In 1949, the Timol family moved to Roodepoort where Ahmed attended Roodepoort Primary School and completed his secondary schooling at the Johannesburg Indian High School in 1959, passing with a matric exemption. He began his career at a Johannesburg bookkeeper’s office where he was employed as a clerk to augment the family’s income so his siblings could also go to school. But he continued his studies and between 1961 and1963, Timol enrolled and graduated from the Johannesburg Training Institute for Indians, an opportunity that was enabled through his awarding of a scholarship. During this time he became an active member of the Student Representative Council. They were known as advocates for truth and justice and Timol was especially well known for his honesty and frankness.

After graduating, Timol started teaching at Roodepoort Indian High School, where he spent two years. Apart from being a dedicated educator, Timol was a sportsman of note. His love for cricket and superb batting skills earned him colours in the Transvaal Indian Cricket and South African Non-Racial teams. Many believe he would have obtained national colours if he had been given the opportunity to compete. Besides cricket, Timol was also a soccer administrator for the Dynamos Football Club, a role he undertook as a cover to carry out his underground political work.

In December 1965, at age 25, he completed his Hajj to Mecca and went to London where he stayed with friends, brothers Aziz and Essop Pahad. He started teaching at an immigration school in Slough. Here he taught children from the Indian sub-continent including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. He also became a member of the National Union of Teachers and took an active interest in their activities.

Accompanied by Thabo Mbeki, Timol went to Lenin University for political training from 17 February to 15 October 1969. Attending his political training at the Lenin University in Soviet Union, Timol had written in his auto biography:

Timol returned to South Africa in February 1970 where he commenced setting up underground structures for the banned South African Communist Party .