Training to teach in further and higher education

Last updated: 10 Sept 2023, 08:43

Find out about the range of qualifications available to train to teach in further education and how to become a higher education lecturer.

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The further education and skills sector includes: further education (FE) colleges, independent training providers, the third sector (charities and social enterprises), adult and community learning and offender learning. There are several teaching qualifications available if you wish to teach students beyond the age of compulsory education; your choice will depend on the type of teaching role you wish to pursue.

Look at teacher training in Northern Ireland , Scotland and Wales for information on the FE sector in the rest of the UK.

What qualifications do you need to teach in FE?

It is possible to gain a lecturing job without a teaching qualification, but your prospects of gaining a position and of progression once in the sector are likely to be greatly enhanced by possessing an appropriate qualification, as well as having experience in the area you wish to teach.

You can take qualifications at various levels, including:

  • Level 3 award in education and training: a short introductory course including peer-to-peer teaching practice; which you can take without the need to have a placement or be employed as a teacher.
  • Level 4 certificate in education and training: develops practical teaching skills and includes a minimum of 30 hours' teaching practice.
  • Level 5 diploma in education and training: training for a full teaching role - which includes educational theory and a minimum of 100 hours of teaching practice. It's possible to include specialist training at this level in literacy, English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), numeracy, or special educational needs (SEN).
  • Level 5 certificate in education: available in some areas if you currently have a level 3 qualification in the subject you want to teach, or substantial professional experience.
  • Learning and Skills Teacher apprenticeship: takes a minimum of two years to complete and is a Level 5 qualification. You can search online for available apprenticeships.
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in compulsory education/further education: available if you have a degree in the subject you wish to teach. It’s usually assessed at a Level 6 or 7 qualification.

These qualifications may be undertaken in FE colleges, with training providers or in universities - often on a part-time basis. For the level 4 certificate and level 5 diploma qualifications, you'll usually need to be employed in a teaching role or be able to organise your own placement for teaching practice.

Further information is available from Teach in Further Education .

Where do you find FE teacher training courses?

For many training courses, applications can be made directly to the provider. Check the websites of individual institutions for details and additional information. It is also possible to contact the Education and Training Foundation for details. Some PGCE courses can be found on the Department for Education’s search tool for postgraduate teacher training courses .

How do you become a higher education lecturer?

To become a university lecturer, you normally need to study for a masters or PhD qualification in the specialist subject area you want to teach. You're not always expected to have a teaching qualification before you begin; but you can study for teaching qualifications once in post. Advance HE accredits university teaching and learning CPD (continuing professional development) courses and offers fellowship for those working in the field. University lecturers will usually be expected to achieve one of the four categories of fellowship once in post.

What does it really mean to be a higher education lecturer? See our lecturer (higher education) job description for more information.

Written by Cathy Taylor, University of West London, July, 2023


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Occasionally targetjobs will work with another organisation to provide impartial careers content. This is to provide you with the most relevant information to make the best decisions about your future. As such, ‘in partnership’ content has been written or sourced by the partner organisation and edited by targetjobs as part of a content partnership.

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