TEFL is not just for gap year students and travel enthusiasts. In fact, many of our students come from teaching backgrounds – some have taught for years and others are studying towards or recently graduated with degrees in education.
Maybe you’re fed up with mountains of paperwork, fancy teaching something new, or want to relocate to sunnier climes. TEFL offers a wide range of opportunities for certified teachers who are looking for a change in direction, but maybe not a complete change.
It’s not only teachers wanting to change jobs who get TEFL qualified, though. Some teachers choose to study TEFL in order to better support the English Language Learners (ELLs) in their classes. Others are currently studying towards a teaching qualification, or aiming to start one, and want to develop their teaching skills, build experience, and/or earn a bit of money doing something relevant.
Whatever your circumstances, you have a lot of different options with TEFL. Every year the number of people learning English worldwide grows, sustaining the high demand for qualified EFL teachers. If you’re already a certified teacher you’re in a great position to take advantage of this ever-growing market, but how do you get started?
Do you really need to complete a TEFL course if you’re a qualified teacher?
The simple answer is yes, you do.
TEFL is its own field like any other subject taught in schools. It’s a mistake to assume that teaching experience in a different subject and fluency in English alone qualifies you to teach it. You wouldn’t expect to be able to get hired as a history teacher if you’ve been teaching biology for five years and have no relevant qualification – the same is true with TEFL!
Is it possible to get a TEFL position without a TEFL qualification? Yes… but it’s not a good idea for a couple of reasons. Firstly, employers who show little regard for qualifications and experience usually don’t make the best employers. It’s actually often an indicator of either a TEFL scam or a bad employer.
Secondly, why make life harder for yourself? Without a recognised TEFL qualification on your CV a lot of employers and recruiters will simply put your application in the bin. Your teaching qualification may be widely known in your home country, but to employers abroad this may not be the case, so it can be very easily overlooked. The first thing most employers will look for on an application is a TEFL qualification, so make sure you have one.
What TEFL course should qualified teachers do?
Most employers – abroad and online – require teachers to have a 120-hour TEFL qualification. This is the industry standard, and taking a course with fewer hours risks your application being tossed aside.
Level 5 TEFL courses have been rising in popularity over the last couple of years, with many TEFL course providers now offering them. These are courses that are regulated by an Ofqual-awarding body – TQUK, in our case. It’s a great option for those with no background in teaching, but for qualified teachers a 120-hour course will suffice.
We offer two 120-hour courses: one consisting of entirely online, self-paced study, and the other combining online and classroom study. We also offer advanced courses, focused on specific areas of TEFL, which is a great way to tailor your training and boost your CV.
What can certified teachers expect from the TEFL market?
The demand for English teachers worldwide is huge and in some countries demand even exceeds supply. Because of this there are plenty of opportunities out there for entry-level teachers who have no previous teaching experience.
As a certified teacher with a TEFL qualification you’re going to be in a very strong position when applying for jobs. Up against other applicants with little teaching experience, you’re going to stand out head and shoulders above them. You’ll find it easier than most to secure work, which means you can afford to be picky and be in a position to potentially negotiate better terms and pass on offers you don’t feel are up to scratch.
And you may also be able to find work in countries with more competitive markets, like those in Western Europe, and in international schools, which will often require teachers to hold education degrees. More opportunities are open to you, but what about pay?
How much can certified teachers earn teaching English?
When it comes to how much you can earn it’s not quite the case that qualified teachers can instantly command higher salaries.
Salaries in the TEFL industry are typically determined by how much experience you have teaching English as a foreign language. So, while your other teaching experience is a big plus, when a position asks for a certain number of years experience they’re usually referring to direct experience teaching English – not in a different subject.
How much you can earn varies hugely depending on the country. As a general rule, teaching salaries will be in line with the cost of living in that country, and be enough for you to live comfortably on. So, while salaries in some countries may look considerably lower than what you can earn at home, you need to keep in mind that the cost of living is likely very different!
When it comes to teaching English online, your earning potential is realistically not going to be different from anyone else just starting out. Just like positions abroad, you’ll find it easier to find work due to the strength of your CV, but it would be a mistake to assume you’ll get an instant bump in earnings just because you’re a certified teacher.
Ultimately, as a certified teacher you should be able to easily secure a great TEFL position. But don’t assume your teaching experience and qualifications will instantly fast-track you!