How to become a College Teacher?

How to become a College Teacher








Being a college teacher can be challenging, but also rewarding. Becoming a college teacher can be exciting and worthwhile as you will gradually become equipped with a vast amount of knowledge and skills. 

College, or further education teachers teach a variety of subjects to learners aged sixteen and over. They also provide work-related education to students aged fourteen to sixteen years.

As an FE teacher, you could teach a diverse set of learners, including young people and adults. If teaching a skill or trade, you will spend more time in practical settings than in a classroom.

Teaching can take place in a range of settings including: general FE colleges; universities; sixth form colleges; community education centres; prisons; and, voluntary and community organisations.

As a college teacher you will teach a range of subjects in one of three core areas:

  • Academic teaching- teaching various qualifications, namely GCSE and A-level
  • Vocational training- work-based skills and preparation
  • English and Mathematics- teaching basic skills in literacy, numeracy and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

How to become a college teacher?

In most cases, you will firstly need to attain relevant qualifications.

Relevant qualifications

Attaining a relevant qualification will increase your chances of securing employment and advancing in your career, although you can become a college teacher without a teaching qualification.

Qualifications are available at a range of levels. These include:

  • Level 3 Award in Education and Training. This is an introductory, knowledge-based course. Before commencing a teaching role, you must participate in micro-teaching.
  • Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training. A specified requirement is a minimum of thirty hours of teaching practice.
  • Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training. This is the full, recognised qualification for teaching in FE. A specified requirement is a minimum of one hundred hours of teaching practice.
  • Level 5 integrated specialist diplomas. This is similar to the Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training, however, the minimum requirement of one hundred teaching practice hours must be in your chosen specialist area.  

Qualifications are broadly made available on a full or part-time basis by FE colleges, universities and other training providers. Although, for part-time level 4 and 5 qualifications, you normally have to schedule your own teaching practice placement.

Securing a place on a relevant course

In order to secure a place on the course of your choice, you will need to be qualified and/or experienced in the subject you wish to teach. For academic courses, you will need a degree and for vocational courses, you will be required to have a relevant vocational qualification and some professional experience.

The most common path into the profession is to attain a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in post-compulsory education. You are required to have a degree in the subject you wish to teach and courses are offered both on a full-time and part-time basis.  They include the Level 5 qualification requirements but also offer additional units at a higher level.

You may also undertake a certificate in Education (Cert Ed) which addresses the Level 5 requirements but does not require a degree. Alternatively, a level 3 qualification in the area you wish to teach is required, or substantial and relevant experience.

Entry requirements

  • GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and Mathematics
  • 1 or 2 A levels, a level 3 diploma or relevant experience for a level 4 or level 5 course

Skills and capabilities

As a college teacher you will need to:

  • Have extensive knowledge of your professional area or subject
  • Be creative
  • Have excellent communication skills including written and verbal
  • Have the ability to design, develop, teach and assess courses in your area of expertise
  • Be flexible, enthusiastic and dedicated
  • Have a great rapport with students of all ages, backgrounds and learning needs
  • Have good IT knowledge and skills


You will be required to:

  • Plan and prepare lessons
  • Teach in various courses across a range of levels
  • Teach small and large groups
  • Develop and evaluate effective teaching resources
  • Monitor, evaluate and assess student progress
  • Maintain effective and up-to-date records
  • Conduct tutorials
  • Represent the college at certain events throughout the academic year
  • Implement up-to-date college policies and procedures
  • Collaborate with other educational professionals
  • Explore and arrange appropriate placements
  • Interview prospective candidates
  • Contribute to team meetings
  • Liaise with awarding bodies

College teaching experience

In order to gain some experience in college teaching, it may be useful to get in touch with your local college. The relevant head of department may arrange for you to do some voluntary teaching or shadow key professionals.

It is also useful to gain any experience working with young people, either voluntary or in a paid capacity. Youth clubs, sports clubs, community and voluntary organisations, schools and colleges are generally delighted to welcome volunteers.


Once you are trained as a college teacher you will be able to seek employment in FE colleges or satellite centres within the community. You can also find work in the prison service, the armed forces education branch or in-company training departments. Many college teachers are employed by more than one organisation, sometimes on short-term contracts, while additionally working in their area of expertise outside of education.

Professional development

You are eligible to apply for Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status once you have completed a relevant Level 5 or above qualification in education and training.

QTLS status is equivalent to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), which primary and post-primary teachers hold.

QTLS attainment shows your knowledge and skills are at a certain professional level and can assist with career progression.

There is an abundance of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities that will allow you to further develop and enhance your career path. Once you are qualified as a college teacher, education should not come to a halt. Being a college teacher is filled with diversification. It is a career that is fulfilling, busy and exciting, requiring hard work, flexibility and an understanding of the ever-changing profile and needs of learners in modern-day society.  

Back to listing