With over 10 years of experience in the ESL training field, Rosie discusses why you should consider TEFL as a career change and how you could achieve this. Whether you’re concerned about your level of experience, qualifications, age, or nationality, Rosie answers the most sought out questions.
Why TEFL as a Career Change?
My name is Rosie, and I’ve been in the TEFL field since 2006. I’ve seen quite a lot of technological changes in the last 15 years, but not much else has changed. There are still 1.5 billion people learning English around the world. 300 million of those people are in China, and they’re all willing to pay you to teach them English. At no point will there no longer be a need for people to learn the English language. It is the business language of the world and is the tourist language of the world. It presents a huge opportunity for people. You guys are considering TEFL because you actually have a dream to change your current situation. You want to change careers and your surroundings, either by living abroad or being your own boss to have a freelance lifestyle.
Tens of thousands of people around the world are doing exactly that. They’re setting up their online classroom, at their kitchen table every day, or on their sofa. And they are teaching English learners around the world, and it turns out that it’s something that is hugely enjoyable.
It’s something that is a bit of a hidden gem when it comes to career changes. So if you’re sitting thinking, “I no longer want to do my current job, I want to look for something else, I want to look for something that maybe won’t take me four years and a whole degree to do” then this is where you need to be right here.
A Career Change With No Experience?
Sometimes we don’t realize what our biggest skill or gift is, and that is our natural language. Being a native English speaker or a fluent English speaker is one of the greatest skills you can have.
What if I Have No Relevant Skills to be an English Teacher?
Although you may not have experience in teaching, you DO have relevant skills. There are a lot of uses of soft skills and transferable skills. If you’ve ever coached a sport, mentored in school, or work, or if you’ve trained people in any capacity, then you essentially have a kickstart on skills that a teacher has or requires. Additionally, if you’re good at timekeeping, a good communicator, and you can give good presentations, the more boxes you tick.
2020 is probably the year of adaptation, and around the world, we’ve had to change how we do things. Your previous experiences, skills, qualifications, all play a big part in what kind of English teacher you could be, and also how successful you could be as an English teacher.
The Niche English Market
When it comes to even more specialist skills, like having work experience in tourism, law, medicine etc. you can use information that will be relevant for English learners. The more specific you can be the better.
Although you will get the most amount of classes as a general English teacher, by becoming a specialist and using transferable skills from experience, you’re somebody who is very sought after.
This is where people can earn a lot of money per hour, significantly exceeding what people would do if they were teaching general English.
Is a TEFL Career Change Possible if I’m over 50?
Yes! If you think about the number of countries whereby simply being a competent English speaker that you can either get a job in hospitality, taxi, airports, travel, even oil, all these kinds of things. There are endless supplies of jobs out there for people who can speak English, making a career change at 50 very viable.
For people of nationalities that don’t come from a background of wealth, English can be the key to unlock a prosperous career. If you were to reflect on the career that you’ve had, the expertise that you have, you could bring that into the teaching field and to your own online lessons.
Some students have a very, very specific goal. When you’re dealing with people who have a specific reason to learn English, the closer you can be to addressing this reason, the more valuable you are.
Do I Need a Degree for a TEFL Career Change?
False. There are some instances where you need a degree to be able to get the correct work visa to work in countries like Japan or Korea, for example. But, you don’t need a degree to get TEFL certified or to teach either online for non-Chinese-owned platforms or in many countries around the world.
Can I Teach English Even if I’m Not Native?
You can absolutely be a TEFL teacher even if it isn’t your first language. In fact, some of the best English teachers I’ve ever met are non-native speakers. This is because they have stood in the shoes of the learner and they know exactly what it’s like to learn a language through complete submersion, and they really get it.
If you’re at home and you’re thinking maybe TEFL isn’t for me because I’m not a native English speaker, now you know you can go for 100%.
Do I Have to Know Grammar Inside Out?
What you’re typically going to be hired for is the fact that you have a natural speech rhythm. And that when you speak English, it’s the most natural form of it. So, accent and fluency are more important than your technical knowledge of how many tenses there are in English.
You’ll be glad to know that you do get grammar training on your TEFL course so you’re well-prepared for your career change. We even have a bonus 30-hour course specifically for grammar.
Why Should I Change Careers as a Niche English Specialist?
It’s getting quite competitive out there. Many people have decided that teaching English is an opportunity for them, so they’ve made the career change. So, the online platforms can essentially be a bit tougher with the people that they’re looking to hire.
That’s another reason why we could look at what your previous career was. What do you offer in terms of skills or qualifications? Then, could we develop a niche for you specifically? Following some TEFL training, you start to develop your own program, maybe a series of 10 or 12 different lessons that would get a learner competent in a certain area of niche English. You could be delivering your own program to your own learners, and earning a lot more money.
Which Courses Can I Take to Start my Career Change?
It’s more about you as a person. Do you want to get on the road to teach quickly and get certified in 4-6 weeks? Or are you happy to spend a little more time going in-depth into the methodology of teaching, understanding more of the holistic approach?
At Premier TEFL, we have two choices: You can take a fast track course that will qualify you quickly and cheaply to get an entry-level job. Or, you can go for an English government regulated course. That will essentially allow you to have a career-changing teaching qualification that would be the equivalent to a CELTA or doing a couple of years at university level. So there are two main options and both of them are valid and are recognized worldwide, and Premier TEFL certificates are trusted and respected by employers.
What’s the Hybrid Course?
Included in some of those courses you can do our teaching practice in the teacher studio online with our DELTA qualified trainers. Teaching practice is a way that you can really boost your confidence and your earning power ahead of your career change. It’s for people who are really looking for that top shelf teaching qualification.
If you’re looking to teach online, this is a perfect chance for you to essentially be a bit of a guinea pig. You get to experience what it’s like to be in an online classroom, learning in an online classroom, and then putting that into practice.
How Many Hours of TEFL Training Should I Do?
Whether you do it with Premier TEFL or another provider from around the world, please just make sure that you take a minimum of 120 hours of TEFL training. That is the international standard, the minimum entry for beginner jobs, especially if you start to teach English for a Chinese owned platform, with the new regulations that came out at the start of this year, everybody must have 120 hours of TEFL training, you must be able to verify your certificate online. And it’s part of those government regulations out there.
How Can I Teach English Online?
Teach for a Company
So there are three main options that you would look at if you were to change careers and teach English online. The first is what we would call the scheduled platform, the likes of DaDa ABC. When you join a platform like that, you will have a contract of hours with fixed days and fixed times. You will also have a schedule of students provided to you and you essentially need to rock up and set up your tech plugin, do some preparation for your classes, and teach and you’ll be provided students through that platform.
Build Your Own Profile
The other option then is that you would join a platform that’s freer like Cambly and you would build your own profile. You would gain more brand reputation for yourself and attract your own students and through that platform, they would pick you as the tutor, as opposed to DaDa (for example) scheduling you.
Become Your Own Boss
The third option for an online TEFL career change is to go it alone and become your own boss. That is where you will really find that you can hike the prices of your hourly rate and you’re not under the script of what other companies say you’re worth, you define what your own worth is. The more niche you go, and the more specialized are, then the more valuable that one hour of your time will become.
And you’re being a niche, and anything is essentially being an expert or consultant, a specialist. If you think about it, no matter what kind of service we need, if we hire a specialist for something we expect to pay more, we expect that that person is going to give us more detailed service in one area. We’re also going to be happy to pay more for that. So just keep that in your mind when we’re going through it.
Should I Work Freelance or for a Platform?
You’ll learn more about yourself as a teacher as time goes by. So even if your overall goal is to be completely freelance and work for yourself, it’s absolutely no harm for your development to start off with a scheduled platform or a freelance platform that you can gain some experience.
Which Platform is Right for Me?
If you’re thinking about maybe trying to find a platform to work for, we have a quiz that you can do in about 60 seconds. You put in your own personal information about your profile, and then it will match you to four or five different online platforms that we would recommend you read up on and research and consider applying for.
How Could I Make the Most of My Speciality?
Once you’ve got your niche defined, you could then develop a program of learning. You would develop maybe 10 to 12 lessons that you would sell in a bundle. Developing a program of learning for people that you can then sell as a package is equally as important as developing your niche. Now, why would you do that?
Scientifically, it’s proven that students will have better results in terms of their improved learning, it will feel tangible to them, and they will be satisfied and happy to even pay you for the next program that you would present. Then you know that you can fill up your calendar and maximize the amount of income that you can earn during that period.
From Lawyer to TEFL Teacher
Ralph is a lawyer from Canada. He was watching TV when he saw an interview with someone who moved to Europe to teach English. Seeing the opportunity that was there, he now lives in Spain, having pivoted his whole career from being a lawyer to being a legal English teacher. He has developed his own program of English lessons for legal people in Spain. And he’s making a huge success out of it. Read about Ralph’s career change here!
Lots of South American countries don’t require it, and for many European countries (depending on what kind of passport holder you have), you may not even need a visa, so absolutely not. You do not need a degree to get to be a TEFL teacher.
How Much Can I Expect to Earn?
With those platforms, depending on how you work, your salary will vary somewhere between $15 to $25 per hour for teachers, which means that you could earn something in around $1500 to maybe $2500 per month.
For Cambly (for example), they typically pay a bit less simply because it’s a more free platform. The requirements to be hired there are lower, you may not need a degree or lots of teaching experience. So, the cost per hour that rate per hour is a little bit lower.
But if you make a success of really driving your own niche and then attracting your own learners, you could be looking at upwards of $50 an hour. So that allows you to either choose a part-time week, essentially, or whether you ramped up to full-time, and then you really go for the highest possible income that you can get in.
Should I Learn a Foreign Language Before Teaching Online or Abroad?
In terms of integrating into society when you change careers and move abroad, it’s a wonderful thing to be able to use a local language when you get there. BUT, do you need it for your TEFL job? No.
In fact, some employers would even prefer that you can’t speak any other language because you won’t give instructions to any of your learners in anything other than English. That is the core of TEFL. It’s all about language submersion, and you’re only using that single language in the classroom.