How To Become a Teacher (Including FAQs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 24 October 2022 | Published 30 June 2021

Updated 24 October 2022

Published 30 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're a good communicator that's passionate about the importance of education, becoming a teacher may be the ideal career choice for you. Teachers educate students to help them reach their academic potential and improve their skills. However, you'll need to spend time studying and gaining practical experience before you can lead a class unsupervised. In this article, we explain what you need to become a teacher, including the answers to frequently asked questions about becoming and developing as a teacher.

How to become a teacher

Follow these steps to become a qualified teacher:

1. Finish year 12

Completing year 12 is the easiest way to qualify for TAFE or university. You'll need a university degree to teach most students. Studying enough units to earn your secondary school certificate and Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) is the simplest way to qualify for university. Check your university for any prerequisite subjects. For example, English, maths and a science subject, such as chemistry or biology, are common prerequisites for teaching degrees. Make sure you've studied those subjects to gain entry into your chosen degree program.

If you leave school before year 12 or your marks are lower than you expected, complete the Certificate IV in Tertiary Preparation course at TAFE. This alternative to year 12 can teach you the core skills you'll need for further study.

2. Get Working with Children and police checks

Before commencing further education, obtain Working with Children and police checks. These checks show you are of good character and could safely and responsibly work with children. Apply for your Working with Children check through your state or territory's service department. Your state or territory's police department issues your police check. Make sure your checks remain current throughout your studies to take part in work placement programs.

Related: Jobs That Involve Working With Children

3. Complete CASPer test for university entry

Universities in most states and territories ask aspiring teachers to sit the Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics (CASPer) test. This 90-minute test checks if you have vital traits for teachers such as professionalism, empathy and ethics. The test contains questions about your reactions to eight video and four written scenarios.

4. Study a relevant TAFE or university course

If you want to teach children in an early childhood centre or preschool, consider a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care. This TAFE course qualifies you to teach children up to the age of six. However, some early childhood learning settings prefer applicants with a university degree, so completing a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood and Primary) can give you a competitive edge. As this degree qualifies you to teach children up to eight years, it can also increase your employment options.

For older students, you'll need either a Bachelor of Education (Primary) or a Bachelor of Education (Secondary). Pursuing further study with a Master of Teaching (Primary) or Master of Teaching (Secondary) can help you secure vacant roles. You could also complete a master's degree if you want to teach primary or high school and have a non-education bachelor's degree. All these degrees include work placement programs that give you practical teaching experience. You'll also need to pass the Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education Students (LANTITE) while you're studying.

Related: How to Become an EAL Teacher (With Salary and Duties)

5. Register as a teacher

Apply for registration through your state or territory's official body:

  • New South Wales: NSW Education Standards Authority

  • Australian Capital Territory: ACT Teacher Quality Institute

  • Victoria: Victorian Institute of Teaching

  • Queensland: Queensland College of Teachers

  • Tasmania: Teachers Registration Board of Tasmania

  • South Australia: Teachers Registration Board of South Australia

  • Northern Territory: Teacher Registration Board of the Northern Territory

  • Western Australia: Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia

Registration is essential for all primary and high school teachers and most early childhood teachers. Registration criteria vary, although you'll usually need to prove your educational qualifications, workplace experience and character through Working with Children and police checks. Once the board approves your registration, you can accept a teaching position. Registration lengths vary between states and territories, so make sure you know how long your registration stays valid and update it as required to stay current.

What does a teacher do?

Teachers educate students according to their state's curricula. They may provide an all-round education, if they're teaching in a primary school or early childhood setting, or specialise in one or two subjects at a high school level. They should also create a safe learning environment that supports students in achieving their academic and social potential. Duties vary depending on their role and teaching level, but may include:

  • Creating lesson plans and teaching materials, considering state or territory curriculum

  • Explaining concepts to their classes

  • Leading classroom discussions

  • Setting and marking exams and assignments to assess knowledge and application of concepts

  • Provide feedback to students to help them improve their performance

  • Encouraging productive work and good listening in the classroom

  • Maintaining order in the classroom and refer non-compliant students to the principal

  • Supervising students in the classroom, before school and during recess and lunch breaks

  • Developing school initiatives with fellow teachers

  • Organising and supervising excursions and school camps

  • Giving feedback to caregivers on their child's performance and progress

What is the average salary for teachers?

According to Indeed Salaries, teachers make an average of $90,485 per year. Salaries vary depending on a teacher's years of experience, area of specialty and whether they're teaching at a public or private school. You may negotiate for a higher salary after teaching at the same school for a few years.

Related: 6 Tips for Your Next Salary Negotiation

Frequently asked questions about becoming a teacher

Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about becoming a teacher:

What qualifications do you need to become a teacher?

Most teachers need either an education or a teaching degree. For teaching children older than five, the minimum requirement is a bachelor's degree. You might have this degree if you took a direct education path to become a teacher. It could be a master's degree if you began studying to become a teacher after earning a bachelor's degree in a different field of study. You could have both degrees if you wanted an advanced understanding of education.

If you want to focus on early childhood, you may secure work with the Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care. However, a degree is still recommended for preschool and early childhood teachers.

How many years does it take to become a teacher?

After graduating high school, you can become a teacher in as little as four years with full-time study. If you pursue a master's degree with full-time study, you can become a teacher in as little as five or six years, depending on your university's program. Registering to become a teacher in your last semester of study minimises delays.

Most schools start looking for teachers in September for the new academic year, starting in late January or early February. Applying for teaching roles at this time may help you become a teacher sooner. Some schools may hire teachers at other times, such as when a teacher retires or goes on maternity leave. However, as there are fewer roles the application process is often very competitive.

Related: 8 Common Interview Questions for Teachers

How can you increase your chances of becoming a teacher?

Teachers who are flexible about where they live can increase their chances of securing full-time work. Demand is highest in regional and rural areas, so you may find securing work easier if you move out of the city. Experience is also well-regarded. While you're trying to secure a full-time position, remain open to working as a substitute teacher or teacher's aide. You can put this experience on your resume and use it to secure full-time employment. Schools may also promote you to a full-time position if they're impressed with your work.

Related: How To Become a Teacher's Aide

How can you develop yourself as a teacher?

Participating in training courses and attending seminars are the most common ways teachers develop their knowledge and skills. State and territory education departments run learning opportunities including seminars and workshops. Teacher's unions and associations offer their members access to exclusive development events and programs.

Professional development activities can update your teaching knowledge and maintain your registration. Each state and territory requires teachers to participate in at least the following amount of development to keep their registration current:

  • New South Wales: 100 hours per maintenance period (5 years for full-time teachers, 7 years for part-time and casual teachers)

  • Australian Capital Territory: 20 hours per year

  • Victoria: 20 hours per year

  • Queensland: 20 hours per calendar year for teachers teaching 20+ days

  • Tasmania: Some development every 5 years, without minimum set

  • South Australia: 60 hours every 3 years

  • Northern Territory: 100 hours every 5 years

  • Western Australia: 100 hours every 5 years for full registration; 60 hours every 3 years for limited/provisional registration

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