5 considerations to help you start your career teaching ESL

woman wearing protective face mask holding passport at the airport

Have you thought about doing a career change and becoming an ESL teacher
 
Not only does the job come with notable perks, like flexible hours and international travel, but all age groups and professional profiles are welcome.
 
Your existing skills are sure to be useful in your new career as an ESL teacher, no matter what fields you have worked in before this shift. 
 
And of course, you’re sure to learn a whole host of new skills too.
 
The great news is the demand for ESL teachers is soaring around the world! 

So, what are you waiting for? 

Here are the five questions to ask yourself if you want to make the career shift and become an ESL teacher: 

  1. What skills do I have already, and how will they help me as an ESL teacher?
  2. What kind of ESL teaching do I want to do?
  3. Do I need a TEFL certificate?
  4. Do I need ESL teaching work experience?
  5. Where can I start job hunting? 

1. What skills do I have already, and how will they help me as an ESL teacher?

First, the following two things are considered essential for most ESL jobs:

  1. Good command of the English language (some roles call for native speakers only)
  2. A Bachelor’s degree in any subject

As long as you have both of these qualifications checked you should be good to go. 

Plus, if you are already a licensed teacher you might be eligible to apply for tons of teaching jobs already. 

You may even have a good idea of the environment you want to teach in. 
 
But don’t worry if you don’t have any teaching experience! Your past volunteer and work experience taught you an array of skills that are transferable. 
 
For example, people with experience working in different sectors could make great business English teachers. 

Or maybe you have editing and proofreading skills that would make you a great fit for higher-level students that are learning to write essays. 
 
To get started on your teaching profile, make a list of all the skills you have that you think could be useful as an ESL teacher.

2. What kind of ESL teaching do I want to do?

ESL teaching is a diverse field with roles that range from teaching online from home (or wherever you have a Wi-Fi connection) to making a long-term move overseas, to teaching people who live in your home country but don’t speak English.
 
You can also teach all kinds of learners, from toddlers to university students, to business professionals.
 
This means you can tailor your career as an ESL instructor to suit you, as long as you know what you want!
 
If you don’t have a clear idea already, try writing down three things you want from your job as an ESL teacher. 

For example, do you want to work from home or teach teenagers?
 
You can also write down three things you don’t want such as working full time or teaching business-focused English.
 
Doing this is a good way to help narrow the field when you’re looking at job ads, as you’ll already have a feel for the kind of roles you are interested in and whether you need any extra skills or qualifications before you apply for them.

3. Do I need a TEFL certificate?

This depends on the job you are applying for. 

Some companies don’t ask you for a TEFL certificate because they have their training schemes for new teachers.
 
This is often the case for larger companies, including well-known companies like VIPKid that hire online tutors to teach from home.
 
But many overseas jobs, and reputable employers, will require applicants to have a TEFL certification. 
 
Getting a TEFL certificate is also the quickest way to learn how to teach English as a second language and to give your CV a boost that will make it stand out to ESL employers. 
 
This means it might be worth doing as a confidence booster even if it’s not necessary for jobs you want to apply for.
 
Choosing the right TEFL certificate for you will take a little research, but could mean you’ll be qualified to teach ESL in a matter of weeks.

4. Do I need ESL teaching work experience?

Many ESL job ads don’t ask for teachers to have experience. 

The main criteria are often a bachelor’s degree, good English language skills, and a TEFL certificate.
 
It’s only more advanced and specialized jobs that might ask for a certain number of hours or years of experience.
 
Beyond this, getting work experience is a personal choice. 
 
If you want to build your skills as a teaching assistant or volunteer as a teacher before applying for your first job, it won’t do you any harm. But you don’t have to.
 
Some TEFL certification courses also provide a small amount of teaching experience as part of the qualification which can be a valuable confidence booster and give you some practical examples to talk about in interviews.

5. Where can I start job hunting?

At this stage, you’re ready to start looking for your first ESL job!
 
But before you launch into your job hunt make sure to brush up your CV. 

Make sure to highlight your TEFL certificate, teaching-related work experience, and any other skills you have that might be useful as an ESL teacher. 
 
This could be anything from coaching or mentoring, to public speaking and business experience, to language-based skills like editing or proofreading.
 
With your CV ready to go, your job search will most likely be online and you’ll see there are plenty of jobs to choose from. 
 
As a job hunter this puts you in a great position! Take your time to read through job specifications, and find the roles you think will work for you.
 
And when it comes to interviews, don’t be afraid to ask questions to make sure you feel confident about the role, especially if you’re planning on moving overseas.

A whole new career that can take you around the world!

Becoming an ESL teacher might sound like a big step, but in reality, it’s a fairly quick and accessible career change to make.
 
And it’s one that could open up the world for the rest of your working life. 

Whether you move abroad or teach from home, as an ESL teacher you’re sure to learn plenty about other people and other cultures.
 
At the same time, you’ll build valuable new professional skills.
 
There have never been more opportunities for people who want to make a career change into ESL teaching than there are right now.
 
What are you waiting for? Your new career and life awaits.