As the demand for English language skills continues to grow in many parts of the world, there are always plenty of TEFL opportunities available, both online and in traditional classrooms. However, it is no longer the case that just being a native English speaker is qualification enough to simply walk into the teaching job of your choice. Many countries have cracked down on who they issue work permits to and many individual employers, both online and in-class, have increased expectations on the teachers they choose to employ. Also, due to the popularity of English language teaching, the competition for the top jobs increases every year.
The bottom line is that TEFL jobs are plentiful and your chances of finding a suitable position are very good if you are willing to put in the necessary work to find them and to meet the criteria expected by the employer. To give yourself the best options there are a few things you can do to improve your chances in a competitive TEFL job market.
The single most important thing you can do to increase your options in the TEFL job market is to get a TEFL qualification. In the modern world few employers are willing to take a risk on an English teacher who has no teaching related qualifications or experience. If you happen to have years of classroom experience, you will have no trouble finding the type of position you are looking for. However, the truth is that the majority of TEFL positions are taken up by first-time or inexperienced teachers and employers almost always pick a candidate who has completed at least a basic level of teacher training.
Do Your Research
The level of TEFL qualifications required varies from one country to the next and even from one employer to the next, so it is important that you do the necessary research to find out what qualifications you will need to get where you want to go. In order to qualify for a work permit in some countries it is necessary to have a certain level of TEFL qualification, such as a course with a minimum of 120-hours of study. Many other countries have no such restrictions. Similarly, some individual employers, whether there are government level restrictions in place or not, still insist on their job applicants having a certain level of qualification. The only way to find out the requirements of a certain country, or individual employers within it, is to research, research, research.
You might dream of working in a tropical paradise and spending your free time swinging in a hammock beneath the palm trees. Alternatively, for some people it is the attractions of major world cities such as Paris, New York, or Tokyo that are the main draw. However, if you are a newly qualified EFL teacher with little or no experience, your dream destination may have to wait until you have gained some experience in the classroom. Initially, it is a good idea to look towards areas where jobs are plentiful and the competition less fierce than in these premium destinations. Many countries across Asia, for example, have huge numbers of vacant positions just waiting to be filled. They might not be in the perfect country or city for you, but they offer a great way to gain the experience needed to apply for more sought after positions further down the line. And don’t forget, many of these jobs will still come with a good pay check and extra benefits such as free housing, so it is not a bad compromise in many cases.
Once you have completed your TEFL training, done your research, and gathered a list of realistic destinations, it is time to start applying for jobs. As some jobs might attract a large number of applicants it is vital that you do all you can to stand out from the crowd. The first impression you will likely make is via your CV/resume and the cover letter that accompanies it. If these are poorly put together or in a different format than requested, the chances are your application will head straight to the trash can regardless of any other factors. Make sure you follow the application instructions to the letter and ensure all your correspondence with prospective employers is professional and punctual at all times.
Explore All Options
When searching and applying for TEFL jobs don’t restrict your options by only following one route. There are several paths available when job hunting, such as online job forums, TEFL recruitment companies, and government-run placement schemes. By utilizing all the options available you should find you have several potential routes to that all important first teaching job. And once you have got that first teaching job on your CV/resume, your future career path as a qualified and experienced TEFL professional should be full of great options with little to stand in your way.