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A Guide to Education Jobs in the UK

Published: Tuesday 27th October 2015

According to the latest figures there are 1.3m people working in state education jobs in the UK. In November 2014 there were 454,900 full-time equivalent (FTE) teachers in state-funded schools in England. This is an increase of 5,200 (1.2 per cent) since 2013 (449,700 FTE teachers). There are now 255,100 FTE teaching assistants and 232,000 FTE support staff. Over 1.3 million people (0.9 million FTE) work in state funded school education jobs. In FTE terms 48 per cent are teachers, 27 per cent are teaching assistants and 25 per cent are non-classroom based support staff. There were 1,030 vacancies for full-time permanent teachers in state funded schools, a rate of 0.3 per cent. This is 280 vacant posts more than in November 2013 (when the vacancy rate was 0.2 per cent). A very large majority of school staff are female – about three in four teachers are female and an even higher proportion of assistants – and more than one in 12 women in England’s workforce has a job in education. As well as the UK’s maintained schools there is the independent (private or fee-paying) sector and now free schools which are not obliged to follow the national curriculum and have different salary and holiday structures.

School Teachers – Primary and Secondary

Primary school teacher on a table with 8 students

Teachers tend to opt for either primary school teaching (4-11) or working in secondary schools (11-16/18). They will normally have an undergraduate degree in the subject they wish to teach plus further qualifications. In primary schools a teacher may be responsible for a form and teach all their lessons. In secondary education they will be expected to concentrate on their core subject. As well as teaching in the classroom, teachers undertake lesson planning, marking, administration and often pastoral care. They are also likely to be involved in extracurricular activities such as sports training, clubs and school trips. There are structured pay scales for teaching jobs within the maintained sector.

Lecturers (Further Education)

Another of the jobs in education is a further education (FE) lecturer. They are responsible for teaching one or more subjects in a general or specialist college of further education, a sixth form college, adult and community education centres or voluntary and charity organisations. They teach at all levels, from entry level to foundation degrees and professional qualifications. Courses may lead to general, vocational or academic qualifications which prepare students for work or higher education.

Lecturers (Higher Education)

Higher Education (HE) lecturers teach in colleges, universities and institutions such as teaching hospitals and usually split their time between teaching, administrative tasks and their own research activities. The amount of time devoted to each activity varies between institutions and specialities. Lecturers may work in lecture theatres, classrooms, studios, laboratories, hospital wards and, if their area of study includes field work, outdoors. There is a high demand for experienced British lecturers to work abroad, especially in the Far East. Part time working is becoming more common within higher education.

Teaching Assistants

Teaching assistants provide support for teachers in the classroom. This is one of the jobs in education that has grown in popularity in recent years. Teaching assistants are responsible for making the teaching environment ready for teaching and helping while the lesson is in progress. Outside lesson times, classroom assistants will undertake administration. Most classroom assistants are employed by primary schools but there are still many opportunities in secondary schools and other institutions. After a while, some classroom assistants choose to become Higher Level Teacher Assistants who have more responsibility. They may help to plan lessons. Higher Level Teacher Assistants may also be trusted occasionally with adopting the role of teacher.

Other Jobs in Education

Teaching English as a Foreign Language – Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) involves teaching adults and children whose first language is not English. This can be done in the UK or abroad.

Nursery worker – Nursery teachers work in nursery schools – either private or council-run – with children aged under four. They use mainly play activities to facilitate children’s social, personal, physical and emotional development, creativity, understanding of the world and language, literacy and numeracy skills.

Bursar – A bursar is traditionally the person responsible for financial administration within a school or higher education establishment. In the UK the role is most commonly associated with schools. Nowadays the role is sometimes referred to as the school’s business manager and is a vital job within education.

Lab technician – A school laboratory technician prepares the equipment and solutions used in school science labs. The role also includes assisting teachers and class demonstrations. Many are well qualified and have degrees and/or other professional qualifications.

Secretary – Jobs in education extend to general administration roles such as school secretary. A school secretary ensures that a school’s administration and environment runs as smoothly as possible. The job entails all manner of administrative duties including dealing with class registers and letters home to parents, payments for school lunches and trips, answering queries and organising rotas. A school secretary also provides a welcoming face to existing and prospective parents.

Hands of young secretary over computer keyboard typing by workplace

Librarian – A school librarian will manage the collections of books and journals held in a school library along with overseeing access to the internet, audio-visual material and areas where students can enjoy self-directed learning. They might also be referred to as a learning resources or learning centre manager. The librarian will promote the use of the service as essential to the learning targets of the school. They will participate fully in school life through regular meetings with teaching and management staff. An accredited library and information qualification is usually required.

School nurse – School nurses are fully qualified nurses who provide services such as health and sex education within schools, carrying out developmental screening, undertaking health interviews and administering immunisation programmes. School nurses can be employed by the local health authority, community NHS providers or by a school directly.

School counsellor – Some schools and most universities employ counsellors on a full or part time basis. They co-ordinate and provide appropriate counselling interventions and welfare and pastoral support to any student in need. They help them resolve issues, develop coping strategies and realise their potential. Professional qualifications in counselling are essential, as is experience working with young people.

Midday meals assistant – Midday meals assistants are employed for a few hours each day to make, serve and clear away school meals. Knowledge of cooking and food hygiene is preferable as is patience in dealing with children and an ability to supervise many people at the same time.

Caretaker – Most schools employ a single caretaker. They are responsible for the day to day maintenance of the school buildings and grounds. Salaries will vary but may not be much higher than minimum wage. Very occasionally a property may be included in the package, especially if the school is a boarding or rural school.

Private tutor – As a private tutor you would be a qualified DBS-checked teacher with a reasonable level of experience. You would probably have held a teaching job previously. You would take pupils out of school hours and teach them either in their home or in your own home. You can advertise locally, gain work by word of mouth or by listing your details on a dedicated website. You can expect to charge between £20 and £30 an hour, depending on the level of education you are tutoring. Many tutors are employed for a matter of months in the run-up to entrance exams or GCSE and A level tests. Business is likely to reduce during school holiday times. If you are working as a self-employed tutor you will be responsible for your own administration and tax affairs. In all instances you would have to pass a Disclosure and Barring Service check (formerly CRB checks) to be able to work in a school or with children or vulnerable adults.


Teachers: To become a teacher you will need to have an undergraduate degree or recognised equivalent qualification plus Grade C or above in GCSE English and maths. To teach pupils aged 3-11 (early years and primary), you must also have achieved a standard equivalent to a grade C or above in a GCSE science subject examination. Additionally, unless your degree is a (BEd), you will need a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or equivalent. There are also non-academic requirements like classroom experience or medical fitness. Alternatively, the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) allows you to gain qualified teacher status (QTS) while being employed as an unqualified teacher. Some postgraduate teacher trainees in England and Wales receive a tax-free training bursary paid over the length of their course so this is worth investigating.

Lecturers: To become an HE lecturer, you’ll need a good degree (first or 2:1) relevant to the subject you want to teach. You may also need a postgraduate master’s degree.

Teaching assistants: Relevant qualifications include an NVQ Level 2 in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools. To become a Higher Level Teaching Assistants you will need to gain official HLTA status.

Payroll and salaries folders stack with label on black binder on paperwork documents summary report,


In England, qualified teachers start on a salary of at least £22,244 – or £27,819 in inner London. Schools, including free schools, grammar and independent schools also have more freedom to develop their own pay policies to attract and retain staff. On average, a school teacher in the maintained sector earns £37,400 a year. A ‘leading practitioner’ can earn up to £65,000. If you progress to headteacher you could earn circa £100,000 a year. In addition to the basic salary if you work as a qualified teacher with pupils with SEN, you could be eligible for an SEN allowance of no less than £2,064 and no more than £4,075 per annum. There are also teaching and learning responsibility (TLR) payments – additional money if you take on more responsibilities. Additionally, you’ll get more holidays than many people in other professions, though teachers work for 195 days per year in school, and tend to do some work during their holidays. The maintained education sector has the second largest public sector pension scheme in the country.

Lecturers in sixth form colleges have a six point pay spine plus professional standards payments and then management ranges which can take salaries to circa £50,000 pa.

Lecturers in higher education establishments can expect to command starting salaries ranging from £33,000 to £43,000+. At a senior lecturer level or above, with increased management responsibilities, salaries can range from £39,000 to £58,000. Salaries usually depend on academic attainment and experience. There is a nationally agreed single-pay spine in place.

Teaching assistants can expect to start on a salary of around £12,000pa rising to £16,000pa and £18,000pa for a Higher Level Teaching Assistant.

Are you looking for a job in Education? Check out our Teaching jobs here.

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