Careers in education and teaching

This page explores the options that may be open to you in the field of education and teaching, including possible routes in.

What is a career in education and teaching?

Jobs in the education sector vary from teaching and training to roles in finance, HR, and management. Work in the sector is often seen as fulfilling, as you can witness the impact of your own skills and enthusiasm on your students. However, particularly for newly qualified teachers (NQTs) – the hours can be long, including lots of planning and preparation time.

There is currently high demand for teachers, particularly in secondary STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematic) and languages, with opportunities for career development. The breadth of skills gained through teaching are also valued by employers in many industries.

Where can I work, what can I do, and how can I get there?

Where can I work?

  • Schools and colleges – there are 450,000+ teachers across early years (children up to the age of 5), primary (5-11 year olds), secondary (11-18 year olds) and adult education (16+) in the UK. Primary school teachers cover all national curriculum subjects, whereas secondary school teachers usually have one main area of focus. The UK has both state-funded and privately-funded institutions. 
  • Universities – as well as academic research and teaching, there are many roles in higher education, including student support, business development, and organisational leadership. In the UK, universities support more than 940,000 jobs. 
  • Consulting and policy – some consultancies operate across the education sector, advising clients on strategy and management in response to institutional and policy changes. Education is a key policy issue in the UK and internationally, making it a focus for research organisations and think tanks. 
  • Other areas – the education sector has numerous roles beyond teaching (read the following section What can I do? for an introduction). Teaching English abroad is also an option.

What can I do?

There are many different job roles in this sector. We've outlined some of the major ones with links to where you can find more information. If you can, try and talk to someone who's doing the job you're interested in, so you get an insight into what it's like.

Teaching roles:

  • School teacher – develops schemes of work and lesson plans in line with curriculum objectives. Establishes a relationship with pupils and organises learning resources and the classroom learning environment. The Prospects Primary school teacher, Secondary school teacher, and Special educational needs teacher job profiles provide further information. 
  • Further education teacher – covers subjects at post-16 level (or equivalent school-leaving age). Can focus on academic qualifications, vocational training, basic numeracy/literacy skills, ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), or recreational courses. It is not uncommon to develop a ‘portfolio career’, working on a part-time basis at different institutions. Check out the Prospects Further education teacher job profile. 
  • Higher education lecturer – involves administrative and pastoral responsibilities in addition to lecture and seminar delivery with expectation to contribute to an institution’s research output. Visit our Careers in Research page to find out more. The Prospects Higher education lecturer job profile is also a useful resource. 
  • Early years teacher (EYT) – works with children aged 0-5 in various settings such as nurseries, preschools and reception classes. In the UK, activities must meet the requirements of the early years foundation stage (EYFS). The Prospects Early years teacher job profile provides further details. 
  • Teaching abroad – teaching English as a foreign language is a popular option. There are structured overseas programmes available, e.g. the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET), but be sure to check the reputation of any programme you consider. Some students teach abroad or work in summer camps over a vacation period. International schools are also key employers. Visit the Prospects English as a foreign language teacher job profile for more information. You can also visit DoTEFL to explore a global directory of TEFL courses and more information about teaching English as a foreign language. 

Non-teaching roles:

  • Education administrator – manages the administrative and support systems that keep an educational institution running smoothly. Usually based in higher or further education, in areas including admissions or marketing. Skills gained are highly transferable to other departments and functions within education and beyond. The Prospects Education administrator job profile provides further details. 
  • Student support – supports, develops and encourages students to reach their maximum potential, academically, personally and in their future careers. Includes counselling, careers advice and welfare and pastoral positions. 
  • Education officer – promotes participation in education. Traditionally based in museums, but increasingly includes educational outreach roles at universities or large employers in industry. Check out the Prospects Museum education officer and Community education officer job profiles. 
  • Educational psychologist – helps children or young people who are experiencing problems that hinder their successful learning and participation. In the UK, you must undertake a British Psychological Society accredited qualification. The Prospects Educational psychologist job profile is a useful resource. 
  • Policy advisor – education policy involves exploring the most challenging questions and issues affecting education. Jobs in this area can be in government, local authorities, charities and think tanks. 
  • Education consultant – works with clients on adapting to policy challenges and school improvement. Employers include large consultancies with educational project teams, private educational consultancies or local authorities. Visit our Careers in Consultancy page to find out more. 
  • Business-focused roles – including HR, finance and business development. Business managers with financial and corporate backgrounds are often hired by educational institutions. Visit our Careers in Business page to find out more. 

How can I get there?

Most UK state and independent schools require teachers to have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Graduates can gain this via the Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT), and Teach First. Most teacher training providers require observation of a school before applying. A comprehensive guide to routes into teaching can be found on the Prospects website.

Choosing courses / Course quality

Ofsted inspects initial teacher training courses and publishes inspection reports for schools, colleges, and more in England. The Centre for Education and Employment Research (CEER) also produces annual ‘league tables’ (including SCITTs) based on a combination of Ofsted inspection results, entry qualifications and  teaching profession. This is published as the Good Teacher Training Guide

If you’re looking to gain experience

You can gain valuable experience from volunteering with an education-focused charity, or in a school (e.g. Into University), working as a tutor or teaching assistant, or supporting the LSE Widening Participation programmes. For strategic or management roles in education, consider becoming a school governor or charity trustee.

If you’re early on in your career

If you're planning to teach, consider which of the training routes best suits you. For non-teaching roles, look for a good first position that will allow you to gain insight into an institution’s operations and develop transferable skills you can use in future applications.

If you have more experience

In the UK you would typically train to gain QTS, whatever stage of career you’re at. However, some academies and private schools may take into account significant industry experience. For non-teaching roles, consider how your previous experience could be of value in the sector.

If you’re changing career

It is possible to retrain via a PGCE, but school-based routes like Now Teach and Researchers in Schools may be of interest. For non-teaching roles, highlight elements of your previous experience, both in and outside of work, that could be useful to the sector.

Not sure what to do next?

We’re here to talk over your career plans with you. It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at, so don’t feel you have to have it all worked out. You can book a one-to-one appointment with a careers consultant on CareerHub.

Where can I find out more about working in this sector?

Interested in finding out more about a career in education and teaching?

Here are some helpful links, including the ways LSE Careers can work with you on your journey.



LSE Careers resources:

External resources:

Jobs and opportunities

Search for jobs at:


If you’d like to discuss your options in this sector, or chat through your current plans, please book an appointment with an LSE Careers Consultant.