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Tes Institute

How can I become a teacher without a degree?

11 Nov 22

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're 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.

Here we explain 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'll need qualified teacher status (QTS) and to obtain QTS you must have a degree or a qualification equivalent to a UK degree. 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 points below:

  • Your degree must be a first degree totalling 360 credit points of which 60 must be at Level 6 for Initial Teacher Training (ITT) routes
  • It must have been studied in the UK or be validated by ENIC

Teacher training providers may have minimum degree classification requirements – 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 does not completely align with the subject you are going to teach, but you have experience from another area to add to your subject knowledge, 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'll need, you'll also be required to have GCSEs and be expected to complete an assessment of your English and mathematics fundamental knowledge. 

Your assessments of fundamental knowledge will help your teacher training provider determine if you meet the expected standard and determine any further areas of development you may need.

  • To teach at primary level you will need grade C/4 or equivalent in GCSE maths, English and science
  •  To teach at secondary level you will need grade C/4 or equivalent in GCSE maths and English
  • Typically, training providers accept first and second-class degrees. However, a third-class degree may also be considered as acceptable learning evidence on some routes. 

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

If you’re a TA or an 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 six months of completing a degree. You must meet the other entry criteria to join, but this route does allow some flexibility if you're 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're considering this option, it might be a good idea to try and gain some relevant experience. This could be by taking up a role as a cover supervisor or teaching assistant, volunteering in a school, or through our Level 3 Teaching Assistant Apprenticeship, where you can earn while you learn. This way you'll know that teaching is what you want to do before committing to a degree.

You can study for a degree with QTS full-time over three to four years, or take a part-time course over a longer period that gives you the flexibility to work and earn.

Overseas qualification comparison

If you're an overseas candidate, you may have a comparable qualification. Websites such as ENIC can help you check if the qualification you have is equivalent to a degree.

Independent schools

While state schools in the UK require you to have a degree, QTS and relevant school experience, some schools, such as independent 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.

Last updated on 27.07.2022.

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