How long does it take to complete a TEFL course?

One of the most frequent questions we’re asked is how long does it take to complete a TEFL course?

Most TEFL courses are named according to the number of hours they take to complete. So, the answer might seem obvious to some – as long as the course name suggests, surely? A 120-hour TEFL course will take 120 hours to complete… but how many weeks or months of study does that actually involve?

Do you have to study at specific times or can you work through the course in your own time? In this post we’ve put together some helpful information to answer all these questions.

A man studying with a cup of coffee

How TEFL Org courses work

We run online and classroom TEFL courses. Our classroom TEFL courses are held in the UK and Ireland over a single weekend or three consecutive weekdays. If you’re based elsewhere, or the dates don’t suit, then our virtual classroom courses are a great option and follow the same syllabus! And our online TEFL courses are entirely self-paced, so you can work through it in your own time, at your own speed.

One of our aims as a TEFL course provider is to make getting TEFL certified as accessible as possible, which is why our courses have been designed to be flexible so you can fit studying in around your job or other commitments. You can study from anywhere in the world using your laptop, smartphone, or tablet, and we’ll ship your certificate to you wherever you are at no additional cost.

How long does it take most people to complete a TEFL course?

On average, our students take 10 to 12 weeks to complete our most popular 120-hour online TEFL course. Depending on your other commitments it can take you more or less time.

Because our online TEFL courses are self-paced the length of time it takes to complete varies due to a number of factors. With full-time study one person could complete the course in under a month, while another might take six months because they have other commitments taking up their time.

Be wary of courses that claim you can get a 120-hour qualification in under a week – this means it won’t actually be a 120-hour qualification. These courses haven’t been accredited by reputable bodies, which is an important process that gives both you and employers confidence that a course does what it says on the tin.

How long are you given to complete the course?

You get 6 months to complete our 120-hour online course and 7 months for our Level 5 courses. Sometimes life gets in the way, so if you do need more than the allocated time you can always purchase an extension.

Different course providers will give you different time frames and it’s important to check this out before you sign up. Some providers will give you a short amount of time so it’s more likely you’ll have to pay to extend the course, which can significantly increase the cost of getting TEFL qualified.

See for yourself how we compare to other TEFL course providers.

i-to-i TEFL Academy Premier TEFL UK TEFL Groupon TEFL Courses
Price £169.50 - £509 £245 - £1,125 £390 - £590 £165 - £815 £120 - £140 £19 - £49
Ofqual regulation*
DEAC AQC approved
Owned and run by experienced TEFL teachers
Dedicated tutor support**
Number of accreditors/regulators 8 3 2 3 1 Often not accredited
Time given to complete 120-hour online course Six months Ten weeks Six months*** Six months 90 days Varies depending on provider
Certificate (hard + PDF copy) included in course fee Both included eCertificate only. From £29.95 for hard copy (plus international shipping) Both included Hard copy from £20 PDF certificate included. Hardcopy TEFL certificate £10 Not included

*Regulated by an Ofqual-awarding body, such as TQUK. Endorsement is not the same as regulation.
**Support from the same tutor who is assigned to you for the duration of the course
*** 168-hour course
Information accurate as of September 2021

How quickly can I get TEFL qualified?

We’ve had students with completely clear schedules finish the course in a matter of weeks. While it’s possible to complete the course this quickly if you have enough time to devote to it, it’s not something we recommend.

To get the most out of your TEFL course it’s important to take your time with it. There’s a lot of information to take in and if you’re rushing through it you’re unlikely to really absorb it. As with any course, you get as much out of it as you’re willing to put in.

How many TEFL hours do I need?

Based on what we see come in through the TEFL Jobs Centre, the majority of employers ask for a 120-hour TEFL qualification, which is the industry standard. Taking a course with fewer hours will put you at a disadvantage and make it much more difficult than it needs to be to secure work.

What about doing more than 120 hours? Depending on your background and previous experience, it can make sense to do more training to strengthen your CV. A Level 5 TEFL course is more comprehensive and Advanced TEFL courses can be added on to your initial TEFL qualification to further your training in specific areas. But more isn’t always better – or necessary. Courses that offer hundreds and hundreds of hours can take a long time to complete, cover a lot of content that might not be relevant for your goals, and we have yet to see an employer specify that teachers must have more than 120 hours.

See our post explaining TEFL hours and levels for more.

Will it really take me 120 hours to complete the 120-hour course?

Most people won’t take exactly 120 hours to complete a course – this is simply an estimate of how long it takes the average person to complete. Some people will take more or less time. It all depends on the individual.

Unlike Groupon TEFL courses, however, it’s certainly not possible to complete a TEFL Org course in under 10 hours! These courses advertise themselves as being a 120-hour course simply because this is what customers and employers are searching for. In reality, these courses won’t take you anywhere near that amount of time to complete because they lack course material and assignments. Many employers are aware of this, which is why some won’t accept them.

A red haired woman with glasses thinking

How should I study?

The key to successful study is working out what works best for you. Setting aside time to work through the course is important, whether this involves allocating a specific time daily or weekly. You could also set yourself a goal of completing a certain amount of the course each week to keep yourself on track.

We have some useful study tips you can check out in a previous blog post.

How quickly can I find a job?

You can start applying for jobs before you’ve completed your TEFL course. Many employers will be happy to consider applicants currently working towards their qualification.

We’ve had students jet off to start a teaching job abroad almost immediately after getting qualified. In fact, 80% of TEFL Org students find work within three months of completing the course!

Keep in mind that some countries are more competitive than others – if you’re looking for work in countries where there are fewer jobs then it will likely take you longer to secure a position. There’s a huge demand for teachers in countries like China, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam, and South Korea, and the market for teaching English online is booming.

To find out more about what’s included in a TEFL Org course check out our courses page.
And to get a taste of what the course involves try our TEFL Taster!

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14 thoughts on “How long does it take to complete a TEFL course?

  1. Hi, I would like some advice because I’m very interested in your online study program. I studied English for 3 years at the Cultural institute Peruvian-North American (icpna) I made all the courses (basic/intermediate and advanced) and I got my certification. Would your program help me to teach English abroad?

  2. Hi there,

    Is there an order in what I complete first? Would it be possible to complete the in class teaching section first and then go to learning online or is this course strict on the order you complete it in?

    1. Great question Scott! Our courses are designed to be flexible and fit around your existing schedule and commitments so you can complete the course in any order you wish – some students start with the in-class sessions first and then the self-paced online modules, while others complete these sessions during or after completing the online modules – it’s completely up to you. When I enrolled on the 120-hour TEFL Course, I did the in-class course first (in Inverness, Scotland) and then completed the online modules from Spain.

    1. Hi Nosipho,

      You can reserve your place on a classroom or combined TEFL course with a £50 deposit. The remaining balance is due two weeks prior to your selected classroom course date. Access to your online studies will be granted once full payment has been received.

  3. What is the class schedule like? I work a full time job currently M-F 8a-5p PST. Is there a window I can take my courses at in the evenings or are they recorded and I can work on it whenever?

    1. Our entirely online-based TEFL courses are available round the clock – you can log in and study on days and at times that suit you best. Classroom and virtual classroom courses run on weekends, so these are a great option if you work full-time during the week.

  4. Hi, I was just wondering, will I still have access to the course materials after the deadline/completion of my course?

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