Careers Service Occupations

Teaching in FE & HE

Teaching in Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE)


The FE and HE teaching sector is broad and spans a number of qualifications, at different levels.

According to a report from the Education and Training Foundation, the three largest subject areas taught across the FE sector are: Arts, media and publishing; Health, public services and care; and Engineering and manufacturing technologies. 

In data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), there were 156,295 people employed as academic teaching staff in HE in the UK in 2016-17.  

Careers advice

The following websites provide career advice for roles in further and higher education:

Further education

For information about further education, visit The Education & Training Foundation and the Association of Colleges (AoC) websites. 

Higher education

For information about careers in academia, visit the Vitae website. 

Further information can be found in our Research in Academia section. 

Industry news

The following websites contain industry news:

Professional bodies

These represent and promote the interests of people working in the sector, providing services such as training and networking opportunities.

They often provide careers support for students and graduates and development for people already working in the sector.

Follow professional associations on LinkedIn, or visit their websites for useful sources of news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.

The main professional associations for this sector include:


Further education

Making contacts

Making contacts is essential for success in this sector. Many jobs in this field are gained through networking and speculative applications

You could start with:  

Social media 

Social media resources, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, can be useful for making contacts, following employers and finding opportunities.

You can also find out what alumni did after graduation, how they got there, and contact them for advice and inspiration through Newcastle alumni on LinkedIn.

The Education and Training Foundation


Open days, talks and events give insights and opportunities to make contacts. Regular events organised by the Careers Service include Employer & Sector Insights and Recruitment Events.

Related sectors

You may also be interested in:

See our other Explore Occupations pages for more options.


Roles & Skills

There is currently a shortage of FE teachers in English, science, technology, engineering and maths.

Have a look at Prospects and targetjobs to find out what roles in this sector involve and how to get into them.

These are some of the job profiles and guides available:

Skills that employers look for include:

  • in-depth knowledge and enthusiasm for your subject
  • excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • interpersonal skills and the ability to motivate students
  • confidence and strong presentation skills
  • good organisational and planning skills
  • ability to work as part of a team and on your own

For teaching positions within higher education, you will need to provide details of your published research and the conferences you have presented at. Organisations will also look at your ability to further develop your research, and potential to attract funding into the academic school.

Gaining Experience

Ideally you should try to gain some teaching experience before applying for teacher training or teaching jobs in FE and HE.

Further education

Experience gained in schools, colleges, universities, and private or community organisations would give you classroom experience, and allow you to observe experienced teaching staff. If you study for a teaching qualification you will get the opportunity to gain further teaching experience, as part of the course. Find further information about gaining experience in our Applying for Teacher Training section.

The Pathways to FE Teaching scheme is available for final year undergraduates. As part of the scheme, students will be offered a placement in a local college or independent training provider. For more information see the Education and Training Foundation website. 

Work experience in further education colleges is not usually advertised, so you will need to make speculative applications directly to the colleges or institutions. For advice on making speculative applications see TargetJobs' article: Making speculative applications for graduate jobs.

Visit our Teaching in Schools section for further information about the sector. 

Higher education

This is a very competitive sector to enter. Most applicants will either have completed, or be working towards a PhD. Gaining teaching and administrative experience is also beneficial.

Speak to your school, as there are often opportunities for PhD students, which will give you the chance to experience teaching, leading seminar groups, marking, and give you an understanding of the administrative aspects of the role.

Some research assistant roles, may also provide teaching experience. 


Finding Jobs

It's common for lecturers to start out on part-time or fixed-term contracts before finding a permanent post.

Most HE lecturers are employed by universities or FE colleges, however, there are opportunities to teach in specialist postgraduate institutions, such as law schools or business schools. There are also opportunities to work in universities overseas. Visit Prospects for more information.

As an FE teacher, there are various settings you could work in, including colleges and sixth forms, community and education centres, voluntary and charity organisations, prisons and youth offending organisations and work based learning.

Advertised vacancies


Further education

See also our Teaching in schools and TEFL pages for other sources of vacancies.

Higher education

This is a very competitive sector to enter. Most universities look for applicants with a PhD, publications, active participation at conferences, teaching experience and the potential to attract funding into the academic school. You do not usually need a teaching qualification but teaching experience would be useful

Opportunities to teach to degree level are also available in further education colleges (see above).

Specialist recruitment agencies

Further education

Finding employers


Further education

Although vacancies for this role are regularly advertised, it is also worth being proactive and making speculative applications directly to FE and Sixth Form colleges. For information about speculative applications read TargetJobs' article: Making speculative applications for graduate jobs.

Use the National Careers Service's Find a course facility to find Further Education colleges.

Higher education

Use the course search facility on UCAS to find universities by area of academic study and location.

The Association of Commonwealth Universities includes a database of over 500 institutions in Commonwealth countries. 

Study and Training

In FE and HE teaching, it is possible to begin work without a teaching qualification and then work towards a relevant qualification while you are in post.

Further education

It is possible to become a Further Education Teacher without a specific teaching qualification, but for most institutions, a qualification is preferred. If you do enter this role without a teaching qualification, you may be supported by your employer to work towards a relevant qualification. Information on the types, and levels of qualifications available, can be found in the Prospects Further Education Teacher occupational profile and on The Education & Training Foundation website.

Graduates can take a PGCE in post compulsory education. The course will take one year full time and you will need a degree in the subject you wish to teach.   

The SET for Teaching Success programme is a new post 16 teacher training programme aimed at Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) graduates and/or those with significant and relevant industry experience. Graduates on the programme will gain either a Diploma in Education and Training or PGCE whilst in paid employment. 

Some FE teachers work towards gaining Qualified Teaching and Learning Status (QTLS) to gain recognition of their professional status and parity with school teachers. The Society for Education and Training website has more information. 

There is no central website detailing FE teaching courses, but the FE the Advice Line can get a regional list for your area which covers publicly funded courses only. A few training providers recruit through the UCAS Teacher Training website. You can also look at each training provider’s website for details of courses.

FE Initial Teacher Training Bursaries are available for students to train to teach maths and English. The amount of funding available depends on your degree classification, and the subject you want to teach.

Higher Education

You will normally need a PhD in the specialist subject you wish to teach. You can begin work as a university lecturer without a teaching qualification and then study for a teaching qualification once you're in post. Teaching qualifications are accredited by the Higher Education Academy (HEA).