Further education (FE) lecturers are responsible for teaching one or more subjects in any of the following settings:
- a general or specialist college of FE;
- sixth form colleges;
- adult and community education centres;
- prisons and youth offender organisations;
- voluntary and charity organisations;
- work-based learning.
They teach at all levels, from entry level to foundation degrees and professional qualifications. Courses may lead to general, vocational, or academic qualifications which prepare students for work or higher education (HE), or may support personal interest, e.g. hobby or leisure subjects.
Although FE lecturers work mainly with post-16 and/or adult learners, they are increasingly expected to work with those aged 14 to 19 who are studying vocational subjects.
Typical tasks include:
- planning and preparing lessons;
- teaching across a range of qualification types and levels, in day or evening classes or open access workshops;
- researching and developing new topics, courses and teaching materials, including online resources;
- teaching large and small groups of learners from a range of backgrounds, abilities and ages;
- monitoring, assessing and marking students' work;
- maintaining accurate records and monitoring students' progress;
- setting and overseeing examinations and liaising with awarding bodies to ensure quality standards are met;
- carrying out a pastoral role as a personal tutor to students;
- conducting tutorials on a one-to-one basis with learners;
- planning additional support for students, as necessary;
- contributing to course team meetings to monitor, review and evaluate relevant courses;
- representing the college at parents' evenings, taster days, open days and careers or education conventions;
- maintaining knowledge of, and implementing, college policies;
- interviewing potential students and conducting diagnostic assessments as necessary;
- liaising with other educational professionals and organisations;
- organising work experience and carrying out learner assessments in the workplace, as appropriate;
- undertaking a range of administrative tasks.
- As an unqualified lecturer you could expect to earn £18,685 to £22,854. A qualified lecturer can earn between £23,546 and £35,551.
- Typical salary at senior lecturer level (after several years' experience) is £35,500.
The above rates are recommended by the University and College Union (UCU). Colleges are also able to negotiate their own salary scales with the national trade unions, the UCU and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), and many do.
Although the UCU represents further education (FE) staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there are different pay structures in place for each nation in the UK. The registered union for FE in Scotland is the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS). Northern Ireland has completely separate pay structures in place for FE salaries.
Many FE lecturers work part time and are paid pro-rata. Many lecturers are also employed on a sessional basis. Part-time FE lecturers' hourly rates vary from £15 to more than £30 per hour, plus holiday pay/entitlement.
Salaries vary according to teaching and industrial experience, qualifications, subject demand, institution or site, and geographical location.
Lecturers may be able to supplement income by various means, e.g. private tuition, evening classes, national examination marking, teaching on residential courses, external consultancy work or writing textbooks.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Typical working hours for full-time college lecturers are 37 hours a week, sometimes including one or more evening sessions. Also, extra hours are required for the planning and preparation of lessons, marking students' work, and attending meetings and open evenings, especially during term time.
Holiday entitlement is based on a number of days' leave per year, typically 37, plus bank holidays. Lecturers are expected to take annual leave outside of term time.
What to expect
- Positions can be fractional, permanent and part time, while sessional and fixed-term contracts are common.
- A growth in partnership working between organisations has resulted in lecturers moving between institutions, e.g. schools, higher education and community-based learning centres.
- Jobs are widely available. Opportunities exist in FE and training institutions in most major towns and cities throughout the country.
- The gender balance varies depending on the subject taught. In some areas, such as construction, most lecturers are male (reflecting the gender balance of the industry), while others, e.g. beauty therapy, are dominated by women.
- Lecturers are mainly institution-based, but the specific environment (e.g. classroom, laboratory or workshop) depends on the subject taught. Some of the work may include field trips or study visits. Where appropriate, some teaching may take place on employer premises.
- Extensive travel during the working day is uncommon, but may occasionally be required between sites and institutions, or for field trips. Lecturers may visit employers' premises to see students who are on work experience or taking courses that involve day-release or work-based learning.
- Overnight absence from home is uncommon, as is overseas work or travel.
It is possible to gain a lecturing job without a teaching qualification, but your prospects will be greatly enhanced if you have one or are willing to gain one. It is up to individual colleges to decide on what qualifications they require. Some will insist on qualifications before starting a lecturing job, whilst others have their own in-house training programmes.
Qualifications are available at various levels and you will need to research the available options to decide which one meets your career needs.
- Level 3 Award in Education and Training - an introductory, knowledge-based teaching qualification
- Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training - for those already teaching in a paid or voluntary post with access to a minimum of 30 hours' teaching practice;
- Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training - for teachers who have access to a minimum of 100 hours' teaching practice;
- Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training with specialist pathway - for teachers who want to teach specialist areas such as numeracy, literacy, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) or those who wish to work with learners with disabilities.
A trainee teacher can undertake one of the Level 5 diplomas without having previously achieved one of the qualifications at a lower level.
Where individuals have already achieved a Level 3 or Level 4 teaching qualification and are progressing to a qualification at a higher level, they may be able to carry forward some of their achievement or have prior learning recognised in the new qualification.
Qualifications are generally offered by FE colleges, universities and other training providers on a full or part-time basis. However, for part-time level 4 and 5 qualifications, you will usually need to be employed in a teaching role or organise your own teaching practice placement. Entry requirements vary depending on the course provider, although a minimum Level 2 qualification in English, maths and ICT, such as GCSEs or equivalent, is usually required. For the specialist pathway, you will need knowledge and skills at Level 3 in the subject you wish to teach.
Alternatively, you can take a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) or Cert Ed (Certificate in Education), offered by higher education institutions either directly or through associated colleges. This is the most usual route into the profession for new graduates. Courses are available either full time (one year including teaching practice) or part time. You will need a degree in the subject you wish to teach for the PGCE route or a level 3 vocational qualification for the Cert Ed route. Search for PGCE courses.
There is no one central site listing all courses, however, a small but increasing number of courses use the UCAS Teacher Training application system.
The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) provides further information about the entry qualifications on the FE Advice website and also runs a telephone and email advice line.
Bursaries are available for graduates taking an Initial Teacher Training (ITT) programme and teaching maths, English or special educational needs (SEN) before starting work as a further education lecturer. For 2015/16, the maximum bursary available is £25,000 and this is for maths graduates with a first class degree. The bursaries then decrease in value, depending on the subject studied and level of degree achieved.
You will need to show:
- in-depth knowledge of your subject;
- written and verbal communication skills;
- interpersonal skills and the ability to relate to students of all ages and abilities;
- organisation and planning skills;
- enthusiasm, motivation and commitment;
- patience and a sense of humour.
There are more than 500 FE colleges in the UK. Many of these run satellite centres in the community, operating from community centres, libraries, schools and high street premises. Local authorities also run adult education services, often in conjunction with FE colleges. Sixth form colleges exist in some areas (not in Scotland). Some colleges are privately run, often specialising in a particular vocational area.
Opportunities for maths and English further education lecturers are good as there is now a requirement for young people who fail their maths and English language GCSEs to retake them. In addition, all young people are now required to continue in education or training until the end of the academic year in which they turn 18. This is likely to mean more young people going to college and more opportunities for further education lecturers.
Adult residential colleges offer opportunities for teaching, too, more generally in special interest subjects such as archaeology, painting and philosophy, although these are determined by geographic availability.
FE lecturers may also work in the Prison Service (whose education service is usually contracted out to FE colleges), in the armed forces education branch, and in company training departments. There are some opportunities in organisations offering vocational and basic skills training to young people and adults, for example those on government work-based training schemes.
Overseas work, e.g. teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), is a possibility. Voluntary and charitable institutions, such as the Workers' Educational Association (WEA), may also offer openings.
Many FE lecturers have 'portfolio careers' and are employed by a number of organisations, sometimes on short-term contracts, whilst also working in their specialist area in other capacities outside education.
Look for job vacancies at:
- AoC Jobs - job board provided by the Association of Colleges.
- FE Careers
- FE Jobs
- Times Educational Supplement Jobs
- Times Higher Education (THE)
- College websites.
- National, local and regional press.
Some colleges use recruitment agencies, such as Protocol National, to fill part-time, full-time and occasional posts.
Not all jobs are advertised so you will need to be proactive in your jobseeking. Use placements, visits and voluntary work as opportunities to network, and be prepared to contact colleges directly.
As a newly qualified lecturer, you have the choice to apply to the Society for Education and Training (SET) for Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status. The SET is the professional body representing lecturers, trainers, tutors, teachers (including student teachers) employed in the learning and skills sector and provides forums for best practice and networking opportunities.
To obtain QTLS you will need to have a minimum Level 5 teaching qualification and English and maths qualifications at a minimum of Level 2. You will have to join the SET, undertake and record annual continuing professional development (CPD) and complete the professional formation process.
As well as training for the required qualifications, in-service training is usually provided to update existing skills and knowledge, and to develop new skills. CPD is essential for your SET membership. You will need to show that you have spent at least 30 hours each year (or pro-rata if you are a part-time teacher or trainer, with a minimum of six hours per year) on professional development.
It is possible to progress to senior lecturer, curriculum manager, head of department or divisional manager, but restricted college budgets have resulted in fewer management posts.
Career development is also possible by taking on additional non-teaching responsibilities, such as working in a pastoral role or as an admissions tutor. Some further education lecturers retrain to become support tutors, for example providing one-to-one support for students with dyslexia, or may deliver programmes for The Prince's Trust.
Some lecturers move out of a lecturing role and into college management in areas such as finance, quality standards, admissions, human resources and guidance.
Management posts often require relevant professional qualifications and experience and attract suitably qualified applicants from outside the education sector. Therefore, it may be necessary to pursue appropriate professional qualifications while working as a lecturer, such as an MBA or an NVQ in Advice and Guidance.
It is also possible to move into other branches of education, such as higher education or training. In the present climate of school teacher shortages, some lecturers have moved into schools to work as instructors, especially in those areas where schools have not traditionally offered the subject, particularly psychology or law. Further education lecturers may also work as personal tutors, working with students in their own homes.
Further education lecturers who are members of the Society of Education and Training (SET) and who have Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status can also work as qualified teachers in schools.