There’s no doubt that when it comes to the world of TEFL, the options are exciting. Within mere weeks, you could go from a state of curiosity to holding a fantastic qualification in teaching English as a foreign language. That could mean a total career change, the opportunity to use TEFL as a side hustle, a chance to live and work abroad in any number of nations, or myriad other opportunities!
TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and most teaching jobs will require a high standard of TEFL qualification. Whether your dream teaching job is teaching English online or finding a teaching job abroad, you need an accredited TEFL certification to get going. But how much does TEFL certification cost?
Well, like everything, great training comes at a price. Undertaking a TEFL course isn’t just an endeavor of effort, and it costs to put together the right staff and materials to make a TEFL course that counts for something with employers. TEFL course costs, however, can vary wildly. It’s sometimes hard to know where the value is; is it in doing an online course for a few hundred bucks, or spending thousands on a CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL qualification? Which TEFL providers will do the job?
Then, it’s time to factor in where you’re studying. Is it worth moving somewhere to do the course full-time? Can you afford to stop working and do the TEFL course as your main objective, or can you fit it around your commitments, like child care, full-time work, or studying something else? There’s much to consider – do you get TEFL certified online, or do in-person TEFL courses instead?
Fortunately, the plentiful options for TEFL courses leave everyone with something affordable. That said, there are some courses that seem too good to be true, and very much are. We’ll get on to Groupon and budget TEFL courses, which offer the world for seemingly little money, but are often full of hidden fees. And some can even be outright scams.
So, let’s navigate the world of TEFL costs together. That way, you can make the most informed choice that suits you, without leaving a chasm in your wallet.
Different types of TEFL certification & how much they cost
Firstly, we need to establish that there are different types of TEFL certification, and they can vary wildly in terms of cost.
You’ve got two distinguishing factors: are the courses completed in classrooms, or are they online? This is key; if you’re wanting to do a classroom certification, this can cost more and includes additional costs such as accommodation, enrolment, and earnings you’re potentially giving up in order to do an intensive, full-time class.
If it’s online you’re after, there are definitely options, and in all likelihood, you’ll be spending less money than you would if you were doing the likes of CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL. There are also hybrid options that allow both in-person and online TEFL training.
So, let’s break down the options and see what they cost.
Online TEFL certification
When it comes to doing an online TEFL course, there are costs to consider before even getting to the actual course. The main things you’ll need are a reliable computer, an internet connection, and any textbooks the course advises you to use.
When it comes to online TEFL classes, 120 hours is the industry standard. Employers want at least 120 hours of TEFL training, so this particular style of online course has skyrocketed in popularity over recent years.
A 120-hour course should include an array of different exercises, including methodological study, learning through different kinds of media and tutor support. Being the industry standard, 120 hours of teaching time should equip you with all the theoretical understanding you need to be a fully-fledged TEFL teacher.
A good-quality 120-hour TEFL qualification will typically cost somewhere in the range of $250 to $500.
Another great option course is a Level 5 qualification. Why is it called “Level 5?” Well, that’s because Ofqual – the English Government’s Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation – has deemed it as such.
Level 5 has more hours of training than a 120-hour course. As such, it goes into more detail; a high-quality Level 5 course will contain deeper methodological and theoretical discussion around teaching, techniques and valuable advice.
A very popular qualification, a Level 5 course should cost between $380 and $700.
Read about TEFL hours and levels.
Groupon courses – a word of warning
Before we talk about classroom TEFL certificate cost and compare the cost of in-person courses to online ones, a word of warning.
Over recent years, Groupon and discount TEFL courses have sprung up to promise wide-eyed, ambitious students the world for a rock-bottom price. At best, these are unaccredited, slap-dash efforts that no employer will have any interest in. At worst, they’re an outright scam, with tricksters setting up pages for TEFL courses that never actually take place.
There are warning signs to tell if a provider is legitimate. If a TEFL “course provider” has no accreditation, that’s a massive red flag. They could also, to create a façade of professionalism, supply names of fake accreditors, or simply make some up (with a website, and all). If these “accreditors” don’t appear anywhere else or have a shoddy/non-existent online presence, then these providers are best left alone. You won’t be TEFL certified in any meaningful way for having done a “TEFL course” like this.
Also, if the provider doesn’t have any reviews, or loads of half-written, very recent reviews, then that’s a bad sign. If there are no testimonials from former students, no notable TEFL experts on board, or anything else that looks questionable, then – you’ve guessed it – it’s questionable.
Besides, how good is a Groupon TEFL course going to actually be? Take it from us – if you’re doing a TEFL qualification without accreditation, that may run for far less time than advertised, you’re not going to learn everything you need.
So, be careful out there when you’re researching online TEFL courses. Sources like Reddit are good for asking questions about providers. You can also read our guide on how to identify TEFL course scams.
Classroom TEFL certification
When it comes to the more traditional TEFL teaching setup, it’s heartening to know that in-person classes are still very much on the agenda. Though the Covid-19 pandemic moved nearly everything online – across all walks of life – there are still fantastic in-person TEFL courses out there.
There are, of course, different types of qualifications, though two prime examples stand out. We’ll get to them, as well as some newer options that have emerged in recent years.
The advantage of classroom lessons is that you can practice, in person. Tutor support is face-to-face, and there’s more of an emphasis on the practical aspect of learning TEFL.
This kind of in-person learning, though, comes at a greater cost. So, let’s examine the options and make sure you can assess for yourself whether it’s worth an extra penny or two doing a classroom TEFL certification, as opposed to an online TEFL course.
Though it’s adapted and modernized more recently, CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) has long been the gold standard for face-to-face TEFL learning.
Started by the University of Cambridge, the CELTA course is open to all with a good level of English, focused on peer learning and practical elements along with theoretical approaches to teaching and English theory.
There are over 350 CELTA-registered teaching centers worldwide, with courses costing around $1,500 – $2,600, depending on the center. Obviously, this doesn’t include accommodation if the course isn’t held locally to you.
You can also study the CELTA course online, or through a combination of online and classroom TEFL teaching.
The Trinity CertTESOL, or to give its full name, the Trinity Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, is another popular classroom TEFL course, is “designed for people with little or no experience of teaching English, and for those with experience who require an internationally recognized initial teacher education qualification”.
Started by Trinity College London, the course may have an academic background, much like its Cambridge counterpart, but only a high school education is needed, as well as a strong understanding of the English language.
It, like CELTA, was solely a classroom endeavor, but it too has other options. You can study the Trinity CertTESOL full or part-time, in person, online, or as part of a hybrid learning experience.
Individual course providers (registered as being Trinity CertTESOL standard) set their own prices, with some of the fees going back to Trinity College. This means that you get a small variance in price, depending on where you study. To take the Trinity CertTESOL in Hong Kong, for example, it’ll cost about $2,920, with about $820 of that fee serving as a deposit.
Other Classroom Courses
Other TEFL course providers provide classroom courses that are equivalent to Level 5, CELTA, or Trinity CertTESOL. Worldwide, there are plenty of great options if you either want a strictly classroom-based course or something that combines self-directed remote study with the practical elements of a classroom qualification.
Combined online & classroom certification
A popular option for prospective TEFL teachers is a combined online and classroom course. These kinds of courses are particularly useful if you’re seeking to do the bulk of your learning from a distance, but are craving the in-person practical experience that a classroom course can give.
Classroom TEFL certification abroad
For classroom TEFL abroad, there are always a plethora of options. We’ve covered CELTA, and that remains a popular choice for learners who want the classic academic TEFL qualification experience. CELTA is taught in hundreds of approved locations, from Ecuador to Vietnam.
The cost of the CELTA depends very much on where you’re studying. As stated, each CELTA course has to be deemed the same standard University of Cambridge’s original program, but you’re not limited to living in Cambridge (unless that’s your choice!).
Elsewhere, there are TEFL ‘diplomas’ on offer in classrooms across the world. There are plenty of options internationally, especially in English-speaking countries like the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and more. However, classroom courses aren’t just limited to countries where English is the main language; with China opening up as a booming TEFL market, for example, the number of classroom courses has increased rapidly.
A thing to bear in mind, however – studying abroad can mean accruing extra costs. For one thing, converting your money is a cost, as is the act of moving. Not only that, but course fees and any student loan repayments you might have to make further down the line are worth considering.
Be wary, too, of classroom TEFL programmes that offer a “guaranteed” job after completion. Typically, these qualifications are more expensive, and you’re stuck with a job that might have a much lower salary, with fewer (or no) benefits. So, should you take a TEFL course with a “guaranteed” job at the end? We’d say no.
Finally, some classroom TEFL course providers will argue that it’s easier to get a job in a country if you’ve studied to be an ESL teacher there. From our experience, that isn’t necessarily the case. At best, it’s debatable and can vary from person to person.
Factors affecting costs
So what are the main factors that make a difference to the cost of a TEFL qualification? While, nowadays, TEFL courses are widely affordable, and there are normally excellent deals on offer, there are costs within the course and outside of it that will affect how many dollars you end up paying.
So, what are these factors? Let’s get into it.
Hours of training
Strictly speaking, 120 hours of TEFL training is the industry standard – it’s the minimum you need to get any sort of decent employment teaching English as a foreign language. However, preference plays a part here, and the more hours of TEFL training you do, the more your course will cost.
Much depends on the type of course you do. For example, a combined course is going to cost more than an online-only course, because it includes tangible materials and dedicated teaching time to get to grips with the practical elements of teaching. A classroom-exclusive course, then, will cost more in kind.
Combined courses can typically range between 120 and 200 hours, which will give anyone interested in teaching a fantastic grounding in both the practical and theoretical approaches to teaching English. However, as stated, the more you do, the more it’ll cost.
Our advice? Figure out what you’re able to do, and speak to a TEFL advisor. You might think doing the highest number of hours is the way to go – but you might also find out you don’t need to do more than 120 hours.
There’s no question that getting a TEFL certificate is worth it. If your goal is teaching English abroad, there’s no replacement for self-paced study, with great materials, tutor support, and infrastructure there to help you become an English teacher.
Is getting a TEFL certification hard? Sure, it’s a challenge, but if your course provider is worth anything, you’ll have all the help you’ll need to pass. Of course, this all comes at a cost, and there are different costs that are very much dependent on the number of hours you choose and the kind of course you opt for.
However, the old ways – where it was really just CELTA that got you a job teaching English – are gone. Avenues have opened, and TEFL certificates like 120 hours, Level 5, and others are being recognized by employers. So, it’s well worth the investment.
However, be sure to research the institute you want to study with. Do they offer tutor support from recognized TEFL teachers? Are you given adequate time to complete your course (for example, 6 months to complete a 120-hour qualification)? Are there online tools to help you matriculate, ask questions, and interact with fellow students?
Cost isn’t everything. Value is very much there in a competitive TEFL marketplace. The only thing you need to do is make the right choice for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is a TEFL certificate worth it?
Undoubtedly, a TEFL certificate is worth it. If your goal is to teach English abroad, the best way to go about it is to attain a credible TEFL qualification. TEFL qualifications come in many forms whether online, in class or a combination of both.
The industry standard is a 120-hour TEFL certification from an accredited provider. Advanced TEFL courses are also useful for finding a niche within the English teaching sphere, for example, business English, online teaching, or teaching young learners.
Without a TEFL qualification, you’re unlikely to be able to secure work as an English teacher.
Q. Is getting a TEFL Certification hard?
Getting a TEFL certification should be a challenge. If your first or second language is English, it’s very likely you’re deconstructing it for the first time, learning grammar rules from scratch. That can be difficult. However, tutor support should be on-hand if you’ve booked a course through a recognized, accredited course provider.
You should also be given ample time to complete each task and assessment. In any case, the support should be there for you if you have any questions. Generally speaking, people pass their TEFL certification course, and if you need any extra help, it’ll be provided.
Q. Are online TEFL certificates recognized?
Depending on your course provider, yes, online TEFL courses are recognized. The TEFL Org’s certificates are recognized by employers worldwide.
Q. How long does a 120-hour TEFL course take?
A 120-hour course can take between a few weeks and six months, depending on the time you have available. Additionally, extra support and extensions are available if you’re limited for time while completing your TEFL course.
Still unsure about the key elements of TEFL certification cost? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions, and our answers: