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In a wood technology class, students observe a teacher working on a piece of wood
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In a wood technology class, students observe a teacher working on a piece of wood
Becoming a teacher in New Zealand
Te tahuri ki te aramahi kaiako

Changing to a teaching career

Hear from others who changed to a career in teaching and how they got there
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In a wood technology class, students observe a teacher working on a piece of wood

New Zealand needs great teachers. We know that great teachers are not all the same – they have different backgrounds and life experiences.  

Changing to a career in teaching can be a rewarding and fulfilling journey. There are various pathways into teaching and support along the way for people making this transition.

Whether you’re a firefighter or lawyer, musician or beauty therapist, your experience and knowledge may be perfectly suited to a career in teaching. 

Career-changer stories

Read about some career-changers who made the switch and pursued a career in the classroom.

Thomas Schaare

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Photo of Thomas Schaare
Te Huawhiti Career-Changer Scholarship recipient and LAT, Thomas Schaare

Making a positive impact in the lives of tamariki is the main reason Thomas Schaare always wanted to teach. The Te Huawhiti Career-Changer Scholarship recipient trained in engineering when he left school. He was later shoulder-tapped for a Limited Authority to Teach (LAT) position in hard technology at New Plymouth Boys’ High School.

This led him to study for an Open Polytechnic Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary Technology). This is an online programme that recognises his trade experience and allows him to earn an income as a LAT while studying.

"I absolutely love teaching, especially seeing students’ ability and confidence grow."

Ashlea Mudd

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Career changer Ashlea Mudd
Te Rito Maioha (Early childhood) trainee teacher and career-changer, Ashlea Mudd

Ashlea always wanted to teach but was encouraged into nursing training. She soon switched to beauty therapy.

Twelve years later, Ashlea is studying primary teaching through Te Rito Maioha. She studies online and has two school-based days per week at Frasertown School, her children’s rural school near Wairoa.

She has a mentor at her base school and an annual supervised work placement at another local school. Time spent on Noho Marae provides a te ao Māori perspective.

"It’s fantastic, because I can stay in my community while gaining teaching experience."

Stephen Fowler  

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Stephen Fowler playing keyboard with child
Career changer, Stephen Fowler playing keyboard with child

Musician Stephen Fowler works at St Margaret’s College in Christchurch while studying online for an Open Polytechnic Graduate Diploma in Teaching.

He switched to teaching to get steadier hours and income after 20 years in the music industry. 

Having already spent 6 years at university studying zoology and plant and microbial sciences, Stephen wanted a course that was manageable alongside his job.

"I couldn’t complete my diploma without the flexibility of this course."

Rosie Grant 

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Rosie Grant
Teacher in Education Schools Programme participant and teacher graduate, Rosie Grant

Rosie Grant did a BA in anthropology and criminology and worked at museums before turning to teaching.  

She chose the University of Auckland’s Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary) Online, and participated in the Teacher in Education Schools Programme. The programme allows student teachers to work under supervision at a partner school three days a week. It also pays students’ fees and an allowance.    

Experience at her partner school Saint Kentigern and work placements gave valuable insight into classroom nuances.  

Rosie was ‘excited and confident’ starting her first teaching job, at Whangaparāoa College, in January (2024).

Emma Bishop

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Career-changer, Emma Bishop
Career changer, Emma Bishop

An Occupational Therapist for 13 years, Emma’s journey to teaching started with a counsellor role at a rural school in Milton.  

The Open Polytechnic Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Primary) qualification allowed Emma to work at her own pace, while maintaining family commitments. A valuable part of the course was two days a week at a partner school. Emma says support from Tokoiti School staff made it easier to make the significant life changes necessary to switch careers.    

Applying her occupational therapy experience to a developing teaching career was a "perfect learning combination". Emma finishes her teacher training in late 2024. 

Looking for study options?

How you study, how long and where, are all-important questions. As are what entry requirements are needed, and what financial support is available.

Study options to become a teacher
Explore teaching programmes, study pathways, financial support, and entry requirements.
Study options

Career-changer scholarships

We have two types of scholarship specifically for career-changers. Over 170 individual career changer scholarships are awarded each year across both scholarship types. A career-changer scholarship will support you into study by paying course fees and a living allowance while you study. 

Te Huawhiti Career-Changer Scholarship
This scholarship supports you financially to change your career and follow your passion for teaching.
Te Huawhiti Scholarship
Te Waka Whakerei Career-Changer Scholarship
This scholarship supports you to change your career and follow your passion for te reo Māori.
Te Waka Whakerei Scholarship
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