How to become a primary school teacher

Make a real difference in children’s lives by promoting their development

What qualifications do you need to become a primary school teacher in Australia?

You will need a Bachelor of Education (Primary Education) or a Master of Teaching (Primary Education) to register as a teacher in your state or territory. The good news is that there is more than one way to get into these qualifications. You don’t have to put your plans on hold if you didn't finish high school or get the right ATAR.

Take a look at the options below to see which pathway suits you best.

Pathways to becoming a primary school teacher

If you...

You should...

Didn’t get the right ATAR for a teaching degree and need a pathway in Enrol in an Undergraduate Certificate in Teaching Education Studies
Want to try out primary education study before committing to a qualification Enrol in a primary education subject or short course
Got an ATAR of 70 or above or have done VET studies Enrol in a Bachelor of Education (Primary Education)
Have already completed a bachelor degree in any discipline Enrol in a Master of Teaching (Primary Education)

Discover primary school teacher courses

Online primary education certificate

Choose this study option if you didn't get the right ATAR for teaching, or you've been out of study for a long time. You can use this certificate as a pathway into a Bachelor of Education (Primary Education).

Online primary education subjects and short courses

Start small and learn about an aspect of primary school teaching, without committing to a qualification. What you study can be credited towards a bachelor degree when you're ready.

Online primary education bachelor degrees

Become a primary school teacher in Australia with an approved Initial Teacher Education course.

Undergraduate CUR-BED-DEG

Bachelor of Education (Primary Education)

Undergraduate SWI-PRI-DEG

Bachelor of Education (Primary)

Undergraduate SCU-PRI-DEG

Bachelor of Education (Primary)

Online primary education masters degrees

Choose this option if you're already qualified in another discipline, but you want to make a career change into teaching.

Postgraduate TAS-EDC-MAS

Master of Teaching (Primary)

Postgraduate CUR-PRI-MAS

Master of Teaching (Primary Education)

Postgraduate GRF-PRT-MAS

Master of Primary Teaching

What does a primary school teacher do?

Primary school teachers are trained to teach students from Prep to Year 6 (typically children aged 5 to 12). After you’ve completed your primary teaching qualification, registered with your state or territory’s education board, and earned a valid Working With Children Check, you’ll be all set to teach a prescribed curriculum. This typically includes English, science, mathematics, history and geography.

Duties and tasks

  • Create lesson plans that teach literacy, numeracy, social science, physical education and creative expression skills to primary school students.
  • Guide discussions and supervise work in class.
  • Prepare, administer and mark projects, tests and assignments to evaluate students' progress and record the results.
  • Discuss individual problems and progress with parents and students and seek advice from senior teachers and student counsellors.
  • Maintain discipline in classrooms and other school areas.
  • Participate in staff meetings and educational workshops and conferences. 
  • Liaise with parents and business and community groups.
  • Maintain class and scholastic records.
  • Perform extracurricular tasks such as assisting with sport, excursions, school concerts and special interest programs.
  • Supervise student teachers on placement.

What skills do you need to be a primary school teacher?

  • Communication and relationship-building skills
  • Patience and flexibility
  • Time management and organisation
  • Leadership and conflict resolution skills
  • Creative problem solving skills

Meet Ally

Ally Kettle always wanted to become a teacher, so she could pass on her love of science to the next generation.

Watch how she made her dream happen by studying through Open Universities Australia.

Read Ally's story

What is the average primary school teacher salary in Australia?

A primary school teacher’s salary will vary depending on their location, experience and whether their school is private or public. 

Look at the table below to find out the starting salary for graduate teachers in your state or territory.

State or territory Starting salary for graduate teachers 
South Australia $74,769 per year
Tasmania $74,824 per year
Victoria $75,726 per year
Australian Capital Territory $76,575 per year
Northern Territory $77,047 per year

$78,000 per year

Western Australia $78,397 per year
New South Wales $85,000 per year

Source: State Department of Education figures, as of November 2023

Why choose to become a primary school teacher?

Primary school teaching is highly rewarding and life-changing. While financial recognition is an important factor, there are some perks that can’t be measured with dollars alone—these include flexibility, guaranteed holidays and work-life balance. Some other reasons to choose a primary school teaching career include:

  • Making a positive impact on future generations 
  • Being a role model and inspiring and supporting young people
  • Becoming a valued member of the local community

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