Becoming a Teacher Later in Life
Retraining as a teacher in later life can feel like a daunting process.
However, demand for teachers in the United Kingdom has soared in recent years.
This means that the process of retraining and finding work can be relatively straightforward.
On this page, we’ll explore your options as an older candidate.
So read on to understand the ins and outs of retraining and what to expect for the future.
Why do people retrain for teaching in the UK?
If you’ve got the aptitude, teaching can be a rewarding, even life-changing career choice.
We won’t sugarcoat it for you – it’s also a tough role to fill. If it’s right for you, however, there’s a great chance you’ll never look back.
Below are some of the main reasons that people choose to retrain as teachers.
There’s a mountain of more fulfilling, life-affirming reasons to become a teacher.
That said, the above-average bursary and funding support available certainly doesn’t hurt.
Depending on the age group and subject you’re training for, you could get thousands of pounds in support.
In some cases, you won’t have to pay this money back and can use it to support your new career path!
Keeps the mind active
As the years go by and we grow older, it can be easy to fall into the same old routine.
Teaching offers a fast-paced, challenging career that can keep the mind active in later life.
You’ll be working proactively to meet the demands and expectations of your students.
When done properly, this can be really exciting!
Most teachers have fantastic annual leave options.
Fancy a six-week summer holiday?
It’s possible as a trained teacher!
Say goodbye to shift work and unpredictable schedules.
Most teaching work offers consistent, reasonable hours with comparatively early finishes.
Your work outside of lessons will be significant, but night shifts and sudden schedule changes can be a thing of your past.
Is it hard to become a teacher in later life?
That depends – are you prepared to make a change?
A new career can feel an overwhelming prospect at any age but feels especially daunting after 40.
We can’t tell you that it will be easy. What we can say, however, is that there is a huge demand for teachers.
The UK government is particularly interested in helping older adults retrain as teachers.
Their support page on the subject is surprisingly helpful and is designed to get you up to speed.
In many ways, the maximum age to become a teacher is really up to you.
If you’re looking to retrain at 50, you might like to check out our in-depth guide here.
Do older teachers get hired?
The short answer here is yes.
changing careers at an older age can feel daunting as the prospect of age discrimination is never far away.
While it’s perfectly reasonable to approach a career change with scrutiny, the reality is that the UK is currently facing a significant teacher shortage.
This is particularly severe in more specialist STEM subjects.
Teaching in the United Kingdom can be rewarding, but it’s an undeniably tough career; many new teachers quit after their first year or so.
We’re not telling you this to discourage you.
On the contrary, if you know that teaching is the right move for you, this shortage can be used to your advantage.
Once you’re trained and have the requisite experience to seek teaching work, you’ll be in much higher demand than you might expect.
Becoming a teacher at 50+
The good news here is that becoming a teacher in the UK is a relatively straightforward process.
The government’s desire to get more adults teaching means there’s a wealth of information and support available online.
We run through the main three steps you’ll be following below.
Please note – the guidance here is inspired by the government-supported page GetIntoTeaching.
It’s well worth taking a look at this page if you’re interested in retraining.
Pick your students
Who would you like to teach?
- Secondary school science students?
- Primary school children?
- Someone else entirely?
Your answers to these questions will determine the specific path you follow. Take some time to reflect on what might work best for you.
What relevant experience and training do you have that might make your transition easier?
Make sure you’re qualified
The main prerequisite in pursuing teacher training is a formal degree.
This usually has to be from an institution that’s recognised by the United Kingdom.
GCSEs above a C in English, Maths, and Science (for primary school children) are also necessary.
If you don’t have these specific qualifications, you may be able to demonstrate that you have equivalent or transferable skills from elsewhere.
International candidates should check this government-supported page here.
Find your training course and apply
The students you’d like to teach and the topic you’d like to teach them will determine the specific training you need.
Your next step will be to find the right course for you.
There’s a fairly broad range of options here that span from post-graduate training to primary teacher prep and much more.
Overwhelmed by the options above? Get an adviser!
Becoming a teacher in later life can be a fantastic decision for the right person.
That said, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the tidal wave of information that’s out there online.
Fortunately, the UK government has established an advisory scheme to help new candidates on their journeys.
You’ll be assigned an adviser who can guide you through the various elements of your retraining.
You’ll need a degree or to be currently studying at university to access the scheme.
Are there alternatives?
Without formal training, you won’t be able to teach at most state-funded schools (although the laws surrounding this were relaxed in 2012).
However, there are a few alternatives you might like to try:
- Private schools in the UK are allowed to hire uncertified teachers
- Private tutor sites like Superprof or Tutorhunt can be lucrative for certain subjects
- You could always provide teaching materials and lessons on sites like YouTube, but this can be a very challenging way to make money
- If you simply enjoy the educating others, you can also consider non-traditional forms of teaching, like voluntary adult skills training at your local library
- Become a Mirthy host! We offer an avenue to share your esoteric skills and knowledge with an eager audience, while getting paid to do it! Just contact us here to register your interest.
Get into teaching
Teaching in the UK can be a very challenging career.
For the right people, however, it can be absolutely life-changing.
If you think you’re a good fit for the career, your age needn’t be a barrier.
We wish you luck on your career-change journey!
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