How can I become a teacher without a degree?

Tes Institute Team

Teacher recruitment: Teacher workload and pay are not the big issues that put people off a teaching career, says Stephen Gorard

One of the questions we commonly get asked is, “Can I become a teacher without a degree?”

The simple answer is no - you cannot become a teacher without a degree.

But if you are an undergraduate or have a degree in a different subject than what you want to teach, there are options to help you on your journey into teaching. Deciding which route is right for you will depend on your personal circumstances, and Tes Institute is here to support you.

Take a look at the relevant sections below to learn more about the qualifications needed to teach, what options are available and how to become a teacher without a degree.

I have a degree and want to teach

To become a teacher, you will need Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and to obtain QTS you must have a degree or equivalent qualification. So, if you want to teach and already have an eligible degree – great! You’re on the right track.

Is my degree eligible to become a teacher?

To check if your degree is eligible to become a teacher, take a look at the below.

  • Your degree must be an honours degree totalling 360 credits for Initial Teacher Training (ITT) routes.
  • It must have been studied in the UK or be NARIC validated.
  • Your degree subject should match at least 50% of the subject that you want to teach if you are training for secondary level.

Teacher training providers may have minimum degree classification requirements - and these are generally higher for the more popular courses like primary teaching.

Assessment Only pathways offer more flexibility with regard to degree score and subject. Fewer credits may be needed for these routes so please check with your training provider for pathway-specific information.

What if my degree isn’t in the subject I want to teach?

If your degree doesn’t make up 50% of the subject you want to teach or if you are not confident about your subject knowledge then you may wish to complete a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course before your teacher training.

What other qualifications will I need to become a teacher?

While a degree is the highest qualification you will need, you will also be required to have GCSEs and Professional skills tests.

  • GCSEs required to teach at primary level: grade C/4 or equivalent in Maths, English and Science is required.
  • GCSEs required to teach at secondary level: grade C/4 or equivalent in Maths and English is required.
  • Professional skills tests: a pass in both literacy and numeracy professional skills tests are required before you start teacher training. Some teacher training providers require this before they can even offer you a place. You can book these tests as soon as you have evidence showing that you’ve submitted your teacher training application.

Can I start a programme if I’m still completing my degree?

If you’re a TA or unqualified teacher looking to fast-track your journey to becoming a teacher, the Straight to Teaching programme allows you to start the course while you’re in the final 6-12 months of completing a degree. You must meet the other entry criteria to join, but this route does allow some flexibility if you are still completing your degree.

I don’t have a degree, what are my options?

If you don’t have a degree or equivalent qualification, there are still options and ways of pursuing your teaching career.

University-led undergraduate course 

If you’re not a graduate, then a great way to get into teaching is to train via a university-led undergraduate course and graduate with qualified teacher status (QTS).  

If you are considering this option, it might be a good idea to try and gain some relevant experience. This could be in the form of a cover supervisor or teaching assistant, or volunteer in schools. This way you can know that it’s definitely what you want to do before committing to a degree.

With a Degree with QTS you have the option to study full time, which takes three to four years to complete. But if you are concerned about the cost then you can choose to study part time. This would mean the course would take longer to complete but gives you the flexibility to work and earn.

Overseas qualification comparison

If you are an overseas candidate, you may have a comparable qualification. Websites such as NARIC can help you check this to see if the qualification you have is equivalent to a degree.

Private Schools

While state schools in the UK require you to have a degree, Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and relevant school experience, some schools, such as private schools and academies, are able to recruit teachers without a degree. But one thing to bear in mind is that should you wish to move schools or progress, this can be very difficult.

Troops to Teachers

In exceptional circumstances you won't need a degree, such as if you are former service personnel enrolling on the Troops to Teachers scheme.

Teach English as a Foreign Language

Another option if you do not have a degree is to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).  In some areas such as China, South America and parts of South East Asia, a good grasp of the English language will be enough to teach, meaning you can teach without degree.

However, this route may be competitive so although not needed, a degree would benefit you in securing a position. And some countries may require you to have a degree to get your visa. Each country has different entry requirements for its TEFL teachers, so carry out some in-depth research to discover exactly what you'll need.