TESOL Certifications and the Changing Market for Teaching English Abroad

The big question for many would-be international English teachers is not why, but how to teach English abroad. After all, although international demand for English teachers is at an all-time high, so too is the supply of would-be educators. Indeed, what was once a fringe movement has become a large – and increasingly competitive – industry.

At the same time, a TESOL certification, long seen as a leg-up in a job search but not an essential feature of one, is increasingly becoming a prerequisite. While it of course remains possible to get a job teaching English abroad without formal certifications – private companies around the world and the Peace Corps in the United States, for example, are always looking for raw recruits – it is increasingly more difficult to get the best jobs without one. For example, many government programs in countries like Japan and South Korea that once enlisted scores of untrained teachers annually (but also offered stable, secure positions) have slowly shifted their focus towards certified instructors.

Fortunately, a teaching certificate is also easier to come by than ever. 120 hour programs are offered in an equally varied number of locations and mediums. Some TESOL Certification programs are fully online, others part-time over several months, and still others full-time (and can be completed in your home country or at a growing number of international locations) meaning that there are options to fit anyone’s time and budget.

Also, it is important to remember that many TESOL certificate courses make your eventual job search still easier. Not only do they make you a better candidate in general, some even offer fringe benefits like job placement through partner schools while others team up with recruiting agencies in specific countries. In any case, however, your training will doubtless serve you well once you step into that classroom, wherever it might be.


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