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How to Start Your Career in Teaching in Australia

So, you want to pursue a career in teaching. Maybe you had a teacher who changed your life and view of education. Maybe you had some bad educational experiences and want the chance to do better. Maybe you have this unshakeable feeling that your life’s purpose is to help inspire young minds. Whatever your reason, here are some key steps you’ll need to take when you are kicking off your career in education.

Understand the educational requirements

In general, teachers at all levels are required to have an undergraduate degree (i.e. a bachelor’s degree), ideally in education or teaching. This typically is a three to four-year degree. At some institutions, you can specialise in certain areas of education or teaching, such as primary school or secondary school education. 

Before pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you may choose to undergo vocational training as a first step. You can do this at a wide range of TAFEs and VET providers. Examples of popular education certifications include a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, and a Diploma of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education.

In your bachelor’s degree, you are required to cover core education units, which might relate to child psychology, different teaching styles and sociological concerns in the classroom. Additionally, while completing your undergraduate degree in education or teaching, you may pursue a concurrent degree in the area in which you intend to specialise. 

After your bachelor’s degree, you may choose to continue to a postgraduate degree (i.e. a master’s degree) to increase your specialisation before working. A master’s degree typically spans one to two years and can involve specialisation in certain subjects or teaching types (such as primary, secondary, English as a second language and more). Students that have not studied education before can also use a postgraduate degree as a pathway to teaching. 

Gain the necessary documentation

Teachers must complete and submit significant documentation before they can start working, which is legally mandated by the federal government. This is done with the core consideration of child protection in mind. 

Teaching jobs typically require a criminal/police check, which costs roughly $40. For students who currently reside overseas and are looking to move to Australia, the check will likely be undertaken by the Australian Federal Police. Alternatively, you may be required to undergo a police check in your home country. For students based in Australia, you can find more information on your state or territory government website. 

As teaching is a job that involves interaction with children, a paid Working with Children Check is essential. You must apply for this via your state or territory government website. 

To apply for approval to teach in public schools within your state or territory, you must apply during the final two semesters of your undergraduate or postgraduate studies. In some states, international students must apply for “casual and temporary teaching approval”, aligned with various work visa requirements. 

Refine your relevant skills

To prepare for your career in teaching, you must focus on developing certain skills. Key skills you’ll need to succeed in teaching include patience, resilience, conflict resolution, creativity and leadership. These skills can help you adapt to unforeseen hurdles in and outside the classroom, nurture your students’ passions and find fulfilment in your career.

Get accredited to teach in your state or territory

The accreditation bodies of each state and territory and their requirements are as follows:

ACT: Teacher Quality Institute (TQI)

TQI offers provisional registration to graduates who have not yet completed 180 days of service. You can only apply to register once your final results and course transcript have been released.

NSW: NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA)

NESA requires teachers to gain a conditional or provisional accreditation before they start teaching, then work towards the accreditation of Proficient Teacher in the timeframe of three-four years for full-time teachers, and five-six for part-time. Conditional accreditation can be gained in the final year of a teaching degree, whereas provisional accreditation is gained at the end of your degree.

NT: Teachers’ Registration Board

In the Northern Territory, graduates must apply for provisional registration which lasts three years, and then make the transition to full registration after 180 days of service.

Queensland: Queensland College of Teachers (QCT)

Recent graduates in Queensland should apply for provisional registration, which lasts for two years. After those two years, you can either apply to renew your registration if not yet eligible for full registration, or transition to full registration.

SA: Teachers’ Registration Board

In South Australia, prospective teachers must submit this teacher registration form as graduates.

Tasmania: Teachers’ Registration Board

The TRB in Tasmania grants provisional registration to graduates who are not yet eligible for full registration, which stipulates assessments of teaching competence and ongoing participation in professional learning.

Victoria: Victoria Institute of Teaching (VIT)

Victorian graduates should seek provisional registration, which lasts for two years. Then, teachers must annually complete the full registration process.

Western Australia: Teacher Registration Board

Students who have graduated within the last five years can apply for provisional registration, and transition to full after 100 days of teaching and assessment of proficiency.