Training to teach in England: guidance for international applicants

International applicants arrive in the UK every year to train, qualify and work as teachers, becoming a highly-valued part of the teaching workforce.

English schools welcome the diversity of experience and culture international applicants bring to the classroom. In return, you’ll benefit from learning in a world-class education system, and, when you qualify, a competitive salary, supportive professional development and varied job opportunities. 

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

Understanding ‘Qualified teacher status’ (QTS) and ‘Newly qualified teacher’ (NQT)

If your application to a teacher training provider in England is successful, you’ll train, usually for a year, to gain qualified teacher status (QTS). 

Qualified teacher status (QTS) allows you to apply for paid teaching jobs in England, but you will not be a fully qualified teacher until the end of your 2-year ‘newly qualified teacher’ (NQT) induction period.

Schools in England where QTS is a legal requirement

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.

Already a qualified teacher?

Please refer to our guidance for non-UK teachers wishing to teach in England. 

How to apply to train to teach in England

What you’ll need

To apply for a place on a teacher training course in England, you need to have:

To teach children aged 3 to 11, you also need to have achieved a standard equivalent to a grade 4 in a GCSE science subject.

For help understanding these English qualifications and their international equivalents, contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

Contact Get into teaching on 0800 389 2500 and we can provide you with:

You will also need to:

Next steps

Register for help

Register with us for personalised advice from a teacher training advisor over email, phone or online chat.

Search for teacher training courses

Visit Find postgraduate teacher training to search for UK government-approved teacher training courses by location, teaching subject and age group. 

Not all training providers can accept international candidates. You should contact your chosen teacher training providers directly, before you apply online, to get their advice about your eligibility and the application process. 

Browse teaching jobs

Browse available teacher jobs in England using the UK government’s Teaching vacancies service.

Important information about visas and immigration

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 is introduced a 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. 

Choosing the correct visa for your teacher training course

The main visa routes for teacher training in England are the ‘student visa’ and the ‘skilled worker visa’. Depending on your personal circumstances, you may be eligible for other visas.

Student visa or skilled worker visa?

The type of visa you need will depend on whether you are on an ‘unsalaried’ or ‘salaried’ teacher training course.

An ‘unsalaried’ teacher training course means you pay a fee to study as a teacher. The majority of international students training as teachers in England train on this type of course. 

A ‘salaried’ teacher training course means you are paid to work in a school while you learn to teach. 

Unsalaried courses includehigher education institution programmes, school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) programmes and the School Direct fee-funded programme.

Salaried coursesinclude the School Direct salaried programme, the Teach First Leadership Development programme and postgraduate teaching apprenticeships

Applying for a visa for an unsalaried teacher training course

For an unsalaried teacher training course, you will need a student visa. Student visas must be sponsored by a Home Office licensed student sponsor. 

If you are living outside the UK, your application must be submitted no more than 6 months before your teacher training course starts. If you are living within the UK, your application must be submitted no more than 3 months before your course starts.

First, choose your teacher training provider using Find postgraduate teacher training.

Then, contact your chosen teacher training provider to check they are a Home Office licensed student sponsor – sponsors can help you apply for your visa.

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

  • have an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a Home Office licensed student sponsor teacher training provider
  • have a reference number, called a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS), which your training provider will give you 
  • have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course
  • can speak, read, write, and understand English

Applying for a visa for a salaried teacher training course

For a salaried teacher training course, you will need a skilled worker visa. Skilled worker visas are sponsored by Home Office licensed employers. 

First, choose your teacher training provider using Find postgraduate teacher training.

Then, contact your chosen teacher training provider to ask about the school where you’ll be employed during your training. The school must be a Home Office licensed employer sponsor – sponsors can help you apply for your visa. 

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

  • you have an offer for a salaried training place at 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 funded by the UK government, salaries for unqualified teachers in England are set within a pay range and vary between regions. Schools have flexibility to set individual teachers’ salaries within this range. 

For example, in inner London, the salary for an unqualified teacher 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.

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

However, if you are applying for a salaried teacher training course 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.

In English regions outside London, the minimum salary is £18,169 – so you may find it hard to get a skilled worker visa for a salaried teacher training course in these areas. 

Part-time salaried teacher training courses

You may be able to 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 in your region for unqualified teachers

For example, you may be applying for a part-time salaried teacher training course, working 4 days per week in an English region outside London, which pays £14,535. The full-time equivalent of this salary (£18,169) meets the minimum set for your region (£18,169). However it doesn’t meet the £20,480 threshold, and you are therefore not eligible for a skilled worker visa.

Alternatively, you may be applying for a part-time salaried teacher training course, working 4 days per week in inner London, which pays £21,000. The full-time equivalent of this salary (£26,250) meets the minimum set for your region (£22,849). It also meets the £20,480 threshold, and you are therefore eligible for a skilled worker visa.

Ways to study and work as a teacher in the UK without a skilled worker visa or a student visa

Graduate visa for salaried and unsalaried teacher training courses

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 training as a teacher on a salaried or unsalaried initial teacher training course.

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 training as a teacher via either a salaried or unsalaried initial teacher training course.

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 or study in the UK on alternative visas – for example, a Family visa or UK Ancestry visa.  Use this UK government service to check

Financial support for teacher training

 If you are an EEA or Swiss citizen and:

  • started your course in the 2020/21 academic year or before, you will remain eligible for home fee status and financial support from Student Finance England for the duration of your course if you continue to meet the eligibility criteria.
  • are starting your course in the 2021/22 academic year or after and are within scope of the citizens’ rights protections, you will remain eligible for home fee status and financial support from Student Finance England on a similar basis as now. If you are resident in the UK before the end of the transition period you can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, and if your application is successful you can continue living, working and studying in the UK after 30 June 2021.
  • are starting an ITT course in the 2021/22 academic year or after and you are not in scope of the citizens’ rights protections then you will not be eligible for home fee status or financial support from Student Finance England

If you are an Irish national living in the UK or Republic of Ireland you will continue to be eligible for home fee status and financial support from Student Finance England if you meet the eligibility criteria, as your right to study and access benefits and services under the Common Travel Area arrangement will continue on a reciprocal basis.

To receive a bursary or scholarship for ITT, you must be entitled to support under the Student Finance criteria.

If you are an overseas national from outside the EEA or Switzerland, you are unlikely to be eligible for home fee status or financial support from Student Finance England.

You can check with your teacher training provider or with Student Finance England if you are eligible for financial support. Guidance is available for EEA and Swiss students studying, or planning to study, in the UK.

Help and support

Register with us for personalised advice from a teacher training adviser over email, phone or online chat.