Teacher education refers to the process by which a person attains education or training in an institution of learning in order to become a teacher. Teacher education equips pre- and in-service teachers with the professional knowledge and skills necessary to educate others in general or specialized subjects.
According to UNESCO, teacher education institutions "serve as key change agents in transforming education and society." These institutions train pre- or in-service teachers, providing them with the knowledge as well as the professional skills they need in order to become effective transmitters of knowledge. In this sense, teachers are professionals of learning and knowledge.
Often, teacher education programs have a particular goal, mission statement and focus. For example, Harvard University's Teacher Education Program is designed specifically to place highly qualified teachers in urban public schools. Its goal is to help increase educational opportunity and quality at all levels. Stanford University's Teacher Education Program (STEP) has similar goals for social justice, but its mission is also to train teachers towards pedagogy that helps students acquire critical thinking, independent learning skills and technological competence
Teacher education generally comprises only the learning and training acquired in a formal educational institution. It doesn't typically refer to informal processes of learning or training that may occur part of a teacher's job or career.