Routes into the profession

The school business profession is an exciting and diverse one, with a variety of routes into the profession.


Qualifications allow you to increase your knowledge and skills in your chosen area of study. They enable you to demonstrate and provide assurance that you are qualified to carry out an SBP role.

There are two main types of qualifications that enable you to enter the school business profession: Core SBP qualifications and SBP apprenticeships.

There are also a range of Specialist Qualifications and training in specific areas to support you to progress and develop.

Succession planning / career development

One way to enter the profession is to develop your career and progress to a different role. This can happen in two main ways:

  • Succession planning – all SBPs should have a succession plan in place. Not only does this help mitigate the business risk, but it also helps generate a pipeline of new entrants to the profession. SBPs should actively look to identify talent within their school and develop their teams. Many SBPs have progressed from finance / administration roles within support teams to more senior roles, e.g. School Business Manager, Finance Director, Director of Support Services.
  • Career development – if you currently work in a school and would like to progress to an SBP, then speak to your line manager about taking a core qualification or ISBL Professional Standards to discover what knowledge and skills you need to acquire and in which disciplines.

Career transition

Many SBPs have successfully transitioned into the education sector from having previously worked in other sectors. People who transition into the school business profession usually possess the type of relevant experience and transferable skill sets that provide a stepping stone to move into an SBP role, e.g. finance, HR, business administration.

Many people who transition into the profession often complete an SBP qualification to help contextualise their knowledge for use within the education sector. They may complete a full qualification or take relevant modules.

If you are thinking of transitioning into the profession, we encourage you to assess yourself against ISBL Professional Standards to discover where your prior experience and skills map to those needed by SBPs. Doing so will highlight your areas of development to support a successful transition into the profession.

Networking and local groups

The school business profession is an incredibly supportive and friendly one. Peer support and networking play a huge part in an SBP’s development and progression. Networking helps you keep up to date with the latest news, developments and policies. Sharing experiences can help you to discover different ways of working and learn lessons from others. Discovering how different schools are structured and operate can open up opportunities to progress and develop.

  • Professional membership – becoming a member of ISBL helps you demonstrate your commitment to professional development and provides employers with assurance of the level you are working at. Find out more here.
  • Local network groups – there are many local network groups around the country that provide valuable networking opportunities and support. Many are listed here.
  • DfE SBL networks – the DfE has identified groups across the country from those just emerging to larger established groups, such as those affiliated to ISBL. See if there is a group near you here.
  • Conferences – there are many different conferences and events for SBPs to attend, providing networking and professional development opportunities. We have several regional conferences and a national conference each year …find out more.

Thinking about becoming a SBP or new to the role? You can read some advice from experienced SBPs here.