Getting into teaching

Teaching in Northern Ireland is a high status graduate profession.

If you are thinking about teaching in Northern Ireland you need to think about ensuring you have the right qualifications so that you can get registered – and understand that teaching is both a hugely rewarding and challenging profession.

If you want to teach in a grant–aided (publically) funded school in Northern Ireland you must be registered with GTCNI – this provides both professional recognition and your licence to practise.

There are two university–based routes to completing your Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and becoming a teacher in Northern Ireland:

  • a full–time, four–year undergraduate Bachelor of Education (BEd)
  • a one–year postgraduate qualification such as a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). 

The most common route into teaching in Northern Ireland is through the PGCE. All ITE programmes are delivered through a combination of school–based placements and university tuition.

For the post–graduate PGCE route, GTCNI will also assess whether you hold a suitable undergraduate degree before you can register.

You can apply for the BEd courses at Northern Irish HEIs through UCAS. 

However, for postgraduate courses, you’ll need to apply directly through the HEIs. Some may have online portals, such as the Queen’s University Belfast Direct Applications Portal, while others will have application forms to download, fill out and send off. 

To teach in Northern Ireland you will also need a GCSE grade C or above (or equivalent qualifications) in English and maths. To teach in a primary school you will also need a GCSE grade C or above (or equivalent qualification) in a science subject. 

If you hold a recognised teaching qualification from a university in the UK, are professionally recognised in an EU member state, or are a qualified teacher from another country you may also be able to become a registered teacher in Northern Ireland (Link to Registration: Getting registered page).

Northern Ireland also has its own curriculum covering all 12 years of compulsory education – key features include:

  • It focuses on the learning process as well as the outcomes of education.
  • Schools and teachers have more flexibility to decide the topics and approaches that best suit their pupils; ‘the curriculum’ no longer implies a mandatory list of subject content that everyone must cover.
  • It gives equal emphasis to knowledge, understanding and skills – so while pupils are acquiring knowledge and skills, they also have opportunities to apply their learning practically.

For more information on the Northern Ireland curriculum please explore the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) website.

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