Finding a Job
While we help all graduates of our courses find employment, you may find the following information useful if you wish to conduct your own job search. Job prospects for TEFL qualified teachers are excellent worldwide. The pay and conditions offered will vary from country to country and will be influenced by your TEFL training and qualifications. You can find a brief overview of job prospects from continent to continent below. For more detailed on prospects in individual countries please see part 5 of this guide.
On successful completion of your TEFL course, and equipped with your new knowledge and skills, you will find that you will be offered jobs in all corners of the globe. Many teaching jobs are available worldwide but some regions, such as Asia, Latin America and Europe, have a higher demand for English language teachers. In some countries you will be able to teach in public schools, community colleges and institutes of further and/or higher education, while in others you'll be able to teach at private language schools and within local and multi-national companies.
Types of employer
As the name suggests language schools are private companies set up for the purpose of providing paid language tuition to the general public. They will usually have a number of classrooms, offices and a teaching resource library. Language schools provide tuition to students of all ages, backgrounds and ability levels. Some schools focus on 'in house' courses, while others will sub-contract teachers to teach in businesses and/or state schools. Most teachers can expect some in school teaching as well as some traveling to provide lessons to companies.
Language schools will usually offer a higher salary than government sector schools but the holidays are almost always less generous. Language school timetables frequently involve some early morning teaching plus late afternoon/early evening hours (even weekends at some schools) as the students are working or studying during normal school hours.
State schools are government controlled/funded institutions that provide general education to the public. Most state schools provide language tuition as part of the curriculum and therefore need language teachers. In some countries these schools will use local teachers with a good knowledge of the English language but in other countries there are some opportunities for TEFL qualified, native English speaking teachers. Salaries usually aren't as high as in the private sector but timetables are more convenient and holidays are longer.
In the past many local and multinational companies contracted language schools to provide their employees with English language tuition to enable them to be able to perform their jobs more effectively. Nowadays many of these companies are seeing the benefits of directly employing the teachers themselves. Working for a private company will often involve some proof reading of letters/faxes/emails as well as English teaching. Salaries are usually quite high in comparison to schools and the timetable is usually Monday to Friday, 9-5 and therefore most teachers find it more convenient than the hours on offer at language schools. As a result competition for these jobs can be very high.
Universities that offer language courses will frequently employ native English speaker teachers. Hours are usually quite low, working conditions good and salaries reasonable. Demand for such positions is therefore high and universities are able to be more selective and choose teachers with the highest qualifications and most experience. Universities are not normally a good source of jobs for the inexperienced/newly graduated teacher.
There are thousands of jobs offered through various TEFL job websites and forums yet these jobs still only represent a small percentage of the number of jobs available at any one time. Some of these websites focus on a particular city, country or region, while others are more international. Most of these sites will also give you the opportunity to post your CV/resume for potential employers to view and contact you directly with vacancies. If you are searching for a job using the internet, it is also useful to check out the online English language press of the country/area where you plan on working as their classified sections will often list local teaching vacancies. Regional expat discussion forums may also list TEFL jobs from time to time and can be a good source of the latest information of working conditions and work/residence visas etc.
While the advent of the internet has made this information freely available, the downside is that everyone else also looking for a job can access the same details and as such internet listings can result in hundreds of applications and higher competition for those vacancies.
We provide all graduates of our courses with an extensive list of the most popular websites that offer both regional vacancies and job listings from around the world.
The use of recruitment agencies to assist in the job search is perhaps lower now than previously as now many employers can simply list their vacancies on the internet for a much lower cost than the agencies charge, however some major employers still use these placement organizations to help them fill their teaching vacancies. The quality of recruitment organizations can vary widely. The better ones will have visited the employers they recruit for and will know them inside out and therefore will be very careful with who they recruit. Sadly other organizations are happy just to take the recruiter's fee without any real knowledge of who they are recruiting for and this has led to some unfortunate experiences for teachers.
Agencies make their money by charging the employer and therefore the service to teachers is usually without charge. Some of these agencies specialize in a particular country or region and others offer a more international range of job opportunities. Often local recruiters are a bit more reliable than the international ones as they are usually have greater first-hand knowledge of the schools and companies that they are recruiting for.
We can provide details of some of the major recruitment agencies to graduates of our courses.
A mail shot (or more frequently these days email shot) is where a job seeker gets a list of schools in a certain town/city and sends a letter of application, together with an attached CV/resume, to all the schools on the list. This is a speculative approach as many of the schools will not have any vacancies at that time but such an approach does offer many advantages:
- It allows the teacher to target all the schools in a specific town/city/region quickly and efficiently.
- It reduces competition for any jobs if you can get your application in before the school has the opportunity to advertise a recent vacancy.
- Many schools rely on speculative applications as they don't incur the costs of international advertising or recruitment agencies.
- Most schools will keep your application on file even if there aren't any vacancies at the present time.
- If the teacher targets enough schools it is likely that some of them will have a number of vacancies at any given time and you can expect to receive a variety of job offers/interview invitations within a fairly short space of time.
We have an database of language schools throughout the world that we make available to graduates of our courses but you can also get lists of schools from the Yellow Pages (or other directory) of the city you are interested in. If there is a British Council office in that area, they will also often be able to supply you with a list of schools.
This is perhaps the experienced teacher's favorite method of conducting a job search but should work equally well for a newly qualified teacher.
On the spot
Many schools prefer to recruit their teachers on the spot, as they get to meet them face to face and as the teacher is present at that location he/she is usually available to start work immediately to fill any urgent vacancies. It can also be advantageous for the teacher as he/she gets the opportunity to see the school, meet and speak to some of the school's current teaching staff and generally get a feel for the place.
Teachers will usually get a list of schools in a particular area (typically from the Yellow Pages or equivalent) and visit those of interest with a copy of their CV/resume. This approach can often result in an immediate interview or at least a face to face meeting with the director of studies.
Other sources of information for 'on the spot' jobs could be in the local English language press and bars/hostels/hangouts of the local expat community. Teachers frequently also advertise their availability for local teaching positions by placing a classified ad in the local press.
This is perhaps the most effective way of finding teaching jobs but the downside is that it may take a week or two (and occasionally longer) to find a suitable position and therefore it can be expensive while you are hanging around waiting for an offer.
An alternative to working for a school or other employer could be to set yourself up as a freelance teacher and give private lessons to the general public. This can often be more lucrative than fixed contract teaching as there is no middle man.
Teachers simply advertise their services in the local press or put posters or notices up around the area in which they wish to teach and then wait to be contacted by prospective students. This can be quite attractive to students as the teacher is usually able to undercut the prices offered by large language schools as these schools have much bigger overheads. Classes usually take place in either the teacher's or student's home/office, though some enterprising teachers have started teaching by Skype or similar.
Although this can seem an attractive prospect, there are downsides to this approach. There may be legal loops that have to be jumped through to register as a freelance teacher (and tax implications etc), with no employer it can be more difficult to get the necessary work/residence documentation, it can be quite tough to build up a sufficient number of students initially to make it financially viable, students are notorious for canceling their classes at short notice and expect not to have to pay for any missed lessons and if the teacher is sick and has to cancel the classes he/she will have no income for that period. Therefore most teachers choose to have the steady income and security offered by a school but will often freelance for a few hours per week to supplement their salaries.
Whichever approach you take to finding a job, you will need to prepare a CV/resume. This document should give some basic personal information (name, date of birth, contact details etc), details of your education and qualifications and also some information about any work experience (particularly related to teaching or training).
Employers will often receive dozens of CVs/resumes so it should be clearly presented and structured so that a prospective employer can quickly and easily find all relevant information. Obviously your CV/resume should be focused as much as possible on any experience and qualifications that you have had related to teaching and training, even if it isn't related to languages. We provide all graduates of our courses with detailed guidance on CV/resume preparation.
Unless teachers are applying for jobs 'on the spot', it is often difficult to arrange for a face-to-face interview. Consequently, the majority of TEFL job interviews are carried out over the telephone or by email/messenger/Skype. Schools that require a greater number of teachers may arrange for an interview day/week in the UK or USA so that they can see prospective employees in person but this is becoming less frequent. Some schools may task a recruitment agency with the responsibility of handling interviews on their behalf but again this is perhaps less common than it used to be.
Obviously it is beneficial if you can arrange a face-to-face interview at the school itself as this gives you the opportunity to get a feel for the school and the location and also will allow you to meet other employees and gain a bit more knowledge about what you can expect. However most schools understand that it is unlikely that teachers would be willing to fly half way around the world (at their own expense) in order to attend a job interview, therefore most employers are prepared to conduct interviews over the phone or by other means.
Bear in mind that the purpose of an interview isn't solely for employers to decide if they want to offer you a job, but also for you to decide if that school is a good fit for you. You therefore need to be prepared to ask questions as well as answer them. Most of the employers questions will revolve around your experience, qualifications and suitability for the job, whereas the teacher's questions are more likely to be related to teaching conditions (ages of students, class sizes, available teaching resources etc), contract terms (working hours, duration of contract, salary and other benefits etc) and general information about the school and location. It is often useful to ask to speak to one or two of their current employees to find out about the realities of living and working in that location or for that employer. It also helps to check just how reliable the information the school has given you really is.
Some schools that are in urgent need of teachers may skip the interview process and offer a teacher a position based purely on the strength of his/her CV/resume. However, it is still in the teacher's best interests to speak to the school directly and clarify any unanswered questions before accepting such an offer. We provide all graduates of our courses with lists of questions that you are likely to be asked at interview and also some ideas of questions that you should be asking before committing to a job.
Once the teacher accepts a job offer, he or she will usually be presented with a contract which details the terms and conditions of employment and the responsibilities of both parties. Obviously the content of the contract will vary from job to job but it should reflect the information provided during the interview. Items that should usually be included in a contract include:
- Employment duration
- Location of employment
- Working days/hours per week (both teaching and administrative)
- Teaching conditions
- Teaching support/further training options
- Salary and other benefits (health insurance, travel expenses, assistance with accommodation etc)
- Residence and work visas
- Holiday/vacation time
- Dispute resolution
- Notice period
Any questions or uncertainties about the contract should be clarified with the employer before signing. Please note that some employers and teachers treat contracts as more of a guideline than a strict legal document but it is important to have one nonetheless.