Teacher Degrees: What They Are and What To Expect

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 29 November 2022 | Published 29 September 2021

Updated 29 November 2022

Published 29 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're passionate about knowledge and want to invest in the lives of children, then teaching may be a rewarding occupation for you. Prospective teachers have a lot to think about when choosing the right career path, as there are multiple options. In all cases, a teacher needs a degree to qualify, yet there are several specific and non-specific degree schemes that you can take to become a teacher. In this article, we discuss what teacher degrees are, how long they take, what to expect from them and the different career paths available.

Related: How To Become a Teacher Without a Degree

What are teacher degrees?

Teacher degrees are courses that allow individuals to achieve Quality Teacher Status (QTS) with further experience. This is a legal requirement to teach in most schools. With this degree, you acquire the correct theory and knowledge required to become a teacher. You can expect to pay tuition fees if you choose to further your education with a postgraduate teacher's degree. You can choose some subjects to receive non-repayable bursaries to cover the costs. The list of eligible subjects changes annually, but it primarily includes Science and Maths.

As a primary school teacher, you don't need to specialise in one subject. For example, a primary school teacher may teach maths, geography and PE within the same day. Some primary school teachers use specialist knowledge to prioritise specific areas. You can decide this with your colleagues in a primary school. You may even want to use this focus of teaching to open up more career options in the future.

Related: How To Attain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) Certification

How long do teaching degrees take?

University courses for teaching typically take around three to four years to complete on a full-time basis. However, if you take it on a part-time basis, they take approximately four to six years. Also, there are other ways for you to gain university certification and become a teacher that is less time-consuming.

For example, many prospective secondary school teachers earn a three-year undergraduate degree that doesn't include teacher training. This is usually in the subject you want to study, and you can choose whether to become a teacher during the degree. To do this, you take a one-year training course, such as a Professional Graduate or Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE). This certification prepares graduates for teaching through extensive training.

What to expect when taking a teaching degree

A teaching degree equips you with the theoretical information to become a teacher and gives you systematic instruction. You learn some new teaching methods and can expect to build your knowledge around the history, sociology and economics of teaching. Also, teacher degrees give you the fundamental resources to perfect your lesson planning, design curricula and cultivate a healthy learning environment for students. You can expect to develop several transferable skills whilst training to become a teacher:

  • Oral and verbal communication skills

  • Organisational skills

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Self-management skills

  • Time management skills

  • Technical skills

  • Teamwork skills

  • Research and analytical skills

Related: 14 Essential Teacher Skills

4 kinds of teaching degrees

There are four different degree paths you can take to become a teacher. Your choice largely depends on what area of teaching you want to enter, such as primary or secondary school teaching, and what suits your learning style. There are four undergraduate degree courses that allow you to reach qualified teacher status:

1. Bachelor of Education (BEd)

A Bachelor of Education is an honours degree that is popular amongst those who seek a career working with primary school children. In this course, you can enjoy a broad course specification, combining academic studies of education with best professional practice. You can also study several programmes tailored to secondary teaching and other teacher-related occupations, including social services and counselling. This degree takes around three years to complete and usually includes integrated work placement. Some Bachelor of Education degrees allow you to achieve QTS certification at graduation, so be sure to check course specifications.

Related: How to write a personal statement for teacher training

2. Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) with QTS

This teacher degree route is more applicable to those wanting to become secondary teachers. During this degree, you study a topic that's one of your passions while incorporating teacher training. You can specialise in your subject knowledge, which is necessary for teaching in a secondary school. Whatever your specialist subject, you can develop all the fundamental teaching skills in this course.

3. Opt-in QTS

Some university courses allow students to incorporate Initial Teacher Training (ITT) into their course, which confers QTS status. You may choose this option to become eligible for undergraduate bursaries if they're available. Opt-in QTS means you can experience classroom teaching before you choose to make it a part of your degree. This option applies to several specific subjects, such as languages and sciences. Your course length, determined by the subject you take, doesn't change. This is because you incorporate school placement work throughout the course.

4. Bachelor's degree followed by a one-year training course

Teachers don't always require a degree specific to teaching, as this leaves little room for career changes. If you want to keep your career options open, consider earning a degree in a subject that's your passion and expertise. Make sure you choose a subject that you want to teach and that you're able to study in-depth over a three to four-year period. There are certain national curriculum subjects that schools teach, so a degree in one of those can give you a competitive edge. These may include:

  • Computing

  • Science

  • Music

  • Design and Technology (DT)

  • Geography

  • Art and design

  • Citizenship

  • English

  • Modern foreign languages (MFL)

  • History

  • Physical education (PE)

  • Maths

A bachelor's degree shows that you have the subject knowledge and qualifications that you need for teacher training. Once you have completed your undergraduate degree, apply to postgraduate teacher training programmes to earn your QTS certification.

5 types of teachers

If you qualify as a teacher for your undergraduate studies, then you're in a better position to apply to further training courses or experience applicable to your occupational interests. Primary or secondary school teaching is the ultimate aim for those who undertake teacher degrees, yet there are other career options available. Here are five occupations with salary information, to consider with a teacher's degree:

1. Teaching assistant

Teaching assistants ensure a classroom is ready for lessons by helping teachers with classroom preparations. Your responsibilities also include listening to students read and giving extra support to pupils who need it. You assist with the planning of learning activities and monitor classroom behaviours. Although it's not necessary to achieve a QTS qualification to become a teaching assistant, it gives you a competitive edge and demonstrates that you have the skills necessary to facilitate classroom learning. The average salary for a teaching assistant is £71.60 per day.

Related: 9 Common Teacher Assistant Interview Questions and Example Answers

2. Secondary school teacher

As a secondary school teacher, you have many of the same responsibilities as a primary school teacher. The main differences are that your pupils are older, aged 11 to 16, and you're likely going to teach one specialist subject. Secondary school teachers are successful if they earn a degree in the subject they want to teach, either integrating QTS certifications or achieving it afterwards. The average salary for a secondary school teacher is £115 per day.

3. Learning mentor

As a learning mentor, you're responsible for providing support and guidance to children who experience learning difficulties. This could be because of behavioural or social problems, which you help the pupil overcome. In this role, expect to work closely with a range of individuals and provide non-judgmental support and guidance. Learning mentors typically achieve a degree in education alongside other relevant training. The average salary for a mentor is £19,953 per year.

4. Education consultant

Education consultants benefit from a Bachelor's of Education degree, yet you might choose to take a degree in a national curriculum subject before acquiring QTS certification. In this role, you provide guidance to parents and students who are trying to decide on a school and focus their abilities on training and advising educational community members. This includes teaching staff members about new classroom policies, technologies and learning resources to boost student achievement. Additionally, you might create development strategies to improve a school's performance. The average salary for an education consultant is £25,301 per year.

5. Primary school teacher

As a primary school teacher, you're responsible for planning, preparing and delivering lesson plans for children between ages four and 11. You provide instructional materials that facilitate active learning and develop tests in accordance with established procedures. You also ensure the well-being of all students and foster their development. The average salary for a primary school teacher is £116 per day.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.


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