From education to employment

How to start a career as a teacher in Further Education

Harry Venturi, Account Executive, R21media

The route to becoming a teacher in Further Education is an ever-changing terrain, often shrouded in mystery or seen as an unrealistic aspiration. In light of this, the current paths available to achieving teacher status in FE are highlighted below, along with some of the benefits of a career in this sector.

Many people never even consider teaching as a career, assuming that they cannot pass their skills and knowledge on as they have had no previous experience in the sector, or no relevant qualifications to get their foot in the door.

Since September 2013, the requirement of formal qualifications to teach in Further Education has been scrapped. That’s not to say that colleges don’t recognise the need for teachers to be well trained and qualified, but they also see that barriers to entry need to be lowered in order to allow the best members in each field to pass on their expertise to the next generation.

There are currently two training routes that people could take to begin their career teaching in Further Education:

  • Pre-service – this involves gaining a teaching qualification with a university, college or other training provider, with entry requirements decided by the specific institution.
  • In-service – typically involves working within further education as a teacher while training part-time at a Further Education College.

Below are 3 of the key qualifications that someone interested in progressing their career in FE teaching can accomplish:

Level 3 Award in Education and Training (QCF)

This award is an introductory, knowledge-based qualification, which is ideal for people looking at gaining a qualification before they enter teaching, as it has no minimum teaching practice requirement to fulfill.

This qualification is most suitable for individuals who:

  • Are not in, or have just started, a teaching role.
  • Want a short qualification
  • Want a qualification that does not have a minimum teaching practice requirement.

Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training (QCF)

This Certificate is a step up from the Level 3 in Education and Training, focusing on practical teaching skills with a wide range of optional units to reflect the course and the way an individual would like to teach. This course requires a learner to have a minimum of 30 hours of teaching practice. It is most suited to individuals who:

  • Want a qualification focused on practical teaching.
  • Want a wide range of optional units to pick and choose those best suited to a certain context.
  • Have already gained a limited level of teaching experience and are looking to be accredited.

Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training (QCF)

This qualification provides training for individuals who either aspire to, or hold, a teaching role with extensive and varied responsibilities. The qualification requires a minimum of 100 hours of teaching practice. The Level 5 Diploma is the full teaching qualification for the Further Education sector and may also be called a PCGE or a Cert Ed. qualification and is most suited to individuals who:

  • Are able to undertake a large qualification, lasting one to two years.
  • Want a qualification recognised as equivalent to the Certificate of Education qualifications.
  • Want the opportunity to explore underpinning theories, frameworks and research into effective teaching and learning, alongside developing practical teaching skills.

Further Education teachers also need to be experts in their chosen field, usually requiring at least a Level 3 (roughly equivalent to an A-Level) in their vocation. They are highly respected and are often referred to as ‘dual professionals’ due to the requirement to keep up to date on both teaching methods and the latest practices in their professional vocation.

This may seem like a daunting amount of work required to start your career in education, but there are many opportunities to gain your teaching qualifications whilst in the role. This allows you to develop practical experience alongside the theoretical knowledge that these qualifications give you.

Benefits of Teaching in Further Education

Teaching in Further Education has a huge array of benefits that people may find appealing in comparison to other areas of the sector. Just a few of these opportunities are detailed below:

Course availability

There is a staggering range of subjects available to be taught in comparison with areas like Primary or Secondary Education. Ranging from construction courses such as bricklaying, to hairdressing, or even accounting – you name it, there’s a course in it!


As there is no accepted national curriculum in Further Education courses, there is a great deal more flexibility when it comes to planning a course outline. This allows a teacher to adapt their subject to suit not only their teaching style, but also to tailor content to fit the needs of the learner, college or future employers.

Flexible work

Whether teachers want to work part-time, full-time or as an addition to their current professions, there is a real flexibility in the working hours in Further Education. Many teachers do not want to leave their current fields and therefore can use this as a supplement to their profession, which also means that teachers will stay fully up to date with the latest practices in both their previous field and teaching, meaning students get the very best practical and theoretical education available to them.

Personal benefits

The education sector is well known for offering excellent personal benefits to it’s staff members, as shown by our recent survey at R21 Media that showed that nearly 80% of FE workers considered the benefits they were offered important in comparison to their salary. Some of the great benefits that are often on offer include longer holiday time, great pension schemes, use of campus facilities and much more.

As you can see from the above, there are a huge number of reasons to consider teaching in Further Education. Whether you are looking for more flexibility, the chance to change lives or simply for an additional boost to your income, the sector offers you the chance to achieve all of this and more. What’s more, new regulations on teaching in FE mean that joining the sector is less complicated than ever.

Thanks for reading and I hope this has been a help to anyone considering a career in Further Education. Please contact R21Media on LinkedIn to see if you can benefit from the services of the market leaders in FE recruitment advertising

Harry Venturi, Account Executive, R21media

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