How to become a teacher

Teachers can have very flexible careers, are able to travel and teach all around the world, and also if desired, have the stability of staying and working in one community for many years.

People usually decide to become teachers because they are passionate about learning and helping other people to grow and better themselves. A teacher needs to love school and education, be aware of the latest issues and believe that passing down their skills and knowledge will be a positive experience for others, and also for themselves.

Teachers usually need to enrol in some kind of tertiary teaching course, which is specific to the type of teacher they want to be and their area of study. Teachers are often required to be registered with a government agency, which gives them the right to work in schools, and ensures they meet the standard legal requirements.

Early childhood teachers

Few people realise that teachers are required for very young babies. The methods and strategies used to teach young children are very different from those used to teach teenagers and adults. Before the age of five, children learn by playing and interacting with their environment. A university trained early childhood teacher is not one that stands in front of a classroom, but facilitates the learning be involving themselves in the play of young children, and setting up their learning environment.

To become an early childhood teacher you will need a university degree which may take three or four years to complete, in the area of early childhood education. You will be employed to work in pre-schools, kindergartens, childcare centres and the early years of primary school.

How do I work in schools?

Depending on your nation, and the area you live in, you will need to meet the legislative criteria to be a teacher and work in schools. Quite often this involves registration with a government board. You will be issued with a teaching registration number and you may even need to go on a waiting list before you can apply for a paid position.

To work in schools you will need a university degree. In the younger years, like primary school, you will learn how to teach all subjects and you will have your own class. In high school or college, you will usually specialise in a specific subject area, and only teach this subject. To do this, you will first need a degree in your preferred area of study, such as science or maths, and then complete another course to become a teacher. In this second course you will learn teaching strategies so you are able to teach your area of expertise in schools.

Practical experience

University teaching courses include theory, but they also include practical experience. You may spend just a few weeks, or even years, working in a school environment while being supervised by senior teachers. You will learn on the job, and gain the experience you need to work unsupervised in a school teaching environment.

“I wanted to be a teacher so I could have holidays like the students at the end of the school term. I have always read lots and loved learning new things about our world. I am very good at trivia questions and enjoy watching the news.

I wanted to teach to inspire others to love learning the same as me. Teaching also allows me to travel. Last year I taught Maths in Greece and it was an eye opening experience.” – Matt, USA (teacher)

Adult education

Teaching is not only for children. Adults learn too, in colleges and universities. Any time you study yourself, you will have a teacher. Think about all the teachers you know, in different areas of the community. Adult education teachers specialise in teaching adults and can work in the following roles:

  • University lecturer or professor
  • Teacher at a community college
  • Teacher at technical college
  • Distance education teacher who works online

To teach adults you will usually need a qualification and extensive experience in your chosen industry. You may need a short teaching qualification that takes just a few weeks, or you may need to spend many years at university. It depends on the importance of your role and the education setting that you work in.

How do I get started as a teacher?

The first thing you need to do, if you want to be a teacher, is decide what and who you want to teach. You will then need to contact schools and government boards to find out the exact entry requirements. Also talk to universities and colleges about the teaching courses they offer. The pathway to becoming a teacher should be very simple, but could require lots of study, discipline and hard work.

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