Is TEFL A Career?
Join a global community of over 200,000 TEFL teachers working throughout the world! Enrol me!
Almost daily we get asked: can teaching English as a foreign language be a career?
And the answer is always a big, fat YES!
But it’s often your parents, friends or nosey Aunt Sally who are all like What are you going to do when you come back? How is a year off going to look on your CV? and, our favourite, Why don’t you get a real job?
The fact of the matter is that TEFL has a bad reputation. Many people think of backpacker-teachers who only teach to make it to their next destination. Teachers who party all night and turn up at school unkempt and smelling like Khao San Road. Teachers who believe that if you can speak the language you can teach it.
Read more: Common TEFL Myths Busted!
We’re not all like that. Promise.
Some of us take our jobs seriously. Some of us teach because we want our students to learn English. Some of us plan lessons, teach like our lives depend on it, and mark all through the weekend (ok, not ALL through the weekend). Sure we might be in this field because we enjoy travelling, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t good teachers.
In fact, while a lot of teachers look for a relatively short-term stint teaching abroad, some of us want to keep doing this indefinitely. Is that even possible?
Is TEFL a long-term career?
Happily, yes. There’s no reason why you can’t teach for many, many years if that’s what floats your boat.
But there are also a number of other options available to you in the TEFL field that may or may not be directly linked to teaching. So the next question is, what jobs can you get in TEFL?
Teacher for life?
Just like Mr Hughes who taught History at your high school for 47 years, you can teach for as long as you want to. You might change directions (like teaching English for Specific Purposes, for example), teach different ages, or even teach in a different country, but there’s no reason why you can’t teach until you can’t teach no more!
Like the stress of exams?
TEFL students who need a certification to prove their English level take exams like the Cambridge exams or IELTS or TOEFL. Teaching these classes is very specialised. If this sounds like your jam, you should consider becoming an examiner. This will mean extra training and professional development but once you’re qualified you could be an examiner for a speaking exam or a marker of any of the written papers.
Enjoy a challenge?
If you enjoy teaching but work well under pressure, then you can upskill yourself to become a senior teacher or Academic Co-ordinator. Senior teachers act as mentors for new teachers and organise teacher development, while Academic Co-ordinators are involved in curriculum development and student support.
Are you business-oriented?
If you enjoy being in the English language teaching environment, but are actually more interested in the business side of things, maybe you should consider becoming a Director of Studies. It will require a bit more studying but if this is your vibe it’s totally worth it. As a Director of Studies you will be involved in the planning of the curriculum, recruiting teachers, developing the teachers, and co-ordinating with the sales and marketing team.
Want to put those savings to good use?
Why not open your own school? Opening your own school doesn’t necessarily involve renting premises and buying classroom equipment and hiring teachers. You could start a school which is a one-man show. You could teach at your house, at your client’s house, or in a public space, and you can start as small as you want and only expand when you need to, or not at all.
Think you could teach how to teach?
Once you’ve got some experience under your belt you might find that you become more interested in teaching teaching than teaching the language. In this case, you’ll need to do the DELTA and you can become a TEFL trainer. As you can imagine this is totally different to being a TEFL teacher, because you’re teaching people who speak English, but it’s a whole nother aspect of TEFL which is challenging but rewarding.
Consider yourself a Hemingway?
If you’re nimble with a pencil…or a keyboard, you could leave the classroom and head into publishing territory. You can find contacts within the publishing industry who may be looking for developers to work on a specific book or there are a number of websites where you can share or sell your materials.
Want to find people jobs?
Also away from the classroom, you can join a TEFL company and become a recruiter. You’ll be based in an office but you’ll be chatting to TEFL hopefuls about all things TEFL and helping them find their dream jobs.
Want more but don’t want to give up teaching?
If the classroom is your natural habitat but you’ve got a bit of free time and you’d rather not spend it watching Game of Thrones, you could start up a blog. It could be related to teaching English as a foreign language or travelling or photography – anything really. Once you’ve established yourself as a voice to be reckoned with, you can add ads or join affiliate programmes to earn a few cents on the side. Who knows, you could find yourself becoming a so-called “influencer”.
How to make a career out of TEFL
The first step is to do a TEFL course and get TEFL-certified. For teachers interested in a long-term career in TEFL, we recommend our Level 5 168-hour TEFL course to give your CV added oomph. Plus, when you sign up for our course you get access to three Top-Up Courses absolutely free! Once you’ve got your TEFL certificate under your belt, have a look around to find a job which suits you – and you’re A for away!
The bottom line? Is TEFL a career? Absolutely!
TEFL can be for a season or a lifetime there are so many options available to you. So if your mother or father gives you uphill when you mention that you are going into TEFL, send them our way and we’ll set them straight!
The TEFL Academy was the world’s first TEFL course provider to receive official recognition from government regulated awarding bodies in both the USA and UK. This means when you graduate you’ll hold a globally recognised Level 3 (120hr) Certificate or Level 5 (168hr) Diploma, meaning you can find work anywhere and apply for jobs immediately.