How to Become a Teacher
Learn about the different ways into teaching and how you can make a difference in the lives of others with this inspiring vocation.
If you are looking for a rewarding career with endless progression or if you are seeking a valuable and noble profession and you have an interest in working with children and young people, then maybe teaching is for you. Learn about the different ways into teaching and how you can make a difference in the lives of others with this inspiring vocation.
What is a Teacher?
A teacher is someone who educates students on one or several subjects. A teacher usually follows a structured lesson plan and presents information in a multitude of ways to pass on knowledge to others. Teachers can have a lifelong impact on a child, young person, or adult’s life and the job requires the right personality, mindset, and temperament to do it successfully.
There are so many different specialties in teaching, whether you want to teach nursery-age children to adults, there is a teaching position to suit everyone. The main categories of teaching also depend on what country you live in. In the UK, there is early years education (children up to the age of 5), primary education (ages 5-11), secondary education (ages 11-18), and further education (age 18+).
In America, the education system is slightly different, pre-K or pre-school (ages 2-5), elementary (ages 5-10), middle school (ages 11-13), high school (ages 14-18) and then post-high school education including college and university (age 18+).
In India, preschool education is not compulsory but there are private preschools (ages 18 months - 4) kindergarten (ages 3 - 5) primary school (ages 6-10), middle school (ages 11-14), secondary school (ages 14 - 16), higher secondary/pre-university (ages 16-17), undergraduate/postgraduate (18+).
How it differs in each country
Training to become a teacher is also different depending on the country you live in. These are the routes into teaching for students in the UK, US, and India. In the UK, you must have a degree to become a teacher. There are other routes you can take if you don’t have the correct qualifications such as foundation degrees, but it is required to have an undergraduate degree as a minimum to teach at the primary and secondary levels. You can also do a non-teaching related undergraduate and do a teacher training masters degree that will give you a qualified status to teach.
Similarly, in America, a bachelor’s degree is required to teach. Some examples of college majors you can choose from are early childhood education, special education, or secondary education. Then, you must gain classroom experience and log a certain number of hours before taking your teaching certification exam. To obtain your teaching license you must pass three Praxis tests that are about the core academic skills of educators, the principles of learning and teaching, and subject knowledge. You gain certification to teach a specific level of teaching according to the grade.
India has a slightly different way of getting into teaching. If you want to be a pre-primary school teacher you can take one of two courses, nursery teachers training for one year or a diploma in early childhood education. If you want to teach primary school children, you need to do an ETE course for two years or a degree for four years. If you want to teach secondary education or further education, you need a degree in your chosen teaching subject and a postgraduate degree if you want to become a senior secondary school teacher.
Salary and working hours
If you are looking for a 9-5, then teaching is not the job for you. It can be a demanding career because you have to do a lot of lesson planning, marking, and extra work in your own time. Although teachers get long periods of time off when it isn’t term time, this is usually when teachers catch up on things they didn’t have time to do and plan out what they are going to do when the term resumes.
Salaries in teaching also depend on your experience. Newly qualified teachers on average earn between £22,000 and £28,000 in the UK, $52,000 in the US, and ₹300 in India.
A day in the life of a Teacher
Every day is different for a teacher. No two days are the same. A teacher in a nursery setting will experience their day a little differently than a high school teacher. But more often than not, the day of a teacher starts with arriving at the school before the children or young people arrive, this preparation time is vital to ensure that the day runs smoothly. Activities during this time may include printing out learning materials, putting books out on desks, and loading up your computer. A large portion of your day will be spent teaching your children or young people. Many teachers use their breaks and lunchtime to mark books, catch up with colleagues, and set things up for the next class or session. After the school day ends, teachers don’t often leave straight away. They will use this time to tidy up the classroom, mark books, have meetings with students or parents, or set things up for the next day.
Teaching is an honorable vocation. It takes a lot of discipline and dedication to be a successful teacher and with the right tools, you can be a big part of shaping the future by passing along your knowledge and wisdom to others.