While the USA is a diverse destination with a high demand for English language improvement among various groups, including immigrants, migrant workers, and international students, teaching in the USA with just a TESOL certificate can be challenging. In most states and public school districts, a state teaching license or certification is required. This typically involves earning a degree in education and completing specific training programs, including practice teaching. However, there are opportunities for TESOL qualified teachers in language schools, private tutoring, and community programs, especially in urban areas with high immigrant populations. These roles often cater to short-term English learning needs or provide supplementary education, making them suitable for those holding a TESOL certificate.
Table of Contents
To teach English in the United States, the requirements vary depending on the educational sector. In the public school system, a university degree is typically necessary, along with a state teaching license or an education-related certification. These credentials are essential for meeting the standards set by public education authorities. On the other hand, the private sector, including private language schools, colleges, community centers, and libraries, often has more flexible requirements. In these settings, a TESOL certificate can be sufficient to begin teaching English. While not always mandatory, having previous classroom experience, whether from teaching in the U.S. or abroad, significantly enhances your prospects of securing a teaching position.
The majority of students you are likely to find in your classroom will be adults who have moved to the U.S., either short or long term. Your students will usually have a very strong motivation to learn as they need English in order to find employment, operate their business efficiently, to further their education, or simply to fit into their new community. Due to the high numbers of new arrivals in many areas the demand for lessons is often very strong.
Your students could be a mix of nationalities, with ages ranging anywhere from 16 to 60. They could be from any conceivable background and their motivation for being in your class could be one of many, including:
- To study abroad and experience what life is like in a major U.S. city.
- To prepare for the TOEFL exam which is necessary for international students who want to get into American universities.
- To further their career. A good level of English is increasingly necessary in order to climb the employment ladder in many non-native English-speaking countries.
- As a temporary work assignment from a company outside of the United States.
The best places to find jobs teaching English in the USA are primarily in urban areas with a high concentration of private language schools, community centers, colleges, and even libraries. Major cities like New York, Chicago, Boston, and Seattle are hubs for English language education, offering numerous teaching opportunities. These cities, known for their diverse populations and influx of new arrivals, provide a steady demand for English language instruction, particularly in private language schools. These schools often focus on short-term intensive courses, aimed at quick language acquisition through total immersion. Additionally, smaller cities and towns in the USA also present teaching opportunities, albeit on a more limited scale.
Is a TESOL certification equivalent to a state teaching license when applying to teach English in Public Schools?
Unfortunately this is not typically the case. Jobs in most public schools are off limits to anyone who doesn't possess a state teaching license or equivalent certification. To gain the necessary qualifications you would need to complete a degree in education, a specific training program, and have plenty of classroom experience. However, as previously mentioned, the demand for TESOL qualified teachers in the private sector is very high and there are always vacant positions waiting to be filled.
If you do possess an education degree, gaining a TESOL certification can also be a very worthwhile endeavor. Many schools, especially in smaller communities, like to have a TESOL qualified teacher onboard in order to guide new arrivals from non-native speaking countries.
The best way to find English teaching jobs in the United States involves a combination of online research and proactive outreach. Key strategies include:
- Job Boards and ESL Websites: Utilize job boards such as Indeed, LinkedIn, and HigherEdJobs, as well as ESL-specific websites, where schools frequently post job openings.
- Direct Outreach: Actively contact language schools and educational institutions in your chosen area. This direct approach can uncover unadvertised job opportunities.
- Building a Portfolio: Since many ESL jobs in the U.S. are part-time or freelance, consider working with multiple employers to create a full-time schedule. Having reference letters from previous teaching roles and videos of your teaching can significantly enhance your application and credibility.
- Networking: Engage in networking within the local education community, which can lead to more job opportunities and potentially full-time contracts in the future.
Opportunities for providing private ESL lessons are widely available in the U.S., which can be a great way to top up your income from a part-time or full-time teaching job. This option might involve teaching adults, but many parents also invest money in extra English lessons for their children, on top of what they receive in their mainstream schooling. To take advantage of this opportunity you will need to market your services by placing ads in areas where non-native speakers might congregate, such as community centers, libraries, and cafes. Ads can also be placed in foreign language newspapers and on relevant websites. Business cards and flyers are also a good way to spread your message via the local non-native English speaking community.
Online English teaching is the fastest growing sector within the TESOL world, which makes it a great way to gain some teaching experience and earn some cash before heading overseas to teach. With previous experience and a pot of start-up money you will be in a great position to find a good teaching job in almost any country you can dream of. It might also be a perfect way to make a living while remaining within the U.S. as the demand for virtual lessons is so high across the world that there are a huge number of online teaching platforms to potentially sign up with.