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Could a postgraduate secondary teaching course be for you?

James Davis

Careers Commentator
Secondary teachers shape the minds of students throughout their most delicate years. With a postgraduate education, you can gain what it takes.

Secondary teaching can be as demanding as it is rewarding. Fortunately, the sheer volume and diversity of postgraduate secondary teaching courses serve to make it far less daunting, but they aren’t for everyone. This article will address four questions that will help you make this decision.

  1. What does secondary teaching entail, both professionally and academically?
  2. What are the job prospects like?
  3. What’s the salary like?
  4. Where and how can you study it?

What does secondary teaching entail?

Day to day, secondary teachers must continually be preparing for lessons throughout the day and marking work whenever there’s time. It can involve meeting with students to answer their queries during their lunch hours and even working on Sunday nights to ensure you’re prepared for Monday’s lessons. In essence, this is a career that revolves around considered, repeated preparation. Although there are certainly teachers who like to think on their feet and must when adapting to surprising questions or circumstances that arise in the classroom, a good teacher is one who can plan well. Of course, equally important is the ability to engage students. Being an exceptional orator is necessary, as teachers are also leaders. They spend their days communicating with classrooms or one-on-one and act as crucial role models.

Postgraduate secondary teaching courses offer a bounty of useful information, but specifically what sort depends entirely on specialisation. An art teacher requires different skills to a math teacher, for instance. However, there are a variety of units students of secondary teaching are bound to share. Some of these include:

  • Classroom management
  • Transitioning teaching theory to practice
  • Literacy and numeracy teaching and learning
  • Strategies for learning difficulties
  • Curriculum enrichment
  • Diversity and inclusion in the classroom

To enter a postgraduate secondary teaching course, you must have a bachelor’s degree in a discipline taught in schools, such as one of the sciences or English. It’s also advantageous to have obtained credit GPA in prior study; if you don’t have this, make sure to polish up your CV instead. Do whatever sort of teaching-adjacent work you can, such as tutoring students from your undergraduate degree in their various core courses.

Overall, secondary teaching is best suited to those with a great deal of patience and genuine love of the craft. Secondary teachers must understand and accept the different learning speeds among their students and use their education and instinct in equal measure to provide a fulfilling and enriching learning experience.

What are the job prospects?

Secondary teachers can look forward to good job prospects, but only if they meet one or more of the following criteria. Bear in mind this not an exhaustive list:

  • By teaching one of the STEM disciplines
  • By teaching in remote or regional Australia
  • By teaching overseas in somewhere there’s a teacher shortage, like the UK

The reason for this is there are simply too many teachers from humanities or health disciplines. We’re not going to sugar-coat it; if you’re planning on teaching English, PE, History or otherwise in Australia, you will have a very difficult time. Then again, achieving your dreams shouldn’t be easy! It’s still possible despite this to get a good job. According to Misty Adoniou from the University of Canberra, casual teaching is a great way into the profession for many graduates.

What’s the salary like?

According to Payscale Australia, secondary teachers in Australia make AU $67,571 on average per year. This can range from $49,357 early career and $97,959 at a more senior level.

Where should I study it?

There are a variety of postgraduate study options for aspiring secondary teachers. Beware that neither graduate certificates nor diplomas are legally sufficient to become a qualified teacher in Australia. They are meant only as supplementary material.

  • Graduate certificates take six months full time, or up to a year part time. They’re designed to emphasise a particular element or specialisation of teaching. For instance, institutions like ECU offer the Graduate Certificate of Secondary Education (Design and Technology), whereas an entirely similar course will focus on mathematics. This makes them a great way to focus in on a particular subject.
  • Graduate diplomas serve a similar purpose, the only difference being their length of one year full time or two years part. They usually enjoy the same level of specificity (mathematics, English etc focussed), but some can be fairly general too such as the Graduate Diploma in Education (Secondary Education) from Curtin University. Courses like these are generally an exit option from the Master of Education, but in the rare cases they aren’t, it should be stressed that they are meant only as supplementary material and are not sufficient for gaining the right to teach in Australia. This doesn’t make them any less valuable as a resource for current teachers, however. They are still a great way to gain the necessary skills and knowledge for teaching overseas in half the time it takes to get a master’s degree.
  • Master’s degrees are the premier qualification for becoming a teacher in Australia, normally taking two years of full time study to complete and up to four years part time. The University of Melbourne offers their exemplary Master of Teaching (Secondary), which features units in educational foundations, clinical teaching practice, inclusive classrooms and more. The main difference between these courses and the previous is the inclusion of an extensive research project of the student’s choice and supervisor’s approval.

Hopefully this article has given you a better idea of what a postgraduate secondary teaching education entails both professionally and academically. Wherever and however you choose to pursue a career in secondary education, we wish you luck!