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What are the Basic Requirements to Teach English Abroad?

What do you need to teach English abroad? We're glad you asked! Let's go through the necessary qualifications to teach English abroad one by one.

Becoming an English teacher abroad and living your best life overseas is a reality for many people willing to take the plunge. If you're wondering how to teach English in another country, look no further. It's easier than one may think as long as you follow the requirements and qualifications.

How to Teach English Abroad

How to Become an English Teacher Abroad

To teach English abroad, you will need an ESL teaching qualification like a TEFL certificate and a valid passport. Though some programs require a bachelor's degree, many countries hire English teachers without a degree or teaching experience as long as they speak English fluently and have a TEFL certification.

Read more: A 7-Step Plan for How to Teach English Abroad

The Top 5 Requirements to Teach English Abroad

The qualifications to teach English abroad vary region by region and country by country. But if you're wondering, what do I need to teach English abroad?, here are the 5 key requirements to teach English overseas no matter where in the world you plan to teach:

Let's take a look at these TEFL requirements in detail:

1. Hold a TEFL Certification

First and foremost, you need to meet the TEFL certification requirements. Top employers across Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, expect to see this accredited training on your resume. Your TEFL certification shows that you're not only a native English speaker, but it shows that you're professionally trained to teach the English language. 

An accredited TEFL certification class will provide you with the skills and confidence you need to successfully run a classroom and provide your students with a high-quality education. It is also required or highly preferred for most job opportunities. If you want to give yourself the best opportunity to get a great job location, a TEFL certification is key if you don't already have a degree in Education and an ESL endorsement/certification.

Do You Need a Degree to Teach English Abroad?

You do not need a degree or prior teaching experience to teach English abroad in many countries around the world. Having an accredited TEFL certification is all you need to teach English in numerous destinations throughout South America and in some parts of Europe and Asia. 

What Degree Do You Need to Teach English Abroad?

To teach English abroad in some of the top TEFL markets, you will need at least a bachelor's degree along with a TEFL certification. This is the case for Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan for instance. Some Middle Eastern countries offer highly paid English teaching jobs but will favor English teachers with a master's degree and teaching experience.

To learn more, check out Is TEFL Certification Required to Teach English Abroad? 

What are the TEFL Certification Requirements?

A legitimate and recognized TEFL certification course must have a minimum of 100 hours of coursework and 6-20+ hours of live practice teaching with non-native English learners. It must be accredited by a recognized body within the field, and it must be taught by university-level instructors.

Now that you've learned about the TEFL course requirements, check out how to evaluate a TEFL school and how to get certified to teach English abroad:  5 Key Tips to Help You Pick the Best TEFL Certification School (and Not Get Ripped Off)

Armed with an accredited TEFL certification, you are well on your way to securing a fantastic teaching job overseas or online.

tefl certification requirements

2. Have a Valid Passport & Visa

You cannot meet the teaching abroad requirements if you don't have a valid passport. Your passport is key to leaving any country so make sure that it is valid. If you don't have a valid passport yet, make sure you give yourself enough time to apply for a new one. That being said your passport alone isn't enough for your move abroad. You will need a valid visa stamp inside of it. Learning about visa processes and knowing which visa you need to get is key to moving overseas. Before enrolling in your TEFL course, be sure to speak with your International TEFL Academy (ITA) Admissions Advisor about visas and get all of your questions answered. 

  • What type of visa will I be working on?
  • How long does it take to obtain this visa?
  • How long is this visa valid and when does it need to be renewed?
  • Does this visa cost money, if so, how much? 

If you're teaching English online from your home country then you don't need to worry about visas, but if you plan to teach English abroad then a visa is a key requirement. 

To learn more about visas, check out:

3. Be Financially Prepared

Next on our qualifications to teach English abroad list is money. It's important to be financially prepared before getting on a plane to teach English abroad. From initial start-up costs like your TEFL certification course and your flight to the local cost of living and your expected monthly salary, you need to be aware of these costs to successfully plan your move overseas. 

To learn more, check out: What are Start-Up Costs for Teaching English Abroad? 

Do you need to save money each month after living expenses or are you comfortable breaking even each month? Certain countries like, South Korea, Vietnam and China, allow English teachers to save between $600-$1000+ per month. These are ideal choices if you're looking to pay student loans or pay off debt while teaching abroad.

Read more: Top 5 Countries to Make the Most Money Teaching English Abroad.

While teachers in a lot of countries throughout Europe and Latin America, like Spain, Italy, and Costa Rica, typically break even financially. If you choose to teach English in a break-even country, you can boost your income by private tutoring or teaching English online

4. Understand the Hiring Processes

So you earned your accredited TEFL certification, you understand the visa process for your respective country, and you are financially prepared to take the plunge and move overseas. But how do you actually get hired in a country like Japan or Germany?

When it comes to the teaching English abroad requirements, you'll find that some countries require a 4-year university degree while others will hire you with just your TEFL certification. Certain countries have strict citizenship requirements for English teachers while others will hire non-native English speakers with a TEFL certification.

Requirements to Teach English Abroad TEFL Certification

Once you've determined specific countries of interest that meet your qualifications, you need to know the hiring process. 

  • What is the best time of year to find a teaching job?
  • What materials do I need to apply?
  • Do I need to do an in-person interview or will I interview from home?  

Long story short, you want to set yourself up for success before you begin your job search, so be sure you're familiar with the hiring requirements and the hiring process in the respective country you're planning to teach.

Here are some great resources to get you started:

5. Gather Your Country-Specific Documents

If you want to know how to teach English overseas, you will also need to determine what documents you must gather to make your move abroad possible. In most cases, you will need certain documents both to get a job and to live & work in foreign nations. Every country has its unique requirements when it comes to required documentation.

If you're planning to teach English in Latin America, you potentially don't need a whole lot other than your passport and TEFL certification. While teachers interested in Asia will potentially have a much longer list of required documents, ranging from a background check to college transcripts and/or a health check, for example. In limited cases, you may even have to provide a bank statement or some other proof of financial solvency and/or access to a certain amount of funds.

TEFL requirements to teach English abroad

You'll find a variety of documentation requirements across Europe. Some countries like Germany and the Czech Republic have very detailed, specific processes. If you're considering a student visa program in Europe, then you definitely want to start the process at least 6 months in advance. 

Once you're enrolled in your ITA TEFL class, you'll work closely with your Student Affairs job search advisor to ensure you fully understand the required documentation for your respective country. 

So What Does It Take to Teach English Abroad?

Now that you know the basic requirements to teach abroad, here's what it takes to teach English abroad:

  • TEFL certificate
  • Valid passport
  • Open mind
  • Adventurous spirit
  • Willingness to adapt

We hope that you found our list of teaching English abroad requirements useful and that you can make teaching English abroad a reality! Remember, you can always get in touch with one of our advisors and we'll be happy to answer any questions you may have. Happy teaching!


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