Career Options - Education

  • Career Options - Education

On this page:

Destinations of Queen’s Education Graduates

Some typical career areas:

  • Business Consulting and Management
  • Charity and Voluntary Work
  • Civil Service and Public Sector 
  • Counselling
  • Criminal Justice
  • Information, Research and Analysis
  • Hospitality and Events Management
  • Media
  • Professional Psychology
  • Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner/Low Intensity Therapist
  • Teaching
  • Tourism

Destinations of Queen's Education Graduates

A survey of graduates six months after graduation reveals that QUB graduates from Education have recently gone into the following roles: 

PGCE: English Secondary Teacher; Supply Teacher; Maths Teacher; Languages Teacher; Physics Teacher, Biology Teacher; Science Teacher; Teacher of Maths and Computing; French Teacher; Irish Language Teacher;  Special Needs Substitute Teacher; History and Geography Teacher; Politics, History and Sociology Teacher and Political Adviser.

MSc Applied Behaviour Analysis: ABA Therapist, Clinical Associate, Behaviour Analysis and Post-doctoral Research Fellow.

MSc Autism Spectrum Disorders: Early Intervention Case Worker, Autism Outreach Worker and Supply Teaching.

MSc TESOL: Education Officer, English Teacher and TESOL Lecturer.

As with all programmes at all universities, some graduates have not gone into graduate level work. Recent roles have included: Support Worker, Care Assistant, Shop Cashier, Receptionist and Healthcare Assistant.

There can be many reasons to explain this including saving for further study, getting relevant work experience, wanting to take some time-out, but often it is due to a lack of career planning prior to graduating. Reviewing these careers resources and taking advantage of opportunities to Go Further will help to ensure that you fulfil your career potential.

If you wish to book an appointment to discuss your options and plan your career you can do this through MyFuture.

Business, Consulting and Management

  • Recruitment consultants - attract job candidates and match them to temporary or permanent positions with client companies, strong people and interpersonal skills required.
  • Public affairs consultants – also called lobbyists, use understanding of political system to offer political and public policy advice to their clients.
  • Project Manager – responsible for delivering projects on time and in budget, by planning and organising resources and people.
  • Office Manager - organise all of the administrative activities that facilitate the smooth running of an office, needed in most sectors.
  • Management Consultant - help organisations to solve issues, create value, maximise growth and improve business performance. Analytical skills and problem solving abilities important.
  • Health Service Manager - monitors strategic, financial and day-to-day running of hospital, general practitioner (GP) or community health services.  The NHS has a graduate management training scheme open to any discipline.
  • Civil Service Fast Streamer - Working with and for central government, graduates are exposed to a range of contrasting placements or postings in government departments and agencies.  Civil Service Fast Stream information and applications available for all disciplines.

Charity and Voluntary Work

This sector encompasses a variety of roles as detailed in Prospects: Charity and Voluntary Work

Experience is key in this sector so undertake some voluntary work while at university; for local opportunities Volunteernow is a really good resource. Organisations that offer graduate schemes in this sector include Cancer Research UK, Charity Works, Wellcome, Sanctuary Group and IntoUniversity.  

  • Advice Worker – helping people with issues including debt, employment, housing, welfare and education.
  • Community Development Worker - often acts as a link between communities and a range of other local authority and voluntary sector providers, such as the police, social workers and teachers.
  • International Aid/Development Worker – working on short and long tern projects in a wide variety of areas, focusing on meeting the needs of people and communities in the developing world. 
  • Youth worker – working with young people aged between 11 and 25 in a variety of settings including colleges, faith-based groups, schools and youth centres.

Civil Service and Public Sector Roles

  • Civil Service Administrator - contribute to the delivery of services through duties such as research, compiling reports, frontline work with the public, working on policy documents.
  • Civil Service Fast Streamer - Working with and for central government, graduates are exposed to a range of contrasting placements or postings in government departments and agencies.  Civil Service Fast Stream information and applications available for all disciplines. 
  • Diplomatic Services Operational Officer - works within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to protect and promote UK interests throughout the world in a variety of ways.
  • Education Administrator - organise and manage the administration, support systems and activities that keep an educational institution running smoothly.
  • Government Social Research Officer - provide research input for the analysis required to develop, implement, review and evaluate new and existing government policies 
  • Intelligence Analyst -involved in the acquisition, evaluation, analysis and assessment of secret intelligence. Intelligence analysts work primarily for the UK's three intelligence and security agencies and are also employed by the armed forces and the police. Employed in a variety of operational roles by the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), Security Service (MI5).
  • Local Government Officer - responsible for the development and execution of council policies and procedures, as well as ensuring that local services are delivered effectively.
  • Politicians' assistant - provide administrative support to elected politicians. They help with secretarial tasks, research and publicity.

Counselling

Employers of counsellors tend to look for a qualification that is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and you can find a list of their accredited programmes on their website.  In most cases you would be expected to fund this qualification yourself and you are also likely to be expected to undergo counselling yourself while undertaking the training. As a result this can be a costly profession to enter and many people choose to do it part-time while working, or choose it as a 2nd career after having first saved-up some money. It is recommended that you would initially undertake some kind of introductory course in counselling – perhaps through a local college. This would give you an understanding of the field without the commitment of as much time and money as a full accredited programme. It would also demonstrate your interest in the area which would add to your application for a full accredited programme. It is worth looking at this job profile (Counsellor) to find out more about what the work involves, entry requirements, typical employers and some related job options.  It is also recommended that you undertake voluntary or paid support work with vulnerable people

Criminal Justice

There are a variety of roles in organisations such as NIACRO, Victim Support Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Prison Service and the Youth Justice Agency. Voluntary experience of working with vulnerable people and strong administration skills (often gained through vacation work) can help to get graduates a first step on the ladder in these organisations. A qualification in Career Options - Psychology will be required for some roles.

Information, Research and Analysis

If you are interested in contributing to the body of knowledge about your subject, a career in research is worth considering. Research Councils UK have a collection of case studies of researchers which give an insight into life as a researcher and the different career paths some researchers take.  A postgraduate qualification (most often a PhD) is likely to be required.  Jobs and some PhD studentships can be found on Jobs.ac.uk. More PhD opportunities can be found on findaphd.com.

  • Social researcher - plan, design, conduct, manage and report on social research projects.
  • Academic Librarian - manage, organise, evaluate and disseminate information, providing support to members of an academic community including students, researchers and lecturing staff.
  • Archivist - acquire, manage and maintain documents and other materials that have historical importance for individuals, organisations and nations.
  • Government Social Research Officer - provide research input for the analysis required to develop, implement, review and evaluate new and existing government policies.

Information Officer - good IT and research skills and enjoy helping people.

 Hospitality and Events Management

  • Conference Centre Manager - day-to-day management of a conference centre, including budgets, staff and centre services. 
  • Event Organiser – planning a range events, from the planning stage, right through to running the actual day itself and the post-event evaluation.

Media

A good way to get relevant and practical experience in this area is through the MEDIA (Media Employability Development In Action) Programme, available to AHSS students in first and second year.  The Gown and The Tab are also opportunities to write and be published.

Broadcast Journalist - research, investigate and present news and current affairs content for television, radio and the internet.

Broadcast Presenter - the public face, or voice, of programmes broadcast on television, radio and the internet.

Commissioning Editor - identify books or media products to publish in order to build up a publisher's list, commission work by finding authors or responding to book proposals, rather like that of a buyer.

Editorial Assistant - requires excellent grammar and communication skills and a keen interest in publishing.

Lexicographer - write, compile and edit dictionaries for both print and online publication. These include English for native speakers, English for learners of English, technical, e.g. law and bilingual, for native speakers or learners of English.

Magazine Features Editor - responsible for the content and quality of their publication and ensures that stories are engaging and informative.

Media Planner - identify which media platforms would best advertise a client's brand or product. They work within advertising agencies or media planning and buying agencies.

Newspaper Journalist - research and write stories for national, regional and local press. On smaller newspapers journalists have to multitask; they may work on layout, photography and sub-editing as well as write stories.

Programme Researcher - provides support to the producer and production team, including contribute ideas for programmes, source contacts and contributors, collect, verify and prepare information for film, television and radio productions.

Writer - you will need to be creative, organised and disciplined and possess excellent research skills along with a passion for the written word.

Professional Psychology

Around 15-20% of Psychology graduates go on to become professional psychologists in fields such as Clinical, Counselling, Educational, Forensic, Health, Neuropsychology, Occupational and Sport & Exercise. The following links provide information on these routes:

The Higher Education Academy Psychology Network have a page of very useful links including a comprehensive student employability guide that covers typical career options and CV help.

The BPS Careers site includes profiles and advice on typical routes into becoming a professional Psychologist. You can also find more information through these job profiles (Clinical PsychologistCounselling PsychologistEducation PsychologistForensic PsychologistOccupational PsychologistSport and Exercise Psychologist). Relevant experience is very important for students wishing to progress into these areas. The job profiles above include examples of experience that is considered to be relevant for each area. See our Part-time work and Volunteering pages for opportunities.

Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner/Low Intensity Therapist

Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners provide high volume, low intensity interventions with clients. The opportunities mainly exist in England. You can find more information on the NHS Careers website. The NHS and some charitable organisations provide some trainee posts for graduates but these are scarce. Employers typically look for a BACP accredited Counselling qualification in addition to your degree.  It is recommended that interested students undertake voluntary work with vulnerable people in a support/befriending role – employers will look for evidence of how you have utilised the learning from your degree within these roles.

Teaching

In Schools: A recognised teaching qualification is essential to find work in this area. The Universities and Colleges offering the training also have information on their websites which include how to apply and the closing dates e.g. Queen’s Initial Teacher Education (PGCE) information.

Secondary School Teacher

Teaching English as a foreign language teacher

Get Into Teaching offers support for graduates wanting to teach science subjects in GB and offers a fully funded subject knowledge enhancement course (SKE) before starting your training if you want to specialise.

PGCE courses are competitive to get into so interested students are recommended to: 

  • Gain experience of working with young people of the age group you hope to teach – usually gained through voluntary work.
  • Get an insight into what work as a teacher is like by trying to arrange to speak to a teacher to ask them about their job, and/or try to get some classroom observation experience as this is often a requirement. You may also be able to arrange visits through personal contacts or with schools where they were once a pupil. It may be possible to arrange with a local school via a speculative application.
  • Keep up-to-date with what’s happening in Education via the Times Education Supplement and the Guardian’s Education section.
  • Apply early.
  • These interview tips are useful when preparing for the course interview.

The Teach First Leadership Development Programme recruits high achieving graduates to work as teachers in some of the most disadvantaged schools in England and Wales.  Its 2 year programme combines this work with business skills training, internship and mentoring opportunities. At the end of the programme around 50% stay in the teaching profession in a leadership position, the other 50% are readily employed in a variety of business areas.

The JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Programme is an official and prestigious Japanese government scheme that sends graduates to Japan in order to promote international understanding at grass-roots level and to improve foreign language teaching in schools. Although participants teach English to school pupils, applicants for the programme can come from any degree discipline providing they hold a full UK passport.  It is a tough application process that begins in the October preceding the departure the following summer.

In Colleges: Further Education Colleges will sometimes hire people to teach without them having teaching qualifications. These teachers will often be expected to work towards a teaching qualification and will be expected to have other relevant (vocational) qualifications and experience to offer. Colleges list job vacancies on their own websites.

In Higher Education: University lecturers will normally be expected to have or be working towards a PhD. Jobs and some PhD studentships can be found on Jobs.ac.uk. More PhD opportunities can be found on findaphd.com.

General Graduate Options

Approximately 50% of graduate vacancies are open graduates of any subject. Some may require some additional, specialist, post-graduate training but some do not. The list is extensive but includes fields as diverse as accountancy, IT, housing management and recruitment consultancy.  

How do I make a decision?

There isn’t one right way to make a career decision, but there are a few things worth doing and worth considering in order to make an informed choice:

  1. Don’t think you have to choose just one option – instead a shortlist of preferred options can be a useful strategy. Transferable skills can be gained from any type of work experience, so even if your work experience relates to one area, that won’t restrict you from moving into a different area.
  2. Think about what is important to you and look for evidence of those things when exploring your options e.g. if it is a priority for you to stay in Northern Ireland, look at the Relevant Job Websites for career areas that interest you to see how many job adverts you can find for that type of work here.
  3. The above are just a few of the options related to your degree area. It isn’t a comprehensive list.  Spend some time exploring the Relevant Job Websites to find other job titles and areas.
  4. Look at LinkedIn’s alumni tool (Topic 5 on the LinkedIn for students website) to see the career paths of alumni on LinkedIn.
  5. Speak to company representatives at on campus events (including fairs and employer presentations). Keep an eye on MyFuture for these opportunities.
  6. Need more information – approach any contacts you have, or speculatively approach companies, to set-up an information interview.
  7. If you’ve managed to successfully make use of an information interview, you could ask for a brief period of work-shadowing, i.e. observing someone while they work.  As little as a few hours of work-shadowing can give you a real insight into a job and company, and it is often easier for a company to agree to this than it would be to agree to a period of work experience.
  8. Still can’t decide? Sometimes you can only truly get a feel for whether a certain job is for you by trying it out.  Short-term work experience for students is a great method for trying-out different jobs and companies - see  What can I do to Go Further? to find relevant opportunities.  If you are a graduate, remember, even a permanent job isn’t necessarily a job for life!

If you’d like to discuss any of this with a Careers Consultant please book an appointment through MyFuture.