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Counselling & Psychology

How to Become a Psychology Teacher?


Lead Academy

15 Mins Read

If you ask someone how to become a psychology teacher, their answer would be quite different than what it would be a decade earlier. In the U.K., as psychology rose in popularity at A-level, so did the demand for psychology teachers. As a direct consequence, the regulations that dictate and evaluate the qualifications of psychology teacher jobs changed quite a bit.

Because of the technicality associated with these regulations, it’s totally understandable to get confused trying to understand them. However, once you get the whole concept, you can quickly figure out a plan to reach your goals.

Read through the article to identify these regulations. I’ll also draw a clear picture of the education and the qualifications required to become a psychology teacher.

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How to Become a Psychology Teacher?

Psychology is classified as a secondary school (14-19 age group) subject. In the past, teachers from other subjects could teach psychology, but this is no longer the case. A psychology degree is now essential.

To study psychology at the universities, you’ll have to meet some entry requirements. Most universities require at least one science or maths-based subject taken at A-Level. The subjects include psychology, chemistry, physics, biology, geography, economics, mathematics, statistics, computing. You’ll also need to have good GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) grades. Most universities require English, mathematics and science at grade C/4 or higher.

To become a high school psychology teacher, you’ll need to obtain QTS (Qualified Teacher Status). Most secondary schools require QTS to teach psychology in 11-18 age group classes. Without it, you’d grossly be limiting your job prospect. Though it is essential for most state schools (maintained by the U.K. government), free schools may relax this requirement

There are several ways that you can obtain QTS. Here are those:

  • PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education)
  • School Direct
  • School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT)
  • Undergraduate Advanced Diploma

Let’s discuss them.

Take a look at the images above every point. They describe your career path in a nutshell. Read through, and you’ll understand the terms I’ve used in them. If you need to, refer back to the images anytime to understand the whole process.

PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education)

Postgraduate Certificate in Education Flow Chart

PGCE is a post-grad qualification and is one way of obtaining QTS. You can take the route of choosing psychology in your undergraduate programme. A typical psychology degree will probably take three years. Then you can go for one year of PGCE.

A full-time PGCE usually lasts one year, while a part-time PGCE may last two years. However, if you have done your undergraduate programme on another subject, you can take a PGCE in psychology.

A PGCE Psychology programme makes you meet the Teachers’ Standards across Key Stages 4 and 5, which are of the 14-19 age group. Some universities also offer ‘Programme Enhancements’ to help you link other subjects such as social sciences or educational psychology.

As for fees, it will typically cost you around £9,000-9,500. It may cost you £2,000-7,500 more if you’re an international student, although these vary widely. These are just the tuition fees. You’ll also need to consider living costs and additional costs for travelling to school placements.

There are tax-free bursaries and scholarships available. But you’ll have to check with your chosen institution as PGCE fundings are different from other postgraduate fundings.

School Direct

School Direct Approach of becoming a Psychology Teacher

Another viable way to become a teacher in the psychology niche is the School Direct approach. School Direct is also a post-grad qualification that can get you QTS. Some PGCE courses are available via University led and School Direct routes.

In a School Direct programme, you’re placed directly into a school.  Schools with close links to universities or School Centred Initial Teacher Training Consortium (SCITT) run these programmes. They can be salaried or unsalaried.

However,  it’s hard to get a post where you’ll get a salary. In the case of unsalaried posts, the school may cover your tuition fees. You may qualify for a salaried programme if you have a degree and three years of relevant experience in psychology. The schools will directly hire you. Salaries, however, vary greatly.

School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT)

School-centered initial teacher training (SCITT) Programs

School-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) programmes are very similar to School Direct programmes. It’s a postgraduate degree.

Schools or groups of schools run these programmes. They partner with universities to provide practical, hands-on teacher training imparted by experienced teachers in their respective fields. These training programmes are often tailored to serve the local areas of the schools that they partner with.

SCITT often comes with a path to acquire PGCE qualification along with QTS. But not all SCITT programmes lead to PGCE qualification and QTS. That is why you need to check with your training provider before applying for the programme.

If your undergrad degree isn’t in psychology, your provider may ask you to take a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course. It’ll make you eligible for the programme. These enhancements are linked to other subjects such as social sciences or educational psychology.

You’ll spend a minimum of 120 days on placements in schools. You’ll systematically be increasing your involvement in the school to become an expert practitioner.

Undergraduate Advanced Diploma

Undergraduate Advanced Diploma (UGAdvDip or UGAD) Flow Chart

The Undergraduate Advanced Diploma (UGAdvDip or UGAD) is an FHEQ Level 6 award that is academically equivalent to the third year of undergraduate study. The advanced diploma provides you with 60 transferable CATS (Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme) points at FHEQ Level 6 once you complete the programme.

They are equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree or a Graduate Diploma. So a student can directly enrol for a higher degree like a Master’s degree or Postgraduate Diploma after graduation. Like this one or this one.

You will be recommended for QTS after successfully completing a PGDE (A Professional Graduate Diploma in Education) programme.

Trained Teacher, but not in Psychology

Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) Flow Chart

If you’re a fully qualified teacher with the necessary skills, but your degree is not in psychology, then there are still many ways to become a psychology teacher.

Your degree has to be closely related to psychology, or if you took psychology at A-level, you could look into Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) courses. Subjects like social sciences or educational psychology will have links to these enhancements. Even relevant experience can make you eligible for SKE courses. You can look into the funding for these courses as they are generally fully funded.

Take a look at the image above. The first row of boxes corresponds to A-level education and the second row to higher education (undergrad and postgrad). However, I have filled in only the relevant information given in the previous paragraph for your convenience.

Online Psychology Education

Becoming an online psychology teacher is also a viable option for you. Psychology teachers can create a virtual learning environment for students that are in high school or college.

The required education and credentials may vary from institution to institution to work as an online psychology teacher. You can either focus on a specific area of psychology or teach on the subject of general psychology. Even if you teach virtually, you’ll take most if not all of the responsibilities of a teacher who teaches in a classroom. Curriculum design, lesson plans and grading the students’ performance are some of the duties of an online psychology teacher.

Psychology in Higher Education and Professional Level

Becoming a psychology teacher in higher education is very different from A-level or pre-A-level. You’ll have to have advanced degrees, which I will discuss below, in addition to a lot more hard work. Generally, most senior scholars (who have doctorate degrees) have relevant professional skills in psychology. So they also choose to practice as psychologists.

Teaching Psychology at College and Universities

Higher education (HE) lecturers teach undergraduate and postgraduate students. These students should be 18 years of age or above, studying academic and vocational subjects at universities and higher education colleges.

Now, it’s more common for lecturers to get in teaching qualifications. They can include degrees such as the Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE) and Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education.

You’ll also pursue your own research related to the subject you’re studying to contribute to the broader research activities. It could be related to your department or institution. The goal here is to raise your institution’s profile. You can achieve this goal by reviewing your research with experts in the same field (peers). If the research is good enough, it will get published in articles or even in books.

For almost all disciplines, you’ll need a PhD in the related area in addition to your degree if you want to become a HE teacher. For more vocational courses, significant expertise (in addition to a few years of experience) in the profession may be considered just as valuable as a PhD.

You may require a HEA Fellowship (Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy) instead, awarded by Advance HE, to teach in some universities. To obtain the fellowship, you must get in teaching, and gain qualifications aligned to the HEA UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF).
Overseas universities are also a lucrative option for HE lecturers.

Watch Dr. Jane S. Halonen, a Clinical Psychologist and a Professor of Psychology at the University of West Florida, give some excellent advice regarding pursuing a rewarding career in psychology.

Educational Psychology

Educational psychology jobs are a bit different from psychology teacher jobs. Educational psychologists work with children and young people who are experiencing problems. These problems can include things from a range of emotional and social issues to learning difficulties. Issues like these hamper their learning and participation in school and other activities.

Usually, teachers having a first degree in psychology get job positions as Educational Psychologists. After getting the degree, they also have to complete a three-year doctorate programme.

If you think about most psychology teachers as amateurs in their field, Educational psychologists would be the experts taking a scientific approach. EPs research their field and develop ways to find the best teaching methods. They usually deal with individuals that range from babies to as much as 25 year olds.

Although the discussion on becoming a psychology teacher ends here, continuing reading will help you understand how rewarding a career in Psychology can be.

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Factors You Should also be aware of

Now I’m going to talk about some of the other factors that you should also be aware of if you want to become a teacher in the field of psychology. These are:

  • Salaries,
  • Working hours, and,
  • Responsibilities

The reason you need to know about these factors is straightforward. All of these factors vary vastly depending on the kind of teacher that you want to be. So you should see if they align with your career goals. Plus, it would be best to consider how far you want to push your career. Because the further you advance in your career, all three of these factors will also change simultaneously.

Salaries in the Field of Psychology

Salaries vary quite a lot in the field of psychology. It depends largely on your professional development. Plus, the location of the institution also serves as a factor in the salary amount. The higher the living cost in your area, the higher the salary should be.

For example, salaries in the London area attract a London weighting. Currently, London Weighting averages under £4,000 per year. However, it varies significantly across industries and employees. Some of the teaching roles may be unsalaried during your studies, but they may agree to cover your tuition expenses.

  • As discussed before, psychology teacher jobs at A-levels or pre-A-levels will earn you up to £36,822 per year. These job opportunities are pretty common. If you stick to your goals, finding a job should not pose that much of a challenge. The salary range for a secondary school teacher in Scotland is a bit different, ranging from £21,867 to £34,887 per year.
  • However, you may choose to pursue a more rewarding career at the HE level. It may prove challenging to gain a permanent contract as an HE lecturer in the early stages. You may have to accept jobs on a part-time or fixed-term contract.

At this level, working at more than one institution at a time and having to travel between places of work is not that uncommon either. Typical salaries for Higher Education (HE) lecturers range from £35,211 to £43,267 per year. Your standard earning figure will be between £43,267 and £58,089 per year at the senior lecturer level.

  • Salaries of psychology professors can well exceed the six-figure mark. However, that depends primarily on your level of experience and responsibilities.
  • Salaries for trainee educational psychologists are quite the same as psychology teacher jobs at A-level. In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the salary figure typically ranges from £23,884 to £32,623 per year. Fully qualified educational psychologists earn an average of £37,175 per year, increasing to £50,159 per year. If you can add Structured Professional Assessment (SPA) points to your career, your salary can increase to £55,040 per year.
  • Senior and principal educational psychologists can earn between £46,607 – £62,849. Your salary can increase up to £68,954 per year, including discretionary scale points and structured professional assessment (SPA) points. In the case of Scottish local authorities, these figures may vary a little. Salaries for senior psychologists are £62,787 per year, and in the case of principal educational psychologists- it is £72,759 per year.

Salaries in the field of Psychology

Working Hours

  • Pre A-level and A-level teachers typically work 35 hours a week. Most teachers take their markings (assessments) and preparations home to do in the evening.
  • Working hours for HE lecturers can’t be easily averaged since this is a very diverse field. Their typical workweek is not much different from others. But, research and development take up a significant time of their yearly work hours. However, this field is very flexible, and one’s ability and willingness to work is the only variable here.
  • Working hours for educational psychologists are usually around 37 hours per week. This can also include some evening work for parent-teacher meetings. If you meet the job requirements, flexibility is not that uncommon. Part-time work, career breaks and job-sharing facilities are also available.

Key Responsibilities that You Should Expect to Face

Your responsibility towards your work is an integral part of your profession. Though it will differ widely from role to role or institution to institution, make sure you know about them before you make your decision to become a teacher in psychology. There are some key responsibilities that most, if not all, teachers in psychology share.

  •  Designing an impressive curriculum for the students. Also, help make it interactive and inspiring such that all students will make high levels of progress. Using regular assessments to monitor their progress. Taking steps to ensure students don’t fall behind with the help of such monitoring.
  •  Developing and implementing new teaching methods to reflect changes in research and applying the same to the curriculum and the classroom.
  • If applicable, supervising student research groups, which typically includes research assistants (Postdoctoral research), PhD, Master students and final year undergraduate projects. Also, undertaking your own research projects and contributing to both the field of psychology and your institution as a whole.
  • If applicable, preparing bids to draw funding to your department for research.
  • Establishing and maintaining helpful behaviour that promotes learning across the whole academy.
  • Assisting the students to acquire traits that promote reading and learning and also acquire literacy skills.
  • Providing extracurricular activities that are both related and unrelated to psychology. They have to be engaging and offer benefits to the students’ mental health.
  • Taking accountability for the overall assessments and progression of every student. Maintaining regular communication with students’ guardians regarding their progress. Also, being active in issues of student welfare and support.


As you can see, there are several ways to become a psychology teacher. It’s a rewarding career as it is tremendously popular with students. This trend will only go upwards from here on.

This article began by saying that the path to becoming a psychology teacher has changed a lot. As you’ve read in the article, it’s not that easy or straightforward anymore. Now you’re familiar with all the procedures and hurdles along the way. From here on, you can make a versed decision on your goals.

If someone asks you how to become a psychology teacher, you can now give them an informed answer.You can check out our Advanced Diploma in Psychology at QLS Level 6 course endorsed by the Quality Licence Scheme. The topics here dive deep into psychology.

They include cognitive psychology, the psychology of abnormal behaviour, child psychology, addiction psychology, to name a few.

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