Life After TEFL: What To Do After Teaching English Abroad

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You never know where getting TEFL certified and teaching English abroad will take you. For some, teaching English is an exciting opportunity to experience life abroad before settling down at home. For others, teaching abroad is a stepping stone to higher-level positions in the field of education. And what's more, some people fall in love with teaching English as a foreign language and make it their lifelong career. 

No matter your goals and dreams, making that transition after you finish your contract teaching abroad can be a daunting and intimidating task—especially if you're unsure what to do next. However, you can rest assured that you have some exciting options for your life after TEFL.

So, if you're wondering what to do after teaching English abroad, this detailed guide shares all you need to know.

Life After TEFL: Common Paths People Take

You may not realize it, but your TEFL certification and unique experience teaching English abroad have provided you with some incredible options!

Some paths to consider for your life after TEFL include:

  1. Finding a new TEFL job abroad.
  2. Finding a TEFL job at home.
  3. Considering a higher-level position in the field of education.
  4. Pivoting to a career where your TEFL skills are transferable.
  5. Using TEFL and your experience abroad to go back to school or advance your career in a different field.

5 Options for Life After TEFL: What to Do After Teaching English Abroad

Here’s a more detailed lowdown on what you can do after teaching English abroad.

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1. Find a New TEFL Job Abroad

With a TEFL qualification and experience under your belt, it's easier than ever for you to teach English in a new country. Especially if you want to teach English somewhere known for stricter job requirements and higher salaries, like in the Middle East and some places in Europe and Asia.

Not only that, but you may be eligible for teach abroad jobs that are beyond entry-level.

TEFL-certified teachers who wish to stay abroad should consider:

  • Teaching English in a new country with higher earning and savings potential
  • Becoming a teaching assistant at an international university
  • Applying to be an English camp coordinator 
  • Working as an IELTS or TOEFL examiner at a test center
  • Training new and aspiring TEFL teachers

Read more: 10 Best Countries to Teach English and Save Money

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2. Find a TEFL Job at Home

Just because your contract has come to an end doesn't mean that your career teaching English as a second language has to as well. If you've discovered a passion for teaching, you may be surprised to learn that there are TEFL opportunities available at home!

At home jobs for TEFL certificate holders include:

  • Online English teacher
  • Private English tutor
  • English teaching assistant at local colleges and universities 
  • Non-profit employee assisting with ESL programs for refugees and immigrants 

Read more: 5 Ways To Use Your TEFL Certification At Home

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3. Consider a Higher-Level Position in Education

Teaching English abroad is also a common stepping stone to higher-level positions in the field of education. Most higher-level jobs will likely require going back to school, but your TEFL certification and teaching experience can make you an ideal candidate for university programs and licensed teaching jobs. 

Some higher-level positions in education to consider after teaching abroad are:

  • English language program coordinator 
  • Curriculum and lesson plan developer
  • University English professor
  • Licensed teacher at an immersion or international school
  • Language support teacher for children with special needs
  • Student recruitment for universities 
  • Director of Studies
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4. Pivot to a Related Field Where Your TEFL Skills Are Transferable

At the end of your time teaching English abroad, you may have realized that teaching isn’t for you, and that’s okay! Your TEFL certificate and international experience has provided you with valuable professional skills like cross-cultural competence, resilience, communication skills, and more. 

These professional skills are transferable to a whole host of related fields that may make it possible for you to find:

  • Jobs related to the English language: copywriter, communications, human resources, technical writer, etc.
  • Jobs related to the TEFL industry: marketing, sales, or recruitment for a TEFL provider or work abroad programs. 
  • Jobs related to the travel industry: study-abroad coordinator, tour leader, travel blogger, translator if you learned a new language abroad, etc. 

Read more: 5 Ways to Use Your TEFL Certification (That isn’t Teaching Abroad) 

5. Use TEFL to Advance Your Career in a Completely New Field

Sometimes in life, we realize that the path we're currently on is no longer right. But that doesn't mean your time teaching abroad wasn't valuable or worthwhile. So if you're coming to the end of your TEFL journey and want to jump into a completely different field, have no fear. 

Some unique ways to advance your career using your TEFL qualification and time spent abroad include:

  • Updating your resume to position the professional skills you’ve gained to relate to any non-TEFL jobs you’d like to pursue. 
  • Relying on the personal connections you built while getting TEFL certified and teaching English abroad. Sometimes finding a different job is as simple as who you know.
  • Building a new skill while abroad. TEFL teachers typically enjoy more free time and flexibility in their schedules, making it possible to pick up a new professional skill. It’s not uncommon for TEFL teachers to go on to become coding professionals, freelance writers, social media managers, graphic designers, etc.
  • Going back to school and using your international experience and TEFL training to strengthen your university application.

Read more: How TEFL Can Advance Your Career at Home and Abroad

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Testimonials from Previous TEFL Teachers and CIEE Alum

One of the best ways to discover what’s possible is to hear what previous TEFL teachers have done after their teach abroad experience. Here are what some CIEE alumni shared about their lives after TEFL.

“After teaching abroad I traveled and volunteer taught in Indonesia and the Philippines. I am currently working on a Masters of English Education.” -Natalie K.

“I moved into education after leaving Korea. I worked for VIPKid for two years and currently am the Center Director of a Sylvan Learning Center.” -Samantha C.

“After my teach abroad, I continued to teach and became a literacy coordinator. Now I continue to work with students who are bilingual.” -Cecilia H.

“I initially planned to teach in China for only a year or two. Now it’s been 9 years! Time flies. I taught at the college level for 6 years and at the middle/high school level for 3.” -Jay D.

“I tutored Chinese kids online as a side job while working to find a full time job when I moved back to Chicago. Since then I've been working in academic operations at an art college…I am more confident in myself and having a teach abroad experience on your resume shows you are open and experienced in a more worldly way!” -Lauren M.

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Learn More About CIEE TEFL’s 150-Hour TEFL Certification

CIEE TEFL's 150-Hour TEFL course is a fantastic jumping-off point for your professional career teaching English abroad. It's an essential requirement for most TEFL jobs and a must for learning the ins and outs of teaching English as a foreign language. It's especially beneficial for those who wish to teach English without a degree or lack professional teaching experience.

CIEE TEFL’s 150-hour course features:

Learn More