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Questions for possible career changer

Posted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 1:17 pm
by geoguy
Hello all
I am fairly new to this forum (2nd post) and I am just looking for a bit of advice. I from the UK and have a PhD in Physical Geography; I love seeing the world and have been lecturing in universities in developing countries for a few years now. My options for employment moving forward seem fairly limited to just a few countries though (if and when they advertise) and since I have not been working in mainstream universities it limits my chances of a job in a ‘western’ university.
I have been thinking about realistic options if I were to retrain and have considered the PGCE. It would allow me to go home for a few years which would be nice to reconnect with family/friends and also would keep the door open for working abroad. My questions are:
1) What realistic opportunities would I have on gaining a PGCE+2 years experience in a secondary school back home? Are there certain countries that would be most likely? I prefer Europe but would still be open to S.America and Russia, maybe even Middle East.
2) How low demand is Geography? E.g. I noticed a job adverts in Warsaw and Moscow the other day.
3) Could I combine Geography with say English?
4) What kind of salary might I expect from locations in Question 1?
5) I am almost 40 if that makes any difference (?!).
Thank you for any help you can give with this. It would be quite a change and so am putting my feelers out there to see what might suit best. Cheers!


Posted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 2:33 pm
by PsyGuy
You do not need to complete a PGCE. You can obtain an entry level credential from the state of Missouri (MI) in the US, without an EPP/ITT program. You would need to have an NACES degree review, and take the MI Professional Knowledge exam (its a general meds/peds assessment). There are a few test centers overseas, including one in London (as well as Germany, France, Spain, Greece, Turkey, with one coming to Italy soon). After that its an application and a CRB. You can than use the MI credential to apply for full QTS from the TCL (no requirement for an induction year). You can choose to renew the MI credential, or allow it to expire and retain QTS only. The exam is a day (about two hours of actual test time), and the CRB is half a day, plus half a day for organizing the application materials. The application fee is USD$100, the CRB is USD$43 (plus the cost of rolling prints) and the exam is USD$77. Applying for QTS is free and takes maybe 15 minutes. So 2 days and about USD$200.

1) Gaining experience in the UK would depend on where you are willing to go. There has been a lot of exodus of DTs in the UK, finding geography positions isnt difficult, and with a doctorate you are at least as competitive as every other NQT.

Hardship locations such as parts of Asia, the ME, and LCAS.Though with your EU citizenship, you would be a marketable candidate in the EU. In late Spring many EU ISs recruit only EU nationals, a geography appointment at that time wouldnt be unreasonable. Many of these ISs have to take what they can.

2) Geography is more popular in BSs, in many ISs you would need to be marketable as a social studies IT, requiring you to teach a number of social studies courses. If you limit yourself to only a FTE geography appointment you are looking at only large BSO BSs. Smaller ISs are going to need you to teach some history, and potentially other courses in social studies/humanities.

3) In many ISs at lower secondary you find cross curriculum vacancies, social studies and literature is a popular combination. You could add English Language Arts to the MI certificate by taking the appropriate content exam. You may however have a sufficient academic background with QTS to qualify you to teach literature.

4) The average IT salary globally is just under USD$30K/year. Some regions such as LCSA pay significantly less (closer to USD$20K) and some such as the ME can get to around six figures.

5) It doesnt, age doesnt become a factor until after 50. Spouse, kids, those are logistical factors.

It wouldnt be much of a change especially at upper secondary and school leaving level. Teaching 17 year olds A*/DIP/AP in a direct teach (lecture) format of delivery isnt functionally or practically different from teaching year 1 Uni students in the same delivery format. They both are obsessed with their phones and maintaining their social network presence. The only real difference is the IS students are focused on getting into Uni, and the year 1 students are already there.

Re: Questions for possible career changer

Posted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 3:44 pm
by geoguy
Dear Psyguy,
Many thanks for your very informative and prompt response! Wow, the MI alternative sounds interesting. If it just takes two days though how qualified am I going to be, or is it some kind of fast-track scheme for people with experience/academic background? I thought schools specifically want candidates with a PGCE though, or is this equivalent? Just to clarify, as I’m quite new to the forum could you kindly explain what these mean!?
In a previous message of mine it was mentioned how competitive it would be to work in Europe ... php?t=5288
I was wondering why you might think I would be marketable now?
Also, I guess the USD 30,000 average salary would be taxed (but might include free housing/flights)?
Thank you for any further help with my queries. Cheers.


Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:24 am
by PsyGuy

You would have the same entry level qualification as anyone else who received it from one of the other credentialing paths.

It is specifically an option only for those with a doctoral degree, and you can not transition the entry level (initial) credential to the professional (career) credential, though you can renew it indefinitely. It was intended as a means for professors in Unis to provide dual credit courses in regional secondary DSs. Beyond that it was for economic reasons, that had to do with differences in contracts between union/labor represented DTs and temporary/part time Uni faculty (adjuncts). Essentially, you could hire an adjunct through the Uni, without benefits cheaper then you could hire a DT through the DE system.

ISs want ITs with professional educator credentials, that licenses them to provide instructional services in primary and secondary education. A PGCE is one route in the UK where the outcome is such a credential (QTS). In the US, educational credentialing is managed at the state level (as opposed to the UK which is at the national level), by various BOEs and DOEs (Board/Department of Education). MI (Missouri) is one such state, and their credentials are comparable working credentials to QTS. Those credentials can be earned through academic routes (the Uni PGCE route) or ACP (Alternate Certification Programs) similar to School Direct routes in the UK. Some states have assessment routes, that consists of a regional or national exam (PRAXIS, offered by ETS) is one such exam scheme. The assessment only route in the UK is more a portfolio process, then a testing/examination process.
A US credential can in most cases can be used to obtain QTS in the UK through mutual recognition. The process works in reverse, with many states offering a credential at some level to a UK DT who holds QTS (though the US process is more complex).

EPP = Educator Preparation Program, ITT = Inital Teacher Training Program:
Both terms refer to the same process. EPP is a generic term used more appropriately in the US, and ITT is used in the UK. They both refer to the process of training and educating first time DTs in the national primary and secondary education system. A PGCE is an ITT program. School Direct is an ITT program. Troops to Teachers is an ITT program. In the US they would generally be called an EPP program (though with 54+ different systems in the US, all using different terminology, EPP is a "generic" term).

TCL = Teachers Council London: A slang term for the previous General Teaching Council of England, which was the regulatory authority for teachers in England (it was housed in London). The regulatory functions are now managed by the NCTL (National College for Teaching and Leadership). TCL is in reference to the NCTL, and the use of TCL, is an emphasis on the teaching functions, and as a number of practitioners would comment, a lack of leadership.

DT = Domestic Teacher

LCAS: A typo for LCSA, sorry.

LCSA = Latin, Central and South America: Youre a geography prof., I hope you dont need further explanation.

BS = British School, not to be confused with BSO, but as a generic descriptor of an IS modeled on the British curriculum and system.

BSO = British School Overseas: An overseas BS that has been inspected by Ofsted against the Dfe standards.

You changed your question. In your previous post you inquired about the EU specifically, I havent changed my position, but your recent post expanded your target range of ISs (globally), which greatly changes the metrics. You simply have more options and higher utility when you you consider Asia, the ME, and LCSA. China, Kuwait, Venezuela, etc.. have much better recruitment and hiring probabilities for you.

Taxes and OSH (OverSeas Hire" packages very differently between and within regions. In the WE you find often very high tax rates, and packages that are closer to an LH (Local Hire) package. A LH package is basically salary, social insurance, and maybe a one way flight. Housing is becoming more and more uncommon. Where as in the ME your salary is often tax free, and you get a full OSH package (including relocation and housing).

Re: Questions for possible career changer

Posted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 1:14 am
by geoguy
@ Psyguy
Thank you again for your really helpful responses! If you don’t mind (?), I have a few queries further. I read up on the MI program and believe this is what you are referring to: ... torate.htm
However, I didn’t see Geography as one of their main subject areas – except under Social Science. I notice Social Sci also includes things like American History, Political Sci, Economics, Behavioural Sci; subjects I have little education in myself (!).
1) Would the Professional Knowledge exam be specifically about Social Science? And given my limited knowledge in this (except Geography) I might need to swot up quite a bit. You mentioned that Social Studies is more marketable to ISs, so perhaps I should consider this (?).
2) I could not see anything about a test centre in London – might you have the link for that?
3) What does this mean please: “you can not transition the entry level (initial) credential to the professional (career) credential” ? Is the initial credential QTS? Career credential?

I am just trying to weigh up the pros and cons of this very interesting route as opposed to a PGCE. In particular, I have noticed that a PGCE in Geography currently offers a £25,000 bursary which is tempting. This would run from Sept 2017-Sept 2018. In contrast the two-day procedure you mentioned would allow me to start working much sooner and appeals to my adventurous side. Practically speaking I have 5+ years lecturing experience (including tutorials and fieldtrips). I guess the biggest change will be the need for more lesson planning and classroom discipline skills. However, my students were mostly well-behaved and guess it might be the same in most ISs (?).
4) Are classroom management/lesson planning something I should learn on the job and find my own style (building on my experience already) or should I really consider training (PGCE)?
5) Also, is it true that some ISs (and UK schools) will demand a PGCE rather than just QTS?
6) Just to clarify, with QTS (from 2-day procedure) would I be able to find work in: UK, LCSA, Kuwait, Korea etc? And with 2 years’ experience there be more marketable in Europe?

Thanks for your continued help with this, I really appreciate it. I am just trying to find a pathway that would be most suitable (and efficient!). Cheers.


Posted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 2:48 am
by PsyGuy

1) Its nice of Missouri State University to re-post the DOE information, but here is the direct link to the DOE: ... tification

The application is found at the bottom and you can find the links to the CRB and MEGA (Missouri Education Gateway Assessments) on the right hand side.

2) MI doesnt have a specific geography certification they have a broad subject/composite in social studies, that includes geography among other social science and humanities subjects. You would receive this broad social studies certification

3) The 063 "Professional Knowledge: Secondary" MEGA exam has no politics, behavior science, economics, or history content. It doesnt have any geography content in it either. It is entirely a meds/peds (methodology and pedagogy) examination. It covers child development, and some psychology and sociology BUT only in regards to how children and adolescents learn. Its a teaching test, and its the same test whether your doctorate is in geography, particle physics, or dance, it is not content area specific.

4) To find the test center link start here:

A) ... Sites.html
B) Click on "Check real-time seat availability"
C) In the box next to "Find an Exam" type MO063 (thats the letter O followed by a zero)
D) In the drop down box select "MO063: MEGA Professional Knowledge: Secondary", Click "Go"
E) The next page should say "Find Available Times: Exam Details" and have "Exam: MO063: MEGA Professional Knowledge: Secondary", click "Next"
F) The next page should say "Find Available Times: Test Center Search",below that is a search tool, in the text entry box enter London and then click "Search".
G) You should then find a search results page, and the first result should be "Pearson Professional Centres-London Holborn, 190 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7BH, United Kingdom".

5) MI has a two tier certification system. The initial certificate is an entry level certificate, once a DT completes the induction program they can apply to transition the initial certificate to the career certificate (which is a professional level certificate). As your initial certificate would be obtained through the doctoral pathway you can not receive the career (professional) certificate, even if you complete the induction program. You would have to apply for another certificate through one of the other pathways. However, you can renew the initial certificate indefinitely.
The MI initial credential is accepted by the TCL and awards QTS through mutual recognition in the UK.

6) You can do both. You can get the MI credential, obtain QTS, participate/complete a PGCE, and obtain the bursary to do so. If you wanted to you could get the MI credential, get the bursary, get the PGCE, and then apply for QTS using the MI credential and skipping induction.

7) Many ITs leave DE to avoid the worst of the behavior management issues. It can differ though, poor behavior can come from many places, and there are some really spoiled entitled brats in IE, but mostly the studnts and families in IE are well resourced, and highly motivated.

8) Your assumption is that a PGCE is going to solve behavior management and classroom organization concerns on the basis of study. The vast majority of EPP/ITT programs train DTs/ITs poorly for the expectations they will actually have in the classroom. This is why there is such a high and short turnover in DE. You will learn the UKNC, some basics of assessment, and how to write convoluted lesson plans for tutors and professors that dont work in the classroom except to fill a binder. You could find yourself doing your PGCE in a train wreck of a DS, just struggling to get by, where you spend 90% of the time fighting students for their attention. You put int he time, build the credibility and at some point motivate them to care and succeed (makes a good movie), then you go to an IS and your students perform solely on the basis of you tell them and you control their grade.
I doubt a PGCE is going to give you any skills you dont already have or can easily obtain as they apply to IE. DE maybe, IE no.

9) Yes, especially at the elite tier BSs, they want traditionally trained ITs and this means an academic qualification in professional education, at a minimum a PGCE. These are the top BSO ISs, they can be selective and they can get a 1000 applications for one vacancy. You could do a one year Masters in Education in about the same time youd do a PGCE, with QTS that would exceed a PGCE. Again, you can do both the MI credential and a PGCE, and the MI -> QTS saves you an induction year all for a couple days effort and a couple hundred USD. From a practical position you have a doctorate and QTS, what matters is success and performance and transferring SKAs to students.

10) QTS is the licensing credential in England, it is accepted globally, and so is the MI entry level credential. They are licenses to practice as a professional educator. You are employable, but this is entirely separate from being marketable. Meeting the requirements of being eligible for appointment doesnt guarantee you a job.

Re: Questions for possible career changer

Posted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 12:21 pm
by geoguy
Thank you again, that really helps to know what to expect! I just have a few final further questions please:
1. The MI test appears to be composed completely of multiple choice questions with no written assignment – is that your experience? I tried the sample – seemed fine.
2. Re CRB, can fingerprints be posted to Missouri from abroad? (is that what you mean by “rolling prints”?)
3. I was wondering what is the point of an ‘induction year’ anyway? On the PGCE route does it award QTS or is it just a legal requirement to teach in the UK?
4. As well as a PGCE I guess a BS/BSO would also require me to have experience specifically from a UK school?
5. How might my doctorate be formally useful/regarded? Is it really only in management positions where it might be taken into consideration?

Thank you I really appreciate your useful feedback. Cheers.


Posted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 7:36 pm
by PsyGuy

1) Yes, its entirely a selective response assessment, all multiple choice and timed (ts a very short test, you dont have a lot of time to consider individual items). There are no constructed response (essay, short answer) items. Its not very difficult, you could pick up a teaching for dummies book, and likely pass.

2) Yes, many states in the US have moved to "live scan" where an authorized company collects your fingerprints directly using a computer scanner. This option usually isnt available outside the regional/local area. As a result the MI DOE mails/posts finger print cards to you. You go to the local police or other acceptable agency (an embassy/consulate) and pay them a fee to collect inked fingerprints on the cards. You then put them in a photo mailer and mail them to the designated agency in MI which then scans them into the computer database. Typically you roll/collect two sets of identical prints for both hands.

3) That depends who you ask. From the Dfe POV its a regulatory gate keeping procedure. Without an induction year its very difficult to regulate entry into the teaching profession in the UK. Most of PGCE is entirely academic, and there is a considerable difference between the academics and practice. It would be really difficult to not successfully complete a PGCE as long as you did the work. Induction allows the Dfe to separate those individuals who just shouldnt be in a classroom with children.

When you complete your PGCE you obtain QTS as a NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher). While the UK has a number of different categories of DSs/ISs you can really separate them into public/maintained and private/independent. You dont need to be an NQT or have any type of QTS to teach in the independent DSs/ISs, you need to complete induction to work any type of public/maintained DS/IS. During an NQTs induction year they are assessed against the teaching standards which they dont have to do during their PGCE. When you complete your induction year you get a new QTS certificate that indicates youve completed induction and your file with the TCL is updated.

Induction is a big issue. A lot of NQTs never complete induction, because you only get one attempt (you can appeal), but you can never do it over again. If you are unsuccessful with induction you dont lose your QTS but you can never teach in a UK maintained DS/IS, and your name is added to the induction barring list/database. Its the equivalent of being branded a bad teacher. Even though you dont lose QTS, even an independent DS/IS which doesnt require QTS would strongly consider the inability to complete induction as a disqualifying factor.

4) It really depends how you define a BS. There are a lot of BSs (just like ASs) that are modeled like a BS, but this may only mean that the BS hires British ITs or that they are an IGCSE exam center. In that regard its just a checklist of curriculum objectives, and the actual environment is whatever the local host national system is modeled after. You can have a Japanese IS that is every bit like a Japanese DS would be, accept students study and take IGCSE exams in year 10 and "British" is in the ISs name.

The higher the tier, the more likely an IS will want and be able to get an IT with actual BS experience in the UKNC. However, strong performance is highly marketable across curriculum, if you can teach Geography well, and thats demonstrated by high scores from your students, you are marketable anywhere. Geography is more popular in BSs than ASs (mainly because ASs have World history and American history, and in a BS World history is British/European history).

5) There will be 1st tier ISs that like to have doctorates on their faculty, but this is KS/K12 education, its not rocket science (even when its rocket science its not rocket science), a content expert is a content expert and the bar isnt very high. When an IT has a doctorate often the question is why arent you in leadership, and thats where a doctorate has the most utility in an ITs marketability. You will find you get a little more respect from parents, and of course everyone will refer to you as "doctor", some students will call you professor (because professor is an honorarium title). Leadership is a mixed bag, theres bound to be someone on the leadership team who is annoyed at having to refer to a subordinate as "doctor" (ego is in very high supply in IE). You will also find ITs with similar egos.

Re: Questions for possible career changer

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:07 pm
by geoguy
Thank you, it’s all becoming clearer! If it's okay(?) I just have a couple more queries:
1) Where a school position in UK requests for ‘a teaching qualification’ do they typically mean PGCE or can it refer to QTS too?
2) Should I really get a couple years’ experience in UK first before venturing abroad? (and even to be employable abroad?). If not, would I realistically aim for 3rd tier ISs?
Thanks again.


Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2016 2:09 am
by PsyGuy

1) In GENERAL they mean QTS, or a foreign equivalent that would be eligible for QTS. However, qualification typically refers to an academic accomplishment such as a degree or PGCE, and credential refers to recognition of the holder as completing the requirements for a professional educator. A license refers to authorization to provide instructional services. Certification is a generic term that can describe all three.
For example, one can get a degree in education (such as an M.Ed, or MA or MS) in leadership (or general education) and use it in a business environment for advancement/promotion without having done any work with children or curriculum, etc. In the UK you can get a PGCE (qualification) and QTS (credential) but have a barring order against you, resulting in not having a license to teach.

2) First, the forum consensus is that a new DT obtain 2 years post certification experience in a KS/K12 environment, and this is the standard bar to entry into IE. Its rare the memberships major and minor contributors agree (or acquiesce) so widely on an issue, this is one of them.
ISs are generally poor places for the development of an IT, they generally arent resourced to provide meaningful mentoring, and the expectation is you can do the job without guidance. Parents rarely are tolerant of an ITs practical development, they expect you will maximize their childs achievement, not learning on the job. They can also be minimally resourced as far as materials, which is hard enough for an experienced IT. Imagine you are in an IS that doesnt have maps.

In your scenario however, my recommendation would be that you skip DE and move into IE. I just dont see a lot of value for you, unless you believe in the value of suffering. You are either going to find an IS you are happy with, or you will return to tertiary education. You arent going to learn much if anything working in a DS, especially a hardship or at risk DS thats going to be applicable to IE.

Id take every shot you could find, apply to every geography vacancy you can identify. Just be prepared for invitations from lower tier and hardship regions. You have stronger utility at a better BS than you would in an AS, simply due to the lack of geography and the strong probability of having to offer more than one subject. This means you have to prepare material you may not be very confident in. I have no doubt you can walk into a geography classroom and have a lesson ready and formed in the 15 minutes it takes in the morning to walk from your classroom to the faculty room, too the copier and back to your classroom.
If you want to define a goal, Id aim for a 'floater' which is a upper third tier IS.

Re: Questions for possible career changer

Posted: Wed Nov 09, 2016 1:17 am
by geoguy
Ok thank you for explaining that and for the pragmatic advice, much appreciated! I was also wondering, after a few years abroad are there realistic chances of finding a decent job back in the UK in a private/independent school? Cheers.


Posted: Wed Nov 09, 2016 8:02 am
by PsyGuy

It will greatly depend what you do in IE. If your at a BSO IS, then yes you can likely find a sufficient appointment in the UK at an independent DS. If you are at BS and teach IGCE or A* (or teach DIP or AP at a comparable IBS or S) and have decent results it would be harder but you can probably find something. Outside of that probably not. ITs dont transition back very well, there are some success stories, but the longer youre out, the more your curriculum, legal, special populations, SKA decay.

Re: Questions for possible career changer

Posted: Wed Nov 09, 2016 10:21 pm
by geoguy
Ok many thanks, it is much appreciated! With all best wishes. Cheers.

Re: Questions for possible career changer

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:45 pm
by Artrageous
Hi Geoguy- some schools don't have geography as a subject by itself- sometimes humanities covers geography in combination with social studies. Depends on which system you are looking at, British, American, IB etc. A PGSE qualification seems to be a respected qualification in International schools. I don't know about the American qualifications at all. All the best, good luck!

Re: Questions for possible career changer

Posted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:40 pm
by geoguy
Hello all,
I just thought I would revive this post and seek some advice. More than two years on and I'm still a Geog professor in a developing country. I have another 2.5 years on my contract and make good money so feel inclined to stick it out. Due to my specialism in island studies I feel restricted to just a few developing countries (think Fiji, Jamaica). I would really like the chance to live and work in eastern Europe and have developed an interest in Africa too.

I have a PhD in Geography and I recall @PsyGuy alerted me to the Missouri State University route to getting QTS (bypassing a PGCE). I just have a few questions further please:
1) By going the MI>QTS route and potentially obtaining my first Geography teaching job at a 3rd tier school could I possibly get a job in eastern Europe after a couple of years experience in that 3rd tier location? (i.e. also without ever getting two years experience in UK, and not holding a PGCE).
2) After finishing my contract here I will be 44, is that still young enough to be hired? And if I did do a PGCE and two years experience in UK then I would be 47 and I guess I'm leaving it a bit late?
3) If getting a job in Europe/Africa (also maybe Russia, S. America) is my desire should I consider an MA TESOL or MA Education (with English as second language component) instead? (Due to more opportunities than in Geog?).

I hope my questions make sense. Thank you for any further assistance you can give.