How to get a teaching job (plus FAQs and top skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 9 July 2022

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.

Teachers are essential members of society who educate people of various age groups on different topics and play a crucial role in the socialisation and development of children. A teaching career can be enriching because teachers directly impact their students' lives in a positive way. Understanding more about the role and how to become a teacher may help you decide whether the career is right for you. In this article, we explore what a teacher does and how to become one and look at some frequently asked questions relating to the role.

Related: A complete guide to supply teaching in the UK

What does a teacher do?

A teacher's primary duty is to educate students in their field of expertise, which they gain through several years of study. Teachers also have various other responsibilities to help them achieve their primary objective, such as planning lessons and monitoring the development of students. This ensures students meet their respective targets and allows the teacher to understand each student's progress. Here are some other responsibilities of the role:

  • creating lesson agendas

  • teaching students in class

  • creating targets for students

  • tracking students' progress toward targets

  • adhering to the national curriculum

  • liaising with parents to talk about the progress of students

  • learning and applying teaching methods

  • grading work and homework

  • collaborating with departmental staff and senior staff

Related: Qualifications to be a teacher (undergrad to leadership)

How to get a teaching job

If you enjoy education, you may want to know how to get a teaching job. Decide what you want to teach as early as possible, as this can define your path to becoming a teacher. Here's a general outline of the steps you can take to begin your career:

1. Determine the type of teaching job you want

It's important to know what you want to teach to tailor your training and education to that subject. Knowing the area you wish to work in also tells you how much training you may require. University lecturers, for example, often require a master's degree or a PhD, as they teach at an advanced level. If you want to teach infants, such an advanced education may not be necessary. Also, knowing your desired role at the start of your training can help you get a job faster, as you can tailor your credentials, CV and job search to your desired position.

2. Obtain relevant training and education

Depending on your chosen subject and the age range you want to teach, the level of required training and education differs. Once you decide, research the specific educational requirements for the job. You typically require a bachelor's degree at a minimum, as even foreign language teachers require bachelor's degrees before obtaining a Teaching English to Foreign Languages (TEFL) qualification. Pursue a bachelor's degree in the subject you want to teach, then learn how to teach students. If you're going to teach at an advanced level, you may require a master's degree and/or PhD.

3. Check regulatory requirements

Because teachers often work with vulnerable students, they usually undergo background checks to ensure they have no criminal record or outstanding legal cases. Also, to work in a public institution, it's also necessary to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) certification by completing a teacher training programme. Private institutions can hire teachers without QTS, but teachers who hold this status are much more employable. As a result, it's essential to pass the criminal background check, also known as a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, and gain QTS if you want to work in a public school.

Related: Teacher degrees: what they are and what to expect

4. Gain relevant experience

Having some work experience can give you a competitive edge when applying for teaching positions. This shows you have actual classroom experience and can handle the job. In addition, classroom experience is essential to gaining QTS. This means that for most teaching positions, having classroom experience is a necessity, as having QTS is a requirement for most positions. Teaching degree programmes that include QTS certification typically involve work experience, so you can gain this while studying for your degree and QTS exam.

5. Check job openings and apply for jobs

After gaining the required level of education, undertaking teacher training, acquiring QTS and completing work experience, you can start looking for open positions. An effective way to do this is by exploring the listings on job-search sites, networking on professional social media platforms and speaking to relevant people directly to enquire about opportunities. Once you identify suitable and interesting vacancies, begin working on your CV and cover letter, then send an application. Scanning the job description for keywords and phrases and inserting these strategically into your CV can capture the recruitment manager's attention.

6. Interview for jobs

Succeeding in interviews is the last stage in becoming a teacher. Depending on the role you apply for, you may go through a round of telephone interviews before an in-person meeting. Being punctual, polite and well-prepared is the best way to impress the interviewer. Preparing for an interview means reviewing your CV and the job description, anticipating the interviewer's questions and developing some responses beforehand. This can help you answer questions quickly and confidently. If the institution hasn't responded a week after your interview, consider calling the recruitment team to discuss your application.

Related: 9 common teacher assistant interview questions and example answers

Frequently asked questions about teaching jobs

People frequently have questions about getting a teaching job, including:

What are critical need areas?

Critical need areas in the context of education refer to subjects that require teachers urgently. As the demand is greater for teachers, you might find that you can progress your career faster than in some other areas. Therefore, training to work in a critical need subject and pursuing a career in this area may offer more job opportunities.

Should you take documentation to a teaching job interview?

It's beneficial to take several copies of your CV and cover letter to your job interview. If you have a teaching portfolio that showcases previous coursework, projects, photos or other related documents, take this along, too. Additionally, consider obtaining reference letters and recommendations.

Should you follow up on a teaching job interview?

You could consider sending a handwritten thank-you letter to the person or people who interviewed you within 24 hours of completing your interview. Also, consider sending a follow-up letter or email if you haven't received a response during the first week after your interview. Proactivity can help show the recruitment manager how serious your interest in the job is.

Skills for teachers

Here are some skills to help you succeed as a teacher:

  • Communication: A teaching role revolves around communication. Effective communicators can make good teachers, as part of the teaching process delivers potentially complex ideas in clear and understandable ways.

  • Patience: Teaching often requires patience, as students may take time to understand concepts, despite repeated attempts to communicate them. Teachers working with young children may require significant patience, as these students may have short attention spans and prove challenging to educate.

  • Confidence: It's challenging to stand in front of a room full of people and lead a class, so confidence is beneficial for teachers. You may even address an assembly hall audience as a teacher, which requires significant confidence and public speaking abilities.

  • Interpersonal skills: Keeping students focused and engaged in lessons is important to helping them succeed in their education. Teachers also define their success based on their student's performance, so understanding how to engage an audience is a vital skill.

  • Conflict resolution: In particular, teachers working in secondary, primary and infant education may benefit from strong resolution skills. Students who fall into these age ranges may be particularly boisterous due to their immaturity, requiring teachers to intervene and resolve minor conflicts.

  • Knowledge of teaching methodologies: Understanding teaching processes and different learning methodologies can help teachers build success in their work. You may learn study methods like cooperative and inquiry-based learning at university and can develop your knowledge through self-study.

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