Teaching in England: guidance for international qualified teachers

Schools in England welcome the diversity of experience and culture teachers from outside the UK bring to the classroom. In return, you’ll benefit from working in a world-class education system, a competitive salary, supportive professional development and a wealth of job opportunities. 

This guidance relates to teaching in England. Learn more about teaching in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

How to apply for teaching jobs in England

Qualified teacher status (QTS)

In many schools funded by the UK government in England (‘state schools’), teachers must have ‘qualified teacher status’ (QTS).

Even where QTS is not a legal requirement, many schools use it to assess the quality of candidates for teaching jobs. 

You will therefore strengthen your application for teaching jobs in England in both the state sector and private sector if you have QTS. 

When and where is QTS not a legal requirement?

International qualified teachers are allowed to work as a teacher in state schools in England for up to 4 years without QTS.

Learn more about the ‘4 year rule’.

In some schools in England, QTS is not a legal requirement:

  • within the English state school sector, academy schools and free schools can employ teachers without QTS
  • outside the English state school sector, ‘private schools’ or ‘independent schools’ can employ teachers without QTS

Learn more about teaching and training to teach in a private or independent school in England.

How to apply for QTS

Learn how to apply for QTS if you trained outside the UK.

Search for teaching jobs

You can browse available teaching jobs in England using the UK government’s Teaching vacancies service.

Applying for a visa allowing you to work as a teacher in the UK

EU Settlement Scheme

If you are a citizen of a country inside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, and were living in the UK by 31 December 2020, you can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

The EU Settlement Scheme is free, user-friendly, and the easiest way to get permission to stay in the UK indefinitely. If your application is successful, you can continue to live, work and study in the UK after 30 June 2021 and you will not have to use the points-based immigration system explained here.

The points-based immigration system

The UK introduced a new points-based immigration system on 1 January 2021. 

The system applies to all non-UK citizens arriving in the UK from that date, including those from the EEA or Switzerland. 

Irish citizens

Irish citizens can continue to enter, work and study in the UK under the Common Travel Area as they could previously. 

The ‘skilled worker visa’ and other visas allowing you to work as a teacher in the UK

The main visa route for non-UK teachers in England is the ‘skilled worker visa’. Depending on your personal circumstances, you may be eligible for other visas.

Skilled worker visa

Skilled worker visas must be sponsored by a Home Office licensed employer sponsor.

First, search for teaching jobs using Teaching Vacancies.

Before you apply for a teaching job, contact the school to check they are a Home Office licensed employer sponsor – sponsors can help you apply for your visa. (Schools can also apply to be employer sponsors in order to employ you.)

You’ll be able to apply for your visa if:

  • you have a job offer from a school that is a licensed Home Office employer sponsor
  • you can speak, read, write, and understand English
  • your salary meets the visa threshold (see ‘Important information about the salary requirement for a skilled worker visa’) 

Important information about the salary requirement for a skilled worker visa 

In many schools in England funded by the UK government, salaries for teachers are set within a pay range and vary between regions. Schools have flexibility to set individual teachers’ salaries within this range. Salaries also vary according to your role in school, and whether you have qualified teacher status (QTS).

For example, in inner London, the salary for an unqualified teacher (without QTS) ranges from a minimum of £22,849 to a maximum of £33,410. Rates outside London are different.  

Check minimum and maximum teaching salaries by region in England.

Other schools (academies and free schools) set their own salaries, which may be higher or lower than the minimum and maximum salaries set by the UK government.  

To be eligible for a skilled worker visa your salary must be at least £20,480. 

However, if you don’t have QTS and you are applying for a job in a region where the minimum rate for an unqualified teacher is higher than £20,480, you must be paid this higher salary. (For example, in inner London the minimum salary is £22,849 – to be eligible for a skilled worker visa, you would need to be paid this salary).

If you have QTS, and you are applying for a job in a region where the minimum rate for a teacher with QTS is higher than £20,480, you must be paid this higher salary. (For example, in inner London the minimum salary is £32,157 – to be eligible for a skilled worker visa, you would need to be paid this salary).

Working part time as a teacher

You can work part time, but your salary must meet the threshold for a skilled worker visa. There are 2 requirements:

  • your part-time salary must be at least £20,480
  • the full-time equivalent of your salary must meet the minimum set for your region and status (QTS or non-QTS)

For example, you may be a teacher with QTS seeking a 4 day per week role in inner London. You are offered a salary of £25,000, which meets the £20,480 threshold for a skilled worker visa. However, the full-time equivalent of your salary would be £31,250. This is below the minimum salary set for teachers with QTS in inner London (£32,157), and you would therefore not be eligible for a skilled worker visa. 

Now imagine you are a teacher with QTS seeking a 3 day per week role in inner London. You are offered a salary of £19,294. The full-time equivalent of this salary meets the minimum set for your region and status (£32,1570). However, your part-time salary does not meet the £20,480 threshold, and you would therefore not be eligible for a skilled worker visa. 

Finally, imagine you are a teacher with QTS seeking a 4 day per week role in inner London. You are offered a salary of £28,000. The full-time equivalent of this salary (£35,000) meets the minimum set for your region and status (£32,1570). Your part-time salary also meets the £20,480 threshold, and you are therefore eligible for a skilled worker visa.  

Schools have some flexibility in how they set salaries. You may be able to negotiate a different rate of pay if the salary on offer does not meet the skilled worker visa requirements. 

The salary requirements for a skilled worker visa apply whatever type of school you work in (funded by the UK government or in the private sector).

Ways to work as a teacher in the UK without a skilled worker visa 

Graduate visa

If you are already an international student in the UK, you can apply for a graduate visa on successful completion of your degree. To apply, you will need to have been sponsored by a Home Office licensed student sponsor over the course of your studies. The graduate visa will be available from summer 2021.

The graduate visa will allow you to study, work, or look for work in the UK for up to 2 years after completing your studies (3 years for PhD students), without a sponsor. This includes working as a teacher.

You will be able to switch from a graduate visa to another visa (such as the skilled worker visa) without having to leave the UK, if you meet the requirements for the new visa.

The Youth Mobility Scheme visa

The Youth Mobility Scheme allows young people from Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, San Marino and Taiwan to come to the UK each year. 

You must be 18 to 30 years old to apply. If you are successful, you’ll be able to study or work in the UK without a sponsor. This includes working as a teacher.

A Youth Mobility Scheme visa lasts up to 2 years. You may be able to switch from a Youth Mobility Scheme visa to another visa route (for example the skilled worker visa) without having to leave the UK. You’ll need to meet the requirements for the other visa route.

Other visas

Depending on your personal circumstances, you may be able to work in the UK on alternative visas – for example, a Family visa or UK Ancestry visa.  Use this UK government service to check. 

Help and advice

For further information, please email the Department for Education in England at international.teacherrecruitment@education.gov.uk