Are there age restrictions for TEFL?

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

There are no strict age limits for TEFL across the board but that’s not to say there aren’t some things you should be aware of if you’re an especially young or 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 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 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, which covers how to work teaching English during the semester and over the summer months.

Top tips

  • 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

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 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! Remember, your life and professional experience (whether teaching-related or not) is real asset so make sure you really sell that in any application.

Top tips

  • 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
  • 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!

Further reading

What you really need to know before you TEFL
Which TEFL course is for me?
TEFL myths busted

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5 thoughts on “Are there age restrictions for TEFL?

  1. Is the certificate with a university or is it just TEFL.
    For example my english teacher has a certificate with Leeds or Newcastle university (I think). Is that the case with the online only courses?

  2. Which TEFL .org are considered more than others. I have noticed costs vary from Cambridge being over £2000 and short 4 week intensive. Also are there jobs in Turkey ? Many thanks

  3. Hi there, I am a 16 year old student currently studying my SQA Higher in English hoping to leave to university next year. Can I take these courses or am I better to wait until I have finished both high school and university?

    1. Yes, you can complete your TEFL training while you are still at school or university. We train many sixth form students and undergraduates as most want to teach during their summer breaks, teach online to earn extra money, and be ready to apply for TEFL jobs and programmes abroad when they graduate. Check out our Guide to TEFL for Students to see how you can use your TEFL qualification while you are still studying.

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