How long does it take to get TEFL certified?

“So, how long does it take to get TEFL certified?” This is a question we hear a lot and it’s a fair one! We know you’re eager to get started with your plans, whether than involves teaching online from the comfort of your own home, teaching online as a digital nomad while you travel the world, or teaching in classrooms abroad, so it makes sense that you want to know how long it will take you to get there.

Online vs Classroom

First off, online courses vs classroom courses. Which one you choose will make the biggest difference to how long it will take you to get your TEFL certification. Online courses are much faster, as the material is available to you 24/7 and you can study at your own pace. You’re also less likely to miss study sessions with online courses, than you might be with physical classes – for example if the teacher is sick/your car breaks down/you’re running late from work etc. (it happens more often than you might think!) And the fewer sessions you miss, the quicker you can work through the course.

woman smiling at laptop

Additional factors

There are also a number of additional factors that will affect the time it takes to get your TEFL certification, once you’ve decided to take an online course. These include:

  • How much training you want to do – the longer the course, the longer it will take to complete (seems obvious, but it’s worth mentioning!)
  • How much time you can dedicate to studying per week – the more time you can dedicate, the faster you’ll progress through the course material
  • Your willingness to reach out for help if you get stuck – if you don’t like to ask for help, you’re more likely to get stuck if you find something you don’t understand/can’t work through, and this will delay your progress
  • How quickly you work through the material – if you’re the type of person that reads extremely quickly and powers through study material, then you’ll probably work through the course more quickly than the average person. And the reverse also applies – if you like to take your time and absorb everything at a slower pace, you’ll progress more slowly (but that’s OK! Better to make sure you understand everything!)

woman working on her online course

Average timescales

Despite all these additional factors, we can give you an average of how long it’s taken other people to complete each of our online courses, to give you some idea of how long it might take to get TEFL certified before you get started:

500-hour Level 5 Advanced TEFL Diploma

This course has an average completion time of 15-24 weeks, but you could be earning in as little as 6 weeks into the course, as you’ll get an initial certificate after you complete the first 180 hours. With this certificate you can apply for online teaching roles, so you can earn while you continue to work through your course and increase your hourly teaching rate as you increase your qualification level.

420-hour Level 5 Advanced TEFL Diploma

The average time taken to complete this course is 12-20 weeks but, as with the 500-hour course, you’ll receive a certificate after you complete the first 180 hours (usually around 6 weeks in) so you can earn while you study!

300-hour Level 5 TEFL Diploma

This course usually takes around 8-16 weeks to complete.

180-hour Level 5 TEFL Certificate

Our 180-hour course takes an average of 4-8 weeks to complete.

120-hour Level 3 TEFL Certificate

With our shortest course, you could get your TEFL certification in just 2-6 weeks (!!), as this is the average time it has taken past students to complete.

man getting his TEFL certification

Things to remember

Don’t forget to take into account that if you can study your course full-time, you could complete it in less time than the average person. And, conversely, if you find you don’t have much time in the week to dedicate to it or something unexpected happens to interrupt your studies for a period of time, it might take you a bit longer than the average person. So, the timings given above are just rough guides to give you an idea of the length of time it could take you if you’re able to study part-time and continuously.

And remember, you have a whole host of support teams behind you if you take a course with i-to-i, who will help you get TEFL certified more quickly. From our TEFL experts, who will help you select the right course for your needs, to our Customer Support team, who can help you with any technical issues you might have with the course, and our Academic Support team and Tutors, who are available to answer any questions you might have about the course material and provide comprehensive feedback on your assignments. The more support you have, the less likely you are to get stuck and the more motivated you’ll feel – so you’ll be more likely to complete your course in record time!

woman with her TEFL certificate

Want some top tips for completing your course? Check out South African TEFL teacher Samukelisiwe’s blog post.

Now you know how long it takes to get TEFL certified are you ready to get started? Head to our courses webpage to select your course or arrange for a free call back from one of our TEFL experts if you have questions or would like some advice on which is the right one for you.


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