How to become a teacher

Teachers are the cornerstone of society, helping to engage, challenge and teach children of various ages and abilities. Whether you choose to be a primary school teacher or to teach a specialised subject at secondary school or further education settings, the profession can be highly rewarding as well as demanding.

Average Salary

Average Salary

£22,000 to £60,000


Qualification Level


Weekly Hours

Weekly Hours

37 hours

Starting a career in the teaching profession

As a teacher, you will be responsible for delivering lessons that meet the requirements of the national curriculum as well as ensuring that your lessons are interesting, memorable and suitable for a classroom of varying abilities. You may also be given additional responsibilities, such as working as the head of a subject, a house or managing extra-curricular activities.

What qualifications will I need to become a teacher?

In order to work as a teacher, you will be required to hold a number of qualifications. Whether you want to be a primary school teacher or a teacher for older ages, you will need to hold the following:

  • GCSEs in English, Maths and Science and a grade A*-C or Level 9-4.
  • Passes in literacy and numeracy skills tests.
  • A degree (see below).
  • An enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check.

Most candidates will also be required to have had some classroom experience prior to being offered a job as a teacher.

Those who have a degree will be able to apply for a postgraduate teacher training course, which will enable them to enter the profession. This course will include lectures, coursework and classroom experience. Graduates can enter a postgraduate teacher training course through university or on a school-led scheme. Both courses will contain the essential training and experience to ensure that candidates are well-prepared for entry into the career.

If a candidate does not yet have a degree, it is possible to enter a course that contains teacher training alongside the academic choice. This means that the completion of the degree will also result in qualified teacher status.

Primary school teacher trainees may receive financial support from the government, as may secondary teachers for specific subjects. Some in-demand teacher positions may allow for student teachers to receive a bursary, loan or salary whilst they train. More information on financial support is available from Get Into Teaching.

Essential Skills for Being a Teacher

To work as a teacher, you will need to possess a number of essential skills. These include:

  • The ability to motivate and engage students.
  • To assess the skills and abilities of others.
  • To accommodate additional needs including challenging behaviour, high performers and language barriers.
  • A creative nature and the ability to design unique and captivating lesson plans and activities.
  • The ambition to maintain up to date subject knowledge.
  • Excellent organisational, managerial and administrative skills.
  • The ability to present information again and in a different way if it is not understood initially.
  • The ability to assess a child’s needs, welfare and identify areas of concern, both in personal development and educational progression.

Will it be necessary to have a medical check and criminal records check to work as a teacher?

It is a legal requirement for all teachers to have an enhanced DBS check before they are allowed to work with children. This helps to preserve the safety of students and minimise risk.

It is not normal practice for a school to request a teacher to have a medical examination prior to commencing work. However, some schools will offer medical insurance to teachers and an examination may be required for that. Also, some subjects may deem it necessary to have a medical examination such as dance and physical education.

Day to Day Work of a Teacher

The majority of teachers will work in a state school or an academy. It may also be possible to work in a private school or in an educational offering at a hospital or youth offenders institute. Some teachers also register with an agency to work on a supply basis when full time teachers are not available due to sickness or holidays.

The day-to-day duties of a teacher will include:

  • Lesson planning and creating educational activities.
  • Marking work both in class and at home.
  • Maintaining student records.
  • Ensuring that the classroom and wider school are safe and conducive to learning.
  • Liaising with teaching assistants, supervisors and parents to provide updates on each pupil’s progression.
  • Attending meetings.
  • Completing training programmes.
  • Working with other professionals such as educational psychologists and social workers.
  • Being involved in extracurricular activities, off-site lessons and school trips.

How much will I be paid as a teacher?

The starting salary for a newly qualified teacher will be between £22,00 to £34,00 and will depend on your location, subject and hours.

Experienced teachers can expect to earn between £34,000 to £39,000. For highly experienced teachers who have worked in the profession for several years, earning potential can be up to £60,000.

If you work in a school in central London you can expect to earn more than the figures mentioned above.

Career Progression for a Teacher

Teachers have a variety of routes to progress their career and some of these will bring the opportunity to increase their salaries. Some of the most likely career progression steps include:

  • Specialising in Special Educational Needs
  • Becoming the head of a subject or department
  • Taking on extra-curricular roles and managing after-school clubs and activities
  • Becoming a Specialist Leader of Education (SLE), which would mean supporting teachers in other schools.
  • Becoming a deputy head or head teacher.

Working Hours and Environment for a Teacher

Most teachers will usually work 37 hours each week and will work 39 weeks each year. These working weeks will be divided into 3 academic terms. Time outside of these hours will be required to plan lessons and activities, marking work, completing parents’ evening reports and keeping abreast of subject and professional developments.

Salaries will usually be paid monthly, even during school holidays.

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life"