How To Become A Secondary School Teacher In Australia?

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Students want to know how to become secondary or high school teachers in Australia.


Are you inspired to teach and have the potential to make a considerable difference in young people's lives? Then a career as a Secondary School Teacher may suit you.


Secondary School Teachers are registered educators who teach secondary school students one or more subjects within an official syllabus. They use various teaching methods and techniques to promote social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development.


To work as a Secondary School Teacher in Australia, you usually need an undergraduate qualification in secondary education, like a Bachelor's degree in Education (Secondary).

Alternatively, complete a relevant degree followed by a postgraduate teaching degree in secondary education like a Master of Teaching (Secondary) to enter the role. Registration with state or territory-level teaching authority is required.


This blog discusses the Secondary School Teacher profession and how to get started in Australia. Explore their job duties, learning pathway, national average salary, career progression, job outlook, and more here.



1. What Are Secondary School Teachers?


Secondary school teachers guide young people through their most formative years, such as between 12 and 18 years (or Years 7 to 12) in the high school system.

They specialize in one or more subjects and are responsible for teaching a prescribed curriculum to students while seizing their interest and encouraging creative, critical thinking.


Secondary school teachers help create learning environments that promote academic growth and students' well-being while shaping their personalities and behaviour.



2. Duties Of A Secondary School Teacher


Secondary School Teachers may be expected to carry out the following tasks and responsibilities:

  • Prepare lesson plans and present them using various teaching aids and techniques, including formal lessons, practical tasks, experiments, discussions, and assessments for better engagement and learning experience.

  • Supervise planned activities

  • Maintain discipline in and outside the classrooms like playground etc. 

  • Inspire students to maintain effective study habits. 

  • Set, assign, and examine regular homework tasks.

  • Prepare and mark assignments, tests, and projects to assess a student'sstudent's progress and record the results.

  • Report on students' learning and progress to parents and guardians

  • Discuss individual issues and progress with students and parents, and seek guidance from senior teachers and counsellors.

  • Attend staff meetings, workshops, school concerts, and educational conferences. 

  • Perform extracurricular activities such as assisting students with sports, trips, and special interest programs.

  • Teach additional classes as a substitute teacher in the absence of other teachers.

  • Liaise with other teachers who teach the same subjects



3. What Skills Do You Need To Become A Secondary School Teacher?


The following skills are desirable for a successful career as a secondary school teacher:


  • A genuine interest in teaching students and the subjects you teach

  • Able to design engaging lessons

  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills

  • Subject matter expertise

  • Creative teaching approach

  • Empathy

  • Patience

  • Sound problem-solving and conflict-resolution abilities.

  • Able to develop a rapport with students quickly

  • Authoritative to control large groups of students and maintain order and discipline in the classroom 

  • Staying updated with advances in their subject field, including curriculum changes, new teaching aids, and resources.



4. Secondary School Teacher Qualifications In Australia


Here is how you can qualify for the role:


  • 17 years and above

  • Complete your Year 12 education with a suitable Universities Admission Index.

  • Complete a four-year bachelor's degree, like a Bachelor of Education (Secondary). 

  • Alternatively, students with a tertiary qualification majoring and minoring in two or more curriculum areas should complete a two-year Master of Teaching (Secondary).

  • Apply for registration with the teacher registration authority in your state.



5. Steps To Become A Secondary School Teacher In Australia


If you want to motivate teenagers and positively impact their classroom learning, follow the steps below to practice as a high school teacher in Australia.



Step 1: Get Qualified


A tertiary degree is a compulsory formal qualification required to work as a secondary school teacher in Australia. There are two ways to achieve it:

  • Earn a 4-year Bachelor's degree in secondary teaching, like a Bachelor of Education (Secondary). 


  • Earn a Bachelor's Degree majoring in the subject you wish to teach, like English or Science. Follow it up with a postgraduate teaching degree in secondary education, like a Master of Teaching (Secondary).  



Step 2: Complete The Literacy And Numeracy Test


Irrespective of your chosen study path, you must pass the Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education Students to graduate from a teaching course. The test evaluates the candidate's personal literacy and numeracy skills to ensure they are up to standard.



Step 3: Get Required Clearances


Graduates from the teaching degree course must have an existing Working with Children Check. As a mandatory requirement for all aspiring SST, the test reviews candidates' backgrounds to confirm they can work with students below 18.



Step 4: Apply For Registration


Registering with your state or territory-level Teacher Registration Authority is the final step to start practising as an SST. You need to renew the license once in five years to keep it up-to-date and valid throughout your teaching career.



6. Secondary School Teacher Courses In Australia


Based on your preferred study path, choose from a range of degree options that gives you powerful insights into how students learn and instil skills to examine, diagnose and support the learning requirements of all students.


Through practical learning and spending significant time in school, you learn to deal with the challenges of professional life and get a taste of what it is like to be an experienced secondary school educator.


These education and teaching courses aim at building communication, organizational and leadership skills, providing a solid base for your future career.



Undergrad Degree Options




Postgraduate Degree Options




Combined/Double Degree Options




7. Areas Of Specialisation


Secondary school teachers can elect their fields of specialization. Most teachers specialize in one or two subjects they are most passionate about. These include Arts, English, Science, Humanities, Mathematics, Social Sciences (HASS), Physical Education, and Technologies.


Besides opting for subjects of their interest, they can also choose to teach in specific geographic locations or work with students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds or those with special needs and learning disabilities.


Typical areas of specialization include:


  • Aboriginal Education Teacher

  • Special Education

  • Teacher Librarian



8. Career Pathways For A Secondary School Teacher


A secondary teaching degree gives you a direct path into a rewarding teaching career, but it can also lead you to other roles in the education sector, such as:


  • Adult education teacher 

  • Education administrator 

  • Education reform and policy officer 

  • Curriculum Specialist  

  • Education research officer 

  • Principal 

  • TAFE teacher 

  • Head of the department 

  • Teacher aide 

  • Youth guidance counsellor


Though employment opportunities differ between territories, there are abundant opportunities for a wide variety of teachers in isolated, rural regions.



9. Career Progression Opportunities In Secondary Teaching


There is ample scope for career progression for a secondary school teacher in areas such as:


  • Children's Services Coordination

  • Quality regulation and assessment

  • Education research

  • Assessment and evaluation for students

  • Early intervention for children with special needs

  • Youth health and wellbeing


Gaining adequate knowledge and experience, you may consider advancing to the following roles:


  • Special education teacher

  • Executive teacher

  • Leading teacher 

  • Assistant Principal 

  • Principal



10. Working Conditions For Secondary School Teachers


Secondary school teachers (SST) work regular teaching hours in high schools and senior campuses.


They may work additional hours to prepare for classes, supervise extracurricular activities and school events, attend staff meetings and professional development seminars, organize school camps, conduct parent-teacher interviews, perform admin tasks like report writing, etc.


SST may use various educational technologies and tools such as computers, whiteboards, audio-visual equipment, workbooks and textbooks, art and craft supplies, sports equipment, and other specialization-specific teaching aids to prepare learning material and deliver lessons.



11. Job Outlook Of Secondary School Teachers In Australia


Australia is among the preferred destinations for teaching professionals as the country values education quality and emphasizes student and teacher welfare.


The Department of Education has laid out an ambitious strategic plan (2019-2024) to attract high-calibre teachers and raise the course quality to ensure enhanced student performance and well-being.


It is a good move for all aspiring teachers within and outside the country who wish to pursue a career in secondary teaching.


There is a substantial demand for qualified secondary school teachers to teach math and science subjects and special needs students, particularly in regional areas. Though the number of teachers gradually increases, teacher enrolment is still less than student enrolment.


It is more than just the domestic students that need quality mentorship; there are a large number of overseas students who plan to study in Australia.


Looking at the rising influx of international students, the government plans to hire more domestic and international teachers to address the teacher supply shortage.


The NSW Department of Education offers extensive enticements for teachers who relocate to schools in rural and isolated areas.


Under their initiative "Mid-Career Transition to Teaching Program," they support professionals with substantial experience in academics, subject-matter experts, or high-performing professionals to become teachers and meet the needs of NSW public schools.


Participants who complete a Master of Teaching (Secondary) or a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) get the opportunity to work at a school part-time as a paraprofessional while studying for their teaching degree. Thus, the best time to prepare for a secondary school teaching career in Australia is now.


As of 2021, around 154,300 secondary school teachers are employed in the Australian Workforce. According to Labour Market Insights, the number of workers is expected to grow moderately and is likely to reach 160,100 by 2026.



Working Arrangements


Around 76% of employed Secondary School Teachers (SST) work full-time for an average of 46 hours per week. Over 50% of workers regularly work extra hours in their job.



Main Industries Of Employment


Around 99.5% of SST are employed in Education And Training industry. A small percentage of workers work in Public Administration And Safety, and Health Care, And Social Assistance.



Percentage of Employment across Australia


  • New South Wales - 33.5%

  • Victoria - 26.4%

  • Queensland - 19.0%

  • South Australia - 6.3%

  • Western Australia - 10.2%

  • Tasmania - 2.2%

  • Northern Territory - 0.7%

  • Australian Capital Territory - 1.7%



Worker's Age And Gender Profile


The average age of Secondary School Teachers is 43 years, with most aged between 25 and 34. Females constitute 62% of the workforce which is 14 percentage points above the average of all jobs, i.e., 48%.



12. How Much Do Secondary Teachers Earn In Australia?


PayScale says the average secondary school teacher in Australia is AU$ 75,424. Location and experience are the two main factors that impact the pay package of a Secondary school teacher.


  • Entry-level (<1 year experience): AU$68,493 per year

  • Early career (1-4 years of experience): AU$71,368 per year

  • Mid-career (5-9 years of experience): AU$81,482 per year 

  • Experienced (10-19 years of experience): AU$92,746 per year 

  • Late career (20 years and above): AU$100,529 per year  



Highest paying cities for School Teachers


  • Melbourne: $144,123 per year

  • Brisbane: $106,178 per year

  • Sydney: $92,527 per year

  • Kadina: $91,302 per year

  • Illawarra: $91,171 per year

  • Indulkana: $90,096 per year

  • Mimili: $90,096 per year

  • Amata: $90,096 per year

  • Port Lincoln: $89,773 per year




13. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



Are Secondary School Teachers in Demand in Australia?


Secondary school teachers are a highly sought-after career in Australia as it gives you the benefit of job security and the freedom to work wherever teachers are required, including overseas.


Besides classroom teaching, a teaching qualification prepares you for diverse career opportunities in both public and private settings around the globe.


Moreover, qualified teachers in Australia can find employment options in other industries, including healthcare, public administration and safety, and social assistance.


At present, the country needs more capable teachers across the country. This shortage is led by rising school enrolments, an abrupt decline in the number of students enrolling to university-level education degrees and an aging workforce.


So, if you are among those wishing to apply to become an SST in Australia, now is the golden opportunity to pursue the career.


Here are a few in-demand teaching fields in Australia's secondary schools:


  • Science (physics) teacher

  • Mathematics teacher

  • Technology and applied studies (TAS), teacher

  • Special education teacher

  • School counsellor



Can You Become a Secondary School Teacher Without a Degree?


Though a related teaching degree is a minimum requirement to work as an SST in Australia, some schools recruit candidates who don't have a teaching degree but have a concentration in relevant secondary subjects within their degree.


For example, suppose you are a graduate specializing in English, science (chemistry), or mathematics (algebra). In that case, you can still pursue a teaching career. A teaching certificate or a course that enhances your teaching skills will benefit you.



How Long is A Secondary Teaching Degree in Australia? 


The exact duration to become an SST depends on the study pathway you choose:


  • Complete a 4-year full-time bachelor's degree in education, i.e., a Bachelor of Education (Secondary). OR


  • Complete a 3 to 4 years tertiary qualification with a major and minor in at least two curriculum areas, followed by a 2-year Master of Teaching (Secondary). Depending on your learning pathway, it can take 4 to 6 years to start teaching secondary students in a classroom setting.



Do Secondary Teachers Get Paid More Than Primary in Australia?


Yes. According to PayScale data, the average salary for a Primary teacher is AU$71,776/ year. The average salary for a Secondary teacher is AU$75,424/ year. So, it shows that secondary school teachers draw a higher salary than primary school teachers in Australia.



What Subjects are Needed to Become a High School Teacher in Australia?


There are eight subjects in NSW school's secondary curriculum. These are:


  • Mathematics

  • Science

  • English

  • Human Society and its Environment (HSIE)

  • Technological and applied studies (TAS)

  • Creative and performing arts

  • Language (All students in NSW public schools must study a second language in the early high school years. They can choose from over 30 languages, that includes Arabic, French, German, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Modern Greek, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Spanish.

  • Personal development, health and physical education (PD/H/PE)


Secondary teachers can choose and specialize in one or more subjects from the above list depending on their interests.



Is Converting From Secondary to Primary Teaching in NSW Possible?


Yes. Whether you are a licensed teacher looking to switch from primary to secondary or secondary to primary, this degree allows you to upskill in a new teaching field.



As teaching is a rapidly evolving field, you can find an increasing number of career opportunities for multi-talented teachers in capital cities, regional and rural areas.


This qualification helps enhance your resourcefulness and skills in your chosen teaching field and facilitates the switch.



How To Become a High School Teacher in NSW?


Secondary school teachers need to have subject matter expertise in any of the eight subjects taught in the secondary school, such as:


  • Mathematics

  • Human society and its environment

  • Technological and applied sciences

  • Science

  • English

  • Languages

  • Personal development, health, and physical education

  • Creative and performing arts


To qualify to teach these subjects to secondary students, you must:


Complete at least four years of tertiary study at a higher education institution or an accredited university. The degree you choose to complete must be an accredited teacher education program and include suitable study of the subject(s) you wish to teach.


Here is a list of appropriate teacher education courses:


  • A Bachelor of Education (Secondary)

  • A double or combined degree, such as a Bachelor of Science/ Bachelor of Education (Secondary)

  • An undergraduate degree followed by an approved graduate-entry teaching qualification, such as a Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary Education) or a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education).

  • Get a current Working with Children Check clearance.

  • Register with the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) as a secondary teacher and earn accreditation.

  • Obtain approval from the NSW Department of Education to teach secondary school students.


Click here for more details on becoming a secondary school teacher in NSW public schools.



What is The Quickest way to Become a Teacher in Australia?


The fastest way to qualify for an SST role is to earn an accredited teaching degree from a recognized university or a higher education institution.


Most states and territories in Australia allow the two common pathways to qualify and work as an SST:


  • A 4-year Bachelor of Education (Secondary)

  • A 4-year double or combined degree, such as a Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Education (Secondary Education) 


Teaching is a competitive field, so studying for more than a minimum qualification will help increase your employability.


Therefore, you may consider an undergraduate degree, like a 4-year Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary), and follow it up with an accredited graduate-entry teaching degree, like a 2-year Master of Teaching (Secondary).



How to Become a Secondary School Teacher in Victoria?


For a standard entry to Secondary School Teacher profession in Victoria, you must:



Step 1: Complete an Undergraduate Degree


Candidates must fulfil the requirements for two learning areas while studying for an undergraduate degree.


  • Undergraduate Bachelor of Arts

  • Undergraduate Bachelor of Design

  • Undergraduate Bachelor of Science



Step 2: Study A Graduate Degree


Next, graduates from the above course should complete the Master of Teaching to apply for registration as a secondary school teacher with the Victorian Institute of Teaching.


The final steps to be able to work as a secondary teacher are to get a current Working with Children Check, complete the National Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education Students, and file an application for teacher registration in your state.


Once you start working as an SST, you must maintain your teacher registration or accreditation with your relevant state or territory body for the duration of your teaching career.



How to Become a Secondary School Teacher in Western Australia?


The minimum requirement to work as an SST in WA is to study for a qualification in secondary education. Alternatively, complete a qualification in a relevant secondary school study area, and follow it with a Master's degree in secondary education.


Once qualified, obtain a Working with Children Check from the Department of Communities, undertake a National Police History Check by the Department of Education Screening Unit, and apply for accreditation with the Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia.



14. Conclusion


Teaching is a valuable opportunity to grow while creating a real and measurable difference in communities. You can enjoy varied career opportunities in classrooms, administration, and management roles in Australia and overseas.


Like any other occupation, the profession has challenges and responsibilities, so you must be well-educated and well-trained before entering the role.


Teaching degree courses prepare you on theoretical and practical aspects of teaching so that you can confidently launch your teaching career.


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