Are there age restrictions for TEFL?

Are there age restrictions for TEFL?

Am I too old to TEFL? Am I too young to TEFL? We’re here to answer your age-related TEFL questions!

There are no strict age limits for TEFL but that’s not to say there aren’t some things you should be aware of if you’re an especially young or a more mature aspiring EFL teacher. For any teaching position, regardless of your age or experience, you’ll need a  TEFL qualification  from an  accredited , internationally recognised provider.

Am I too old to TEFL?

You’re never too old to TEFL! We’ve trained teachers of all ages – take Diane, for example, who completed her training just before turning 62 and went on to teach in Germany.

You might be under the impression that TEFL is a young person’s game, and while it’s true that our courses are popular with 20 and 30-somethings, the fact is we’ve trained teachers of all ages who’ve gone on to work across the globe. For the most part, it’s only if you’re over 50 and looking to teach in specific parts of the world where you may come across challenges based on your age.

There are some countries in Asia such as South Korea, China, and Japan where it can be difficult to find work if you’re over 55/60 – this is because in certain countries there are strict retirement rules and because of this employers aren’t allowed to sponsor work visas for teachers who are above the local retirement age. Asia can be more challenging for older teachers, so bear this in mind. Make sure to look into retirement ages and, as always, research visa requirements! This way you’ll be able to determine where you are able to teach and focus your job search only in places where you’re eligible.

Yes, there can be age discrimination in the EFL jobs market – whether it’s legal or not – so if you’re over 50 then be prepared to be more persistent in your job hunt than someone in their 20s would have to be. It might take you a little longer to find work, but as long as you’re TEFL qualified and focusing your search on countries where you’re legally able to teach then you will be able to find work!

The advantages of being an older EFL teacher

Your life and professional experience (whether teaching-related or not) are real assets, so make sure to sell them! You might be new to teaching, but you likely have a whole range of skills and experience you can tap into in the classroom.

Consider your work history and whether you can use that to specialise within the TEFL industry. Business English is a popular specialist area (and one where older teachers are often preferred) and finding your niche can help you to stand out and, potentially, earn more. If you have direct experience in the same industry as prospective students then you’ll be a much more attractive hire.

A teacher standing in front of a classroom of adult students

Does age discrimination exist?

Unfortunately, there can be age discrimination in the TEFL industry. While many countries do have laws tackling ageism bias does still exist, and you may come across adverts for jobs looking for teachers in their 20s or 30s.

You’re more likely to see a preference for younger teachers for roles working with young learners. It’s much less of an issue for jobs that involve teaching older teenagers and adults. However, if teaching young learners is what you want to do don’t let this hold you back! TEFL Org graduates, Yvonne  and Louise , have both found work they love teaching English online to kids.

Where can older teachers find work?

As we’ve mentioned, Asia can be more challenging for teachers over 55/60, but that’s not to say there aren’t opportunities there. While some countries have visa restrictions that prevent teachers of a certain age from getting a work permit, there are still plenty of options all over the world. See below to see the requirements for dozens of countries across the globe.

Top tips  for older TEFL teachers

  • Manage expectations: unless you’re an experienced EFL teacher you shouldn’t expect to be earning a lot of money in your first TEFL job. Salaries in the TEFL industry are determined by teaching experience.
  • Be flexible and open about your destination
  • It can be more difficult to find work in Asia for older teachers (although not impossible!) while there are more opportunities in South America and Europe
  • Thoroughly research visa requirements and retirement ages
  • Persevere: don’t let rejections get you down, keep on sending out those applications!

Am I too young to TEFL?

Anyone from the age of 16 can take our courses, and it can be a great idea to get qualified and start building up experience from a young age. If you’re under 18 then, realistically, it’s unlikely you’ll find paid working teaching English but you may be able to start building up your teaching CV at this age by volunteering locally! Talk to your school and local organisations working with refugees and asylum seekers to explore opportunities.

What if you’re in the 18 to 20 age range? You can TEFL, but it’s important to be aware of a few factors. Firstly, unless you started university very young then it’s unlikely you’ll have a degree at this age. Most countries outside of Europe and South America require a degree for visa reasons, so without one these countries are ruled out for you. It’s always important to research the visa requirements for any country you’re interested in teaching in – this way you can find out if you’re ruled out due to age, education, or any other factors.

If you fall into this age bracket then we recommend looking into  summer school  work in Europe,  teaching English online , considering jobs in South America, and volunteering, which will build up your experience and help you find a full-time position.

If you’re a student then be sure to take a look at our  Guide to TEFL for Students  for more tips and advice.

A young teacher with a child

Top tip s for younger teachers

  • Build up teaching experience through voluntary work and short-term contracts
  • If you’re 18 to 21 and don’t have a degree South America is your most likely option for finding full-time work
  • Thoroughly research visa requirements

Find out more about teaching English abroad and download our FREE guide to teaching English online .

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