What does a career in the sector look like?
If you have a passion for geography and want to enthuse young people about the world today, teaching is a great option. A qualification to be a teacher usually leads to teaching in a school, but this training also opens up lots of other opportunities too, for example in environmental education or resource and educational writing. To see real examples of geographers with careers in teaching, including how they got there, view our career profiles from education.
Teaching can be at any level from KS1 to KS5. Your experiences would also be different at different schools and different countries in the UK and internationally, so understand the specifics of teaching roles as you progress in your career.
Experiences from professional geographers
Day to day I contribute to the planning of lessons and resources in the department, which are shared amongst the Humanities team, and set assessments, monitor pupil progress and record data on the system according to the Academy guidelines. I ensure books are marked with regular feedback so that pupils make progress, and I communicate effectively with parents about pupil progression and behaviour when appropriate. I also undertake regular break and lunch duties, as well as participate in school events and professional development trainings within the Academy.”
Shajiyah Begum, Teacher of Geography in London.
I coordinate school and community programmes in Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and St James’s Park. This includes school sessions for all age groups, family activities in the holidays, walking tours for adults and targeted community engagement. I line manage a team of four people who deliver these programmes.“
Richard Pering, Learning Manager at The Royal Parks
During a typical week, I spend time developing content for our media and communication channels. I also provide technical advice to museums, artists and our business partners on interpreting scientific content to ensure that any messages are accurate and authentic. I also work as a freelance TV presenter and you might have seen me on BBC 4 Beach Live last summer broadcasting to a live audience of over 600,000 people!”
Dr Anjana Khatwa is Programme Manager for Learning at the Jurassic Coast Trust
My role is incredibly varied, which I love. I spend time using the ArcGIS platform to get to know our software as much as possible. Through this I develop new resources for schools and universities, and devise innovative ways to apply GIS to school curriculum content. I develop training courses for teachers and students to help them use our technology, and I do a lot of work out of the office delivering these.”
Dr Katie Hall, GIS Education Consultant at Esri UK
Webinar - Use Geography: Careers in Teaching and Education
Watch our webinar on starting a teaching career with geography, with panellists Simon Ward, Kate Amis, Narinder Mann, Laura Jayne Ward and Victoria Nakyejwe.
Advice on getting a job in the sector
First, you need an undergraduate level qualification. Then, you must train as a teacher and get Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). There are now a number of routes (Training options for potential geography teachers) and funding options for teacher training
Training can be through a 1-year postgraduate course, a PGCE. A PGCE can be school- or university-led.
A degree with relevant content to the subject you teach is important, but if your subject area is slightly different to your degree, you could take a Subject Knowledge Enhancement Course – an SKE.
There are also undergraduate degrees available that build QTS in, which could be an option if you’re thinking about going to university.
An alternative is Teach First, a 2-year programme that places trainees into schools in low-income areas after a summer course and includes a PGDE (a postgrad diploma in teaching)
To gain some teaching skills while at university, you could look for tutoring roles or join the Society’s Geography Ambassador programme to gain experience communicating the value of geography in schools.
Finally, if you’ve already got a job after university but are thinking of retraining, there are options for a career change.
Roles outside of schools would have a wider range of pathways to jobs, and volunteering could help demonstrate your skills and interest. For example, in public engagement, volunteer or work experience demonstrating your communications skills would be a bonus.
Advice from professional geographers
Gain some experience within a school environment. This is essential as it gives you a feel of what it is like to work with young people on a daily basis. Observing a primary and a secondary school can also help you decide which school environment you are more suited to. In addition, it would be helpful to shadow a member of teaching staff”
Shajiyah Begum, Teacher of Geography in London
Not many teachers have completed a Masters and/or a PhD before commencing their training but those who have spent a little longer after their degrees either within academia or working elsewhere, and reap the benefits of the skill sets they develop whilst doing so. I have found that coming to teacher training after my PhD has placed me at a significant advantage, and I would encourage students to strongly consider this as a route.“
Dr Mark Allan, Teacher of Geography and Physics in Whitburn, UK.
Keep persevering. It is a rewarding job that takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Do some work experience in schools to get an idea of what teaching is like. You can also volunteer to be a Geography Ambassador with the Society which gives you an insight into what teaching can be like.”
Tulsi Pankhania, Teacher of Geography in London
The key things we look for when we’re recruiting are a knowledge of the natural environment and presentation/communication skills. So take any opportunity to learn about, volunteer and get work experience in these areas. If you know you want to work in a specific place, learn as much as you can about that place and make sure your knowledge and enthusiasm for it comes over when you come to apply for a job”
Richard Pering, Learning Manager at The Royal Parks
If you are considering a career in geography education, or a career in teaching, you really must love learners of all ages and backgrounds, and have a genuine concern for stewardship of our environment, at a diversity of scales (from the local to the global). Keep bringing this to mind, when the going gets tough (and it will), what awaits is an extremely rewarding career”
Dr Kenneth Y T Lim, Research Scientist at the Institute for Education in Singapore