The main entry requirement for many ESL teaching positions is a 120-hour certificate.
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Generally speaking this certification is available to anyone who:
- Is over 18 years of age
- Has a good working knowledge of the English language
Having this certification does not guarantee that you can get a job however, as most employers have specific requirements depending on the country, job specifics and local employment laws. We will now look at the additional requirements and some further relevant details.
- a. You may see job vacancies advertised which state that the employer is looking for applicants from either the USA or UK. They may even qualify this further by saying that the person from those two countries should not have a strong accent.
- b. You may see job vacancies advertised which state that the employer is looking for applicants from a short list of countries (which are almost always the same list) such as, the USA, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
1. They may only employ citizens of certain countries:
2. They are sometimes only looking for native English speakers:
This is linked to the previous point, in that you may need to be from a country where the first language is English. There are more countries than the previous list in this category, as it now includes India, Pakistan and Nigeria for example. (Note: some people think 1 and 2 should be the same).
3. They have specific language level requirements:
Another way of specifying the requirements of candidates for teaching positions is to ask for qualifications in English. This is more often applied to non-native speaking applicants. The types of exam levels or points requirement are C1 and C2 on the Common European Framework scale or particular IELTS/TOEFL type exam scores.
4. They have an age range:
Lower and upper age limits usually apply to teaching positions and they vary from country to country. A reasonable rule of thumb for any country is a lower limit of 18 years of age and an upper limit of whatever the retirement age of that country is. Note that the retirement age is often different for men and women.
5. They have gender specific requirements:
In some countries there are customary rules that need to be followed, for example a male may only teach males and vice-versa. Such rules are non-negotiable regardless of your own ideas. Make sure you have good background knowledge of the country you intend to work in.
6. They may require specific qualifications:
The most commonly quoted additional qualification other than a TEFL or TESOL certification is that of a bachelor degree. Most often it may be in any subject, but depending on the level of teaching required they may ask for an English degree or higher. As a general rule the higher the salary, the higher the qualifications the employer will expect.
Employers may not ask for any of the above, particularly in areas like teaching English online. However, as the number of qualified people increases, more countries are likely to add one or more of the above to their list of requirements for ESL teachers.