Is a Level 5 TEFL Course Equivalent to a CELTA?

When you burst onto the TEFL scene, the number of choices you have between courses can be overwhelming. Should you get a TEFL or a CELTA? What’s a TESL? Are 120 hours enough? You’ll also need to worry about the level of your TEFL course according to the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual). One question that is often asked is whether a level 5 TEFL course is equivalent to a CELTA? 

While some may argue that a Level 5 TEFL course is equivalent to a CELTA, you’ll also hear otherwise. The answer may not be black or white, so there are some differences to consider. First, let’s consider the varying levels of TEFL courses. 

A Level 3 TEFL Course

The general rule is that employers require a minimum of a 120-hour TEFL course when hiring foreign English teachers. This is an entry-level qualification for aspiring English teachers. An online 120-hour TEFL course is usually Level 3 according to Ofqual, the equivalent of an A level or an advanced apprenticeship. An accredited 120-hour TEFL course will equip you to enter a classroom and deliver effective lessons with confidence.

A Level 5 TEFL Course

But why limit yourself when you could become certified with a 168 hour Ofqual Level 5 TEFL course? By investing a little more time and money, you could become significantly more employable in a competitive market. 

With a government-regulated 168-hour Ofqual Level 5 TEFL course, you demonstrate to potential employers how serious you are about teaching. By completing an in-depth and internationally recognized TEFL course, you’ll boost your employability and your salary potential. 

A 168-hour TEFL is much more comprehensive than a standard 120-hour TEFL. With additional modules to study and assistance from DELTA qualified tutors, you’ll be more than prepared to take the lead in an English learning classroom. 

Level 5, according to Ofqual’s framework, is the equivalent of a foundation degree or a diploma of higher education (DipHE). In contrast to the foundation degree or DipHE, you could complete this TEFL course in as little as six weeks. Its level according to Ofqual’s qualification framework is equivalent to CELTA’s, however, there are some differences. So, how does the Level 5 TEFL course compare to a CELTA?

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What Is A CELTA?

A CELTA, or Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, is a TEFL course that is moderated by Cambridge English Language Assessment. With an affiliation to Cambridge University, it is no wonder that the course is very reputable and desirable for employers. With such a high reputation and accreditation, both teachers and employers understand the level of work and commitment which comes with a CELTA.

Often, it is a prerequisite for high-paying positions at universities or international schools abroad. Additionally, having a CELTA certification is advantageous in finding work in a country with a very competitive TEFL market. You could even teach English to speakers of other languages in English-speaking countries with a CELTA.  

What Are The Key Differences Between a Level 5 TEFL and CELTA?

Like the 168 hour TEFL course, CELTA is also a level 5. This is where things get confusing, as both courses are equivalent according to Ofqual’s level framework, however, they are still very different. But what matters more than levels, you might wonder? Remember, these are the levels according to Ofqual’s framework, not your potential employers. Here’s where the level 5 TEFL course differs from the CELTA. 

Level and Reputation

While they are the same level of difficulty according to Ofqual, here is where the similarities might end. Only a fraction of employers list the CELTA as a requirement, however, in the event of this, it is highly unlikely they would accept a level 5 TEFL course. 

This is the same as, for example, applying for a CELTA required position (level 5) with a Bachelor’s Degree (level 6). Just because the level is equivalent or even higher, it doesn’t mean you are qualified for a particular job. 

There is no single body of accreditation that authenticates TEFL courses, so it’s easy to question the validity of certain accreditation providers. However, a course moderated by Cambridge Language Assessment speaks for itself. The ‘Cambridge’ in CELTA holds a lot of weight, meaning it is always highly regarded by employers. 

However, employers are always thrilled to see a TEFL certificate with Premier TEFL. Our courses are regulated by both Ofqual and the Accreditation Council for Distance Learning.

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Course Content 

While a level 5 TEFL course and a CELTA may be of the same difficulty according to Ofqual, the course contents are different. CELTA’s acronym stands for Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. However, it was formerly known as the Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults. In fact, it is still referred to as this by some employers. 

Because of this, CELTA qualifications are appealing for teachers who want to teach adults. However, obtaining a CELTA certificate does not mean you cannot use it to teach children. While the course will usually train you to teach adults, there are many transferable skills you can apply in a younger classroom. 

Also, some employers would still prefer a CELTA qualified teacher to lead their classroom. It is even possible to complete a Young Learners Extension to the CELTA course. However, this would be done after you’ve already obtained a CELTA certificate. Obtaining a YLE would be expensive as you’ll be required to already be CELTA certified. 

On the other hand, a level 5 TEFL course such as the 168-hour course will equip you thoroughly to teach both children and adults. In fact, Module 10 of the 168-hour TEFL course is dedicated to teaching English to young learners. 

So, the question is; do you value the contents of the training, or what employers regard more highly? Remember, only a fraction of employers or schools will require a CELTA, and even less so for a position teaching children.


Here is where you’ll see the biggest disparity between Level 5 TEFL courses and a CELTA. A CELTA usually starts at around £1,200, and it can cost much more depending on the location or quality of the training center. If you’re wondering why it costs so much, it is one of the highest teaching qualifications someone could attain. With an internationally recognized certificate as high quality as a CELTA, its price will be paid back in full.  

On the other hand, the price for a level 5 TEFL course will be around $650. With discounts and promotions, you could find yourself paying even less! Just because it is cheaper than the CELTA, it does not mean it is of lower quality. Remember, Ofqual recognizes BOTH the CELTA and 168-hour TEFL as a level 5 TEFL course. 


CELTA courses are usually part-time or full-time and classroom-based. While this offers immense benefits such as in-class experience with experienced teachers, it takes a lot of commitment to complete a CELTA.

Finding a CELTA training and exam center may even require short-term relocation. In the UK, there are over 100 CELTA training centers. If the nearest center is outside of your region, you may have to pay for transport or even accommodation. Along with traveling, the workload is more intense than a Level 5 TEFL. You’ll be expected to complete comprehensive assignments, homework, on top of your in-class learning. 

A Level 5 TEFL course is usually much more accessible. This can be done online, is self-paced, with the option to complete in-class training. Not only is it more flexible, but far cheaper. With the option to complete this online and at your own pace, the 168 hour TEFL course offers plenty of conveniences.  

Due to the quality of the course content and flexibility, a level 5 TEFL course is a fantastic option for ambitious teachers to teach online or in another country. 

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So, Which TEFL Course is Best For You?

120 Hour Advanced TEFL Course

English is in very high demand, and most employers will require a minimum of 120 hours to work at their schools. If you want to teach English abroad for the short term, whether for a semester or an academic year, the 120 hour TEFL course will suffice. It is very affordable and can be learned at a comfortable pace online. You wouldn’t have to put a hold on commitments like work to complete this course. With this certification, you could expect to earn a good salary teaching English as a foreign language. 

168 Hour Ofqual Regulated Level 5 TEFL Course

If you are adamant to teach English for at least a couple of years, you should upskill and obtain a level 5 TEFL course. With a level 5 TEFL course, you could expect to earn a much higher salary, whether you’re teaching online or abroad. You’ll gain a competitive edge over other teachers when applying to teach English abroad. The course is much more comprehensive than a standard 120-hour course, and Ofqual acknowledges this on their qualification framework. This lifelong skill is the same Ofqual level as a CELTA, and will certainly impress your potential employers. 

310 Hour Hybrid Master TEFL Course with Observed Teaching Practice 

If you’re looking for the whole TEFL package, then this is the holistic training course you should be considering. This top-tier TEFL course includes your level 5 TEFL certification along with the highly-demanded observed teaching practicum course. This 40 hour online TEFL training is divided into two sections.

Time to Take Notes

The first section of the observed teaching practice module involves learning from two teachers with two different styles of teaching. This exposes you to other methods of teaching and will shape your own methods of tutoring.

It’s Your Turn to Teach

The second section of the module introduces the much anticipated practical teaching element. You choose from a pool of eager learners and teach them one-to-one for approximately four 1 hour-long sessions over the space of two months. Six of your live classes will be observed by a qualified instructor who will provide feedback and help you improve your teaching style and methods.

CELTA – Level 5

CELTA is undoubtedly the most reputable on the list, however, it doesn’t mean it is necessarily right for you. If you’re planning on making a career out of teaching English as a foreign or second language, a CELTA would be a worthy investment. Your opportunities would be far greater, as you would be qualified to work at many universities and international schools across the world. With a CELTA, TEFL would be not just a means to travel the world, but to earn a substantial salary (because of the ability to work at universities!)

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TEFL Pro Specialist Teaching Courses 

If you want to find a happy medium; you want to be highly qualified but you don’t want to spend a fortune on CELTA, you could opt for our TEFL Pro Specialist Courses. If you’re already certified with a level 5 TEFL course, you could specialize in an aspect of TEFL. This could be in the form of Teaching Young Learners, Teaching Business English, IELTS Exam Preparation, and more. Take a look at the options:

Many of our courses include TEFL-Pro specialist courses. When you enroll with us, you’re not just getting your TEFL certification, you’re getting a specialism too.

Comparing the Level 5 TEFL Course and CELTA

There are many options to consider when you are looking to become TEFL certified. It’s important to know what you are looking for before you commit to completing a course. A level 5 TEFL course is equivalent to a CELTA. The course content is comprehensive, and as long as it is accredited by a reliable body, it is fantastic to have on your CV. The 168-hour Ofqual Level 5 TEFL course is all-encompassing, providing you with comprehensive material to teach both children and adults. This will make you more confident when you enter a classroom filled with children. Additionally, it has some other great benefits the CELTA doesn’t have. It is incredibly flexible, convenient, and affordable. 

The post Is a Level 5 TEFL Course Equivalent to a CELTA? appeared first on Premier TEFL.

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