Change Your Career: Become a Mathematics Teacher


You might be surprised to learn that nearly half of all applicants to the Mathematics Teacher Training Scholarships were career changers in 2017. These figures can be broken down further:

If you are a career changer - you won't be alone 

The extra experiences which career changers bring to the role are highly valued and welcomed, and there will be lots of other trainees who are in the same position as you.  In fact there are increasing numbers of trainees who are changing career later in life, with many being in their thirties, forties or fifties when they train. This means that you will be training with an extremely diverse group of people, which can make training to be a teacher even more interesting and enjoyable. 

Why choose to change your career and become a mathematics teacher?

Changing career can be a big decision. It is not something to be taken lightly, as it will mean altering every aspect of your working life. Training as a teacher will undoubtedly be challenging, however for many people it is also one of the most rewarding things they have ever done.  People choose to change career for a huge number of different reasons. Which of the following reasons might apply to you?  

A desire to make a difference

When you are a teacher you are having a huge impact on the lives of young people and for many career changers this is a big factor in their choice to become a teacher.  Teaching can be extremely rewarding – it gives you the chance to make a positive difference every single day at work. 

New challenges

Some people enjoy their jobs but don’t really feel challenged anymore – teaching is a career where you will never be bored at work and where you will be challenged every single day.  This desire for a new and exciting challenge is what motivates many people to explore teaching.

Change of direction

Sometimes people meet a point in their life where it is natural to change career. You might have ended a fixed term contract, been made redundant, finished a career break, come back from overseas or recently left the military. These points in life are often a good moment to re-evaluate what you really want to do and to choose a new path. In particular if you are leaving the military then you may be interested in the Troops to Teachers Scheme.

Different life experiences

Sometimes specific experiences lead people to change careers and become teachers. This could be a realisation at work that you enjoy delivering training much more than the desk bound aspects of your work. It could also be a voluntary interest such as the Scouts, where you find that you want to take your part time interest of working with young people and make it a full time career. People change their careers for lots of different reasons – there is not one set pattern. 

Dipping your toe in the water

Not everyone fully knows that they want to become a teacher. There are now lots of ways in which to explore whether teaching is the right step for you, usually by undertaking work experience in school.  Many people dip their toe in the water by going into a school and come away knowing that teaching is a career that they definitely want to pursue.   It is not necessary to get school based experience before applying to the Mathematics Teacher Training Scholarships, but you may find the experience is beneficial for the activities you are invited to partake in if you are invited to an Assessment Centre. Initial teacher training (ITT) providers on the other hand require you to have completed up to 10 days school based experience prior to starting your ITT course. You may wish to consider looking at the School Experience Programme or arranging your own work experience independently.

Pay and Conditions

The incentives to train are now better than ever, with successful Maths Scholars receiving a tax free bursary of £22,000.  For some people who know that they want to become teachers, this will mean that they can finally afford to pursue their dream. Once you are a qualified teacher, there are often opportunities to progress quickly, with teachers who are leading practitioners earning up to nearly £60k. This can make teaching a financially attractive option for career changers. 

What are you waiting for?

If you are interested in changing career and becoming a mathematics teacher then you should do some further investigation. Arrange some work experience in a school and find out whether it is time to make the change.

Now Teach

There is also a scheme called Now Teach which is aimed specifically at people who have already had one successful career to retrain as teachers. It currently works only in the London and Hastings areas. If you are interested in changing your career and becoming a teacher it is well worth looking at their website, as there are lots of inspirational case studies of people who have already changed career to become teachers.

You should also take a look at this interview with Graeme Strang who became a Maths Scholar after a career in accountancy.