I’m a sixth-year student and thinking of becoming a second-level teacher. Some of my friends and family believe other career options are more financially lucrative, but I still feel drawn to teaching. Can you offer any advice?
In my final weeks of a 43-year teaching career, I can state categorically that this profession has deeply enriched my life. It has challenged me and, hopefully, brought out the best in me. If the idea of making a difference in the lives of others and help them become the best they can be appeals to you, then a career in teaching may well be for you.
Think of the times when you really enjoyed a class in school: how did that feel? Imagine being the teacher that creates that experience throughout your working life.
If you are one of the thousands of students who will be attending Higher Options in the RDS later this week, be sure to go to the ‘Pathways to Teaching’ stand.
Love of learning and of sharing learning are essential elements to a healthy and sustainable career in teaching.
At post-primary level, where Ireland will have the greatest demand for teachers over the next few years, this includes a love of specific subjects taught in our schools.
Choosing a CAO course in specific subjects for post-primary teaching is a delicate balancing act.
On the one hand, you should familiarise yourself with the subjects most in demand as identified by the Department of Education in its Teacher Supply Action Plan. These include home economics, Irish, Stem subjects and European languages.
On the other hand, as with all course choices at third-level, you must be interested in what you choose to study.
And in teaching, you must love what you study – because you will be teaching it and learning about it for the rest of your teaching life.
There is little point in choosing a subject solely because it is in demand if you do not like it.
Try the advanced search facility on Qualifax (qualifax.ie) to identify all of the teaching-degree programmes on offer by third-level colleges. Select the ones which offer subjects you are interested in.
At Higher Options, seek out the colleges offering these programmes and ask any questions which you may have. Those courses which really interest you should be on your college "open day" list. The Teaching Council will also have a stand where any questions relating to the profession in general can be answered.
As for salaries in teaching, research by the Higher Education Authority indicates that education graduates are well-paid in the years following college, though graduates from many other sectors tend to do better in the long-run.
We have been fortunate in this country to have attracted some of the most creative and brightest minds into teaching for decades. We will always need good teachers to help us shape and create our best version of ourselves as a community and society.
For information on teaching pathways, visit:gov.ie/teachingtransforms