Teaching as a Career: Frequently Asked Questions
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When must I submit my application?
You may refer to the ‘Teaching Subjects’ webpage for more details on the recruitment exercises.
If you are applying for the Art & Music / Home Economics Teacher Training Scheme, or Chinese Language Teacher Specialisation Scheme (for ‘O’ Level holders) or the Bachelor of Arts / Science (Education) (for Polytechnic and ‘A’ Level holders), you can only apply during the specific recruitment exercises. They are usually conducted around the period of the release of the ‘O’ and ‘A’ Level results respectively. You are advised to apply with complete information to avoid unnecessary delay in processing.
For polytechnic students and university undergraduates, you are encouraged to apply during the final semester of your studies.
What is the application process like?
First, complete and submit the online application form. MOE will process your application and if you are found suitable, you will be called up to attend an interview.
The interview panel will assess your communication skills, interest in teaching, goals and aspirations, and your willingness to learn. More importantly, you must have the passion to teach students.
We strongly encourage you to find out more about what teaching is like in our schools prior to your application, such that you will be able to have a sound understanding of the job scope as a teacher.
Will I be able to enter NIE directly after I have been selected successfully?
You will be required to undergo a teaching stint in a school as an untrained teacher upon successful selection. You will join the next available NIE intake after you are assessed suitable by the Principal during your teaching stint.
What are the essential factors that you look for in an applicant?
An applicant should have a keen interest in teaching, strong personal attributes and values, and the ability to communicate and relate to the young. Applicants must also meet our entry requirements.
What is the difference between technical and non-technical diplomas?
Technical diplomas refer to those related to engineering or IT. Non-technical diplomas are non-engineering based, e.g. Business Studies.
I understand that those who are interested in teaching Music / Art will have to undergo a music audition/portfolio assessment. When will it be held?
Candidates selected after the interview for Music / Art teaching will be notified by NIE on the details of the music audition/portfolio assessment, which is conducted by NIE specialists.
How can I go about applying for teaching at special education schools?
Special education schools conduct direct recruitment for their own teachers. You may wish to enquire with them directly.
What are the admission criteria?
If you have the passion for teaching and strong personal attributes and values, we welcome you to join us as a teacher.
In addition, applicants should possess one of the following entry qualifications:
- University degree;
- Polytechnic Diploma, with 5 ‘O’ Level passes including English and Mathematics; or
- 2 ‘A’ Level passes and 2 ‘AO’ Level passes (including General Paper) at 1 or 2 sittings, with 5 ‘O’ Level passes including English and Mathematics.
- 2 ‘A’ /H2 Level passes and 2 ‘AO’/H1 Level passes (including General Paper or KI) and where applicable, 5 ‘O’ Level passes including English and Mathematics; or
- A good overall IB Diploma score and where applicable, 5 ‘O’ Level passes (including English and Mathematics)
What are the additional criteria of getting into the Physical Education Specialisation?
Besides meeting the entry requirements, you will also need to pass the Physical Proficiency Test (PPT) and have good CCA records.
Suppose I want to work in the private sector for a few years first and then settle down to teaching, will I be penalised? Are there any additional tests?
We welcome mid-career professionals to join us in teaching. You will start as a classroom teacher. Nonetheless, we offer attractive remunerations and salary increments that commensurate with past working experience. The increments will be determined on a case by case basis, depending on the number of years and relevance of your working experience.
There are no additional tests for mid-career professionals to take.
If I did not read teaching subjects at university, but I have done relief teaching and have a letter of recommendation from the school principal, will I be considered?
We will look at your overall academic results. You may still be considered even if you do not have a degree relevant to teaching. If you are found suitable, you could be considered to teach at the primary level.
Is it necessary for me to have relief teaching experience?
Relief teaching experience will be helpful for you to better understand the job scope of a teacher in our schools, but not compulsory. It will also be useful for you to share any experiences you may have with regards to interacting with the young.
Entrance Proficiency Test
Must I take the Entrance Proficiency Test?
Yes, you are required to sit for the Entrance Proficiency Test if you do not meet the exemption criteria. You will need to meet the minimum requirements of the relevant EPT(s) before you are deployed to the school as an untrained teacher.
How do I register for the English Language Entrance Proficiency Test (EL EPT)?
No registration will be required as MOE will schedule candidates for the EL EPT. No rescheduling of the test date will be allowed, unless under exceptional circumstances. Candidates will be informed by email on the test date and payment details.
Please refer to the EL EPT webpage for more details.
How do I register for the Mother Tongue Language Entrance Proficiency Test (MTL EPT)?
Please refer to the respective MTL EPT webpages for more details:
You are strongly encouraged to register early as there are limited places per session.
How do I register for the Physical Proficiency Test (PPT)?
Please refer to the PPT webpage for more details.
If I want to be a Mother Tongue Language teacher, must I sit for both the English and Mother Tongue Language Entrance Proficiency Tests?
You will only be required to sit for the Mother Tongue Language EPT if you are short-listed for the PGDE or Diploma in Education programme and do not meet the exemption criteria.
All Bachelor of Arts (Education) candidates who intend to specialise in Mother Tongue Language must meet the pre-requisites to read Mother Tongue Language as an Academic Subject, as well as clear the EL EPT if they do not meet the exemption criteria, in order to be admitted to NIE for the degree programme.
If I am under contract at another job for one year, can I still take the Entrance Proficiency Tests?
You may register for the MTL EPT and Physical Proficiency Test (PPT) on your own. The PPT result is valid for 2 years, while the MTL EPT result is valid for 4 years. The EL EPT is not open to self-registration, as MOE schedules candidates for this test.
Do applicants who have taken the English Proficiency Course (EPC) at the University still have to sit for the EPT?
Yes. The EPC is different from the EPT.
How long is the bond period and can a teacher be transferred before the bond period is over?
The PGDE & Diploma in Education programmes carry a bond of 3 years. Those in the BA/BSc (Education) programme are bonded for a period of 4 years. If you are on a MOE scholarship, the bond ranges from 4 to 6 years.
After 2 to 3 years, you may apply for a posting to another school or to HQ.
What happens if I break my bond before I complete it? How much do I have to pay back?
All trainee teachers have to sign the Teachers’ Training Agreement. If you break the bond, you will have to pay liquidated damages. The amount will be pro-rated based on the expenses incurred by the Government for your tuition fees and salaries during your NIE training. There is also a 10% compound interest.
Applicants are to bear in mind that teaching is not for the short-term but for a minimum of 3 years in view of the teaching bond. Liquidated damages will be based on the number of months/years outstanding in the bond.
How much do I have to pay if I break my bond?
The amount will be pro-rated based on the expenses that the Government has incurred in connection with your training, plus 10% compound interest.
During the 3-year bond period, can I apply for no-pay leave? Is long term leave (e.g. accompany spouse overseas or child care leave) available during the bond period?
No-pay leave is normally granted only to officers who have had 3 years of service minimally. It is on that basis that MOE can grant no-pay leave. During the 3-year bond, you will find it beneficial to better yourself and practise your teaching skills before going overseas for further studies in a field related to education.
As for long-term leave, we normally grant 6-month no-pay child-care leave at the first instance. Requests for leave to accompany spouse overseas are assessed on a case-by-case basis, subject to exigencies of service. If leave is granted, the usual length of time is from 6 months to a year.
What do you mean by ‘teaching subjects’? How many modules, besides my major, do I have to read, to be considered eligible?
Teaching subjects are subjects offered in the secondary school or junior college curriculum.
A major in any of these disciplines is preferred, as teachers are required to be competent in the teaching of subjects, especially at the secondary and junior college levels.
If you have not read any of these, we will further assess your overall academic qualifications to determine your teaching subjects and level.
Art & Music / Home Economics Teacher Training Scheme/ Chinese Language Teacher Specialisation Schemes
For more information on the Teacher Training Schemes, you may visit the following webpage:
Will MOE consider other types of qualifications besides GCE ‘O’ Levels?
You should preferably have a GCE ‘O’ Level certificate or the equivalent. If you have overseas qualifications, you can send in your application for our consideration.
Can those with partial ‘A’ Levels apply?
You may apply as long as you meet the minimum entry requirements and are prepared to go through the 4-year study programme and subsequent 5-year teaching bond.
Can applicants combine ‘O’ Level certificates to calculate the aggregate for best 5 subjects?
We accept combined results taken in up to 2 sittings only.
Would I receive any financial aid during this course of study?
MOE will pay the course fees of all successful applicants during the 4-year course. In addition, students will receive a bursary of $800 per month in the first 3 years. They will be appointed as General Education Officers thereafter and receive a monthly salary based on the GEO 2 salary scale while they are in their 4th year of study at NIE.
If I have already completed my NS when I enter the course, will I receive any increment?
Yes, increments as a result of completion of full-time National Service will be included in the salaries paid to you during the 4th year of your course.
What if I fail the music audition (for music admission) or the drawing test (for art admission)?
All candidates must pass the interview and audition or drawing test before they can be considered for admission into the programme.
I am studying at NAFA currently and am interested to switch to this course. Am I still eligible?
If you are already pursuing Art or Music at NAFA, you may wish to continue with your current course, and apply to become a teacher under the Diploma in Art/Music Education programme (a 2 year-training programme at NIE followed by a 3-year teaching bond) thereafter.
Is there a bond obligation?
Yes. Successful applicants will have to serve a 5-year teaching bond in our schools upon graduating from NAFA / TP / NP and NIE.
Will I have any opportunity to pursue a degree eventually?
Good-performing candidates can be offered to cross over to the Bachelor of Art/Science (Education) programme which will be completed in an additional period of 2 years (instead of the usual 4 years), directly after their 4th year of study. Like all teachers, graduates from the respective Scheme can also have the opportunity to apply for a MOE scholarship, study loan or study leave to further pursue a degree course while in service.
Pre-school / Polytechnic Teaching
How can I apply to be a pre-school teacher?
If you are keen to be a kindergarten teacher at our MOE kindergartens, please visit our “Careers in Pre-School Education” webpage for more information:
If you are looking at other pre-schools / kindergartens, please approach the individual pre-school or kindergarten directly for employment opportunities.
How can I apply to be a polytechnic lecturer?
The local polytechnics conduct their own employment of staff, including lecturers. Please approach them directly for employment opportunities.