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How to Decide What Subject to Teach

Teaching uni students

No matter what subject you specialise in, teaching is a vastly rewarding career. If you want to become a secondary school teacher but you’re not sure which is the best subject to teach, this article will provide helpful tips and advice.

Keep reading to find out how to decide what subject to teach based on your qualifications, skills and interests. We’ll also take a look at the current data for teaching vacancies by subject in Victorian schools.

Reflect on your interests, strengths and passions

When you think back to your high school days, the teachers most likely to stand out in your memory are those who were passionate about their subject. Passion is infectious, and it generates energy and engagement within the classroom.

This is why you should try to follow your passions when deciding which subject to teach. For instance, if you love reading fiction and poetry, you’re probably best suited to teaching English. Similarly, if you have a knack for numbers and take pleasure from problem-solving, you would most likely thrive as a maths teacher.

“What subject should I teach?”  

In addition to passion, you should choose a subject that aligns with your skills. During high school, did you excel in any particular area? Or did you love participating in extra-curricular activities – such as music or sport – that could be channelled into your teaching career?

It could be that you’re already established in your profession, but you want to embrace a new challenge by becoming a teacher. It’s quite common for people in their 30s, 40s and 50s to make this transition because teaching is a career that champions wisdom and experience.

This Victorian teaching careers page provides real case studies of people who have transitioned from professions such as nursing, law and management into prosperous teaching careers. If this sounds like you, visit our tips for a successful career change article for advice and guidance.

Observe classes and talk to current teachers

Another great way to find out what it’s actually like to teach a particular subject is to talk to someone with teaching experience. This could be a matter of going back to your high school and asking if you can speak with some of the teachers about their experiences.

You might also like to consider doing some volunteer work in a high school or sitting in on a few classes to see if teaching appeals to you. If you’re wondering how to know what subject to teach, nothing will give you a clearer idea than actually stepping foot inside a classroom and seeing for yourself.

If you want to talk to someone about studying the Master of Teaching (Secondary) at Swinburne Online, contact our Course Consultants on 1300 069 765.

Consider your qualifications

It could be that you already have a bachelor’s degree in a particular subject area, and you want to use this knowledge in your new career as a high school teacher. People in this situation often benefit from postgraduate study.

The high school curriculum for Victorian students encompasses eight learning areas:

Additionally, Work Studies is an optional subject that involves vocational learning to prepare students for the workforce.

To teach in a Victorian high school, you’ll need to qualify for one of these approved areas. VCE Study Designs is another resource you can consult if you’re looking for more information about what kind of subjects you can teach in Victorian high schools.

If you’re planning to study Swinburne Online’s Master of Teaching (Secondary) program, your prior study will be considered. For advice about this, please feel free to get in touch with our course advisors.

Think about the team and students you want to work with

When you’re at the stage of choosing a specialty subject, you should also consider how large the faculty is likely to be. Core subjects such as maths and English tend to have big departments with many teachers. On the other hand, elective subjects such as music or languages usually have smaller departments.

Are you the sort of person who feels energised in large groups, or do you feel more comfortable when interacting with smaller groups of people? This is something you should think about when deciding on your subject area. The advantage of working with a large team is you’ll have a lot of support. This isn’t to say that specialty teachers aren’t supported, but your experience as a teacher will be different depending on the size of the faculty.

Research what subjects are in demand

It’s also prudent to give some thought to what subjects are in demand for teachers right now. While you’re in the research phase, it’s helpful to take a look at news reports and government websites to see which subject areas need teachers.

The Age recently published an article about teacher supply shortages in Victoria, stating that the number of secondary students is predicted to grow by 14.6% by 2027. In addition to this, the demand for teachers of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects is already high, with schools in rural and regional areas struggling to fill positions. If you’re looking for the best subject for teaching in terms of employability, STEM is a safe bet.

ABC News has also published an article stating that an estimated 11,000 new teachers will be needed in Victorian public schools over the next 10 years, according to the Australian Education Union. This means that it’s a very good time to retrain as a high school teacher since there are likely to be numerous job openings.


What subjects are in demand for teachers?

The Victorian Teacher Supply and Demand Report 2021 provides valuable insight into which teachers are in demand by subject. Page 52 of this report provides a list of the subjects that currently have the most opportunities for new teachers.

According to this study, the three most in-demand teaching subjects are: 

  1. Digital Technology
  2. Design Technology
  3. Languages

Below, we’ve provided answers to some commonly asked questions about teacher demand by subject. The data we’ve used has also come from the Victorian Teacher Supply and Demand Report.

Are business teachers in demand?

Yes, Economics and Business teachers are the fourth most in demand, with a teaching role unfulfillment rate of 28%.

Are English teachers in demand?

There is significant demand for English teachers in Victoria, with employment unfulfillment at 22%.

Are foreign language teachers in demand?

Yes, languages ranked in the third position of most unfulfilled teaching roles in Victoria.

Are geography teachers in demand?

Geography teaching roles in Victoria have an unfulfillment rate of 21%, indicating that yes, there is significant demand.

Are PE teachers in demand?

Health and Physical Education teaching roles have a 19% unfulfillment rate, showing that there is demand for physical education specialists.

Are science teachers in demand?

Yes, science teaching roles have a 26% unfulfillment rate.

What’s the easiest subject to teach?

Your decision to teach a particular subject area should be based on your knowledge and passion. If you’re interested in the subject, this will increase the ease of teaching.

What’s the hardest subject to teach?

Again, if you teach a subject that’s close to your heart, you should experience a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment when teaching. If you’re wondering how to decide what subject to teach, base your choice on your interests, experience and passion.

Which subject teachers get paid the most?

As a teacher, your salary will depend on several variable factors such as your experience, level of education, and whether or not you’re teaching for a public or private school.

The Victorian Government Teach the Future website provides helpful information about salary expectations for secondary teachers. You can also visit Salary Rates to see a full breakdown of teacher salaries in Victorian public schools.

If you’re interested in discovering which are the best teaching subjects in terms of salary, it could also be helpful to search for current secondary teaching job openings on Seek.

Study secondary teaching at Swinburne Online

As part of our Master of Teaching (Secondary) degree, you’ll gain practical experience that can help you excel in your teaching career.

Feel free to get in touch with our friendly team to ask questions, or apply today.


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