Getting a TEFL certification is the first step in a new and rewarding career as an English teacher. With positions available all over the world, becoming a TEFL teacher can provide career opportunities along with the freedom and flexibility to travel overseas and learn about new cultures. TEFL teachers are in high demand domestically as well as in Asia, Europe, and South America, so a TEFL course can position you for success.
The main benefit of completing a TEFL course in the USA is that you can learn without simultaneously having to adjust to a new culture. TEFL courses in the USA provide expert guidance and training from native English speakers and will equip you with the skills you need to become a great teacher.
A TEFL course in the USA is also cost-effective. You can study part-time while you work, or you choose an accelerated program that allows you to get certified as soon as possible. All without having to worry about paying for a visa or foreign housing.
There are a variety of English teaching course types that you can pursue depending on your professional goals. You may prefer to teach non-English speakers in the USA or you may be pursuing this as a way to move overseas. In either case, there are different options for you to choose from.
The basic TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course is typically around 120 hours, though longer courses exist to give you more in-depth instruction. If you want to teach children and adults overseas or teach foreign students online, the basic TEFL course may be the best option for you. Many schools and certification institutions in the USA offer TEFL certifications either in-person or online.
Though often used interchangeably with TEFL, a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification is aimed those wishing to work with learners who are non-native English speakers living in an English speaking country. So if your aim is to teach English domestically to foreigners living in the USA, a TESOL certification is a better choice. The good thing about the TESOL is that it's typically also accepted by institutions overseas looking for TEFL teachers.
For English teachers looking to work overseas, a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) is the highest certification you can obtain and can increase your employability and income potential. That's because while TEFL/TESOL courses can vary in quality, the CELTA curriculum is designed and approved by the University of Cambridge.
The above certifications are generally available in-person or online, so you can adjust when and how you do your training. Many students prefer hybrid instruction which allows for some flexibility and additional in-person training and practice. If you've never taught before, a hybrid program will give you the ability to test out your skills with real students under the guidance of an experienced instructor.
Planning Your Trip
Although there are undoubtedly TEFL courses in your home state, completing a TEFL course somewhere else in the USA is a good way to experience life in another part of the country. You don't have to worry about the complications of foreign visas or finding housing abroad if you're temporarily relocating to another coast or a different state.
When to Take Your TEFL in the USA
TEFL courses are available year-round, especially since there is such high demand for English teachers. However, if you want to get contracted to teach children during the school year, either overseas or at home, then the best time to take your TEFL is late spring or summer. This way, you're done with the TEFL and have time to apply for a job and a visa before the school year begins in August or September.
Popular Destinations for TEFL Courses in the USA
Large cities like New York and Los Angeles have a wider variety of TEFL courses to take. If you're interested in a higher-level certification like a CELTA, then you might be limited to cities where those courses are offered.
Cities with a high immigrant population like Miami or Chicago are also popular because you can get TEFL-certified and gain immediate hands-on experience with the local population of non-English speakers. These places are also popular due to increased opportunities for post-TEFL placement.
What to Look for in a TEFL Course in the USA
It's important to explore your options for TEFL courses in the USA, and consider whether or not you'd like to get certified in a classroom or online, and if you're interested in studying full or part-time. It's also important to take into account the reputation and quality of the program.
Those hoping to begin a long-term career in English teaching might consider one of the higher level certifications offered by a trusted institution. If you're taking a CELTA course, for instance, you can be sure that you'll receive high-quality training –- and employers can be sure of it, too.
Health & Safety
If you're taking your TEFL course outside your home state, you may have to consider health insurance options, as your health insurance may not cover out-of-state doctors and hospitals. You can either switch to health insurance with nationwide coverage or look into temporary insurance options so that you're covered during the period of your TEFL course.
Other safety considerations depend on the location you choose. For instance, would you feel comfortable driving in snowy conditions or living in a high-rise in a city with high crime? Asking yourself these questions can make your life easier in the long run and make for a more enjoyable time as a TEFL student.
After you complete your TEFL course, you'll want to look for a job. After all, becoming an English teacher is the ultimate goal. The TEFL course is just the first step.
When to Apply for Jobs in the USA
Many TEFL programs offer assistance with placement, either locally or overseas. To simplify your transition from TEFL student to an English teacher, you may want to look for this feature in a course. If you'd like to teach English to foreign students in the USA, you should think about applying in the spring with the aim of getting hired for the fall.
Some companies offer business or conversational English courses year-round and are therefore always searching for potential teachers, though you're likely to find the most opportunities available just before the school year begins.
Average Salary of Post-TEFL Jobs in the USA
You can expect to earn approximately $30,000-40,000 a year if you choose to teach full time, however, this depends greatly on the local cost of living. Your teaching experience and education outside of your TEFL training will also factor into your salary.
Some teachers opt to freelance, giving them more flexibility in both the type of work they do and the number of hours worked per week.
Tips for Finding a Job in the USA
Choosing a respected institution that provides quality instruction is the first step in ensuring a smooth transition into the English teaching workforce. Make sure to speak to your course provider about post-TEFL placement options, as they may have connections with schools across the country looking for teachers.
If your provider doesn't assistance with job placement, make sure to network with other educators, either online or in person, and build a network of those working in the TEFL/TESOL industry.