When you think of jobs in further education (FE), teaching is the first thing likely to come to mind. However, there is a wide range of non-teaching positions in the sector that can offer a rewarding career.
There are three distinct areas offering support jobs in FE:
1. Teaching and Learning Support
Positions in this area comprise the everyday administrative/academic support aspects of running an FE institution and include:
Exam Invigilator: This role involves overseeing strict examination procedures. Training is normally provided and candidates may require a DBS check.
No qualifications are needed, other than a good standard of general education.
Learning Resource Centre Staff: This role manages the organisation’s library/IT resources and assists students with related queries and study support.
A degree in librarianship or information management that’s accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) is always desirable, though not essential. Other qualifications that can help your application include the City and Guilds Library and Information Assistant Certificate.
It may also be possible to gain a librarianship role without these qualifications through a combination of work-based training and obtaining a CILIP-approved qualification.
Technical Support: Technicians support teachers/lecturers within their subject area. They keep equipment for classes ready and safe for use, and courses running to schedule.
A core requirement is familiarity with the subject – technicians generally work in support of a specific subject, from plumbing to biology, and so previous work experience or academic qualifications in the field will be important.
Prospective candidates may need a qualification in the relevant field, good IT skills and vocational experience depending on the subject. As with many other roles, DBS certificates may be required.
SEN Support: This position involves working with students who need additional support or require an advanced learning programme to reach their full educational potential.
Candidates should have experience of working alongside people with special educational needs and behavioural difficulties. Requirements for these roles vary, although typically most colleges require a Level 4 and above as well as DBS clearance.
2. Student Support Officers
These are roles that provide support to students, including:
Careers Advisor: Careers advisors provide guidance and information to students concerning their education, future career and training options.
Candidates will usually require a Qualification in Careers Guidance (QCG).
Wellbeing/Mental Health Officer: This role involves supporting students with mental health, anxiety and other issues/needs, and co-ordinating related support within the organisation.
Candidates should have a decent educational background to at least A-level, safeguarding or first aid qualifications, and experience in dealing with young people with mental health issues.
Pastoral Mentor: This role provides mentoring to students, to ensure they are on track to achieve learning goals, and works to reduce the number dropping out of courses.
Candidates may need a qualification in learning support and will be required to provide one-to-one support or run small group sessions.
Student Liaison Officer – These roles are often first point of call for student queries and could be focused on particular groups such as international students.
Candidates may be asked for safeguarding and first-aid qualifications, administration and organisational experience and fluency in another language.
FE Colleges can be large and complex organisations and as such require similar operations functions to similar sized businesses and organisations.
FE operations careers offer a chance for you to continue a specialist career in the rewarding and worthwhile environment of further education. Most of these roles will require liaising with teaching staff and students regularly.
HR Manager: This role involves recruiting and training staff.
Candidates should have a degree or equivalent qualification as well as an accredited qualification from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
Marketing Staff: Marketing employees work to raise the organisation’s profile in order to attract external partners and prospective students.
A solid background in marketing is essential, as is social media expertise. Other related skills, such as events planning, can also come in handy; many jobs require jack-of-all-trades application of marketing nous. A good general education, degree or equivalent is desirable and is sometimes essential, e.g. for a managerial role.
Administrator: This role involves managing the administrative tasks associated with running a department including providing frontline student services, managing student information/admissions, and accounting.
Candidates will need a good level of education and strong IT and interpersonal skills.
4. Working in FE Support
Roles within the FE sector can be varied and interesting. There are often opportunities to change role and progress as you gain experience. Therefore, it can be an ideal choice for people who are flexible and wish to work within an academic environment.
The FE sector can also give you: exposure to multiple perspectives as you’re likely to work with a large cross-section of people from a range of backgrounds; a real sense of fulfilment as your work will directly impact students’ futures; and strong interpersonal relationships with colleagues, students and the wider academic community.
There are education-specific CPD opportunities operating at regional and national levels run by organisations such as the National Education Union, so be sure to find out about these, too.
Do you want to find out more about support jobs in Further Education? Download our career guide packed full of industry insight and practical advice to help you in your job search!