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Getting a TEFL Job

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The most common question prospective TEFL course participants ask is “How do I get a job teaching English?”  We get it – this industry isn’t the easiest to navigate. In this post, we are going to break down some of the basics of how to get a job in the EFL industry. 


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The Basics of Getting a TEFL Job

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 most schools are:


1. Being a Native Speaker of English – 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. Having a 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. It may tie into how they offer work visas. Schools also use this as a baseline for your level of education.


3. A TEFL Certification or its equivalent – Schools want to see that you can not only speak English but that you can also TEACH it. They are two very different things. A solid teacher training course 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.


Beyond the three basic requirements, many schools also look for a mix of these things:


1. Experience. If you have teaching 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 mentor you on their unique system.


2. Background and Health Checks. Some countries require these to work legally and obtain a visa.


3. “The Look”. It’s racist, unprofessional, and unfair but it exists. “The Look” depends on what that particular school is looking for. If a school gives you push back in this area, you probably don’t want to be working for them anyway. There are plenty of reputable schools abroad who do not judge their potential teachers on these parameters and are comfortable having a diverse team.


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. They want to see concrete evidence of your skills as a teacher. On the TEFLPros course, we focus heavily on helping you develop a strong portfolio so you can nail the interview and teach well.


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.


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