If you're looking for a long-term career in ESL, you may want more than just a TEFL certificate. Here are a few different qualifications you may want to consider depending on your intended career path.
1. Teaching Certification
Getting a teaching certification back home can be very helpful for applying to prestigious international schools, or ESL positions back in the US. If you don't have time to take a career break, consider getting your certification online!
You can also get certified in a different country. For example, my American friend was teaching at an international school in China following the British curriculum, so he decided to become certified as a UK teacher online!
2. Degree in English or Linguistics
Most very competitive jobs are also interested in a relevant degree. If you don't want to get a teaching certification, you can also consider picking up a Bachelor's or Masters in English or Linguistics. You can get your degree at home, online, or even abroad!
For example, my friend who worked as a traveling ESL teacher decided to study for his Master's in linguistics at a British university located in Southern China. He taught English part-time and finished his degree in just one year!
3. Degree in Education With an Add-On Certification in ESL
Elementary and secondary school teachers in the US who wish to teach ESL must have a degree in education with an add-on certification in ESL, which can be obtained from your state's department of education.
Many teachers who teach internationally but want to return to the US to continue teaching usually pursue this degree. This ESL add-on is much more intensive than a TEFL and usually counts towards your Master's degree or state certification.
4. Relevant Experience
One of the best ways to get a great job in ESL is to gain experience! The longer you work in ESL, the better jobs you can get. You'll have shown dedication and passion, two very important components of a great teacher. Spend a few years working as an ESL Teacher and you'll have incredible schools begging to hire you.