How soon can I get TESOL certified and start teaching English abroad?

The timeframe you need to consider in order to complete a TESOL certification course and actually start working as an English teacher will be decided by the style of course you sign-up for, the location you choose to work in, and how much time and effort you are willing to put into your studies. As a rough guide we would suggest you allow in the region of four to six months from the day you start your TESOL course to actually starting a teaching job. However, if you are in a real hurry, there are ways to lower this time frame.

How long will it take if I enrol on an international in-class TESOL course and then stay on to teach?

If you want a quick way to get your teaching career up and running, this is often the best way to go about it. Theoretically, you could sign-up for an in-class TESOL certification course a day or two before it starts and be fully certified and ready to start work within four weeks. Before you have even finished the course you can be actively applying for jobs, which could mean you will have a position lined up by the time you graduate. However, although this scenario does happen for some people, it is not common as there are many issues to consider along the way.

As many in-class courses sell out well in advance of their start date, it is advisable to book your place at least three months prior to your prefered option. It can also take some time to make all the necessary arrangements such as arranging flights and booking accommodation for your stay. You might even have other issues to take care of at home before you leave, so it is best to give yourself plenty of time.

How long will it take if I complete an online TESOL course and then interview for jobs from home?

This is a common approach for people who are planning to teach English in many parts of Asia and the Middle East, or via government recruitment programs. Employers in these environments typically expect a TESOL course of at least 120 hours duration, so you should put together a realistic study plan that will comfortably fit around your existing commitments. One example of a simple study plan is to spread the 120 hours of study over a 12 week period, which works out at only ten hours of study per week. The next step is to consider how long you need to allow for job hunting.

In general, most TESOL qualified teachers can expect to go through the application and interview process and then accept a teaching job in a matter of just a few weeks. However, after accepting a job it can still take some time to make all the arrangements required before you actually start work in the classroom. You should realistically allow between two and six months for your contract, visa application, and travel arrangements to be sorted out. On a positive note, with an online course you can start looking for a suitable job as soon as you start your studies, which means this time frame can actually begin at the start of your course rather than at the end.

How long will it take if I complete an online TESOL course and then travel to my destination to find a job?

This approach is particularly common with people who are planning to teach English in Latin America or certain parts of Asia and Europe. As with the previous scenario, making a study plan that fits around your existing commitments is a great place to start. As soon as you have completed your TESOL course you will be in a position to head overseas whenever you are ready. Once on the ground in your chosen destination you can begin applying and interviewing for jobs. On average it takes around two or three weeks at most for people to find a job that suits their plans. One tip that is well worth remembering is to time your arrival at your destination to coincide with any peak hiring seasons that apply to your country of choice.

What other timing issues should I consider when preparing to teach English abroad?

When planning your TESOL adventure there are a few other things you might want to consider concerning the timetable. It is advisable to check the validity of your passport well in advance as it can take a while to get a new one processed. In some cases you will need to provide a range of documents for your employer so they can arrange a work permit or entry visa in advance of your arrival. For example, a police background check and/or medical certificate might be required which can take some time to sort out. The processing time for visas for some countries can also be a lengthy issue in some countries. However, providing you allow plenty of time and plan ahead, you should have little trouble getting your overseas teaching adventure started on time.