An educator in a class teaching.
An educator in a class teaching.

Turn to teaching: Why transition to a career in primary education?


People are switching careers now more than ever. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in the 12 months to February 2022, approximately 1.3 million Australians changed jobs, marking the highest annual job mobility rate since 2012. 

This figure highlights a significant increase in career transitions and in the future of work, a transition into teaching might be worth considering. Primary teaching offers a wealth of personal and professional opportunities and can become a long and rewarding career. 

But what does a career change into teaching primary look like? In this article, we’ll explore why someone might turn to teaching, the transferable skills that can be beneficial in this role and how a Master of Teaching (Primary Education) can help you make the transition. 

Why make the move to teaching primary? 

There are many reasons why someone might make a mid-career transition to teaching. The desire to positively impact children’s lives being one of the most appealing, along with the opportunity to work with a range of students and guide them through their personal growth.

Here are some key reasons why someone might transition into a career as a primary school teacher: 

  • The opportunity to foster a love of learning in children, igniting their curiosity and shaping their educational journey 
  • Playing a crucial role in the social and emotional development of children, contributing to their resilience, empathy and interpersonal skills 
  • Being a positive role model for children, making a positive impact on their lives even beyond their primary school years 
  • Entering a profession that has an increasing demand for skilled and passionate teachers, providing job stability and security 
  • The opportunity to learn and develop teaching skills and knowledge through continuous professional development 
  • Enriching the broader community by educating children and nurturing younger generations.
  • Entering a dynamic and diverse vocation where each day brings new experiences and opportunities to problem solving, creating a personal sense of fulfilment and reward

Deirdre Brandner, a primary school teacher and, more recently, a psychologist, shares how her experiences have taught her a lot about career transitions. 

“Being able to make a difference right from the get-go is what makes the transition into teaching so rewarding,” she says. “Being there from the very beginning, being able to put things in place that will allow the next generation to learn and develop, and walking that path with them is the greatest joy of teaching.” 

There’s never been a better time to consider a career transition to teaching. Declining numbers of new graduate teachers, increasing demand from a growing student population, and an ageing teacher and leadership workforce are all contributing to teacher shortages – meaning there are plenty of opportunities. 

Previous modelling of teacher demand and supply has suggested that these shortages could worsen over the coming years, with the demand for secondary teachers to exceed the supply of new graduate teachers by around 4,100 between 2021 and 2025. 

How your skills and experience can be beneficial 

One of the benefits of making a career change to primary teaching, particularly later in life, is the breadth of experience and transferable skills you bring to the role. These skills can be highly valuable in the classroom. Let’s take a look at some of them.  

Communication skills 

Teachers must clearly and effectively communicate with students, parents, colleagues and other stakeholders in the education system. “If you can be a good communicator, not only with children but also with adults, that’s a brilliant transferable skill to have as a teacher,” says Brandner. 

Organisational skills 

Teachers need to manage their time and resources effectively, plan and deliver lessons and keep accurate records of student progress. “Being organised and time efficient is essential,” says Brandner.  

Understanding diversity 

Teachers need to be able to understand diversity and adapt their teachings accordingly. “In most school settings,” explains Brandner, “children are placed together because they were born in the same year and live in the same area. This doesn’t take into account their diverse backgrounds, family set-ups or cultural beliefs. 

“If a teacher has previous experience working with diverse groups, they will have a better understanding of how that might play out in their classroom for the children.”  

Life experience 

Those entering the profession later in life bring all their experience from other workplaces. And those who are parents bring valuable insights into child development and behaviour. Having rich life experiences can enhance your empathy. “I think it’s also important to be considerate of what’s going on in that little person’s world,” says Brandner. 

Making the transition to teaching 

Teacher shortages are increasing due to multiple factors. These include a decline in the number of new graduate teachers entering the workforce, rising demand from a growing student population, and an ageing teacher and leadership workforce. 

Taking the steps towards becoming a primary school teacher can future-proof your career and provide you with a meaningful vocation, but a career shift can feel daunting. Brandner offers some advice on the challenges of such a change. 

“I think change always comes with apprehension,” she explains. “But I think we need to look at it as a stepwise approach, that you’re making an investment in a career that’s going to be long-lasting. 

“Teaching is a wonderful profession and no one day will be the same. If you can keep the bigger picture in mind and remember that you’re going to make a huge difference in people’s lives once you start teaching, that can really help.” 

Why study a Master of Teaching with VU Online? 

VU Online’s Master of Teaching (Primary Education) is tailored for you if you are aspiring to become a registered primary school teacher.

The course will provide you with the theoretical and practical knowledge you need to become classroom-ready and register as a teacher. With a focus on developing your professional practice through self-reflection, you will spend 65 days of placement in primary school classrooms. This experience is invaluable in gaining essential knowledge and practical skills. 

This degree is accredited by the Victoria Institute of Teaching (VIT), which means graduates will be eligible for registration to teach in the whole of Australia.

“I think primary schools have become much more aware of the importance of mentoring and having a mentor teacher that helps you,” says Brandner. “Access to professional development, formal or otherwise, will absolutely stand you in good stead.” 

Be the difference to primary students with VU Online 

Ready to take the next step? Consider VU Online’s Master of Teaching (Primary Education) and start your journey towards a meaningful and rewarding career in education. 

If you want to learn more about a career in teaching and what the VU Online Master of Teaching (Primary Education) can give you, we can help.

Speak to a Student Enrolment Advisor today and find a flexible learning path that works for you, or check out the website for more information.