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FAQs: Teaching as a career choice

Career | Published 1 October, 2010

Read answers to common questions asked about the teaching profession ranging from age, qualifications, subject knowledge and more.

I have a degree but I don’t have GCSE in maths, English or science.  Can I still apply for initial teacher training without this?

Contact the course provider as they may offer pre-entry tests for anyone who doesn’t hold GCSE in the core subjects

What’s the best way to prepare for a course interview?

The key is preparation. Make sure you research the course and institution you’re interviewing for thoroughly, as well as the issues surrounding education and teaching in general. Demonstrate your experience of working with young people, your commitment to teaching and your relevant knowledge and skills. You can also contact your ITT provider for additional information on your assessment interview (GH)

How much will I earn as a new teacher?

The minimum starting salary for new teachers is £20,627 pa (£25,000 for posts located in inner London).  Use the TES  salary checker  for more detailed information.

I started a PGCE course a couple of years ago but did not complete it due to unforeseen circumstances. Can I pick up from where I left off?

A. Requirements for returning to a PGCE course after a break can vary according to individual training providers.  Please contact your course provider.

Am I too old to teach?  I’m nearly fifty and really attracted to teaching.  I’ve got physics degree and wondered about demand for physics teachers.  Also, would my age go against me at job interviews?

It’s for individual schools to make their recruitment decisions - but don’t let age put you off teaching. There are many trainee teachers over 50. Plus, physics teachers are in great demand. It’s unlikely that you’d find difficulty in getting a job if you qualify and come across well as a potential teacher, which your training will certainly help you do.

You may also be eligible for a £9,000 (£225 a week) postgraduate training bursary and a £5,000 ‘golden hello’ at the start of your second year of teaching, after you successfully complete your induction period. Make your application for postgraduate teacher training on the Graduate Teacher Training Registry website (GH)

I’d like to become a maths teacher but I don’t have any qualifications in maths.   I have a degree and A levels but not related to maths.  Can I still become a maths teacher?

Acceptance on to a PGCE programme depends on a number of things including your subject knowledge. This is assessed through your application and also at interview.

You may be interested in the iTeach (physics, chemistry or maths) PGCE (11-16) programmes offered by Canterbury Christ Church University. It contains subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) modules. It is an online PGCE programme so you can study from your home anywhere in the UK. Placements are undertaken in England.

There is a £16,000 bursary.  More information can be found at  Please take a look at the video on the site.  You can download the application form from the website address above.  Start dates are in April and October.  (GH)

For more questions and expert answers related to teaching as a career, visit the TES forums.


With thanks to Graham Holley, chief executive of the Training and Development Agency

Need more advice? Visit Teaching as a career choice

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Comment (26)

  • Dear Graham,
    I hope this works as I'm new to these forums and not sure if i'm posting in the right goes...
    I have an interview coming up at Nottingham University for a PGCE in Chemistry - and i'm quite stressed about it...i would greatly appreciate ANY advice. They said I will have a written task and a group discussion based on that task, followed by an interview inc. subject knowledge assessment! Sounds scary! Please help!
    Thanking you in advance.

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    27 May, 2009


  • I have done my Bachelor Of Business Administration in Marketing (4years) in Dubai. I am looking forward to pursue a career in teaching. i haven't got any training in teaching. is my qualification sufficient enough to start teaching? if yes, what would be my pay?

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    13 July, 2009


  • I have been working in computing for over 20 years and now would like to make a career change into teaching. I do not have a degree. Only on the job training course achievements such as Certified Novell Netware Administrator, Windows NT Server Adminstrator etc. Please can you advise what couse or program would be best for me to follow. I am right in thinking the only option is a B.ed course. Do you also recommend getting a job as a teaching assistant, the only thing is this is a great drop in salary so I do not want to do this if it is not the best thing.

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    21 September, 2009


  • Dear Graham,
    I am wanting to become a primary school teacher, i have a degree and for the past few years after university have been working in the IT industry. My question is that because i cant go part time in my job but want to gain more experience in a school to benefit my application and hopefully the subsequent interview, would it be adviseable to leave my job and work voluntary in a school for a couple of months, or just get the minimum 10 days which all applications need (i have currently only done 5 days so know i will need another 5 days), or will it look less favoutrabily that i am out of employment. I have also been looking at teaching english abroad does this look favourabily on applications, as i may work voluntary try and secure a place then go in febuary, if i have a place on a course?
    Hopefully you can answer this for me.

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    28 September, 2009


  • Dear Graham
    i am doing an access course to gain a place at uni to do my primary teacher training, i have to give a presentation re the current issues affecting teachers, but all the schools i visit to speak to teachers wont help me, can you?
    thank you

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    18 October, 2009


  • Dear Graham,
    I am hoping to go into teaching and am looking to do the primary pgce. However, i do not possess a Grade C at GCSE in Maths and English and instead posses a Level 2 Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy, which i have now been told by most universities is not accpeted. This leaves me with the dilema of whether i should study for the two GCSE's alongside my studies this year (heavy workload!), and pray that i gain them before next august, or should i just risk applyin for the uni's that said they will consider my application despite not having the GCSE's? And undergo their equivalency tests instead?
    Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.

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    19 October, 2009

    UN27 -

  • Despite the advertising, if you live in the North West of England or in Wales, there is no shortage of Physics Teachers. In fact, the opposite is true. I speak from experience as an unemployed Physics Teacher. At this moment in time there is not a single advertised job for a Physics Teacher within 50 miles of where I live.

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    22 October, 2009


  • Hi Graham,
    I want to apply for a PGCE but am still deciding whether to go for primary or seconday! If I choose secondary would I still be able to teach in primary schools without any further training? Or would I have to do another year's course?

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    29 October, 2009

    Nicola Sullivan

  • Dear Graham,

    I am applying for a PGCE in primary school teaching which as you know has to be submitted by the 1st December 2009. You are only allowed to apply for two primary PGCEs out of the four spaces in the order of preference. What I am wondering is I am also very interested in a middle years PGCE at Canterbury University which can be applied for anyway from Sept 2009 - June 2010, or there abouts. The middle years PGCE is my first choice, but if I put it as my first choice and it is sent off and I am not accepted and my second choice is alerted, which would be a primary PGCE, have I put myself at a disadvantage as technically I will be applying later than the 1st December when other people will have put a primary PGCE as their first choice and be one step ahead? However, if I put a primary PGCE as my first choice due to the more limited application date and get accepted, I won't then be able to get onto the middle years PGCE.

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    19 November, 2009


  • Dear Graham,

    My son recently graduated from Uni with a 2:1 Hons degree in English, History & Education. He was studying Professional Education but due to a terrible placement at a school at the end of his course, he gave up - a decision he so regrets now. This means he did not get TQS. Does he have to go back and study for a PGCE or is there anyway he can rectify, repeat last placement or pick up where he left off so to speak? It seems very sad that a decision made without family support or good careers advice from his Uni Mentor should mean he has to repeat 4 years worth of study. Please can you offer any advice?

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    22 November, 2009


  • Dear Graham,I am just completing the application form for the PGCE and was wondering whether I can give two personal referrees or whether one of them needs to be from an employer?

    I don't want either my current employer or my previous employer to know about my career change at this stage as it may cause me a few difficulties at work.

    Many thanks in advance for your help.

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    30 November, 2009

    William Michael

  • Dear Graham
    I hope this works as I'm new to these forums and not sure if i'm posting in the right place.
    I donot have a PGCSE degree as I am from India would like to take up a teaching job in london .But I do have 10yrs teaching experience for K3 stage

    Please advice
    Thank you

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    5 December, 2009


  • Dear Graham,
    I have done masters in Psychology in India and have gained a graduate status in UK from British Psychological Society as well. I want to pursue my career in teaching psychology in schools. Can you please guide me the route as i dont have any experience in teaching?

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    8 January, 2010


  • Hi Graham,
    I am studying to become a secondary school teacher but am still doing my degree. Could you please tell me which languages are most in demand. French/Spanish/English? Would I need two foreign languages?
    Many Thanks.

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    2 September, 2010


  • Dear Graham
    Hope this works
    I currently work for the School Sport Partnership as a Competition Manager based at a Sports College and have done this role for 3 years, previous to this my work experience has been in Sport Development.
    I am coming to the end of my Sports Studies degree in March 2011 and would like to go into Secondary PE teaching through the GRTP role I currently work 1 day in the PE department as I want to learn more about how a department works aswell as possessing many level 1 & 2 sports qualifications can you think of anything else I can do to really cement my place on the GRTP when I apply?
    Also will GRTP still be around in 2011 with all the government cuts??
    Any help or advice would be great

    Many thanks

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    10 December, 2010


  • Dear Graham,

    I have a interview at the University of Leicester for a placement on the PGCE Social Science course. Can you offer me some adice on what I could expect during the written assessment and group discussion?

    Many Thanks

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    27 December, 2010


  • Dear Graham,

    I have an interview for PGCE in Physical Education, I would be very grateful if you could give me some guidance as to were I can obtain some resources with information on the English curriculum as this is something I am not familiar with.?

    Kind Regards

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    6 January, 2011


  • Dear Graham,

    I am currently Head of the Junior section of a school in Accra, Ghana. I am QTS trained and have around 15yrs educational experience (qualified teaching around 5 yrs). Our school teaches the British NC and I have EY/KS1 (teaching and learning),Equality and Inclusion & behaviour management as my specialisms. I teach on occasions, mainly to cover. I manage around 30 members of staff from TA's to middle managers.

    I am interested in returning to the UK. What are my options with regards to employment? I have not completed a NPQH. Thank you!

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    30 January, 2011


  • Dear Graham,

    I am currently considering a career change into teaching, but with three young children I don't have the option of giving up my Job. My current job as a careers and personal adviser for young people is unstable, but over my 6 years of employment I have much experinece working both on a 1-1 setting and in group sessions. What would be my best training option to gain QTS in Cornwall/ Devon.

    Also, I am unable to decide what subject area I would like to focus upon, with a levels in history, biology and german a 2:1 Ba in social policy and criminal justice and and Level 4 qualification in learning development and support services, I am just not sure where I fit and what courses would deem me as having enough subject knowledge. I am currently looking at health and social care. Any thought would be greatly appreciated.

    kind regards

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    6 February, 2011


  • i am qualified in tv and media and would like to teach at secondary level please can you advise me on what subjects would be suitable for me to specialise in.

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    25 March, 2011


  • Hi

    I have done my post graduation in Business Adminstration from India.I want to take up teaching as a profession.But i have not done any course in treaching according to standards in UK.But i more interested to take up teaching as a profession.Can u Suggest me some ideas.

    Many Thanks

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    9 July, 2011


  • <Hi just want to get information/advice about teaching abroad. I am Nigerian. I have a Bachelors degree in English and Literary Studies, a PGDE in English Language teaching and a Teaching Knowledge Test Certificationorganised by the British Council. I have been a teacher for over four years now and am looking to relocate abroad especially in the light of threats by an Islamic fundamentalist group in my country that has issued an ultimatum for all southern Nigerian christians of which I and my family are, to leave the state or be murdered.
    I would be most grateful for the best possible advice.

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    10 January, 2012


  • Dear Graham,
    I have 11 years of teaching experience in Pakistan with in service training and diploma courses. I had worked as a Curriculaum coordinator for two years before moving to UK for further education. I just completed my Graduate diploma in Business manaement and marketing Level 6 and want teach in primary schools here. I am currently working as a supply teaching assistant, however, i am looking forward to get into full time teaching from September 2012. I am also interested in doing PGCE in primary. Please advice me how continue my career as a teacher in UK.

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    1 July, 2012


  • I completed 165 credits in a business studies degree, due to personal circumstances I could not complete the degree.

    How would I convert this into a teaching degree whats my best options??


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    3 December, 2012


  • I am an Overseas Trained Teacher from India teaching Mathematics and Physics to Senior Secondary level from last 25 Years. Now I want to attain international Qualification PGCE. How I can get this qualification.

    Mr Nagesh D Sharma
    Skype : nageshdutt

    La Martiniere College Lucknow India 226001

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    24 January, 2013


  • Dear Graham
    I have bern working as a teacher oh english in Greece for the past 13 years.What are the requirqments to apply for a relevant teaching position in the UK? I possess a a degree in english language and literature and an MA in translation.which positions am i eligible to apply for? Thanks in advance for your answer.

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    2 March, 2014


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