get a tax-free bursary of £26k for a non-salaried teacher training course in England. Bursary amounts will vary depending on teaching subject and degree class. You will spend a minimum of 24 weeks in two schools to gain practical teaching experience and the overall length of the course is 3-4 years for undergraduates. If you already have a degree the PGCE course will only take 1 year. At the end you’re awarded qualified teacher status (QTS) and you have the opportunity to achieve a postgraduate qualification.

Entry requirements: A minimum of two A-levels (or equivalent) is usually required, though this will vary. Students will also need grade C or above in GCSE English or maths (or B if applying in Wales). Those training to teach early years and primary will need grade C or above in GCSE science. Students will also need to pass a skills test in numeracy and literacy.

School-led training: School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) and School Direct Training Programme (non-salaried): Better for people who prefer a more practical training approach and want to do the training in one year (with only limited teaching experience). Tuition fees apply, but tax-free bursaries of £26k are available for this route, but amounts vary depending on teaching subject and degree class. You still have to attend classes at university so fees apply, but you’re in a school from day one and spend a minimum of 24 weeks spent there. Upon successful completion you’re awarded qualified teacher status (QTS) and given the opportunity to achieve a postgraduate qualification (PGCE).

Entry requirements: Undergraduate degree, grade C or above in GCSE English or maths (or B if applying in Wales). Those training to teach early years and primary will need grade C or above in GCSE science. Students will also need to pass a skills test in numeracy and literacy.

School-led salaried training: School Direct (salaried) and Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship: This route is ideal for people wanting to earn a salary during training, who already have experience in teaching (ideally 3 years). You will be employed by your training school during your year of training. You won’t pay fees to cover the cost of training to achieve qualified teacher status (QTS). However, you should enquire with the school whether you would be expected to pay for any academic qualifications, such as PGCE.  You’ll be awarded qualified teacher status (QTS) with an opportunity to achieve a postgraduate qualification (PGCE).

Entry requirements: Undergraduate degree, grade C or above in GCSE English or maths (or B if applying in Wales). Those training to teach early years and primary will need grade C or above in GCSE science. Students will also need to pass a skills test in numeracy and literacy.

Note about fees and salaries: tuition fees vary as well as salaries depending on the region. In general, the annual fees for universities are around £9000 per year, but for international students they can be higher. Loans are available for home and EU students. Salaries can vary from around £22,000 a year (or around £27,000 if you work in inner London).

  1. Specialist training options: Depending on your educational background and qualifications there are a number of additional training options available if you’re an experienced teacher or finishing a PhD:

Teach First: This route is aimed at high-achieving graduates and is run by an education charity, which employs their trainees to teach in schools where more than 50% of pupils are from low-income backgrounds. You will be given six weeks of intensive training before spending two years at a school (chosen by the charity). During your first year you work towards a PGCE qualification (you’re paid as an unqualified teacher) and you finish the training after two years (during which you’re paid as a qualified teacher).

Entry requirements: A 2:1 degree or above (and above 300 Ucas points), A-levels in relevant subject areas, grade C in GCSE maths and English. Students will also need to pass a skills test in numeracy and literacy and should be able to show qualities such as resilience and organisational skills.

Researchers in Schools (RIS), which includes the Maths and Physics Chairs programme is a tailored, salaried teacher training course for high-calibre candidates, who have completed or are finishing, their PhD.  Advantages are: no fees to be paid towards your teacher training and you’ll earn a competitive salary with an additional salary uplift during the first two years for maths and physics participants. You’ll be part of a structured programme of university-style tutorials based on your PhD and you’ll receive a minimum of 10 weeks’ paid holiday. You will also receive honorary research associate status from a leading university, allowing you the opportunity to maintain an independent research profile and you’ll get a full teacher’s pension and excellent opportunities for progression.

Entry requirements: The programme is open to applicants who have completed or are finishing a PhD in the following subjects: physics, mathematics, chemistry, engineering, computing, geography, English and modern foreign languages (French, German or Spanish).

Assessment Only: Ideal for an experienced teacher with a degree. You can achieve qualified teacher status (QTS) without having to do any further training. Assessment Only allows you to demonstrate that you already meet all of the standards for QTS. To achieve QTS via the AO route, you’ll need to present detailed evidence that you meet the standards. Your teaching will be assessed in a school by an accredited and approved AO provider. A number of universities, colleges, schools and SCITTs around the country offer AO. Their criteria for entry may vary, and you will need to apply to them directly if you are interested in this route to QTS.

Entry requirements: This way of achieving QTS is only available to unqualified teachers who have taught in at least two schools, early years and/or further education settings. You’ll also need to take the professional skills test in literacy and numeracy before you can be accepted onto the route.

Future Teaching Scholars: The Future Teaching Scholars programme is a six-year programme for high-calibre candidates. It offers financial support and extra training while you’re a maths or physics undergraduate, followed by specialist teacher training. In exchange for taking a maths- or physics-related degree, you’ll receive a £15,000 grant and early preparation for teaching while studying for your degree. After graduating, you’ll receive bespoke employment-based teacher training – earning a salary while you learn and working in schools from day one – with additional support for two further years and support finding your first teaching job.

More information is available on the Future Teaching Scholars website.

Now Teach: The Now Teach programme is designed to help people who have already had a successful career to become great teachers in London and Hastings. Providing tailored wraparound support for career changers, the programme helps senior professionals re-deploy their skills in the classroom. The course is school-based and is delivered in partnership with leading Initial Teacher Training (ITT) providers over two years, during which you will achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and complete you Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) induction year.

Entry requirements: Now Teach are working in London and Hastings and are mainly looking for experienced teachers of maths, computer science, languages (French and Spanish), geography and all sciences. You must have a GCSE in both maths and English at grade C or above (or equivalent) and an undergraduate honours degree. You should also have an A-level or related degree/career to the subject you wish to teach.

3. Think about your long-term goals for your career: Now that you have a good understanding of the various ways of getting into teaching you should consider career progression and where you want to be in 10 or 15 years’ time before you pick your path – does this qualification take you where you want to go? If you have no teaching experience yet, I would highly recommend to do a work placement first as people often imagine teaching to be very different from how it really is. Think carefully about the key stage and subjects you want to teach as once you have specialised in an area, it’s hard to shift to another and it might take time and money for additional training.

Expert tip: Read about education on TES and look in the jobs section for positions you’d ideally be interested in once qualified. Check the education and experience requirements in the job description to see what is expected for this role. This will give you an idea what training and experience you would have to gain first, how much you’d have to invest and if this would pay off looking at the salary (some schools state the salary, but you can also check the teacher salaries here: After analysing all of this information you should be ready to take the next step closer to your teaching career. If you’re still unsure, you can speak to advisors on the Get Into Teaching website and they can answer all the remaining questions you have on an individual level directly. Good luck!

Author Profile

Manuela Willbold
Manuela WillboldEditor in Chief
Blogger and Educator by Passion | Senior Online Media & PR Strategist at ClickDo Ltd. | Contributor to many Education, Business & Lifestyle Blogs in the United Kingdom & Germany | Summer Course Student at the London School of Journalism and Course Instructor at the SeekaHost University.

Sharing is caring!