Whether math, physics or computer science: German schools lack qualified teaching staff. And although much has been done in recent years to make teaching degree subjects more attractive, the short-term solution is to be found elsewhere. Career changer teacher are an increasingly common phenomenon.
Table of Contents: What to expect in this article
Career changers teachers: for whom is the profession the right choice?
One reason that fewer and fewer students are choosing to study to become teachers is, without question, the very unique challenges of the profession. We often hear and read about teachers facing disrespect in classrooms. Parents and their attitudes toward the school system are also an increasing problem. In addition, teaching is a profession that carries enormous responsibility. After all, the success of the teacher is crucial for the future of his students.
These pressures and challenges naturally apply to lateral entry teachers as well. Therefore, before asking about the qualifications needed, one should address the question of individual suitability for the career field.
The following points could be a basis for the decision:
- Enjoying working with people?
- Is one able to work under high pressure?
- How well one can handle direct confrontation?
- Is one capable of conflict?
- There is a general interest in a pedagogical career field?
Although these questions are of course only a rough guideline, they at least point in the right direction. Those who see themselves as introverts and have difficulty dealing with open confrontation are not ideally placed in a teaching profession.
The differences between the individual types of school must also be taken into account here. Upper secondary school teaching at a Gymnasium is not the same as lower secondary school teaching at a Hauptschule. The required interaction between teachers and students, like parents, is fundamentally different in each case.
The differences between the various types of schools should also be noted here.(#01)
What are the formal requirements for lateral entry teachers?
It is important to know that each federal state handles the situation differently. Where the existing qualification is sufficient in one federal state to work as a lateral entry teacher, it is not recognized for this purpose in another federal state.
In principle, however, the following groups of people have the opportunity to qualify as lateral entry teachers nationwide:
- Persons with a master’s degree, a master’s degree or a diploma
- The degree mentioned comes from a university, a university of the arts or a university of applied sciences
- Persons with an equivalent foreign school-leaving qualification who can demonstrate German language skills to level C1.
Some federal states also recognize subject-related training and subject-specific professional knowledge. It may be that at least one of the courses must be related to education.
Are further qualifications necessary for lateral entry teachers?
Here, too, there is no uniform regulation. In Saxony, for example, it is necessary to complete an in-service qualification phase before being integrated into the school system. Depending on the existing qualification and the desired school profession, this can range from twelve months to two years.
Applicants here must be able to demonstrate a university degree that can be assigned to at least one teaching subject. Whether a subject can be assigned is clarified within a special procedure. Here, the responsible administrators look at the content covered in the course of study and try to find a connection that is relevant to the curriculum.
If it is not possible to apply the specific subject knowledge from the studies to the curriculum, this is where the path ends for the lateral teacher. However, if the applicant is recognized, he or she will be assigned the required qualification. After their successful completion, applicants must then apply to the Ministry of Education in response to relevant job advertisements.
Applicants must be able to prove that they have a university degree in at least one teaching subject.(#02)
For which subjects are the teachers missing?
There is a general lack of qualified teachers in all fields. However, some subject areas have been hit harder than others in recent years. Without question, this includes mathematics, natural sciences and foreign languages. Those who can show a degree in these subjects can immediately enter the teaching profession in most federal states after an integration phase.
In recent years, this has been particularly evident in the state of Berlin. Thousands of lateral entry teachers apply for open positions in the school system each year. At the same time, the applicants have very different work histories. From lawyer to pharmacist to civil engineer, the range is varied.
The shortage of skilled workers in this regard is most evident in lower and upper secondary schools. Although lateral teachers are also sought at the elementary school level, in practice this does not occur as frequently here as in the higher school types.
With which qualifications do you have good chances?
Once again, interested parties must orient themselves here within their own federal state. Because in Bavaria, the shortage of specialists is mainly seen within foreign languages. So a relevant education in English, Spanish or French is clearly an advantage here. Those applying in the far north are well placed with a degree in technical professions such as mechanical engineering. But also a degree in chemistry, physics or biology is welcome.
Another area that is very interesting since the active implementation of inclusion can be found in special education. Persons with a corresponding degree have good chances of gaining a foothold as lateral entrant teachers.
In Bavaria, the shortage of specialists is mainly seen within foreign languages.(#03)
Many federal states are using the opportunity of the shortage of specialists to bring a breath of fresh air into the school system. According to school regulations, only those with pedagogical training are eligible for a position in public schools. However, the new conditions now also open the doors and gates to people who come from a completely different discipline. In Lower Saxony, for example, the ministry is convinced that university-qualified alternative practitioners are a valuable addition to everyday school life in the context of inclusion.
If you are interested in becoming a teacher, you should contact the school ministry of your state. The conditions for recruitment vary so much that generally everyone has a chance of finding a suitable position.
Career changers: exceptions prove the rule
Those who, after their induction or. further education phase want to be officially employed as a teacher, they must be able to prove that they have a university degree. However, some states have found a few loopholes to allow people without a university degree to be integrated into the teaching profession.
If relevant professional training is available, and if this is supported by sufficient professional experience, there are special forms of employment. The persons here are not accepted into the school service in a full-time position, but as substitute teachers. In this case, the employment contracts are usually limited in time. However, the end of a contract is often followed by a new position at a school in the region.
This approach is used for a number of subjects:
- IT teaching
- Music and Art
Individuals here are not accepted into the school service in a full-time position, but as a substitute teacher. (#04)
How does the integration into the school service proceed??
Whether through a qualification or the preparatory service, lateral entrants for the teaching profession should allow for at least a lead time of one year. Depending on the state and the qualifications needed, the whole process can take longer.
Once the qualification is completed, an application is submitted to the relevant school ministry. This then places the teachers in a suitable position. For independent schools, the application process begins with the school. If the school is interested in hiring a lateral entry teacher, a recommendation may be issued to the Ministry of Education.
Private schools operate independently of the Ministry of Education. Here, lateral entry as a teacher is generally easy, since it is not essential to obtain a separate qualification – some institutes provide the relevant education themselves. However, the general pressure on applicants is very high, as the posts are enormously coveted. The pay for private school teachers is mostly above the traditional pay scale.
Video: Teachers Overnight
How much salary is determined by school subject and individual qualifications. There are specific pay regulations for the entire industry.
Do the teaching professions have a future?
The current crisis will deepen in the coming years. The working class among teachers is very old. Many teachers are already over 50 years old. When they retire, the gaps have to be filled. On the other hand, demographic change in Germany is also leading to fewer and fewer children being born, and the number of students is falling accordingly. This in turn regulates the demand for teachers.
Why is there a shortage of teachers??
Education is a central issue in Germany. So it seems surprising that there is little interest in the teaching profession. Statistics show that teacher training programs have a particularly high dropout rate. Because many are unaware of the burden they face when they begin college. It is not uncommon for burnout to occur while still a student, and early termination of studies is necessary.
Anyone who wants to venture into the teaching profession should be aware of what they are getting into. Not everyone is born to work with children and young people. In addition, the heavy workload must be considered.
But if you’re sure you’ll cut a good figure in the teaching profession and want to enjoy the day-to-day work with all the prerequisites, you can qualify as a lateral entry teacher and start a new career. The current shortage of skilled workers ensures that there are enough jobs available. A fair compensation model and the much-loved summer vacations are then the icing on the cake.
Image credits:© Shutterstock – cover image:Monkey Business Images – #01:Vytautas Kielaitis – #02:bioraven – #03:racorn – #04:Africa Studio
About the author
Marius Beilhammer, born in 1969, studied journalism in Bamberg. He has been writing for technical magazines for many years, and also as a freelance author on a wide variety of market and business topics. As a Franconian cheerful nature, he always finds the balance between lightness and comprehensive know-how in his work due to his pronounced affinity for technology.