What you need to become a teacher

What you need to become a teacher

If you choose to follow a career in teaching you will be providing an incredibly valuable service to society. There is a massive need for properly qualified teachers in South Africa and much of the world. If you want to answer the call to help educate future generations you can start your journey with an online bachelor of education course.

We will take an in-depth look at what you need to become a teacher in South Africa and the different paths you can take to qualify. We’ll discuss how long each of the options would take for both primary and secondary school.

As well as the qualifications required and online options for study, we’ll also look at the employment landscape, covering which are the most in-demand skills as well as likely salary once you are working at a school.

Study education online in South Africa

Until fairly recently there were very few options to study education in South Africa other than traditional contact classes. Thanks to the rapid growth of online education there are far more choices for the aspiring teacher. Studying online has many benefits that make it more accessible for prospective students. Perhaps most importantly is the flexibility offered in terms of both time and location.

You no longer need to attend classes at a specific time and place, meaning you can study from anywhere in the world at any time that is convenient for you. This flexibility also makes studying online more affordable. You don’t need to relocate to another city nor do you need to stop work, making it easier to cover your course fees.

UJ offers the following postgraduate courses online for teachers who are already working and would like to advance their career prospects:
Bachelor of Education Honours in Education Leadership and Management
Master of Education in Educational Management
Master of Education in Information & Communication Tech

There are many job opportunities for teachers

While many professions are seeing lower demand thanks to technology and improvements in efficiency, this is not the case in teaching. Technology is certainly bringing big changes to the classroom, but the need for human teachers and personal attention remains.

At the time of writing, there was a recent news article claiming a shortage of 24,000 teachers across South Africa’s government schooling system. The Department of Basic Education was quick to refute this number, saying that many vacancies were in the process of being filled, but the number was indeed correct at the time.

In recent years the Department of Basic Education has done much to overcome a dire shortage of teachers in the early 2000s. Many new teachers can study using the government Funza Lushaka Bursary to cover their tuition costs in exchange for committing to work at a state school for each year of tuition. The programme was so successful that they ended up with an oversupply of teachers and began offering early retirement to free up positions. The early retirement offer remains in place at the time of writing and has resulted in a renewed demand for new teachers.

The World Bank recently said that 68 million new teachers will need to be recruited globally by 2030. The report highlights the dire need for teachers in some of the world’s poorest countries, but even the US has a shortage of teachers. US President Joe Biden seeks to address this and it has been noted in several US and global research papers.

Bachelor degree in education requirements

The Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree is a specialised four-year degree when studied full time. The exact requirements differ from university to university, but as a bachelor’s degree, applicants will need to have completed their National Schooling Certificate with a certain minimum pass.
UJ does not yet offer a Bachelor of Education degree as an online course, but it can be studied as a traditional contact class. There are three different courses on offer, each relating to a different age group. The requirements for each are the same and are as follows:

Minimum 60% pass in English as a home language
Minimum 70% pass in English as a first or second additional language
A minimum APS of 26
UJ uses an admission point score (APS) system to rank your subject results from your school-leaving final exams. You can click here to see how to calculate your APS.



Here are some frequently asked questions about becoming a teacher.

Can I become a teacher without a degree?

The term teacher is very broad and many people earn money from teaching who do not have a degree. That said, if you want to teach at any South African school that falls under the Department of Education, then you will need a degree.

Which degree is best for teaching?

There are two routes to becoming a teacher in South Africa and both are recognised equally. The most direct route is to study for a Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree. This is a four-year degree when studying full-time. The other option is to complete a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). This is a one-year course full-time, but can only be done after first completing a three- or four-year bachelor’s degree.

What subjects are needed for teaching?

Regardless of the age of the children, you plan to teach you will need to have a decent pass in the language of instruction. If you plan to teach high school children, then you will also need to have done the same subjects that you want to teach, such as mathematics, science, history, geography or accounting.

What skills do I need to be a teacher?

A good teacher has expert knowledge of their subject matter as well as great communication skills and the teacher training to convey this knowledge. Teachers need to be well organised and prepared while also being flexible enough to adapt. Patience and the ability to stay calm under pressure is also important. Classroom and time management skills are crucial for keeping lessons on track.

How many years do you have to study to be a teacher?

The minimum number of years to become a qualified school teacher is four years. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you can complete a one-year PGCE to become a teacher, but the minimum time of total study is still four years.

How long does it take to become a primary school teacher?

The minimum number of years to become a qualified primary school teacher is four years. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you can complete a one-year PGCE to become a teacher, but the minimum time of total study is still four years.

What is the maximum age to become a teacher?

There is no maximum age to become a teacher. Older students may find fewer bursary options as these are focused on younger students (eg the government Funza Lushaka Bursary is only open to applicants under age 30), but there are no upper age restrictions on courses nor any legal reasons for older job applicants to be excluded from consideration for positions.

What kind of teacher is in high demand?

Globally the most in-demand school teachers are those who specialise in science and mathematics. There is also a huge demand for English teachers to teach abroad, with China alone having 300 million English learners. In South Africa, there is also a significant shortage of indigenous language teachers.

What colleges offer teaching?

The Department of Education said in an April 2021 press release that it was working with 24 universities across the country that offer teacher training. It does not appear to have released the full list, but the following 10 institutions were all offering teacher training at the time of writing: UJ, Stellenbosch, Unisa, Wits, UP, NWU, UCT, Walter Sisulu, UKZN and CPUT.

How much money do primary school teachers earn?

According to this 2021 survey, the average income of a primary school teacher in South Africa is R25,200 per month, which is just more than the average of R24,100 for teachers overall in a related survey. This works out to R302,400 per year. A 2020 news report said that qualified teachers in public schools earned a minimum of R278,000 and up to R618,000 per year while noting that private school teachers usually earned far more.

Studying education online with UJ

UJ offers the following postgraduate courses online for teachers who are already working and would like to advance their career prospects:

As with all of UJ’s other online programmes, there are six starting date throughout the year and fees are structured so that you only need to pay for one module at a time you. This way you can pay for your degree as you progress through it and you can begin within no more than two months once you apply.

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