How many hours of TEFL do I need to teach abroad or online?

how many hours of TEFL do I need

A quick search online will show that there are online TEFL courses to suit every schedule and every budget. 

But how many hours of TEFL training do you actually need to qualify for jobs? Well, the answer depends on whether you're teaching abroad  (and which country you choose) or online.

For teaching jobs abroad you'll need a minimum of 100-120 hours and for online teaching jobs, you'll need a minimum of 120 hours of TEFL training.

Next up, can you fast-track your TEFL course if you need to? 

And will it make you more employable if you do a course that has more hours?

Now let’s take a closer look at the kind of TEFL course you need to qualify for teaching English abroad or online jobs:

  • The general rule
  • Why are some TEFL courses longer or shorter than others?
  • Do I need to do a TEFL course with a practicum?
  • Do I need to do a TEFL course with extension modules?
  • Can I fast-track my TEFL course?
  • Will doing a TEFL course that’s more than 100 hours make me more employable?

The general rule

So if you’re wondering, “how many hours of TEFL do I need?”, the answer is it depends! Generally 120 hours minimum is the most common requirement, but some countries only require 100 hours or have no preference at all.
 
Most employers prefer to hire English teachers with an internationally recognized TEFL certification from a 100-120-hour course.

And, if you want to teach English online to Chinese students, then you'll need at least 120 hours of TEFL minimum. 

100-120 hours of study on a TEFL course typically includes the time that tutors are teaching you (in person or online) and personal study time, although obviously, this can vary. It might also include the time that you spend teaching in front of the class.

These hours can be done intensively (generally over four weeks) or part-time, at a slower pace.

Most online TEFL courses are self-directed and some give up to 12-months to complete the course. However, most advise that you aim to finish a TEFL course within three months, meaning around 10 hours of study a week. 

This pace means you’ll be able to fit your TEFL course in around other commitments, without going so slowly that you lose track of where you’re at in your studies.  

Why are some TEFL courses longer or shorter than others? 

The TEFL industry is infamously unregulated, meaning you can find all kinds of course offerings that vary in length, cost and quality.

This is another reason it’s a good idea to search for an accredited TEFL course, which will typically be a minimum of 100-120 hours long. 

Accredited TEFL courses have been audited and approved by an impartial body, and are up to general standards that most TEFL employers look for. 

While taking a TEFL course shorter than 100 hours long may still teach you valuable skills you’ll use in the classroom, there’s no guarantee that employers will recognize the work you’ve put in, and you may find it harder to find a job teaching English abroad or online.

Do I need to do a TEFL course with a practicum?

Some TEFL courses include a practicum (meaning the real-life practice of teaching a class) and some don’t.

Courses that don’t offer a practicum as standard sometimes provide one as an extension adding extra hours (and costs) to your TEFL course.

Most TEFL employers don’t demand that you do a practicum. So if you find an internationally recognized TEFL course that suits your needs, but doesn’t have a practicum, don’t reject it automatically.

Whether or not you choose to do a practicum really depends on what you want to get out of your TEFL course. Many trainee teachers find it reassuring to teach their first classes in a supportive atmosphere, where they can get feedback from tutors and their peers.

But if you already have teaching experience or don’t feel this is important for you, there’s no need to do one if you don’t want to.

how many hours of TEFL do I need

Do I need to do a TEFL course with extension modules?

Again, this is a personal choice. Some TEFL courses offer extra modules that you can do, on top of the core study modules.

Doing extension modules will add extra hours to your 100-hour TEFL course and extra costs.

While employers will not normally require candidates to take extension modules, they can be useful if you know you want to work in a specific niche in the TEFL teaching industry. For example, you might choose an extension module in teaching business English, teaching English to kids, or teaching English to speakers of a particular language, like Korean or Mandarin Chinese.

Taking a deep dive into your chosen field with an extension module will give you specific expertise, and might make you more attractive to some employers. But, you don’t have to do it to find a teaching job.

Can I fast-track my TEFL course?

In a word... nope! 

You can find TEFL courses that are shorter than 100 hours that may teach plenty of valuable content. But if you take this option, you run the risk of your hard work and qualification not being recognized by employers that you want to work for.

The other way of fast-tracking your TEFL studies is by going through a self-paced 100-hour TEFL course at a, well, fast pace. You can try finishing in three weeks if you’re studying intensively.

Again, this is possible. But you might not get as much value out of your course (that you’re paying for!) if you speed through it without taking in as much as you can. 

Accredited TEFL courses are focused on teaching theory in a practical context, so you’ll be learning skills and making resources that you’ll be able to use in the classroom as soon as you start your first teaching job. 

So, taking the time to do your TEFL course right. Studying at a pace where you can maximize your learning will save you time in the long run. 

Will doing more than 100 hours on a TEFL course make me more employable?

Not necessarily. Most employers ask for 100-120 hour TEFL certificates, and doing more for the sake of it won’t automatically make you more employable. It all depends on the country you choose because every country has different requirements or preferences. You can read our country comparison chart to find out how many hours you'll need and get the full scoop!

But, doing targeted extension modules could help show that you are keen to work in a particular field, and adding extra teaching hours to your resumé will never hurt your chances of getting a job.

One way of doing this is by doing a TEFL certificate with a practicum. You could also look 
into adding experience to your resume by volunteering as a teacher or a teaching assistant if you have time.

Do a TEFL course at your own pace!

When choosing the best TEFL course for you, make sure it has at least 100 hours of TEFL training if you plan to teach abroad.

If you want to teach online, countries like China require a minimum of 120 hours of TEFL. 

That's why its important to think about where you want to teach  or how you want to teach before you commit to a course.

Doing so means that at the end of your TEFL course, you’ll be fully qualified and ready to apply for English teaching jobs online and overseas.