How to Get Your First Job as a Teacher

The Prepped Team

8 minutes

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Teaching is more than just a noble profession. It’s the crucial link that enables knowledge transfer between generations and keeps innovation alive. In one way or another, your teachers have played a part in shaping your mind and future. It’s only natural to want to follow in the footsteps of those who nurtured your love of knowledge. 

That said, we know it isn’t easy to get certified as a teacher and embark on a new career. Our goal is to ensure you’re well-equipped to get your first job as a teacher after you graduate. We’re here to answer questions you may have as you chart your course from student to teacher.

How to become a teacher

So you’ve decided teaching is the right career for you but are unsure about how to get started. Don’t worry, we’ll break the process down into three distinct parts:

1. Meet the educational requirements for becoming a teacher

The education requirement for teachers varies based on your chosen teaching level, so the first step is to figure out which grades you want to teach. You should also give some thought to the subject(s) you’re interested in teaching.

To become a general education teacher, you usually need at least a three- or four-year post-secondary degree (a BA or a BSc) as well as a two-year teacher education degree (bachelor in education or BEd) that includes a supervised classroom teaching component or practicum. In some provinces, such as Prince Edward Island, a one-year BEd program may be accepted.

For university and college level teaching jobs, you may also require a master’s or doctoral degree or a combination of higher education and work experience.

2. Get certified as a teacher in your province or territory

Teaching is a regulated occupation in Canada and you must be certified in the province or territory you want to teach in. The certification requirements vary by province and ideally, you should decide where you want to practice before you finish your post-secondary program. This way, you can enrol in a teacher education program that meets provincial standards.

After completing your BEd, you must apply to the regulatory body or college of teachers in your province for certification. We’ll cover some common certification requirements below.

3. Start looking for teaching jobs

Once you’ve been certified by your provincial regulator, you’re all set to begin your teaching career! You can start looking for job opportunities with school boards in your region and prepare for interviews.

How long does it take to become a teacher in Canada? 

Generally speaking, it takes around four to six years to become an elementary or secondary school teacher in Canada. This includes the time it takes to get your post-secondary and teacher education (BEd) degrees. 

The certification may take longer if you plan to become a high school technological studies teacher since most provinces, including Ontario, require you to have five years of work experience in addition to a BEd degree.

If you have your heart set on becoming a post-secondary educator, you should also account for the time it takes to complete a graduate or doctoral degree in the subject you plan to teach. 

How to get certified as a teacher after you graduate

So you’ve completed your undergrad degree, what else do you need to get certified? Although the certification requirements vary by province, here’s an overview of some of the things regulators take into account.

  • Your application for certification: Most jurisdictions allow you to start your application before you complete your BEd, but you will only get certified after you finish your teacher education program. When you apply, you must also pay a registration fee and an annual membership fee.
  • Academic transcripts for your post-secondary degree and teacher education program: Most provincial regulators specify what the transcripts should include and will only accept sealed transcripts sent directly by your educational institutions.
  • Canadian criminal record check: You must provide a recent criminal record check report issued by a local, regional, or national police service.
  • Proof of identity: Applicants usually need to submit a birth certificate, passport, Canadian permanent resident card, or another acceptable government-issued identification document. Canadian driver’s licenses and provincial health insurance cards may not be accepted.
  • Language proficiency: To qualify for teaching certification, you must be able to communicate effectively in English or French. If you completed your teacher education training in the province in which you’re seeking certification, you may not require proof of language proficiency.
  • Statement of Professional Standing, if you completed your teacher education program in a different province: This must be issued by the jurisdiction to verify your suitability as a teacher, even if you never taught in that province. 

Other requirements: Additional provincial certification requirements may include completion of a sexual abuse prevention program (such as in Ontario), passing a mathematics proficiency test, demonstrating your fitness to teach, and more.

Before you apply for certification, carefully review the certification requirements and process listed on your provincial or territorial regulator’s website below:

Province/Territory: Regulator Name


Alberta Education

British Columbia

British Columbia Ministry of Education’s Teacher Regulation Branch


Manitoba Professional Certification Unit

New Brunswick

New Brunswick Office of Teacher Certification

Newfoundland and Labrador

NL Teacher Certification

Northwest Territories

Northwest Territories Teacher Certification

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Office of Teacher Certification


Nunavut Teacher Certification


Ontario College of Teachers

Prince Edward Island

PEI Teacher Certification and Standards Board


Education Quebec


Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board


Yukon Teacher Certification

If you completed your teaching degree outside Canada, read Arrive’s article on How to immigrate to Canada as a teacher for information on the certification requirements for internationally-educated teachers.

How to write a resume for your first teaching job

Your resume will undoubtedly be the single most important document for your job search. Along with your cover letter, your resume will help employers decide whether you’re a good fit for the role and if they should spend time interviewing you. So how can you write an impressive resume that’ll land you your first teaching job? Here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Choose the right resume format: It’s important to pick a resume format that draws attention to your strengths and away from your lack of experience. A functional resume format usually works best when you’re applying for your first job as a teacher as it puts more emphasis on your transferable skills.
  • Do your research: Besides carefully reviewing the job description, also research the school or school board, their teaching style, and curriculum for the grade you plan to teach. This will give you a better picture of what the school or school board is looking for in an ideal candidate.
  • Focus on transferable skills and experience: Just because this will be your first job as a teacher doesn’t mean your previous experience is irrelevant. You may have acquired other skills during your studies and part-time work that can be valuable in a classroom. These could include storytelling, research, listening, giving feedback, time management, attention to detail, relationship building, familiarity with technology, and more. Proficiency in a non-official language, for instance, could be useful in schools where a large student population speaks that language.
  • List your teaching credentials: Your bachelor’s and teacher education degree should be prominently listed on your resume. If you have additional education-related certifications or qualifications, be sure to include them too.
  • Succinctly capture your work experience: Even if your classroom experience is limited to the student-teaching practicum (work placement) you completed during your BEd, don’t shy away from including it on your resume. In fact, you should list all relevant experience, including part-time or volunteer experience, and highlight your achievements in each role.
  • Craft an ATS-friendly teacher resume: No matter how impressive your resume is, it will likely only make the cut if it passes the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) many employers use. So how do you make sure your resume reaches a human? Where applicable, include exact-match keywords from the job description in your resume and cover letter. If you’re not sure your resume is ATS friendly, use the Prepped Resume Scanner to check how closely your resume matches the job description.
  • Always include a cover letter: The value of a powerful cover letter cannot be overstated. Your teacher cover letter is your opportunity to demonstrate your passion for teaching and expand on some of your relevant skills and achievements. 

How to get a teaching job without prior work experience

Applying for your first teaching job can be overwhelming, especially when you’ve just graduated and don’t have any experience. Where do you look for jobs? And more importantly, how do you convince employers that you’re qualified to teach? Here are some tips to help you land your first job as a teacher:

Gather part-time or voluntary work experience

This is something you can (and definitely should) start doing while you’re still studying. Look for part-time jobs that require skills that also apply to teaching, such as tutoring or child care. You can also amp up your resume with volunteer experiences like summer camp counselling.

Even if your part-time experience isn’t in a related field, you may have cultivated transferable skills that’ll be useful when you start teaching. For instance, if you worked as an on-campus administrative assistant, your organization skills may be valuable for creating schedules, student timetables, and learning plans.

Build a strong network of teachers

Connecting with other teachers in your province is a great way to understand the local job market and clarify the certification process. To get started, look for teacher networking groups in your city, connect with educators on LinkedIn, and attend in-person and virtual networking events. You can then nurture these relationships through coffee chats and ongoing engagement.

You can then leverage your network for guidance, job referrals, and to be introduced to hiring decision-makers in various schools. Remember, your professional network won’t just be useful when you’re looking for a job, but also later, for peer-to-peer learning and as you plan your career path.

Look for job openings in schools

When you’re ready to start actively looking for jobs, school board websites should be the first place to start. Your provincial regulator or college of teachers may also post job openings periodically or provide resources to help with your job search. 

Many public and private schools list open positions on their websites or hire applicants through industry-specific job portals such as Education Canada, ApplyToEducation, Jobs in Education, or through popular platforms like Workopolis, Monster, or LinkedIn.

Keep in mind not all available job opportunities are posted publicly. Your network can help you access the hidden job market and learn about (and get referrals to) jobs that aren’t widely advertised.

What does the recruitment process for teachers look like?

Your resume has been shortlisted and now you’re wondering what the interview process will entail. How many steps can you expect? And how long will it take to get a job offer?

While there’s no definitive answer to this, most public schools follow recruitment guidelines issued by the provincial government when hiring teachers. That said, be prepared for multiple interview rounds, including a screening round, a culture fit interview, and one or more panel interviews.

Both public and private schools also use other evaluation methods, including written tasks and presentations. Some public schools may let candidates know about the steps in their recruitment process after the initial screening round. 

Common interview questions for teaching jobs

Interviews are often the most stressful part of the job search process because you can’t always predict what questions will be asked. Most interviews will have at least a few general questions, behavioural questions, and culture fit questions. In addition, there may be job-specific questions to help the employer assess your technical skills. Here are some questions you may encounter while interviewing for teaching jobs:

  • Why do you want to become a teacher? 
  • What attributes should a good teacher possess?
  • How will you discipline students? 
  • Why are you a good fit for this school?
  • How would you motivate a student who isn’t performing well?
  • What approach do you follow while creating lesson plans? 
  • How would you foster inclusivity in your classroom?
  • How can teachers include parents in their child’s education?
  • What are your thoughts on collaborative learning?

Preparing for commonly asked questions in advance will ensure you’re confident and ready to ace your interviews and get your first teaching job. You can also record yourself and practice answering these common interview questions with Prepped AI Interviewer.

Can you become a teacher without a teaching degree?

Most teaching jobs require a BEd degree, but there are some exceptions. When there’s a shortage of teachers, public schools in some provinces hire temporary substitute teachers without teaching degrees. For instance, in Quebec, school boards can issue a letter of tolerance allowing schools to hire teachers without degrees in education for a short period.

Some private schools may also look past your lack of a BEd degree and teaching certificate as long as you have other relevant qualifications, work experience, and a knack for teaching. 

Vocational studies teachers in community colleges, high schools, private schools, and adult education programs often don’t require a post-secondary degree or BEd as long as they have a secondary school diploma and proof of competence in their field.

Another alternative is to teach subjects that don’t require a BEd, such as English as a Second Language (ESL) or French as a Second Language (FSL). However, you may need a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TFSL (Teaching French as a Second Language) certificate to qualify for these jobs.

Be Prepped for your job search 

At Prepped, we aim to help you get the job you’ve always dreamed of. Our tools will help you build an ATS-friendly resume and improve your interview skills, so you can land your next job with confidence. As you embark on your new career, sign up for Prepped and get access to resources designed to support you at every stage of your job search.