Qualifications needed to work in further education

What qualifications do you need to work in FE?

If you want to teach or assess in the FE sector you need the following qualifications: 

  • At least a level three qualification (for example NVQ/vocational level 3 in the subject you want to teach – for some academic subjects you may need a degree. Some of the more common level 3 qualifications are A-levels, Advanced Certificates of Education, Advanced GCEs, BTECs (including Nationals), the International Baccalaureate, Key Skills level 3, NVQs level 3 and OCR Nationals.

    If there’s a particular demand for your knowledge and skills, some employers will consider you if you have substantial professional experience, or a level 2 qualification for some construction courses.
  • Evidence of level 2 (GCSE or equivalent ) English, Maths and ICT to apply for Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS).
  • To complete the appropriate teaching qualifications - see below for more information.

Teaching qualifications needed for FE

Since September 2007 all new teachers entering the further education sector in England and Wales have to undergo the following initial teacher training (ITT) to become a licensed practitioner:

Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning sector (PTLLS)
This is a short, introductory course to the teaching strategies in further education and is the equivalent of an introduction to teaching course. PTLLS consists of 30 hours’ delivery plus 30 hours of self-directed learning. This will be a level 3 or 4 qualification and must be completed within 12 months of taking up a teaching post. After you’ve completed the PTLLS you then need to take further qualifications (see below for details), depending on whether you’re aiming to qualify as a ‘full’ or ‘associate’ teacher.

Certificate in Teaching in the Lifelong Sector (CTLLS)
CTLLS, (known as ‘kettles’). This level 3 or 4 qualification should be taken once you’ve completed the PTLLS, and must be completed within five years of taking up a teaching post. This will qualify you to become an associate teacher. As an associate teacher you would have fewer teaching responsibilities than a full teacher

Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (DTLLS)
DTLLS (known as ‘detols’) . This is the minimum qualification you need to work as a ‘full’ teacher in FE and it allows you to apply for Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status. You either get the Diploma or you go down the PGCE/Cert Ed in Further Education route. 

The qualifications are awarded by City & Guilds, OCR and a number of universities. You can find full details of qualifications and training providers on the Talent website.

The Cert Ed or PGCE within the FE sector route
Alternatively you can undertake one of the higher education level 5 programmes, which combine the content of these qualifications into one package and may be called Cert Ed or PGCE within the FE sector. Teachers choose between the diploma, which is a teaching qualification, equal to the PGCE/Cert Ed, or the certificate, depending on their role.

Skills for Life qualifications

Lecturers employed to teach Essential Skills under the Skills for Life agenda must work towards or hold a specialist Skills for Life qualification in:
• literacy
• numeracy
• English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

These specialist certificates in literacy, numeracy and ESOL may be taken through part-time study.Find out more about becoming a Skills for Life teacher

Recognising other teaching or training qualifications

If you’ve done a training qualification in the past you may be given some credit for this against the new qualifications. You can use the Tariff of ITT Qualifications tool to help map your existing qualifications against those now needed in FE.

Joining FE industry bodies

You have to register with the Institute for Learning (IfL) if you teach in the FE and skills sector and deliver Learning Skills Council (LSC)-funded provision. The IfL is the professional body for teachers, tutors, trainers and student teachers in the further education.

However if you work in a sixth-form college you can either join the IfL or the General Teaching Council.

Useful links for anyone thinking of going into further education

The University of Greenwich has produced a guide to getting a teaching job in further education which is worth downloading.

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

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.