how to get certified to teach english, how to get your certification to teach english abroad, TEFL certified

How to Get Your Certification to Teach English Abroad

As a native English speaker, you were practically born with a skill that many are dying to have. If you’re looking to live and work abroad, this is extremely useful, as many countries around the world are willing to pay native English speakers a decent wage in exchange for teaching their citizens the language that many consider to be the key to their career progression.

If you want to teach English while traveling, you’ll need to get a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification, but there’s a bit of research and planning that you’ll need to do before you start of the journey of getting TEFL certified.

Figure out where you want to teach

This is a huge part of your decision to teach English— where do you want to live? You may be committing yourself to a year in this foreign destination, so doing your research and looking into alternatives is important. Every country values and deals with English teachers differently, so here are some things you should look into when trying to decide where you’d like to teach English, as this could affect how you go about getting your TEFL certification.

Work Visas

If you have a region or country in mind, the first thing you’ll need to find out is if your nationality is allowed to work there legally. Will you need a visa to work? What are your options for getting one? Is it expensive or does it take too long? If it seems nearly impossible to be able able to work legally where you want to, do some research into the “flexibility” of these rules. While I don’t condone living or working somewhere legally, there are plenty of places around the world where people do it all the time. Just be careful— just because other people have been able to beat the system doesn’t guarantee that you will.

Availability of teaching jobs and average pay

More popular destinations for English teachers, like Rome and London, often have plenty of English teachers looking for jobs with not enough jobs to give them. Do you research, and if you’re not dead-set on a certain destination, being flexible could mean much better pay, working hours, and just an easier time getting a job. That being said, governments and schools that are desperate for English teachers sometimes help pay for your flight, your accommodation, and more if you sign a year-long contract with them. Being flexible has its perks (literally!)


how to get certified to teach english, how to teach english abroad, certification to teach english

Think about what you might want to specialize in

A TEFL or TESOL certification is quite broad— it enables you to teach English on a very general basis. Choosing to have a specialization can help you stand out from other applicants, and in some cases, make more money.

Working with children is difficult but if you learn how to do so effectively then you open yourself up to some more opportunities.

Business English courses are very popular in many parts of the world, due to the increase in demand for English-speaking workers, and while it may not be as fun as working with children, it can bring in the big bucks (or euros, or yen, or…you get).

You can even specialize in tutoring for the TOEFL exam, which is the test that foreigns need to pass in order to attend college in the US. By gaining knowledge in how that test works, you can commandeer a high hourly rate and also make your own schedule.

Jess is the Editor-in-Chief of The Abroad Guide. After studying abroad in Belgium during her junior year of college, she caught the travel bug. Her experiences include volunteering in Nicaragua, backpacking through Europe, and a year-long adventure in Italy, and she's now settled in London.

37 thoughts on “How to Get Your Certification to Teach English Abroad

  1. Anna

    Is it possible to get a TEFL if English is not your first language?
    I’ve been studying English since I was seven, attended English Speaking Class for three years, got 94% on a TOEFL test and would like to teach English abroad and live in different parts of the world, can I?

    1. Jess Dante Post author

      If you are fluent in English then usually yes you can still get certified but it will be at the discretion of the certification organization.

  2. Deb B.

    I’m currently a freshman in college going for an English major with French and Mass Media minors. If I’m not going into English Education, what do you think my chances are in being able to teach abroad?

    If you have any contact information that I could get to you by (if you have enough knowledge and information on it), I would love to get in touch with you!

    Thanks so much,

    1. Jess Dante Post author

      In many countries, as long as you have a TEFL certification and the right visa you will be able to teach, regardless of what your degree is in.

  3. China Hawkins

    Hi my name is China. I am a master degree candidate and I graduate in December 2017. Would my master degree be equivalent to a teach certification??

  4. Samson Lock

    I am 18 and I would like to teach English abroad. I do not have a degree (and I am not planning on getting one). I ideally would like to earn my TEFL qualification abroad and work in the same country for job assistance benefits but I am finding it hard to find such courses. Could you help me?
    I could earn my TEFL qualification her in the UK but I am sceptical on job offers and when jobs are available, could you help me?

  5. Christina Holliday

    I am interested in getting certified so that I may teach. Can you tell me where I can go to get certified? Can I get certified for more than one country??

  6. Darren Thomson

    Hi Jess,
    I have noticed that a lot of countries want people between the ages of 18-30 yrs old. Why is that? Also, is it still possible for an older person ( 45 ) to get placement?

    1. Jess Dante Post author

      Hi Darren, I believe it’s for a few reasons but mostly that the countries want to give young people the chance to travel and also to gain international work experience, and I imagine many less people over 30 are hoping to move abroad. As for age, it completely depends on the country– if you can work there legally and the visa works for your age then in terms of hiring they won’t care what your age is, they just want someone who’s good 🙂

  7. olona

    Hi I am 18..
    I have no experience in teaching but I am fluent in English.
    If I do the courses you offer at TEFL will i be qualified to teach abroad??

  8. Faith Pilkey

    I am 20 and have experience in working with children, would love to teach english to children in another country, I am from Canada, AB. Could I just do my TEFL and be set to go? what are the accommodations like? I would love so more info

    1. Jess Dante Post author

      Hi Faith, yes, as mentioned in the article for most countries you just need a TEFL certification to be able to teach, and perhaps a visa. Accommodations vary drastically by country, city, etc. so it’s tough for me to answer that 🙂

  9. Nokuthula Virginia Nkosi

    Virginia Nkosi

    16 April/ 2017 at 20:31 pm

    Hi my dear mom.
    I am a lady to turn 41 this year. I also have a disabilty, my English is fluent as well, because i have obtained Symbol D HIGHER GRADE matric senior certifiacate. I also had an internship in Education department but i was placed in admin clerk as an intern. Then will i qualify to go any where being disabled somehow? If so, do i also need a TEFL certificate?
    Thank you.

  10. Julie D


    I am considering getting this certification but I am not fluent in any other language. Will I still be able to find work in Italy, for example, if I don’t know Italian?


    1. Jess Dante Post author

      Yes, they just want you to speak fluent English the whole time– you don’t have to know the native language and that can actually almost be a plus.

  11. Val

    I am not a native speaker, but am fluent in English with two BA and a MBA degrees from the US university, plus nearly twenty years of experience in corporate America. Is there a path for me to receive a teaching English abroad certification and would my chances of being hired be slimmer just because I am not a native speaker? Thank you

  12. Jonah

    I am not an english teacher but I am inyerested in teaching english in Thailand. Could you tel me where in South Africa I could get the courses?

  13. Mimi P

    I am interested in teaching english abroad. I have a substitute Teachers certification. I have over 10 years experience as a substitute teacher and one year as an Art Teacher for grades 4-5th grades. Do I still need a tefl certificate?


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