Can You Become a Teacher with a Law Degree in South Africa?

Yes, you can become a teacher with a law degree in South Africa, but you will need additional qualifications. Specifically, you must complete a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) to qualify for teaching in a school environment. The PGCE program provides the necessary educational theory and teaching practice components required to teach at a school level.

Let me tell you about something interesting I’ve noticed in the South African job market when it comes to law graduates. After finishing their studies, many of these grads find it tough to land a spot at a law firm to complete their required articles—a necessary step to become a practicing lawyer. Without these articles, they can’t officially qualify, and remember, they’ve got bills to pay! Once their studies end, so does the funding from NSFAS, leaving them to fend for themselves financially.

In this pinch for cash, many law grads turn to alternative jobs to support themselves and their families. Teaching often comes to mind as one of the more accessible options. On another note, after enduring the rigors of a law degree, some realize that a career in law isn’t really for them. This realization leads them to consider other paths, like teaching, which might seem easier to break into.

As the saying goes, “When one door closes, another opens.” This couldn’t be more true for these graduates, as they pivot from the path of law to embrace the world of teaching.

That being said, the South African education system has a high demand for passionate, dedicated, and skilled teachers. Many professionals, including those with a law degree, are considering a career change to teaching. This article will explore whether it is possible to become a teacher with a law degree in South Africa and the steps one needs to take to achieve this goal.

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Transitioning from Law to Teaching

  1. Teaching Qualification

In South Africa, the minimum requirement for becoming a teacher is a recognized teaching qualification. While your law degree does not directly qualify you for a teaching position, it can be a valuable asset in your pursuit of a teaching career. To become a qualified teacher, you will need to obtain a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). This program can be completed in one year full-time or two years part-time and is offered by many universities in South Africa. The PGCE will equip you with the necessary pedagogical knowledge and skills to teach in a classroom setting.

  1. Subject Specialization
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A law degree can be especially valuable if you wish to teach subjects related to law or social sciences. Some of the subjects that may benefit from your law background include History, Economics, Business Studies, or Life Orientation. The choice of subjects will depend on your personal interests and the level of education you wish to teach (primary or secondary). While completing your PGCE, you will have the opportunity to specialize in your chosen subjects.

  1. Registration with SACE

All teachers in South Africa must be registered with the South African Council for Educators (SACE). This professional body is responsible for maintaining the ethical standards of the teaching profession and ensuring that teachers are suitably qualified. Upon completion of your PGCE, you will need to register with SACE to become a fully accredited teacher.

  1. Job Opportunities

Once you have obtained your teaching qualification and registered with SACE, you can start searching for teaching positions in public and private schools, as well as other educational institutions. Your law degree can give you an advantage in the job market, as schools may value your unique skills and knowledge. Networking with other teachers, attending education conferences, and joining professional organizations can also help you to find job opportunities in the field.

Yes, you can become a teacher with a law degree in South Africa. By completing a Postgraduate Certificate in Education and registering with the South African Council for Educators, you can transition from a career in law to a rewarding teaching profession. Your legal background can provide you with a unique perspective and expertise in subjects related to law or social sciences, making you an attractive candidate for schools and other educational institutions.

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Browse a List of Best Teaching Courses offered in South Africa – Click Here

Step-by-step Guide: Become a Teacher with a Law Degree in South Africa

As already mentioned above, becoming a teacher with a law degree in South Africa involves a few additional steps compared to traditional teacher training. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

  1. Research teaching opportunities: Consider the type of teaching position you are interested in, such as primary, secondary, or tertiary education. Research the qualifications and skills needed for these positions, as well as the specific subjects you may want to teach.
  2. Obtain a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) or Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE): In South Africa, a B.Ed or PGCE is required to become a qualified teacher. Since you already have a law degree, you can opt for the PGCE, which is designed for individuals with an existing degree. The PGCE will help you learn teaching methodologies and classroom management techniques.
  3. Choose a specialization: With your law degree, you may want to specialize in teaching subjects like Legal Studies, Business Studies, or even Social Sciences. Make sure to choose a PGCE program that aligns with your chosen specialization.
  4. Register with the South African Council for Educators (SACE): All teachers in South Africa must be registered with SACE. This organization ensures that educators meet the professional standards required to teach. The registration process involves completing an application form, providing certified copies of your qualifications, and paying a registration fee.
  5. Gain experience through internships or volunteering: It’s a good idea to gain experience in the classroom before you start teaching. Look for internships or volunteer opportunities at local schools to help you become familiar with the teaching environment and hone your skills.
  6. Apply for teaching positions: Once you have the necessary qualifications and experience, start applying for teaching positions. You can search for job openings on various websites, such as the Department of Basic Education’s website or online job portals. Tailor your CV and cover letter to showcase your law background and teaching qualifications.
  7. Prepare for interviews: During interviews, be ready to answer questions about your teaching philosophy, classroom management, and how your law background will benefit your students. Highlight your passion for teaching and your desire to make a difference in students’ lives.
  8. Continuous professional development: Once you are employed as a teacher, continue to develop your skills and stay updated on new teaching methodologies and educational developments. Attend workshops, conferences, and seminars to further your education and maintain your SACE registration.
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By following these steps, you can successfully transition from a law degree to a teaching career in South Africa. Remember that passion, dedication, and a willingness to learn are essential qualities for a successful teacher.

Browse a List of Best Teaching Courses offered in South Africa – Click Here


Can I do PGCE with LLB degree?

Yes, you can do a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) with an LLB degree. This qualification allows you to transition into teaching, equipping you with the necessary pedagogical skills and knowledge.

Can I become a primary school teacher with a law degree?

Yes, you can become a primary school teacher with a law degree by first completing a PGCE. The PGCE program will prepare you for teaching at the primary school level by covering educational theories and practical teaching methods.

Can I do PGCE with a diploma in law?

No, typically you cannot do a PGCE with just a diploma in law. Most institutions require a bachelor’s degree as the minimum qualification for entry into a PGCE program. A diploma does not usually meet the requisite level of education needed for admission.