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The most common question we get from prospective TEFL course takers is “can I get a job?” This question is asked to us more than any other including, “will this TEFL course prepare me to teach?”, “what will I learn how to do?”, “why is your TEFL course better?”.
Perhaps you are one of these people wondering whether you can get a TEFL job, and whether you’re qualified. In this article, we are going to try to demystify the TEFL job question.
First off, there are two words that will answer this question 99% of the time. They are “it depends”. Every school in every country has different requirements. Some requirements are flexible, some are not. The three biggest things that will get you in the door at any school are:
1. Native Speaker – this means that you come from the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand or sometimes South Africa, that English is your first language and you have a neutral accent.
Why does this matter? Because many schools have paying customers who want to learn from a native English speaker. That’s how they advertise their classes. Students may be paying a premium for a specific kind of teacher. Also, in many countries you can’t legally work as an English teacher if you aren’t a native speaker.
2. Bachelor’s degree – It doesn’t matter what subject you studied but many schools want to see that you graduated with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.
Why does this matter? Typically it’s because the governments of certain countries have this basic requirement. Schools also use this as a baseline for your level of education.
3. TEFL or CELTA – Schools want to see that not only can you speak English but that you can also TEACH it. They are two very different things. A good course (not a cheap-o one) will prepare you to do this.
Why does this matter? Again, many governments require the certification for legal employment. Also, schools want to know that you’re trained to teach so they can provide good quality education to their students. And for you as a teacher, this certificate should help you feel comfortable and be able to KEEP the job once you get it.
Now, if you are missing one of these three, don’t despair. There are many alternatives. You will likely have to hunt a little harder and sell yourself a little more, but you should still be able to find a job that works for you.
1. Experience. If you have experience in a classroom, it will obviously make you more appealing to schools. If you’re a new teacher with no experience, many schools are still very willing to hire you and train you on their unique system.
2. Background and Health Checks. Some countries require these to work legally and obtain a visa.
3. “The Look”. This is probably the most unfair and ridiculous requirement, but many schools, whether they advertise it or not are looking for young, Caucasian teachers, especially women. It’s racist, unprofessional, and unfair but it exists. If a school gives you push back in this area, you probably don’t want to be working for them anyway.
4. Age. Some schools are only looking for young teachers, somewhat following the theme of having the right “look”. But most schools would not turn away an older teacher with good qualifications and teaching experience.
5. A video. Some schools want to see a video of you actually teaching a lesson. Some just want to see a video of you speaking and answering some questions.
6. A portfolio of lesson plans. This is one of the most common things schools ask for in the interview. Again, they want to see that you can actually teach. On the TEFLPros course, we focus heavily on helping you develop a strong portfolio so you can nail the interview and teach well. However, some low quality courses focus only on theory/multiple choice quizzes and leave you with nothing to show in this area.
At the end of the day, just like any job in any profession, the more qualified and the better your interview, the more likely you are to get the job. But just remember, there is not a “one size fits all” answer to the job question. It depends.
If you have questions about TEFL certification and how TEFLPros can help you succeed not only at getting a job but also keeping it, please feel free to reach out to us at: