Skip to content

Careers Centre

TEFL

Sector Overview

You can read information about role responsibilities, salary, working hours, what to expect, qualifications, skills, work experience, career prospects and related roles on the following Prospects Job Profiles:

You might also see other job profiles of interest in the Teaching and education profiles page (which gives links to the 18 profiles in the sector).

How to get experience/internships

You may be thinking about Teaching English as a Foreign Language to spend a year abroad after graduation or as a long term career plan. There are many opportunities for work experience in TEFL over the summer, in the UK and abroad, including working as a temporary staff member for holiday and short-term language courses. Students may feel happier if they work for a school which is accredited by the British Council under the Accreditation UK Scheme run in partnership with English UK, but there are a range of institutions which look for short term staff.

You can approach schools individually. Many will advertise for staff, in the press and on the websites (see links below) and sometimes on the Internships and Work experience section of our website. There may be a preference for the qualified, or experienced, but it is possible to find work without prior experience over the summer, especially on the activities side of the role.

In addition you can use your initiative by making speculative applications and networking.

Students should research the specifics of any job they are considering applying to so that they have a better idea of exactly what it is that they are applying to and don’t accept a job they cannot afford or will not enjoy. Remember that anyone can set up at TEFL course as there is no requirement for any accreditation.

How to find a (graduate) job

You can find out about opportunities in this sector through online advertisements on TEFL websites, recruitment agencies, in national newspapers such as those listed below, and on the websites of individual employers. Recruiting tends to be conducted all through the year.

Training/Relevant Postgraduate Study

If you plan to travel and would like to teach for a while before returning to the UK to do a job in a different sector, then it may not make sense to get in-depth formal training. Look at the range of year-long job opportunities – some of which do not require teaching qualifications. If you would feel more comfortable taking on such a job with some formal training on how to teach languages, or would value such a training opportunity, then perhaps a short language-teaching course is for you.

If you know this is for you and have plans to run your own language school in the future, you may wish to consider an MSc, PGCE or longer language teaching course. If you’re looking for permanent TEFL work in the UK, it is almost impossible without a formal teaching qualification and experience. Some countries require you to have Qualified Teaching Status as well as recognised TEFL qualification. Typically the more reputable employers will look for relevant qualifications.

It's not essential to have a degree in English or a modern language, although this may help. Training in TEFL is available at different levels, with full-time courses lasting anything from a few days to five weeks. Some courses are even offered over the internet, but consider whether they offer value for money if it’s classroom experience you lack.

To secure a long-term career in EFL teaching, you will need to take further qualifications, which normally involve completing a diploma. Two of the most common are a Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults (DELTA) (offered by Cambridge English) and the Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (DipTESOL) (offered by Trinity College London). To apply for these qualifications you will usually need a certificate-level qualification in teaching English as a foreign language and one years’ work experience.

Some other pointers for selecting courses:

Further information on continuing professional development

Some course providers

Applications, interviews and assessment centres

You will need to apply by letter with an accompanying CV, and some programs, such as JET have more elaborate application procedures. Many overseas employers expect to see documentary evidence of your degree and, if required, your professional teaching certificate. Don’t be surprised if you are also asked to provide photographs. If you are contacting employers with speculative applications, then try to find out the name of the Director of Studies, to whom you should address your application. Being in the country may be an advantage when looking for work – if you are looking for work in Europe it’s best to present yourself to possible employers at Easter for an Autumn start. Also consider applying for your TEFL qualification in the country where you would like to look for work. Language centres often have connections with local schools and may offer help in finding a job as part of the deal.

Key UK Resources

Use CareerConnect, your central careers hub, to:

General TEFL careers information

EFL Teaching Resources

International Resources

GoinGlobal

The Careers Centre subscribes to GoinGlobal, a specialist website with information and job vacancies worldwide.

USA

The USA job market and recruitment timetables, for both internships and graduate jobs, for sectors of employment often differ from the UK.

The Careers Centre subscribes to the reputable independent USA careers information and vacancy provider Vault. The links below will take you directly to Vault subscription resources which cover this sector. You may find further useful and relevant resources linked from there as well.