Who can get a TESOL certification?

TESOL certification is generally accessible to a wide range of people. The primary prerequisites for obtaining a 120-hour TESOL certificate, which is the standard requirement for many ESL teaching positions, are:

  • Age: Candidates must be over 18 years old.
  • English Proficiency: A good working knowledge of the English language is essential, regardless of whether it is the candidate's first language.

However, it is important to note that obtaining a TESOL certification does not automatically guarantee employment. Many employers have specific requirements that may include additional qualifications, experience, or compliance with local employment laws. Therefore, while TESOL certification is a crucial step, understanding the job market and additional requirements in your target country or teaching context is equally important.

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Typical additional requirements for some employers throughout the world

Typical additional requirements for some employers throughout the world

    1. They may only employ citizens of certain countries:

    • 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.

    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.