10 popular Teaching jobs explained

A job in teaching can offer tremendous variety and satisfaction, giving you the chance to make a real difference to the students you meet along the way.

As education employment experts, we’re here to help you find your next dream job in teaching, whether that be the much-loved classroom teacher or a college lecturer.

Here we focus on ten popular teaching roles. We delve into key responsibilities, attributes and average earning potential to help you get a sense of which role could be right for you. For a wider view on roles in the education sector, read our ‘Overview of jobs in education’ article. For this article we look at the varied roles that make up an effective teaching community.

Teaching roles typically involve designing and delivering lessons and facilitating learning. But there are differences, depending on the age and learning needs of the students you choose to teach, and the extent to which you wish to combine teaching with leadership duties.

1. Early Years Teacher

“Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein

Focus: Early Years Teachers care for children in preschool and early years settings focusing on educating their young students in foundational skills such as mark making and number recognition, as well as social development.

Attributes: This role suits those who are patient, nurturing and who take pleasure in facilitating learning through play.

Earning potential: Fair

2. Primary School Teacher

“A teacher affects eternity; they can never tell where their influence stops.” – Henry Adams

Focus: Primary School Teachers teach the complete range of subjects to children aged between 5-11 years. They plan and deliver lessons, assess progress and support their students on an individual basis, often getting to know them quite well.

Attributes: This role suits those who are patient and nurturing with strong organisational and classroom management skills.

Earning potential: Medium

3. Secondary School Teacher

“The best teacher is not the one who knows most but the one who is most capable of reducing knowledge to that simple compound of the obvious and wonderful.” – H.L. Mencken

Focus: Secondary School Teachers instruct students aged between 16 and 18 years in a specific subject area. Like primary school teachers, they plan, teach, assess progress and offer support. At secondary level there is a greater focus on fostering critical thinking and independent learning skills and on preparing students for exams.

Attributes: The best are passionate about their chosen subject area, adaptable and resilient.

Earning potential: Medium

4. Headteacher/Principal

“Leadership is not about being in charge. It’s about taking care of those in your charge.” – Simon Sinek

Focus: Headteachers or Principals as they are sometimes called provide overall leadership to their schools, shaping vision, setting strategic goals, and fostering a positive learning environment. Involves oversight of staff development, student outcomes, and community engagement.

Attributes: Are often excellent decision makers and good at motivating others.

Earning potential: High

5. Teaching Assistant

“Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them.” – Rita F. Pierson

Focus: Teaching Assistants offer vital support to classroom teachers. They provide tailored support for students and help manage resources.

Attributes: They are often highly adaptable with patience and empathy.

Earning potential: Fair

6. Supply Teacher

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Focus: Supply Teachers fill in for regular teachers on a temporary basis so that students don’t miss out if their usual teacher is ill or otherwise unavailable. May involve teaching students a wide range of subject areas and grade levels.

Attributes: Suits those who are adaptable and able to build rapport fast. Great for those who enjoy variety and value flexibility in work schedules.

Earning potential: Fair – Medium

7. Special Educational Needs (SEN) Teacher

“Every student can learn, just not on the same day or in the same way.” – George Evans

Focus: SEN Teachers deliver specialised instruction to students with SEN. This may involve creating customised lesson plans, specialised teaching techniques, and collaborating with other professionals to address the unique challenges students with SEN may face.

Attributes: Are typically patient, creative and naturally collaborative.

Earning potential: Medium

8. Heads of Department

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

Focus: Heads of Department are responsible for leading and managing specific subject areas. They coordinate curriculum development, mentor teachers, and set departmental standards.

Attributes: Typically possess strong leadership, organisational and subject expertise.

Earning potential: High

9. Adult Education Teacher

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C.S. Lewis

Focus: Adult Education Teachers teach across a huge range of subjects; designing courses and facilitating learning on everything from computer programming to meditation.

Attributes: Candidates usually have excellent communication skills, patience and empathy.

Earning potential: Medium

10. ESL (English as a Second Language) Teacher

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X

Focus: ESL Teachers instruct students who do not speak English as their first language, with a primary focus on English language skills including reading, writing, speaking, and listening. While they may incorporate content from other subjects to enhance language acquisition, their main responsibility is to support students in becoming proficient in English.

Attributes: Usually have strong communication skills, cultural sensitivity, and a passion for facilitating language acquisition.

Earning potential: Fair – Medium

Looking for a job in Teaching?

We can help. Whether you aspire to be a nurturing primary school teacher, an inspiring college lecturer, or a visionary headteacher shaping the future of education, the diverse roles in the teaching community cater to a broad spectrum of passions and skills. Your fulfilling new job in a School awaits. Start your teaching job search today, brought to you by reputable publications, Schools Week and FE Week.