How Many Years To Study Teaching In South Africa (2024)

In South Africa, pursuing a career in teaching is a noble and rewarding choice. If you have a passion for education and want to make a difference in the lives of students, becoming a teacher is a path worth considering. One of the essential aspects to understand before embarking on this journey is the duration of study required to become a qualified teacher.

A full-time bachelor’s degree in education usually takes 4 years to complete in South Africa. However, in this article, we will explore the different levels of teaching qualifications in South Africa and the approximate time it takes to achieve them.

Understanding Teaching Qualifications in South Africa

Foundation Phase Teaching Qualification

The foundation phase in South Africa refers to the early years of education, typically covering grades R to 3. To become a qualified foundation phase teacher, you will need to complete a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) degree with a specialization in foundation phase teaching. This program usually takes about four years to complete.

Intermediate Phase Teaching Qualification

The intermediate phase focuses on grades 4 to 6 and requires teachers with specialized knowledge and skills. To become an intermediate-phase teacher, you will need to complete a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) degree with a specialization in intermediate-phase teaching. This program also takes approximately four years to complete.

Senior Phase and Further Education and Training (FET) Teaching Qualification

The senior phase encompasses grades 7 to 9, while Further Education and Training (FET) covers grades 10 to 12 in South Africa. To teach in these phases, you will need to pursue a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) degree with a specialization in the senior phase and FET teaching. This program typically takes about four years to complete.

Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)

If you already hold a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than education and wish to become a teacher, you can pursue a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). The PGCE is a one-year program that focuses on equipping graduates with the necessary teaching skills and knowledge. It is a popular choice for individuals seeking a career change or those who want to enhance their existing qualifications.

Specializations in Postgraduate Teaching Programs

Postgraduate teaching programs offer various specializations depending on the level and subject you wish to teach. These programs usually take one or two years to complete, depending on the specialization and the academic institution. Some common specializations include:

– Special Needs Education
– Mathematics Education
– Science Education
– English Education
– History Education
– Physical Education

Additional Factors Influencing the Duration of Study

While the general duration of study for teaching qualifications in South Africa is approximately four years, it’s important to note that certain factors can influence the overall time it takes to become a qualified teacher. These factors include:

Part-Time or Full-Time Study

The duration of study can vary depending on whether you choose to study on a full-time or part-time basis. Full-time students typically complete their teaching qualifications within the expected time frame, while part-time students may take longer to finish their studies due to the flexibility of their schedules.

Credit Transfers and Prior Learning

If you have completed prior studies or possess relevant qualifications, you may be eligible for credit transfers or recognition of prior learning (RPL). This process allows you to receive exemptions for certain courses or modules, reducing the overall time required to complete your teaching qualification.

Practical Teaching Experience

In addition to academic coursework, teaching qualifications in South Africa often include practical teaching experience. This may involve completing a certain number of hours or a teaching internship. The duration of this practical component can vary, depending on the program requirements and the opportunities available to gain hands-on experience in a classroom setting.

Professional Development and Continuing Education

Once you have obtained your initial teaching qualification, the learning journey doesn’t end there. As an educator, it is important to engage in continuous professional development to stay updated with the latest teaching methodologies, educational trends, and curriculum changes. Professional development opportunities, such as workshops, seminars, and further qualifications, can contribute to your growth as a teacher and enhance your career prospects.

Financial Considerations and Scholarships

When planning your journey to become a qualified teacher in South Africa, it’s crucial to consider the financial aspects of your education. Tuition fees, study materials, and living expenses can add up, especially if you are pursuing a full-time program.

Scholarships and Bursaries

To alleviate the financial burden, explore scholarship and bursary opportunities available to aspiring teachers. Many educational institutions, government departments, and private organizations offer financial assistance to students pursuing teaching qualifications. These scholarships and bursaries can help cover tuition fees, and accommodation costs, or provide a stipend to support your studies.

Financial Aid and Loans

In addition to scholarships and bursaries, you may be eligible for financial aid or student loans. Government-funded financial aid programs and student loan schemes can provide financial support to students who demonstrate financial need. It is essential to research and understand the terms and conditions of these programs to make informed decisions about financing your education.

Continued Professional Growth and Specializations

Once you have obtained your teaching qualification, you have the opportunity to further develop your skills and expertise through continued professional growth and specializations.

Continuing Education and Master’s Degrees

Consider pursuing a master’s degree in education or a specialized field within education to deepen your knowledge and expand your career prospects. These programs typically take one to two years to complete, and they equip you with advanced teaching techniques, research skills, and leadership abilities.

Advanced Certifications and Endorsements

You can also enhance your teaching qualifications by obtaining advanced certifications and endorsements. These additional qualifications validate your expertise in specific areas such as special needs education, early childhood development, literacy instruction, or technology integration. These certifications can be acquired through professional development courses or specialized training programs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some common questions related to studying teaching in South Africa:

1. Can I study teaching part-time while working?

Yes, many educational institutions offer part-time study options for teaching qualifications. This allows you to balance your studies with work or other commitments. Keep in mind that part-time study may extend the overall duration of your program.

2. Are there age restrictions for studying teaching in South Africa?

There are generally no specific age restrictions for studying teaching in South Africa. As long as you meet the admission requirements of the educational institution and fulfill the necessary academic criteria, you can pursue a teaching qualification at any age.

3. Can I study teaching if I have a non-education background?

Yes, if you have a non-education background, you can still pursue teaching through a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) program. This program is designed for individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than education and wish to become teachers.

4. Can I specialize in a particular subject area while studying teaching?

Yes, you can specialize in a particular subject area during your teaching studies. Many teaching programs offer subject specializations such as mathematics, science, English, history, or physical education. These specializations allow you to develop in-depth knowledge and skills in your chosen subject.

5. Are there opportunities for practical teaching experience during the study?

Yes, most teaching programs in South Africa include practical teaching experience as part of the curriculum. This practical component allows you to apply your knowledge in real classroom settings and gain valuable hands-on experience under the guidance of experienced educators.

6. Can I teach in South Africa with a teaching qualification from another country?

If you have obtained a teaching qualification from another country, you may need to have it evaluated and recognized by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). SAQA assesses the equivalence of foreign qualifications to those in South Africa. It is advisable to contact SAQA or the Department of Basic Education for guidance on the recognition process.



Becoming a qualified teacher in South Africa involves a significant investment of time and effort. The duration of study varies depending on the level of teaching qualification you pursue, with most undergraduate programs taking approximately four years to complete.

Beyond the duration of studying teaching in South Africa, various factors should be considered. Financial considerations play a crucial role, and it’s essential to explore scholarships, bursaries, financial aid, and loan options to support your educational journey.

Moreover, once you have obtained your teaching qualification, the journey towards professional growth doesn’t stop. Continuing education through master’s degrees, advanced certifications, and endorsements can enhance your skills, knowledge, and career prospects as an educator.

Remember to conduct thorough research, seek guidance from educational institutions and professional bodies, and stay updated with the latest developments in the field of education. By investing in your education and professional development, you can excel as a teacher and positively impact the lives of students in South Africa.

Embrace the challenges and opportunities that come with studying teaching, and may your passion for education guide you towards a successful and fulfilling career!

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