Congratulations on choosing a career in education! Your journey going forwards will be as much of a learning curve as the one the students you will be teaching are on. It is important to remember early on that education is constantly changing and evolving and there is no one size fits all approach, and that this is applicable to both teachers and learners.
If you do not know which career path you want to take, you must try and decide now before committing to a course. For example, do you see yourself eventually in a leadership role, a supporting role or an educator’s position? It is important that you try to establish which role and position suits you the best, as you do not want to waste your time working towards something and deciding further down the line that it is not right for you.
Take time before committing to anything and do your research. Ask yourself questions such as: why do I want to work in education and who do I want to benefit? After answering these questions you will be in a better position to establish what you wish to offer in an educational setting.
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Which route to take
To get into education there are several routes you can take, depending on what position you wish to achieve. For example, if you wanted to be a teaching assistant you could gain work experience while learning on the job, while if you wanted to become a teacher or lecturer you could consider gaining a masters in education from the University of Exeter. If you are returning to education after a break, it is important to consider how much time you have to devote to learning, this way you can look at courses and timeframes that suit you, your family and your lifestyle.
What training or development do you need?
Being in education requires you to be constantly learning, developing and training. As well as getting qualifications in education, you will most likely be studying areas such as safeguarding, health and wellbeing. These will require you to keep studying, possibly to continue with certification, throughout your career. Theories and practicalities of education and welfare constantly change so it is important to see a career in education as an exciting journey of lifelong learning, and not just one or two courses.
What experience do you need?
The experience required obviously depends on the role you wish to achieve. It is advisable to try and secure a work placement during your studies, if you possibly can. This will allow you to get a feel for what working in education will be like for you once you achieve the necessary qualifications. Work experience will give you an insight into the everyday working life of those currently working in the education system and this will no doubt prove invaluable to your studies and further education.
Studying while Working
Quite possibly, if you are returning to studying, you are already holding down a job (whether this is full time or part time). If this is the case, it is important to understand that you can return to studying and learning, but you will have to ensure you manage your time correctly. You have to have time management skills when balancing both a job and studying to ensure that neither is neglected.
Working full time and studying for a Masters will be very difficult, as both have time and energy constraints, so you will need to consider whether you would be better off working part time or not at all. However, if you choose to train to be a learning or teaching assistant you could potentially fit this in around your current life and work commitments. Knowing what studying you wish to do and what end goal you wish to reach will allow you to establish sooner the right work-life balance for you.
Finding the right learning provider
After deciding what work-life balance you are going to try and achieve, you need to decide where you will get your education. If you are going to try and maintain a full time job alongside studying you are going to need flexible learning, which will most likely come in the form of an online course. However, if you want to learn part time to fit alongside your current job/work commitments you should be able to consider a traditional brick-and-mortar building as well as an online learning platform.
It is important to research course providers and ask questions with regards to availability as early on in your learning journey as you can, this will help ensure that the course is right for you and what you want to achieve.
What comes next after studying?
After you have completed all of your studying, which could last between 1 and 5 years (dependant on what you study and via what method), you will now be in a position to secure a job within education. When starting your job search it is important to consider a number of factors including where you want to work. As jobs may be based away from your current location, you then need to think about weighing up your options. Such as, do you want to travel every day or would you consider relocating for the right position? There are lots of options when it comes to finding the right job that fits you, for example you may initially have to travel to get the job, but as you build experience you may be able to get a job closer to where you live.
Landing the Job
After all of the studying you have done, it is not time to rest just yet, instead it is now time to sharpen up your CV, update it and start looking for positions suited to your qualifications. When applying for any job first impressions count so ensure that your CV is the best it can be. If writing a CV is not your area of expertise then consider hiring a professional to do this. Your CV is likely to be the first contact a potential employer has with you, so it is important to make the right impression.