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Science Teaching - career switch at 45 (old).

(17 Posts)
CountryLovingGirl Tue 10-Oct-17 18:23:34


So, once again I am thinking of doing a PGCE to become a science teacher (biology is my main specialism). I am, currently, working in the NHS pathology service as a Specialist Biomedical Scientist (20 years of experience). I'm bored with it and hate the hours.

I'm now 45. I have applied, successfully, for a PGCE before but always chickened out - money related really (I'm the bigger earner), but now our mortgage is close to being paid off I'm wondering again.

I wanted to be a science teacher when I was younger and I think the feeling has never left me. I don't know if I am just going through a middle aged crisis once again. I've been in a few secondary schools and have arranged another few days in a local school in November.

I currently work shifts all over the place (nightshifts are awful) and many, many weekends. I know teachers also work weekends but, at least you are at home. I am hardly ever allowed off in the school hols. Ever. I've worked every Christmas since 1996 (apart from maternity leave x 2). Very tiring and soul destroying. I know teaching is no picnic either but can any science teachers shed light on their typical working pattern?

I'm worried about my age although I am a lot younger looking, so people say! Anyone else made the switch at an older age? I have a lot to offer. MSc/BSc/PgDip - all in science. Also, been a STEM ambassador for many years.

castasp Tue 10-Oct-17 19:35:27

I'm a science teacher.
I'm generally against the idea of people switching career - they all think it's going to be easier than it is, but based on what you've said, then I would say go for it. My only concern was your idea of changing career just because you're bored - almost all jobs are boring by their very nature, in that they restrict our freedom. On the other hand, teaching is one job that is very definitely NOT boring! And I have a very low boredom threshold - I'd have walked out of a lab based job within the first 6 months, I found lab work tedious in the extreme.

Your age isn't a problem, although everyone will ignore your higher qualifications apart from the BSc, which is necessary for teaching. I've got a Ph.D. and if anything I think it sometimes puts employers off. Your industrial experience will also put some employers off.

When I used to work full-time, a typical working day would be:
in at 7.30, work through break, 15 mins for lunch, work through the rest of it. Leave at 5.30pm, do 1-2 hrs of work at home every night and about 8 hours on a weekend.

However, by my 3rd year I'd managed to cut out all the working at home and just worked 7.30-5pm, because I could re-use all the lesson plans I had, but then in my 5th year I changed school (BIG mistake) and my hours shot up to what they were before. I left that (horrible) school and I'm now working part-time, in a really lovely school that doesn't expect the Earth. With all my experience now, I'm learning to just use what's on the system - most schools these days have banks of lesson plans and SoW on their computer systems - my best advice is to just go with what's on there as far as possible!

Good Luck

disappearingninepatch Tue 10-Oct-17 20:52:16

I have a friend who trained to be a teacher and was 50 when she began her NQT year. She loves her job and is very happy in her school.

CatAndFiddle Tue 10-Oct-17 21:31:21

I'm in my thirties doing my NQT year as a science teacher. I had 10 years in a high stress commercial role previously. It was the boredom that got me in the end though. Teaching is very varied and I am enjoying it very much. I too applied a few times before I finally took the plunge. I have halved my salary but am much happier. The hours can be long, but as others have said, you use resources available to you, don't try to reinvent the wheel etc. I am in at 7.30 and out at 4.30. I do an hour from home each weekday evening and maybe 2 on a Sunday. So 52ish hours a week. Sometimes a bit more. But it does feel different than my previous job as I am not in a boardroom miles from home listening to boring financial reports. I am at my desk in my pyjamas, eating bananas, seeing if the kids understood what I taught them. It isn't perfect. It isn't easy, but I prefer it.

Fffion Tue 10-Oct-17 21:37:16

A mature converter to teaching should not have too many problems. You will already be good at time management, managing stress and juggling priorities.

As a science teacher, you will always be able to find work, especially if you tone down being a biology specialist and position yourself as an all-rounder. Your real-life experience should be highly valued in any school.

If this is something you have always wanted to do, and now have the opportunity, then go for it. You generally only regret the things you don't do.

CountryLovingGirl Tue 10-Oct-17 22:20:21

Thanks for the advice.

I will take it on-board and see what I make of my next school visit. And, of course, Oct 26th is looming when applications are accepted.

SuperMoonIsKeepingMeUpToo Tue 10-Oct-17 23:01:38

I went from biomedical scientist to teacher and, contrary to castasp's opinion, my experience in industry was valued to the extent to a 'leg-up the pay ladder. I much preferred teaching to lab work but have since left classroom teaching in favour of home tuition for children out of school which I love - teaching changed an awful lot in my time.

I should point out that I made my career change in my late twenties, 20 years ago. Regardless of age, I'm not sure I'd advise anyone to go into teaching now. It's such hard work and lab work pales into insignificance in boredom stakes when comparing it to making 30 books!

Rosieposy4 Wed 11-Oct-17 21:45:51

Providing you like teenagers i would say go for it.
I changed from academia and research 10 yers ago. I was alos bored, fed up with meetings and back stabbing.
Hours you would find great, as you can take a lot of th work home with you.
Expect one late night a week for meetins, parents eve etc but other nights if it suits you most schools allow you to lleave 10-15 mins after the kids.
This is fab if you have childcare as you can go home, sort out the kids etc and mark later on, ok so it means some late shifts but i like it.
I have not found my PhD a handicap, not my previous exp, in fact i got bumped up the payscale a year. Probably does depend on schools, I don't think my first school cared, my current one def seems to like higher degrees ( 8 PhDs in science alone).

NearlyEaster Thu 12-Oct-17 07:34:16

At my school you'd probably jump a pay grade for your quality and experience.

I get to school late, leave early, and do all my extra work at home.

What did you get for your BSc - does the money you get for training still vary based on that?

PersianCatLady Thu 12-Oct-17 10:58:41

I am so pleased that no-one has said that becoming a teacher at 45 is a complete no.

I am 38 and today I am going to an open evening about becoming a teacher in my local area.

I completed my OU BSc (Hons) Computing & IT on 11 September and I am currently waiting for my result.

I already have GCSE Maths (A) and English (C).

I have recently had an enhanced DBS check for a voluntary role and that came back completely clear.

I have been using the numeracy and literacy tests online to practice for the Professional Skills Tests.

Does anybody have any other advice on anything that I could do to help prepare myself before the UCAS applications open later in the month??

CarrieBlue Thu 12-Oct-17 17:22:48

Get some up to date school experience - contact local schools and ask if you could come in to observe lessons. You’ll find it hard to get a training place with no recent school experience

PersianCatLady Tue 02-Jan-18 16:04:08

Hi All,

I thought I would just let you know that I started a new PGCE 2018 thread here for everyone's progress updates -

Idontmeanto Wed 03-Jan-18 19:02:24

I’m early forties and currently in my nqt year. I ‘be also gone from nhs to teaching biology. love it, but the hours are long. I generally function on five hours sleep and the house is a pigsty.

Goldrill Sat 06-Jan-18 18:53:39

Ooh hello Idontmeanto! I am also early forties biology nqt switched from public sector. And also on five hours of sleep and living in a midden!

Idontmeanto Sat 06-Jan-18 18:56:19

Hi Goldrill! It’s great, isn’t it!

dontwanttobeungrateful Sat 06-Jan-18 19:05:06

Age has nothing to do with it...don't do it!!!

Dancemetotheend Sat 06-Jan-18 21:41:52

Most of the PGCE students I have mentored over the past few years have been in their forties and fifties. Age is not a barrier as long as you are in good health and have plenty of energy.
However, it’s tough job and you have to REALLY want to do it. Not just as an alternative to what you’re doing now because you’re bored.
Definitely get plenty of experience in schools, different types preferably. You’d stand a better chance if you’ve got some TA experience too.
Good luck!

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