Can I Teach With A Higher Certificate In Education?

Teaching is a noble profession, but you might wonder if you need to have an Education Degree in order to get a job. One of the most common questions I am asked is, “Can I teach with a Higher Certificate in Education?”

Can I Teach With A Higher Certificate In Education

Yes, it is possible to teach with a Higher Certificate in Education (HCE), but your employment opportunities are limited.

HCEs are not recognised by the Department of Basic Education as a qualification for teaching in South Africa. This means that if you want to work as a teacher, you will need to obtain either an NQF Level 6 or 7 qualification.

In other words, you can’t just apply for any job opening: you must be applying for the correct position at the correct level of education and training.

1. Teaching at primary school level

Teaching at primary school level is the most common way to start a career in education. However, you will have limited employment opportunities if you choose this pathway. You may need to work in a remote area or alongside other teachers on a casual basis, so be prepared to be flexible in your employment opportunities.

If you do prefer working with children at primary school level, then there are many different jobs available for people with higher certificates, such as:

  • Teacher aide
  • Classroom assistant
  • Guidance counselor
  • Literacy and numeracy specialist

Teachers who have only completed year 12 can also teach maths and science subjects at secondary schools across Australia (except for Western Australia). In addition, they are able to teach English language arts and social studies subjects provided they complete an Australian qualification course (such as an Online Diploma of Secondary Education).

2. Teaching at secondary school level

Teachers who teach at the secondary school level must have a HCE as well as a teaching qualification.

  • A bachelor’s degree in any subject
  • A bachelor’s degree in any subject with 9 credits (six months) of study in education which includes:

o An introduction to teaching and learning theory (3 credits).

o An introduction to curriculum development (2-3 credits).

3. Teaching at tertiary institutions

If you want to teach at a higher education institution or university, it is not possible with a HCE. You will need to have a bachelor’s degree (Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science), or master’s degree or PhD. When applying for jobs as an academic staff member at tertiary institutions, be sure to let them know that you have a HCE and not just experience teaching outside of school.


If you want to pursue a career as a teacher, it is important to be aware of the different teaching qualifications available and what they mean for your employment prospects. If you are interested in teaching at primary and secondary schools, then the Higher Certificate in Education is an excellent choice.

This qualification allows you to teach in South Africa at both levels with no additional requirements (e.g., Bachelor’s degree). However, if you want to teach at tertiary institutions or specialise in any specific area (such as sport science or music), then obtaining a Bachelor’s degree may be necessary before progressing onto postgraduate studies.

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