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What Qualifications Do I Need to Teach English Online or Abroad?

Where do you find yourself now? Maybe you’ve finished your associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree and dream of immersing yourself in another culture before starting your career. Maybe you’ve been working in one field for some time and feel the need to change things up a bit… or a lot! Maybe you’ve already been traveling and hope to find means to fund more time abroad. Like many people, you might wish to be more present with your family and are looking for ways to work from home. Or perhaps you’re a retiring teacher who wants to keep the classroom in your daily life, without the commute. These are just a handful - out of a multitude of circumstances - that lead people to teach English to speakers of other languages.

Just as there are many reasons to get involved in TESOL, there are a great variety of positions from which to choose. To name a few- you can volunteer teaching English abroad in Ecuador, work for the Peace Corps in Uganda, be a university lecturer in China, teach at a tuition school in South Korea, provide English lessons online as a freelancer from your home or abroad, or teach English to people around the world for a cyber school like Promise K14. Every kind of position has different requirements; and in every situation you will be able to work for a more stable establishment, and make a better living, if you have higher qualifications and experience.

Generally speaking, for positions not requiring qualifications, the pay will be considerably lower than positions requiring a college degree and some kind of TESOL certificate. Also, without any training or experience, it is particularly difficult to meet the needs of your students. If your students aren’t getting what they need, they will move on to another teacher and won’t refer you to their friends. If you have the resources to cover the start-up price of moving abroad or teaching online, it would be a wise decision to first invest in some training. This will allow you to find a more stable, higher-paying position, and it will equip you with the foundation for meeting the needs of your students.

If you Google ‘TESOL certificate,’ you’ll find there are countless pages of companies offering a certificate for aspiring English Teachers. The accepted standard for online teacher training is TESOL International Association’s TESOL Core Certificate Program, which costs $2,000 through their site. Now I am compelled from deep within to point out that we at Promise Opens Doors are licensed to offer their same program, and we provide it at a much lower cost. Currently for our March cohort, we are providing the TCCP for less than $1000, a value that would be easily covered by your increase in pay and student satisfaction. With a TESOL certificate alone, you’ll be able to get better teaching positions in more locations.

Ultimately, for the best experience teaching online or abroad, you will need a college degree as well as a TESOL Certificate. Most schools in Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America require a bachelor’s degree at minimum, and many won’t consider applicants who don’t have a TESOL certificate of at least 100 hours plus teaching practicum. If you hold a college degree in a field unrelated to linguistics or education, it is imperative that you invest in a TESOL certificate to make yourself attractive to employers and students. For your interview, you should be ready to explain why you want to work in their country, as well as what support systems you have in place for dealing with culture shock and homesickness. More importantly, prepare to explain some challenges you expect to encounter as an English teacher, and how you would respond to those challenges. Whatever you do to get into your teaching position, we hope you will make sure you have what you need to take care of your students, and just as importantly, yourself.

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