IF YOU'RE thinking about a career in education, one of the first choices you'll need to make is also one of the biggest.
Do you want to stand in front of a class full of adults, teenagers, children or toddlers?
Deciding who - as well as what - you want to teach will go a long way towards determining your pathway into the education industry - and how long it will take you to get there.
For the most part, you'll probably find yourself at university for four years. An education degree - be it early childhood, primary or secondary schooling - will equip you with the necessary skills and professional knowledge to lead a classroom.
While some universities offer three-year education degrees, these alone are not sufficient to work as a classroom teacher. Registration as a teacher requires four years study (or equivalent experience). It is possible though to complete a one-year graduate diploma following a three-year degree, to qualify for teacher registration.
The registration system ensures only appropriately qualified people are able to work as teachers, which protects educational standards, student safety and the reputation of the profession itself.
Before you even get near a classroom, you'll also need a blue card from the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian. Since all study programs include substantial practical experience (some even in the first semester of study), you'll need to apply for the blue card as soon as possible. Registered teachers are not required to hold a blue card.
While teaching is definitely not a career you should pursue without an absolute passion for the work, the job brings some tidy benefits, the largest of which being that when the students are on holidays, teachers are too. In New South Wales it gets better, with teachers entitled to four weeks annual leave on top of the school holidays.
There are also big incentives for teachers at all levels to work in remote and rural areas, with a variety of cash payments intended to help offset the difficulties of living in isolated places.