Pay and conditions in further education

The post-compulsory sector of education offers a lot of flexibility in working conditions for its staff; you could teach full-time, part-time (day or evening) or day-release courses. The choice of workplaces is varied too, covering further education colleges, sixth-form colleges, community colleges, adult education centres, the prison service and work-based learning settings.

The past few years have increasingly seen jobs offered on fixed-term contracts, usually for one or two years, with the possibility of an extension. However part -time work is the most common way for people to begin their FE teaching careers, but you should also be on the look out for full-time opportunities from January onwards.

Further education salaries

Although there are guidelines on pay and conditions of service recommended by the University and College Union, colleges are able to set their own salary scales and many do. 

There are also different national negotiation structures in place. In England negotiations are conducted through the National Joint Forum (NDF); in Wales the negotiating body is Colegau Cymru; and Northern Ireland works through the Lecturers’ Negotiating Committee. In Scotland there are separate structures for bargaining in FE, the recognised union is the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS).

Salaries vary according to teaching and industrial experience, qualifications, subject demand, institution or site, and geographical location, however unqualified teacher rates are likely to be between £18,000- £22,000.

Qualified teacher salaries start at around £23,000 and go up to around £35,000 for a full-time, permanent teaching role. Higher rates of up to £39,000 are possible if you take on extra responsibilities.

Leadership and management salaries typically range from £33,000 to around £80,000, but can be in excess of £100,000 for Principal roles in large colleges. FE teachers working in London may also get an additional allowance.

If you take part-time work, you’ll find hourly rates vary depending on the way the rate is calculated, but generally start at around £18 per hour. Higher rates are possible if you take on extra responsibilities.

There’s also the opportunity to supplement your income by taking on extra teaching roles eg private tuition, evening classes, national examination marking, teaching on residential courses, external consultancy work or writing textbooks.

Assessor salaries

An assessor working in FE is likely to earn between £15,000 and £23,000 in a full-time, permanent job, and higher rates are possible if you take on extra responsibilities.

Assessors in a part-time job should expect to be paid between £12-£15 per hour. You should also get a travel allowance to cover travel expenses.

Working hours in further education

Further education offers flexible working hours for both teachers and assessors…

  • Permanent, full-time job – typically you’ll work around 37 hours a week. Expect around 25 hours of this to be spent teaching, which might include one or more evening sessions. The remainder of the time will be sent planning and preparing lessons, marking students’ work, and attending meetings.
  • Permanent, part-time job (also known as fractional roles). These jobs are on permanent contracts, you simply work for a fraction of a lecturers’ week, for example if you took a 0.5 job, then you’d work up to 18.5 hours a week. Fractional and casual lecturers often work for several organisations at the same time, or they may also teach regular evening classes.
  • Variable hours job, which could be temporary or permanent. Your hours vary according to the teaching schedule and you’ll be paid by the hour.
  • Temporary contracts. These roles often come through employment agencies and could be full or part-time. If you’re employed by an agency you’re usually paid by the hour. If you’re employed directly by an employer you might be awarded a pro rata salary.

Other benefits

Typically you will get around 37 days holiday plus Bank Holidays, although these holidays should be taken outside of term time for permanent lecturers. The hourly pay rate for casual lecturers usually contains holiday pay.

Your entitlement to sick pay and holiday pay and access to pension scheme depends on whether you’re employed directly or through an agency and varies between employers.

The UCU recommends that all eligible staff join the employers’ occupational pension scheme. Most staff in further education will probably be covered by the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) or a Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS).

Working conditions in further education

Be prepared for the unexpected when it comes to your working conditions. You could be in a classroom, lecture theatre, workshop, laboratory, employer premises… and the list goes on.

You might also find yourself moving between institutions; many lecturers now find themselves working across schools, FE colleges and community learning centres.


Useful links for FE pay and conditions

FE National Joint Forum views on the pay and conditions claim for 2011/12 for lecturers in further education

FE salary guide across England from the UCU

The University of Greenwich has produced a guide to getting a teaching job in further education

Download a guide about the work available in the FE sector from the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) 

Read this guide to working in FE from Lifelong Learning UK

More articles about teaching in FE

Qualifications needed to work in further education

Career development options in further education

Typical day-to-day activities of an FE teacher

Pay and conditions in further education

The role of the assessor in FE

Find a job in further education on TES Jobs

View all the jobs in colleges of further and tertiary education

View all the lecturer jobs

View the latest head of department roles in further education

View the latest FE Director/Principal roles

View the classroom teacher roles in further education

Don’t forget to set yourself up with a job alert for your chosen role so you will get the latest FE jobs emailed direct to your inbox as soon as they become available on TES Jobs. You have to register with TES to set up a job alert but registration is quick and free.