Teacher certification can enable a wide variety of career options both locally and worldwide. It is the difference between a teaching job as a tutor or assistant and the skills and knowledge that constitute a professional teacher.
A teaching license (or certificate, depending on the region) is accredited by a local governing body for teachers, and gives any resume professional versatility. A teaching license or certification will be the first thing international schools, ministries of education, and private institutions look for when considering a candidate for a teaching position. (It should be noted here: private language schools and contracts teaching ESL usually do not require a teaching license.)
What Is the Level of Education Required to Become a Certified Teacher?
The path to becoming a certified teacher is entails the completion of an undergraduate degree or higher, and generally involves two different academic routes: concurrent or consecutive. The completion of either one of these types of teacher training programs brings a teacher to the same desired result: accreditation by the licensing body corresponding to the requirements of their local area.
Concurrent Teacher Education Programs
Concurrent programs are suited to high school or first year post-secondary students who plan on becoming a teacher. Typically five years in length, graduates will receive a Bachelor’s degree in their chosen major, along with a Bachelor's in Education (B.Ed) specialized to a specific teaching area (for example, biology). Once completed, teachers will receive accreditation from the licensing body appropriate to their state, province, or region.
Consecutive Teacher Education Programs
Consecutive Programs would suit those individuals with an interest in teaching who have already earned an undergraduate, Master’s, or PGCE (Post-graduate Certificate in Education). Consecutive students take a teaching course that bridges the conceptual gap between their acquired knowledge of a specific discipline of proficiency, and the skills necessary to be able to convey that information successfully in a teaching environment.
Is a TEFL Certificate the same as a Teaching License?
A TEFL certificate covers the fundamental concepts and practical application that apply to Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). A TEFL certificate, when issued from a reputable institution, is a professional certification, but it is not a teaching license. TEFL certification is usually required or highly recommended for ESL jobs. It also strengthens the resumes of licensed teachers hoping to teach overseas. However, it cannot replace a government-issued teaching license.
How Teacher Certification Pertains to Teaching Overseas
Most international schools, as well as other public or private schools overseas, will require candidates to have a government-issued teaching license. For positions that do not require teacher certification, licensed teachers are often leading candidates, and are rewarded with better wages and benefits than would be earned otherwise. TEFL certification can also improve a teacher's application and can increase potential earnings. A TEFL course will also benefit educators planning to teach abroad by identifying common language barriers, introducing culturally-appropriate teaching techniques for working with non-native speakers, and helping teachers develop cultural fluency. For teachers that do not hold a valid teaching certification and wish to teach abroad, a TEFL certificate is highly recommended.