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Teaching Adults as a Career

By: Suzanne Elvidge BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 8 Mar 2021 |
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Teaching adults can be as much of a career as teaching children, and can be either full- or part-time. People can teach academic subjects that lead to GCSEs, A levels and degrees; work-related subjects that lead to vocational qualifications; or subjects for interest that don’t lead to any qualifications, just a new skill.

People who teach adults do need different skills to people who teach children. Adults are generally there because they want to be, though some have been sent there by their employer or the benefits office.

For some areas of teaching, people may need a formal teaching qualification; in others, simply qualifications, skills and experience in the area being taught

Teaching English

Teaching English as a second language in non-English speaking countries is generally known as ‘teaching English as a foreign language’ (TEFL). Teaching English as a second language in English speaking countries (e.g. to immigrants or asylum seekers) is generally known as ‘teaching English to speakers of other languages’ (TESOL). TESOL courses may also include basic literacy and other life skills.

Teaching English overseas could be a way of funding a trip around the world, or the beginning of a new career. To teach English overseas needs a qualification – these can be studied full- or part-time. These can be taken at a number of levels:

  • Certificate – e.g. Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) or Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (Cert. TESOL).
  • Diplomas – e.g. Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults (DELTA).
  • Degrees – e.g. BA or MA in TEFL/TESOL.
As well as these qualifications, teachers of English as ESOL in the UK need to be a qualified teacher. Volunteers or mentors will just need an ESOL qualification. TEFL and TESOL teaching is likely to involve teaching evenings and weekends, as well as during the working day.

Teaching Basic Skills

In 2008, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) published a report saying employers were concerned about the basic literacy and numeracy skills of two-fifths of the UK workforce. Teaching basic skills includes literacy, numeracy and basic ICT (information and communication technology) skills, and as well as being a potential career choice, could make a huge difference to people’s lives.

To teach literacy, numeracy or ICT, teachers need a level three or level four specialist certificate as well as a teaching qualification. Volunteers or mentors will just need a level two certificate. Basic skills teaching is likely to involve teaching evenings and weekends, as well as during the working day.

Teaching Specialist Courses

Many people teach specialist courses based on their own skills and experience. These may lead to specific qualifications for the attendees, or to informal certificates issued by the attendees’ employers or simply the acquisition of new skills.

There are companies that run courses for people in work and these often employ people with skills and experience rather than formal teaching qualifications. Teaching specialist courses may mean working flexible hours – some courses will be during the day, and some will be over weekends and evenings.

Teaching in Colleges and Universities

Further EducationTo teach in a further education (FE) college, employers are likely to require significant experience or a degree in the relevant subject, and may also require tutors to take a teaching qualification within the first couple of years of employment, such as a PGCE, a teaching degree, or a certificate or diploma in teaching. These often can be studied part-time alongside teaching work. Teaching in an FE college may mean working flexible hours – some courses will be during the day, and some will be over weekends and evenings.

Higher EducationThere are no formal teaching qualifications needed to teach in higher education (HE), though most employers will require a degree and a PhD in the appropriate subject. Teaching in higher education is likely to be mostly during the day, though some people study degree level courses through part-time classes, which may include evening and weekend study, and some people study through distance learning, which is likely to require flexible hours.

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I have A level maths, PGCE LLS, and BA Health & Social Care. I do also currently lecture at an inner city college in my subject specialism. However, I’ve been considering the role of teaching functional skills maths/ numeracy instead. I do believe I meet the minimum requirements for the role. However, I’m clueless on the transition process to make this feasible. Any ideas are most welcome and appreciated.
Kimmie - 8-Mar-21 @ 7:33 PM
I want to teach adults Early Childhood Education. I need to know what additional education or degree I would need tobeco sided for such a position. I have a BS degree as a Family Social Science Major and 20 years of teaching children, toddlers, preschool, Elementary students, and families.
Teacher - 27-Feb-21 @ 2:44 PM
I have a B.S. degree,Family Social Science and have been working as a home visitor, group leader and childcare teacher for over 20 years. I would like to teach Child Care to adults.who are wanting to work as Early Childhood Teachers. My question is what additional education would I need and where can I find an on line program?
Teacher - 27-Feb-21 @ 2:36 PM
Have been a key stage 1 teacher for over 20 years.Am now interested in using my skills in literacy and numeracy to help adults.Please advise the best route for me to do this.What would I need apart from my Teaching degree and many years of experience.Thank you.
Bob - 17-Jan-21 @ 2:49 PM
I’ve just completed level 3 diploma in stlps and am considering going on teach adult literacy. What quals do I need?
Crazyguider - 30-May-20 @ 2:41 PM
Hi i am a Nigerian and i need an advice, am 33 years of age without any qualification and am very much interested in having one now but not in my country, I tried applying for admission in some institution but I was rejected base on my age please i will really need your advice on what to do and what institution to apply. thanks
Ose - 15-May-20 @ 11:45 PM
I have worked in childcare for 20 yearsin a management role .I have a BA (Hons) degree in Early Childhood studiesI am interested in teaching adults and need to know what courses are available part time and if any courses are funded by the government or what the cost of courses are and what these would enable me to do Thank you.
Mide - 3-May-20 @ 11:21 PM
Hi, I was what the best way to search for jobs that involve teaching adults? Thank you.
Kiefer - 28-Mar-20 @ 9:33 PM
Hi. I would like advice on the relevant course I need to teach adults cookery and cake decorating. I have a level 3 in cake decorating and have attended a food hygiene course of which I have certificates for. I would like to teach at night school for adults on these subjects if possible. Many thanks Carol
Swansong - 28-Mar-20 @ 4:01 PM
Currently I am working as a HLTA (teaching assistant) in primary school with EAL children. I am thinking of working with adults, could you please send me the information and requirements to teach EAL adults. I can speak four languages. Thank you
Ashi - 11-Oct-19 @ 9:07 PM
I retired a year or so ago; however, I've still 'something left in the tank', and my English usage has always been praised.(I have a degree in Ancient History). As I have no formal teaching qualifications, is there a way I could get into adult teaching - having seen at first hand the general standard of English usage, I do feel I have much to offer. Does anyone have any ideas? Many thanks.
Sophokles - 10-Sep-19 @ 8:58 PM
Please give me advise. I am a professional nurse soon to be retired. I would like to do adult education ( maybe english ) What course do I need to do ?
Mahi - 15-Jun-19 @ 11:05 AM
I would like to start an adult teacher training local college of north west london.how long it could take to start?
Andreia lucilia pest - 23-Aug-18 @ 2:19 PM
I graduated from University in 02 with Masters Degree . Recently have decided to turn my attention to become a Teacher within the Adult Education sector having spent many years in mainstream employment of one type or another. I would appreciate any constructive advice /feedback regarding this in order to progress and hopefully utilise my academic qualifications and experience in Adult Education.
Mark - 25-Jul-18 @ 9:15 AM
I have been working as a textiles designer for 10 years and would really love to get into teaching at higher education level. I have a BA (Hons) in this but wondered if I needed an MA as well? Any other advice on qualifications would be very grateful.
Liz - 18-Jul-18 @ 3:25 PM
Hi I was tailor from my back home I don’t have any qualifications for designing but I have experience in tailoring Indian traditional clothes. I have been teaching sewing 5 years in back home. I have been teaching sewing 10 to 12 girls at one time. I just want to know in uk to teach sewing do I need any qualifications. I am very interesting to teach sewing to adults in college or may be adult institute. Thanks
Gopi - 10-Jun-18 @ 11:42 PM
I have worked in childcare for 20 yearsin a management role .I have a BA (Hons) degree in Early Childhood studies and am an EYP. I am interested in teaching adults and need to know what courses are available part time and if any courses are funded by the government or what the cost of courses are and what these would enable me to do? I did an assessors course for NVQ3 in childcare about 10 years ago, before I did my degree. Thank you.
Gill - 12-Feb-18 @ 9:53 AM
@Have you thought about setting up some of your own classes as a tutor? I know someone who tutors life-drawing classes this in local village hall and is doing very well. If you can't beat em, join em. This means you could be getting tutoring experience and earning money at the same time.
Soph - 22-Aug-17 @ 3:51 PM
Hello I feel I am getting nowhere. I have been trying to find part time art tutor jobs either in adult or further education colleges or in art colleges. Every time I apply for art tutoring jobs I either never hear back from the college again or I am told I was unsuccessful. I think this is because my qualifications are not enough compared to other applicants. I'm sure the trouble is that I'm going up against people who have an MA in Art whereas I only have a BA and these other people also have a PGCE Cert Ed, whereas I only have a Cityandguilds 7307 stage 1. So you can now see the problem I'm facing every time. I'm also told that I have to be employed as a part time tutor before I can enroll on the next adult FE teacher training course! But no one will take me on!! What should I do?!!! I'm going crazy!!! No one will help me!! From Lindsay.
Artist - 17-Aug-17 @ 5:15 PM
Hi I have over 30 years of service experience as a nurse and midwife. I also have a MA in public health. I am interested in being able to share my experience and help to empower young adults, but not sure the best way forward.
Syl - 29-Jun-17 @ 8:16 AM
Hi there, I work in the healthcare sector and have been doing so for just over 7 years, during this time I have gained an Advanced Diploma in Health & Social Care aswell as other certificates and knowledge. I am now looking into teaching adults health and social care but I don't know how I would go about doing so. Does anybody know any courses I am able to do around my part time working? Or anywhere that I could get some more information?
Michelle - 7-Jun-17 @ 4:38 PM
I have a bsc health wellbeing and nutrition science degree. I have worked as a community nutritionist and have worked as a teaching assistant in the past. I want to teach adults about health/nutrition.
Kate - 2-Jun-17 @ 4:33 PM
I am qualified primary school teacher, recently left my full time job and joined supply teaching. I am interested in part time esol teaching,I also have City n Guilt basic esol qualification. I wondered if I can go into esol teaching and what qualification do I need more to go into it I will be grateful if I could have some guidance, Many thanks
Annie - 17-Mar-17 @ 8:31 AM
I am a qualified gemologist. I have developed a training course on diamond basics. I have trained staff working in the retail sector that sell jewellery in the Bahamas. I would love to be able to teach in South Wales, I don't have any teaching qualifications but would ideally like to teach adults and to teach jewellery retail staff. Do you have any advise where I can begin please?
Rhian - 10-Jan-16 @ 8:56 PM
Hi, I am an instructor in the British Army. I have instructed young adults for two years and have completed the DTLLs award. I am an IQA in NVQs and conduct my own AOR. I also teach Nutrition level four. Where should I go from here? Especially when I leave the forces. I have heard of troops to teachers, is this a good career path?
bruce - 2-Nov-15 @ 10:48 PM
Hi, I have been teachingfrench to adults privately and in different companies for 17 years in London .I am actually available to teach every morning until the end of June and from the 22nd of July .Does anyone of you know of places or websites where they need French teachers at the moment. Thanks!
Izzy - 5-Jun-15 @ 3:10 PM
I graduated with a science degree several years ago and would like to know how what qualifications I need to teach adults. I want to teach functional ICT, English, maths, life skills and employment skills. It would be good to know what courses are available in my area and who can help and support me.
Lenney - 22-May-15 @ 2:23 PM
@Jackie - you have a great career background which will be ideal to teach English as a foreign language. There are many opportunities open to you, from teaching it at home and taking in foreign students for periods of time, to teaching abroad in places such as Japan, South Korea should you wish, or if you prefer to stay closer to home, teaching in a UK classroom. Initially you would have to do a bit of research and decide what avenue you would like to take, then you would have to do the appropriate transition course, but whatever direction you choose to go on, any organisation will jump at the level of your experience. Good luck.
Jenny - 30-Apr-15 @ 10:25 AM
I have been a French teacher for 24 years at the same school. I have now decided that I would like to have a fresh start by teaching adults either French or English as a second language. I am keen to work in a new environment. I could work in business or colleges in Sussex. I am interested in any new ideas.
Jackie - 27-Apr-15 @ 12:00 PM
I have a degree in French and a PGCE and QTS in teaching French in secondary schools. I have experience of teaching children of all ages but have not taught adults and yet I believe that I am more suited to teaching adults and wish that I had chosen this path initially. Would I be able to get work teaching French to adults without doing a specific adult learning qualification? Many thanks for your help.
Caro - 10-Mar-15 @ 10:50 PM
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