Within the education sector there are plenty of alternatives to teaching - no matter where your talents and preferences lie, there are opportunities for everyone
Jobs in education begin at the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Those working within this area of the education sector are charged with looking after the care and development of children from birth up to the age of five.
Early years teacher
Teaching pupils aged between three and five you'll work in nursery, pre-school and reception classes. Your duties will include planning and carrying out lessons in accordance with the EYFS and developing the social and communication skills of your pupils. Employers include local authorities of state-maintained infant and primary schools, private nurseries and children's centres. In England, Northern Ireland and Wales you can expect a starting salary of £22,244 and £21,867 in Scotland. For more information see early years teacher.
Also known as a nursery nurse or nursery assistant you will help babies and young children to develop in a safe environment. These roles can be physically demanding as you'll feed and change babies and play games with young children to aid their learning. You'll need creative flair and excellent organisational skills, as well as a Level 3 qualification in childcare. GCSE's in English and maths could also help. Nursery workers typically work 35 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday and earn a starting salary of £14,000 to £19,000.
You could progress to nursery manager where you'll need good organisation and financial management skills, as well as the ability to motivate and support staff. On top of the day-to-day care of babies and young children you'll manage budgets, recruit staff, keep up with developments in the sector and work to make sure that the nursery meets Ofsted and EYFS standards. You'll need a Level 3 childcare qualification and two years relevant experience. Employers include local authorities, private nurseries and Sure Start Children's Centres.
After a minimum of five years' experience in a leadership role, for example as a headteacher or senior manager of nursery services, you could apply to become an early years Ofsted inspector. Inspectors visit educational institutions and children's services and report on the quality of provision they find. Additional to experience you'll need a relevant degree, for example in education, social work or childcare. Early years' inspectors currently work through two inspection service providers; Prospects and Tribal. However, as of 1 April 2017 the inspection and regulation of early year's provision will be brought directly under Ofsted's management.
Jobs in primary education are popular with those seeking a teaching career. This educational stage aims to develop children's basic literacy and numeracy skills and introduce pupils to subjects such as science, maths, history and geography. Pupils are aged under 5 (nursery), 5 to 7 or 8 (infant) and 8 to 11 or 12 (junior).
Primary school teacher
Planning and teaching lessons in accordance with curriculum objectives, marking and assessing work and preparing pupils for national tests and secondary education is all part of the job of a primary school teacher. You'll develop and improve numeracy and literacy and manage a classroom. Unless your first degree is a Bachelor of Education (BEd) or a BA/BSc with qualified teacher status (QTS) you will need to gain QTS to become a primary school teacher. This can be gained through a number of routes including a PGCE (PGDE in Scotland), School-centred initial teacher training (SCITT), School Direct or Teach First. Discover more about the routes into teaching. You'll also need to pass a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check to pursue a career in teaching. The majority of primary teachers are employed by local authorities and earn a starting salary of £22,467 to £33,160, (£22,416 to £35,763 in Scotland). Discover more about the role of a primary school teacher.
Special educational needs teacher
It's possible to work with pupils who have physical disabilities, learning difficulties, emotional or behavioural problems, dyslexia or sensory impairments if you work as a special educational needs (SEN) teacher. You'll create a safe, stimulating and supportive learning environment for pupils in your care and identify individual needs. It's possible to work in mainstream, private or special schools. To become a SEN teacher you will need QTS in England and Wales and the teaching qualification (TQ) in Scotland. Previous teaching experience may be useful and qualified teachers can undertake additional training to teach pupils with special needs. Find out more about working as a special educational needs teacher.
You'll support pupils across a range of abilities and undertake duties that free up a teacher's time, such as preparing the classroom, setting up and clearing away activities, helping students with their reading, assisting in the planning of lessons and managing classroom behaviour. You may also be known as a classroom or learning support assistant. Full-time TAs can work up to 40 hours a week in local authority, private and special schools. To gain an entry-level position you'll need GCSE grades A to C in maths and English and experience of working with children. For further information see teaching assistant.
If you're passionate about the education sector and possess management and leadership ability then a career as a headteacher may suit you. You'll lead and manage your school and create a safe learning environment for pupils and staff. This includes setting school values, controlling finances, attending meetings and tracking the progress of students and teachers. Working hours are long and salaries vary between schools, with private institutions setting their own rates of pay. To reach this level QTS is essential; it’s likely that you'll also need qualifications in school management such as the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH).
Secondary education teaches pupils between the ages of 11 and 16. There are a vast number of education jobs available at this stage from teachers and psychologists to librarians and support officers.
Secondary school teacher
You'll support, observe and record the progress of your class and plan and deliver lessons in line with national objectives. You'll need to keep up to date with developments in your subject and unless your degree is a Bachelor of Education (BEd) or a BA/BSc with qualified teacher status (QTS) for England and Wales, or teaching qualification (TQ) in Scotland, you will need further training to achieve QTS. Working hours are long and often include extra hours for parents' evenings and breakfast and after-school clubs. Newly qualified teachers (NQTs) in England and Wales start on a salary of £22,917. In Northern Ireland this figure is £22,243 and in Scotland £22,866. Find out more about the role of a secondary school teacher.
To help children or young people who are dealing with problems that hinder their learning you could work as an educational psychologist. You'll work in partnership with parents, teachers, social workers, doctors and other people involved in their education. You'll need a British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited undergraduate psychology degree and a PhD in educational psychology in England and Wales, or an accredited Masters in educational psychology followed by the BPS Award in educational psychology in Scotland. Search for PhDs in educational psychology. Most educational psychologists are employed by local authorities in schools, colleges, nurseries, community environments and special schools. Gain an insight into the role of an educational psychologist.
You could become a learning mentor and work with pupils who require help in overcoming barriers to learning. You'll cover a variety of issues, from punctuality, absence, challenging behaviour and abuse, to working with able and gifted learners. You'll be based primarily in primary, secondary and further education schools. You don't need a degree or HND to become a learning mentor, although an undergraduate qualification may help. You'll also need to demonstrate a good standard of general education, particularly in English and maths. Starting salaries are between £15,000 and £18,000. For more information see learning mentor.
Teaching laboratory technician
In this role you can work in a variety of educational institutions including secondary schools, further education colleges and universities. Tasks involve supporting the work of science teachers, lecturers and their students to ensure that they make the best use of laboratory time, use equipment safely and accurately record the results of their work. You'll provide technical support, check that equipment is functioning properly and is ready to use, and ensure that the right materials are available. You don't need a degree to become a teaching laboratory technician, although the majority of entrants have an undergraduate degree, HND or foundation degree. Starting salaries are in the region of £15,000. Find out more about the role of a teaching laboratory technician.
Education welfare officer
It's your job to provide information, advice and guidance to students, working on a one-to-one and group basis to help them reach their full potential. You'll work for local authority education welfare services or a specific group of schools to help with school work, increase pupil attendance, provide emotional support, identify problems, find solutions and help to plan for the future. You'll work collaboratively with parents, teachers, social workers and careers advisers. Entry requirements vary so check with potential employers. In this role, you may alternatively be known as a school liaison officer.
If you're skilled in information retrieval and the management of resources then consider a career as a school librarian. You'll work in local authority and independent schools and oversee the management and use of books, journals, audio-visual material and access to the internet. You'll promote the use of library services and work closely with teachers and school staff. You'll need an accredited library or information degree; an IT qualification may also be beneficial. Those with an undergraduate or Masters qualification usually start on salaries between £25,000 and £38,000.
This line of work can be challenging as you'll need to adapt to the teaching methods of different schools, subjects and age groups. However, it's a great way to gain experience, try out different schools and pick up ideas.
Supply teachers are needed to fill temporary vacancies in primary, secondary, sixth form and further education institutions.
Just like teachers you'll need to gain QTS in England or Wales or a TQ in Scotland. You'll need to register with an agency and this usually involves submitting an application form or CV. Agencies either book you in advance or you'll get an early morning call at around 8am. You should take work with you as a backup in case the school has no tasks prepared for you.
The services of private tutors are becoming increasingly popular and you could teach pupils in your own home, in their home or at a neutral venue. You will need to be knowledgeable about your subject and have a business mind-set to manage and market your services. There is no official accreditation for private tutors in the UK but most clients expect you to be educated to degree level. Having DBS clearance may also be useful when working with children and give clients peace of mind. You could teach subjects including English, maths and science or include dance, drama or music. It will be up to you to set your own rates so salaries will vary. Find out more about a career as a private music teacher.
Education careers at this stage are typically carried out in sixth form, further education (FE) and community colleges. You'll work with pupils aged between 16 and 18 to help prepare them for the world of work or to help them progress on to higher education.
Further education teacher
Working mainly with post-16 or adult learners, you'll teach academic, vocational or hobby and leisure subjects at sixth form colleges, FE colleges, adult and community education centers and prisons and youth offending units. There is increasing demand for further education teachers to also work with those aged 14 to 19 studying vocational subjects. You can become an FE teacher without a teaching qualification, but will have better prospects if you hold one. Teaching qualifications range from a Level 3 Award to a Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training. Find out more about a career as a further education teacher.
To play a part in the smooth running of further education colleges you should consider a career as an education administrator. You'll organise and manage the infrastructure and resources required to run an institution and work in areas such as admissions, quality assurance, data management and examinations or in a specialist department such as finance, careers, marketing or human resources. You don't need a degree; however it may help you to stand out from other applicants. It's useful to have business administration qualifications and experience of working with IT packages. Starting salaries range from £17,000 to £26,000. Gain an insight into the role of an education administrator.
You'll provide information, advice and guidance to help students make choices about their education, training and work opportunities. You'll help identify career options, build CVs, identify skills gaps, advise on where to search for jobs, help with the application process and locate relevant training courses. The role is open to all graduates but a degree, HND or foundation degree in a sociological or educational-related topic would be useful. The majority of employers look for candidates who have, or who are willing to work towards, the Qualification in Careers Guidance (QCG). The main employer of careers advisers is the National Careers Service. Learn more about becoming a careers adviser or search postgraduate courses in career guidance.
Listening to students and offering them the time, empathy and respect they need to express their feelings is all part of a counsellors role. Counsellors don't give advice, but help clients to make their own choices. You can be employed in a range of settings including schools, further education colleges, youth services and children's centres. You do not need a degree or HND to work as a counsellor as there are separate qualifications available at different levels; however you will need DBS clearance to work with children and young people. Discover more about the role of a counsellor.
Primarily based in higher education colleges and universities, education jobs in this area include lecturing, support services and careers advice. You'll generally deal with students aged 18 and over.
Higher education lecturer
Working with undergraduate and postgraduate students aged 18 and over you'll teach academic and vocational subjects. Working in universities and further education colleges you'll teach through lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical demonstrations, field work and e-learning. Starting salaries range from £33,000 to £43,000 but to secure a position you'll need a first or 2:1 degree in a subject relevant to what you want to lecture in. You also need to have, or be working towards, a relevant PhD, as well as demonstrable teaching experience. Read all about PhD study. Typical employers include universities and further education colleges. Find out more about a career as a higher education lecturer.
Higher education careers adviser
Almost all universities in the UK employ higher education (HE) careers advisers, so this is another area of work that is open to you. A HE careers adviser provides information, advice and guidance to undergraduates, graduates and postgraduates. You'll assist clients in assessing their values, interests, abilities and skills and relate these to opportunities for employment, further study and training. You'll work with academic colleagues to promote the employability of students and liaise with employers to help with recruitment. For most posts, a degree in any subject is acceptable. Relevant pre-entry experience and appropriate skills and qualities are generally more important. Learn more about working as a higher education careers adviser.
Being an academic librarian involves facilitating and supporting learning by teaching information retrieval skills to students and staff within classrooms or virtual learning environments. You'll spend time working with electronic resources, involving database management and web page development. A degree in librarianship, information retrieval or computing may be helpful. For professional posts you'll need an undergraduate degree accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILP) or a Masters in information science and librarianship accredited by the CILP. For more information on salary and career prospects see academic librarian or search for a Masters in information science and librarianship.
Every university or college has a disability adviser within its student services, whose job it is to help students with disabilities integrate with student life as much as possible. Sometimes known as a wellbeing advisor, as a disability adviser your tasks could include arranging extra time for exams and assignment hand-ins, having course texts reproduced in Braille or larger text, or helping students apply for funding such as the Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA). You'll meet with students to discuss their options and reach a mutual agreement on the help you'll provide.
Education support worker
The role of an education support worker is all-encompassing - you could be responding to physical, behavioural, emotional or academic needs in school, college or university settings. You'll attend lessons with students and may be required to act as a translator (i.e. into British Sign Language for deaf students), scribe or be on hand to physically help students move to and from their lessons or lectures. Prior qualifications and experience as a support worker aren't essential for this role but will give you an advantage when applying for jobs. Contact institutions directly or visit their websites to find opportunities.
Student admissions officer
Good customer service skills are needed to work as a student admissions officer. You'll work in a higher education institution in undergraduate, postgraduate or international admissions. As well as processing and evaluating application forms you'll be the first point of contact for potential students. You'll need a thorough knowledge of your employing university, its courses and application procedures in order to answer enquiries effectively. You'll also need to organise and attend university open days. You don't need a degree; although it may be useful to have studied at university. Most employers look for A-level qualifications, IT ability and customer services skills. Training is provided on the job.
If you'd like to move away from the classroom but are still passionate about high-quality teaching in schools, consider becoming an education consultant. You'll draw on your past experience to help teachers deliver a robust curriculum and improve teaching practices. You may be required to monitor teachers' performance, discuss allocation of budget with administrators and supervise classes to identify focus areas. To get into this line of work, you'll need substantial teaching experience before specialising in curriculum development through Master's study.
Adult and community education
A range of education jobs are available in a variety of settings within the sphere of adult and community education. They include careers in teaching, sports coaching, activities management and training and development.
Community education officer
Helping to organise and promote participation in education or training will be just one aspect of your job as a community education officer. You'll primarily be employed in the voluntary sector, the public sector or in local government. You could work in diverse communities (usually where social deprivation or unemployment is high), in non-traditional venues such as community centres, children's centres, libraries and churches. For most posts, a degree plus relevant paid or voluntary community experience is required. Starting salaries in the public sector range between £23,500 to £28,000. Gain an insight into the role of a community education officer.
English as a foreign language teacher
There are also opportunities to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL). This involves teaching adults and children whose first language is not English. You can do this in the UK or abroad and students may be learning for business or leisure reasons. You can work in a variety of settings including commercial language schools and schools of further or higher education. The majority of EFL teachers work overseas, many on fixed-term contracts. Positions are open to all graduates although employers will expect you to hold a TEFL qualification. For more information see English as a foreign language teacher.
Environmental education officer
If you're passionate about making the community aware of environmental issues, promoting conservation and sustainability, and enhancing the public's enjoyment of the environment a career as a environmental education officer could suit you. A relevant degree in a biological or environmental science subject is often required. Entry with a relevant HND or foundation degree such as countryside management is possible, particularly for candidates with relevant work experience. Many environmental education officers are employed by voluntary organisations and trusts and the public sector also advertises vacancies. Starting salaries range from £15,000 to £19,000. Learn more about the role of an environmental education officer.
Museum education officer
To ensure that the collections in a museum act as a learning resource for all ages you should think about a career as a museum education officer. You'll work within galleries and museums and develop, deliver and evaluate programmes and events for classes, groups or individuals, often designed to engage those who may not normally use the museum or gallery. You will need a degree in a relevant subject such as archaeology, community education or history. Starting salaries are between £17,000 and £20,000. Discover more about working as a museum education officer.
Outdoor activities manager
Working in centres that offer training to people interested in learning or developing skills in pursuits such as climbing, cycling, horse riding, mountaineering or water sports you'll manage the day-to-day running of the centre, oversee the work of staff and adhere to safety regulations. You don't need a degree or HND, although qualifications of this nature will boost your chances of securing a position. Most activity centre managers work their way up from a seasonal instructor to a full-time instructor, then to senior instructor before finally reaching management level. You could be employed by local authorities, charities and independent activity centres but be warned, competition for management posts is fierce. Find out more about the role of an outdoor activities manager.
Working closely with sportspeople, teams and community and school groups you'll improve performance and develop physical and psychological fitness. While degrees, HNDs and foundation degrees are beneficial you can only become a qualified sports coach by taking relevant coaching qualifications, offered by the National Governing body of your chosen sport. Once qualified you can work in a variety of settings including fitness and leisure facilities, hotels, private sports clubs, schools, colleges and universities. Typical salaries for newly qualified sports coaches working for local authorities range from £15,000 to £25,000. For more information on the skills required for the job see sports coach.
Training and development officer
If you have excellent interpersonal skills, a motivational attitude and an interest in workplace learning you should consider a career as a training and development officer. In this role you'll handle the professional development of an organisations workforce by equipping staff with the knowledge and practical skills they need to carry out work-related activities. This area of work is open to all graduates although business, psychology, human resources and IT courses are particularly useful. In some cases relevant skills and experience is enough to gain entry. You can work in both the public and private sector for the health service, retail organisations, leisure companies, law firms, financial institutions etc. Starting salaries typically range from £22,000 to £30,000. Find out what to expect from a career as a training and development officer.
To secure a job in education publishing you'll need to be educated to degree level. Some publishing houses welcome applications from graduates of any degree discipline, while others specify an undergraduate qualification in an education or English-related subject. More often than not relevant work experience is what counts in this industry as competition for jobs is fierce. Education publishers in the UK include:
- Atwood Tate
- Bloomsbury Education
- Hodder Education
- Macmillan Education
- Pearson Education
- Scholastic UK.
You could work in a variety of roles in editorial, production, marketing and sales. Entry-level jobs aren't known for being well paid; many enter this profession with a passion for a particular subject or educational issues. Learn how to get into publishing.
Find out more
- Search for teaching and education jobs.
- Learn how to become a teacher.
- Discover what you can do with your education degree.