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Is a Job in Teaching Right for You?

Matthew Williams

A career as a teacher is as rewarding as it is challenging.

Not only does teaching involve imparting information, but you play an integral role in the lives of young people, impacting their lives considerably. Teaching can also be a stressful and extremely challenging career, however, with lots of people learning the hard way that it’s not for everyone.

With a national shortage of teachers in the UK and other countries, now is a great time to consider becoming a teacher with plenty of government support available. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know to get into teaching and discover whether it’s right for you.

Which type of people get into teaching?

Anyone with a degree can get into teaching, but certain personality types excel in the role of educator. A good teacher is not just someone who teaches a curriculum, they also act as role model, advisor, and someone young people can trust, making a massive difference in their lives.

Teachers often cite these immaterial rewards of working with children as being their primary motivator. In order to be a great teacher, then, you'll need to be passionate about the wellbeing and development of young people. G enthused to bring out the best in them.

This is because a teacher's workload can become quite large, requiring lots of planning and forethought.  A deep-rooted commitment to the education of children, then, with patience and compassion, are qualities that teachers should have in spades.

Types of teacher and responsibilities

There are a variety of different teaching roles available, helping to educate a wide age range. Becoming a teacher can educate young children to young adults in subjects such as maths, art, English, geography, humanities, design, languages and more. While there are a lot of different roles in education, the most commonly considered are:

  • Early years teacher: teaching children aged between three and five, an early years teacher will deliver lessons that comply with the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum.
  • Infant/Primary school teacher: early school education involves the education of children aged between five and twelve, as they move from infants to primary school.
  • Secondary school teacher: teaching pupils aged between 11 and 16, secondary school education involves following the national curriculum and working towards achieving good GCSE grades.
  • Further education teacher: teaching young people typically aged 16 to 18 in a college setting, further education teachers often focus on vocational training and qualifications, or more advanced foundational subjects.

Amongst other things, all of these roles require teachers to:

  • Carefully plan, prepare, and deliver lessons
  • Develop appropriate teaching techniques
  • Mark and give feedback on work
  • Encourage student participation
  • Remain up to date with education methods and continue your own training
  • Build rapport with pupils from all backgrounds
  • Maintain records
  • Hold parents evenings
  • Liaise with other staff and educational bodies
Getting qualified

In order to teach at a primary school or higher level in England and Wales, you will need to obtain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

This requires:

  • A degree
  • English and mathematics GCSEs at a grade C or higher.

Obtaining QTS invokes taking a post-graduate certificate in education (PGCE) which takes about a year. Information on taking a PGCE course can be found through charities such as Now Teach or by using the Government website.

Scotland offers a PGDE course that is similar but with different entry requirements.

Those set on becoming a teacher without a degree or are yet to go to university can choose a Bachelor of Education (BEd) course. These three-year courses confer qualified teacher status and cover all aspects of education including classroom placements to get hands-on experience.

Pay and rewards

Newly qualified teachers can expect to earn between £25,000 and £32,000 a year. This varies depending on the area of the country and the education level.

The average secondary school teacher can expect to be paid around £17 an hour, equating to around £34,000 per year, with London-based educators paid a little more. Senior roles and headteachers can expect to be paid anything from £40,000 to £125,000 a year.

Aside from their salary, teachers also enjoy job security, knowing their skills are essential and in demand. This contrasts with a lot of private sector roles where redundancies are common, especially in harder economic times.

You can expect to work around 195 days a year as a teacher, around 32 days less than the average worker. Teachers are, however, expected to do some prep work and marking in their own time.

While these are seen as good reasons to get into teaching, teachers themselves often cite the intangible rewards as being most important, helping make a difference in the lives of young people.

Teacher career progression

Teachers can advance their careers in a number of ways with the following being the most common:

  • Head of subject: being the head of a subject can mean shouldering more responsibilities such as ensuring the curriculum is being taught correctly and grade targets are met. They will answer to the head of the school and be a point of contact for subject teachers.
  • Head of year/senior role: a head of year oversees the care and education of an entire year group. They will ensure student progress is being made and liaise with teachers and senior management about pupil education.
  • Deputy/Headteacher: Deputies and headteachers are responsible for organizing the entire school structure. This includes reviewing attendance and performance metrics, handling budgets, and a host of other responsibilities outside of the classroom.
Downsides to teaching

Teaching is not for everyone with 44% of teachers in 2022 admitting they are thinking about leaving the profession.

Most teachers complain that the job does not pay well enough for how demanding it is. While teachers do enjoy more time off than those who pursue other careers, this time is partly filled with preparation and other work that is technically unpaid.

Teachers also dislike how education is evaluated, with Ofsted inspections being a particularly stressful time. Some teachers become frustrated with standardised testing that they argue teaches children to simply pass tests, and can interrupt the real education process.

The workload of teachers is also quite large with planning and marking bleeding into private time.


Despite the downsides, there are many teachers that love their job and are committed to the role. Becoming a teacher is a big commitment, however, and is suitable for people who are passionate about education and fully understand the challenges involved.

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