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Training and qualifications for alternative careers in education

Training and qualifications for alternative careers in education

Interested in teaching children with special educational needs, or going into museum education or TEFL? Explore training options for alternative careers related to education that don't involve teaching children in a classroom.

If you're interested in working in education, but aren't keen on any of the traditional classroom teaching roles, you may need to study for a relevant qualification. This may even be the case if you've already undertaken teacher training.

Here are some obvious, and not so obvious, alternative career paths you could take within the world of education. For more information and an in-depth overview, turn to the fact-packed Education Alternatives publication from AGCAS, written by experienced university careers advisers and bursting with inspirational, relevant and up-to-date advice.

Special educational needs. A teaching qualification and relevant specialist knowledge and experience is often required for roles such as special educational needs and disability (SEND) teacher and special educational needs coordinator (SENCO). Educational psychologist posts require a three-year doctorate (or equivalent), while portage workers, who work with pre-school children in their homes, often need experience and training in teaching, social work or nursery nursing.

Teaching English as a foreign or second language (TEFL or TESOL). In many countries you are often required to have a recognised TEFL qualification and some language schools may also ask for qualified teacher status (QTS). At the other end of the scale, some countries just require a good basic education and excellent command of English.

Museum education. Experience in a museum is essential and this can include voluntary work. A teaching qualification, or experience of working with children in a school setting, is an advantage, and a postgraduate qualification in museum studies could increase your chances.

Out of school learning. People from a range of backgrounds, including those with youth work qualifications as well as qualified teachers and early years graduates can apply for opportunities in services that run outside term time and before and after the school day. This can include homework clubs and summer school.

Tutoring. A relevant degree is typically required to demonstrate good subject knowledge. A teaching qualification is not usually essential although a lot of tutors are qualified teachers. Some distance learning employers ask for previous teaching experience.

Counselling and student welfare. Secondary school counsellors tend to need a few years’ teaching experience. If you want to work as a counsellor in higher education, you'll almost certainly need a degree and professional training in counselling and/or psychotherapy, plus substantial post-qualification experience. 

Education social workers must have a degree or postgraduate degree in social work, but this is not always the case for education welfare officers.

Family support and advocacy work. Practitioner positions within family court advice typically require professional social work qualifications and experience but other roles in family support will just look for experience of working with children and their families.

Learning resources. Academic librarians need to have completed a degree or postgraduate course accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).

Playwork leaders need significant work experience and are usually required to have a relevant qualification in playwork, though teaching, social work or youth and community work qualifications may be accepted.

Outdoor education. Postgraduate qualifications are available in outdoor education and recreation management and teaching qualifications are an advantage.

Riding therapist. The UK's longest-established training centre, The Fortune Centre of Riding Therapy, requires therapists to have a teaching qualification, experience in special educational needs and, preferably, the British Horse Society Assistant Instructor (BHSAI) qualification.

Child psychotherapists need an honours degree in a relevant subject such as psychology, education, nursing or sociology plus substantial experience working with children of varying ages or families, and postgraduate level clinical training accredited by the Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP).

AGCAS editors, 2019

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