How to create career longevity as an English language ESL teacher

woman wearing a mask standing in front of a classroom for esl career longevity article

An ESL teaching career can be fun, filled with travel, variety, flexibility, good pay, and job security. 

Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? 

Every day you can make a genuine difference in the lives of your students, as you are also on a journey of growth, both professionally and personally. 

However, teaching English as a foreign language has a reputation as being a short-term or part-time career. This doesn’t have to be the case. 

Whether your ESL career is just beginning or you have years of experience, your short-term commitment can become a long-term venture. 

Your ESL career has the opportunity for so much growth and professional development. 

We narrowed it down into 7 ideas that will help you create career longevity teaching abroad or teaching online:

  1. Continue teaching 
  2. Become an ESL teacher trainer 
  3. Teach in the public school sector 
  4. Begin ESL/EFL publishing
  5. Furthering your education
  6. Get involved in refugee or immigrant services
  7. Open your own school 

1. Continue teaching ESL!

Who says that you have to leave the classroom and stop teaching? There's no expiration date on your teaching career! So, keep going.

If your core passion lies in being a teacher, you can choose to stay in this profession for years to come. 

Some TEFL jobs can be very lucrative if you build upon your experience and obtain all of the right certifications. 

Staying in the same job also builds a strong relationship with your employer, which is always an added bonus. 

If you ever get bored of teaching a certain age group, you also have the possibility of switching things up based on what works best for you. 

Some language schools even have senior ESL teaching positions, so you can apply for these once you have a few years of experience under your belt.

2. Become an ESL teacher trainer 

After one to two years of teaching experience, you can apply to become an ESL teacher trainer. 

You now have the knowledge that comes with teaching in the classroom and understand the dos and don’ts of what best engages your students.

Now it’s your turn to help qualified teachers learn the ropes. 

Tip: Look for teaching centers that run teacher training courses and programs.

This is a particularly popular option for teachers returning from their trips abroad. 

3. Teach in the public or private school sector 

Your experience teaching ESL classrooms is also great for getting a job in the public or private school sector. 

Some additional schooling may be required for public schools, but if you already have your Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate, you can find Teaching Fellow Programs or other fast-track alternate route options that will get you to a permanent teaching position with schools. 

The additional teaching certification will prove to your future employers that you are not only serious about what you’re doing but that you are a knowledgeable professional. 

Licensure programs, like Teach Away's Teacher Certification Program can be completely done online. This means you can become a certified teacher in as few as 9 months while you maintain full-time employment. 

A second option is to apply to private schools, and some may accept your TEFL certification and teaching experience even if you don’t hold a teacher’s license. 

In any case, with some time and effort, you can become a full-time teacher that is proficient in a number of different subjects, not just English. 

Be on the lookout for job vacancies with different schools and happy applying! 

4. Begin ESL/EFL publishing

You can use your past TEFL/TESOL experience to work in ESL/EFL publishing. 

If you come from an English or journalism background, you will have an added advantage!

With ESL/EFL publishing, you will be directly helping future teachers by working for textbook publishers, course curriculum developers, or by becoming a technical writer. 

One of the best parts of doing this type of work is that it often comes with a flexible and freelance schedule, which is particularly appealing to those who have spent time teaching abroad and upon returning home wish to continue using the skills and experience they gained. 

5. Furthering your education

Your TEFL certification doesn’t have to be the end of the road when it comes to your career as an English language teacher. 

Getting additional training and certifications will always help boost your career. 

Especially if you wish to move into more academic management positions, and one day obtain a director role.

Think about where you’d like to progress and you can then begin to decide which courses will benefit your growth the most. 

Even if you wish to remain in the position that you are in now, as an ESL teacher, you may want to look for additional qualifications that will add to your existing teaching skills and knowledge. 

It would also be worthwhile to keep up to date with the latest technological advances and learning platforms, as this can always help you make your classroom a more exciting place to be.

6. Refugee or immigrant services

You don’t have to limit yourself to the teaching world. 

Your international experience from teaching abroad, coupled with your cultural awareness and sensitivity, could make you a good candidate for working in refugee or immigrant services. 

You could find jobs working as a resettlement specialist, or even a job placement advisor. 

Speaking additional languages can also help you land these jobs. 

After all, newcomers in a country will be comforted to work with someone that understands their native language and who can help them get settled. 

7. Open your own language school

After several years of experience, you could open up your own language school. 

For those who fall in love with the teaching world and can’t imagine any other career path, you could channel your passion into starting your own business. 

This will also offer more autonomy in how you wish things to run in your school. 

Opening up your own school doesn’t mean that you need to be a multi-millionaire that can afford to purchase large school grounds, hiring staff and teachers. 

You could keep things small-scale and rent a room or two in a building that you use as your classroom.

Alternatively, you could have a one-person business as you are responsible for all the roles and responsibilities. 

You can teach English online from home, or you could do visits to your client’s spaces. 

Let your imagination come up with all sorts of ways that you can make this happen. 

Teaching ESL creates exciting opportunities for career longevity

We hope this article dispelled the myth that a career in ESL is a short-term venture. 

And most importantly, this is a career path that you can enter at any time or come back to whenever you wish. 

Teaching English as a foreign language is merely the start of an exciting career path from which many doors can open up to you. 

Whether you choose to stay in the teaching world or want to branch out into a related field, have fun and make it your own.

The English language continues to be one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, and so long as this continues, the need for English proficiency will keep growing, allowing ESL teachers to grow as well. 

The opportunities for career progression, personal development, and growth are endless with a flexible and varied with an English language teaching career.