How to become a teacher: Australian careers in teaching

Being a teacher is highly regarded in Australia as being the backbone of the next generation’s development. Teachers provide training and guidance to students at every level, from early childhood through to tertiary studies. There are many different specialisation options for those pursuing a career in teaching in Australia, letting you focus your energy on any subject, age group or specialisation that you’re most passionate about. To become a teacher in Australia you need to complete a tertiary qualification relevant to the area you wish to teach in.

  • Task Career in focus: What a teacher does

    Teachers are advocates for education and learning and motivate their students to discover and develop by creating a positive classroom environment in a supportive and encouraging setting. There are many opportunities for teachers to branch out and follow their passions in their careers, aligning with a personal or professional interest in the secondary and vocational education sectors, such as art, mathematics or hairdressing. In the case of primary school teaching, ESL or special education teaching, the focus is placed on addressing the educational needs of the student across the entire curriculum and can mean teaching in smaller or individual groups, rather than a large classroom.


    • Creating lesson plans to a set curriculum
    • Assessing student performance and providing feedback
    • Developing teaching materials and assessment tools
    • Maintaining classroom discipline
    • Guiding students to resources
  • Skills Core qualities: Skills to succeed as a teacher

    There are many different pathways you may take as a teacher, but there are some key skills and attributes that are common across the education sector. Organisation and planning are crucial for success as a teacher. Not only are you devising interesting and engaging lesson plans, you’ll also need to provide structured feedback and assessment results to each student in the class individually as well as to their parents as required. Patience, understanding and a genuine interest in student welfare are necessary in this profession, especially as it carries responsibility for the positive or negative impression education will have one a young persons life. Teachers must be able to work with students everyday and be able to deal with the different personalities and behaviours in a classroom. As well as working with students, teachers also need to be able to communicate and work with other teachers, parents and community groups in a respectful and effective way.

    • Patience, resilience and understanding
    • Highly organised and detail-oriented
    • Excellent communication skills
    • Able to break complex ideas into simple concepts
    • Enthusiasm for the subject/age group
  • Specialisations The field: Specialisations within teaching

    Teachers can work at different levels of seniority, in different subject areas and with different age groups and ability types, making this a very diverse profession with many avenues for employment. In order to work as a teacher in the Australian public or private school system, you will be required to complete a tertiary qualification, generally a Bachelor of Education or postgraduate Master of Teaching. To gain employment in a private school, this will often vary upon where it is situated and the standards set out by the school’s board.

    Primary School Teacher

    Working in the primary school system, teachers are expected to teach students from kindergarten (or pre-school) to grade 6, which, depending on your state/territory, is typically children aged from 5 to 12 years old. In primary school, you will usually be responsible for one, regular classroom of the same group of children each year and teach a range of basic literacy, numeracy, social science, creative expression and comprehension skills, ensuring their foundational skills are developed and nurtured early.

    High School Teacher

    To work within the secondary education sector, teachers must complete a specialisation as part of their Bachelor of Education degree, completing the requisite amount of units in their teaching field. This often means teachers chose to specialise in an area they are already interested in, ranging from science, art or physical education. It is also possible to become a teacher through postgraduate.

    Special Education Teacher

    Working in special education means you are helping to ensure that every Australian child and adult has the same equal opportunity to learn in our education system, helping students who may have a sensory, physical, emotional or intellectual impairment. It requires a lot of patience, care and planning and involves working collaboratively with parents, carers and health professionals. Working in special education is usually a lot more involved and allows teachers to work in smaller groups or with individuals, helping students achieve learning outcomes. 

    ESL Teacher

    Teaching English as a Second Language requires effective communication, with an ability to easily transition and explain the differences between two separate languages. This does require patience, cultural sensitivity, a very good understanding of English and creativity in developing and adapting course materials to engage with your students and make the learning process as simple as possible. Teachers work across kindergarten to grade 12 to improve students’ proficiency in English, using a range of assessment methods and teaching techniques.

    Teacher Librarian

    Working in either primary or secondary schools, teacher librarians ensure that appropriate resources are available to students and help them chose the right tools to assist their learning. They assist in improving student literacy, coordinate distance education programmes, familiarise students with computer technology and research methods as well as manage the library facilities.

    Early Childhood Teacher

    Working in preschools and community kindergartens, early childhood teachers blend creative play and education to promote early development of key literacy, numeracy, art, music and comprehension skills. They’re responsible for nurturing a child’s social, physical and intellectual development during their early years as well as liaising on the child’s progress with parents and other teachers.

    Accredited Childcare Worker

    An accredited childcare worker provides a creative and supportive environment in which children can learn and play in their early development stages . To become accredited, completion of a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care is required, allowing you to take on more senior roles in out-of-school hour care and in preschool environments.

    Vocational Education and Training (VET) Lecturer

    VET lecturers work with teenagers in high school, providing them with targeted industry-based instruction so to help them enter a specific professional industry that they are interested in working in after school. Completion of a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and relevant professional experience in your subject area will allow you to conduct classes, workshops or courses in your specialty area, usually in a TAFE setting.

    Head Teacher

    Head Teachers report to the school principal and take on a senior management role overseeing the teachers in their specific department such as science or English. In addition to teaching classes, they also provide a semi-mentoring role to other teachers, providing assessment for the teachers in their subject area, offering feedback and support as required.

    School Principal

    Principals oversee the performance and welfare of a school as a whole and the student body and often are required to report on the school’s progress to government agencies or boards to ensure funding. Working closely with the heads of department and administrative staff, they approve the educational program in line with prescribed curriculum goals, organise fundraising programs and drive the enrolment of new students into their school. They are generally very experienced teachers with a thorough understanding of the education system and relevant tertiary qualifications.

  • Pathways The right track: Find study options for becoming a teacher

    Becoming a teacher requires tertiary study in your field of specialisation, as well as ongoing professional development to ensure you’re on top of developments within the education sector and your subject area or field. 

    Starting Out

    These courses will qualify you to work in the education sector as support staff or in childcare, a great introduction to the world of teaching.

    Building Skills

    Completing a bachelor degree will allow you to pursue employment as a professional teacher in Australian schools.

    Developing Your Resume

    Additional training is available for those refining their skill set or pursuing a specialisation.

    Industry Recognition

    In order to work as a teacher you will need to join the register of qualified teachers in your state. Find out more in our Resources section.

    Entering the Workforce

    Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your teaching career. Take a look at our sample resume and cover letter and put your best foot forward when you apply for teaching jobs.

    Job prospects in teaching: Working life as a teacher

    Teaching is a profession that always seems to be in demand. Qualified teachers are able to find employment at all levels with predictions of growth in future job openings.

Teaching Career Resources:

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