Can I get into teaching and education without a degree?

Can I be a teacher without a degree?
Find out whether it’s possible to become a teacher without going to university.

Teaching is by and large a graduate profession and it will be much easier for you to find work if you have a degree and have completed a teacher training course. However, some types of schools are allowed to employ teaching staff who are not formally qualified, so in theory it is possible to get into the profession without going to university – though the odds are very much against it.

Getting a degree doesn’t have to mean three years at university. You could take a course, or a series of courses, that are structured so that you can study for your degree while working and earning, perhaps over a longer time period. If you want to work in education in a non-teaching role there is a range of jobs to consider that are open to non-graduates, such as teaching assistant roles. There are also opportunities for both graduates and non-graduates to work with children and young people in settings such as nurseries, after-school and holiday clubs and crèches.

Can I become a teacher without a degree?

You need qualified teacher status (QTS) to teach in most state schools. You must have an undergraduate degree to obtain QTS. You also need to have completed a teacher training programme or to have been formally assessed by an approved provider as meeting the required standards – this is known as the assessment-only route. The assessment-only route is suitable for graduates who have sufficient teaching experience but haven’t taken a teacher training course; however, it is not an option for school leavers.

So where can you get a teaching job without QTS? Private schools are not required by law to hire qualified teachers and could, in theory, recruit someone who wasn’t a graduate to teach, although it’s unlikely. Some state schools – academies and free schools – are also allowed to take on teaching staff who do not have QTS.

Studying for a degree doesn’t have to mean spending three years at university. If you are unsure that traditional undergraduate study is right for you and would rather start working and earning, maybe a different type of degree course would suit you better. For example, you might be able to take a foundation degree on a part-time basis over a number of years, combining this with working, perhaps as a higher-level teaching assistant, for example.

You could then top up your foundation degree to a full honours degree or take a two-year degree course leading to qualified teacher status (mainly available in shortage subjects) or obtain a post as an unqualified teacher in a private or free school and obtain QTS through the assessment-only route. Alternatively, you could consider taking an honours degree on a part-time basis while working.

If you want to become a teacher but are worried about the cost of studying for a degree followed by teacher training, remember that a range of scholarships and bursaries is available. The government has recently extended this to provide help with the cost of university study for some subjects for students who are willing to commit to teaching for three years. You could potentially be awarded £15,000 to support you on your undergraduate degree and could then secure as much as £30,000 to cover the cost of teacher training – £45,000 in all.

You might be able to find work teaching English as a foreign language overseas without a degree or a teaching qualification, though on the whole, employers like you to have both.

There are numerous work-based teacher training routes open to you after you’ve got a degree.

There are non-teaching roles available in teaching and education and in related fields where a degree is not required. There are various qualifications available at different levels in childcare, playwork and similar areas, and it is often possible to train after you have started working, with the course costs met by your employer.

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