Do I Need a TEFL Certificate to Teach Abroad?

As an accredited TEFL provider, we sometimes get asked by our customers  ‘Do I need a TEFL certificate to teach abroad’?

Generally the answer is yes! In some countries, you need a TEFL certificate to get the correct working visa and in others if you don’t have a TEFL certificate, you’ll only be able to find to the work in the very worst schools.  In fact, almost all reputable employers will expect that you have some form of TEFL training. It is true, however, that a tiny percentage of people (particularly those who moved abroad a long time ago) may be teaching abroad without a TEFL certificate.

If you are thinking about teaching abroad without a TEFL certificate then we suggest you ask yourself a few important questions.

1.  Do you really want to teach English abroad?

Picture this: being stood in front of a class of 30 students (or more in North East Asia) and not having a clue where to begin. It really is many people’s worst nightmare! TEFLing is a big deal and it certainly isn’t something that should be done ill-prepared or half-heartedly. You should want to go into the classroom on your first day feeling confident that you can change these students’ lives – by motivating them & teaching English to the best of your ability. Without even just a little bit of TEFL training this would be virtually impossible.

2.  Don’t just do it for the students!

Obviously wanting the best for the students should be very high on your priority list. The level of qualification that you take, and the quality of the provider that you take it with, hugely affect the kind of job you will get. You can kiss goodbye to any of the best (or better paid) positions if you don’t have an accredited TEFL qualification… and most employers won’t even consider you with a bargain basement deal-site type course (harsh but true).  Do you really want to go all that way to get an average-poor job?

3.  Why not make life easier for yourself?!

Imagine: a massive meteor the size of a five story skyscraper is heading towards earth. Do you:

a)      Volunteer yourself to save the world (despite having no prior training)?

b)      Cower and cry in the corner?

Okay, okay –we know that teaching a TEFL class isn’t REALLY a life or death situation but you wouldn’t go into any new job without knowing what you’re doing – so why go into a TEFL job with no prior training? Although up to 140 hours of training may seem like a lot – the opportunities that you get from having the certificate are endless! Just a few of the countries that accept an accredited 140 hour qualification as standard are Spain, Poland, Turkey, Russia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea and even Mongolia…Phew!  In general, the better the TEFL qualification you complete, the better your job opportunities will be and the more money you can make.

So, yes you probably can teach English abroad without a TEFL course (especially if you’re happy to work for one of the less regulated schools –and take the lower paid positions). But, do you really want to have that feeling of knowing that you could be doing a lot better for yourself (and your students) with a TEFL qualification? Like anything in life if it’s worth doing – it’s worth doing well!


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i-to-i TEFL
4th Floor, Wilson House, Lorne Park Road,
Bournemouth, England, BH1 1JN,
United Kingdom

i-to-i TEFL is a part of Teach and Travel Group Ltd.
Registered Company No. 7935847.