Is a TEFL Certificate Worth It? How TEFL Can Advance Your Career at Home and Abroad

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If you're at the beginning of your teach abroad journey, a TEFL certificate can give your application as an English teacher a competitive edge. Although not every position or teach abroad destination requires it, a TEFL certificate is a surefire way to increase your employment prospects, earn a higher salary, and feel comfortable in the classroom.

Not only that, but a TEFL certification provides essential professional skills that are useful in any career. Couple what you learn from a TEFL course with actual teaching experience, and you have a recipe for success. 

Whether you're trying to advance your career as an ESL teacher or are looking to pivot to a new field, the skills you gain from a TEFL certificate are invaluable. Here's how TEFL can help you kickstart your international career as an ESL teacher and beyond.

Read more: Why Get TEFL Certified When Your Job Doesn’t Require It?  

Is a TEFL certificate worth it?

Getting TEFL certified can absolutely be worth it. That’s because the best TEFL certification: 

  • Makes you more employable as an English teacher,
  • Can help you earn a higher salary,
  • Provides valuable resources and support throughout the move abroad process,
  • Shapes you into a better teacher,
  • And ultimately equips you with valuable professional skills that are useful for any career.

Read more: 10 Life-Changing Benefits of a TEFL Certification 

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What do you learn in a TEFL course?

At its core, a TEFL course is designed to prepare you as a teacher of English as a foreign language. A reputable TEFL course teaches you:

  • How to effectively plan lessons
  • How to select and create engaging teaching materials 
  • How to successfully manage a classroom
  • Essential language teaching methodologies and principles
  • English grammar, structure, and vocabulary
  • Intercultural competency for cross-cultural communication with students and coworkers

ESL Jobs For Those With a TEFL Certificate

One of the most common requirements to teach English abroad is to have a TEFL certificate. And once you've completed your TEFL training, there are many different TEFL career paths to choose from, such as:

  • Private language schools
  • Public schools, typically with a government teaching program
  • Universities
  • Examination centers for IELTS, TOEFL, etc.
  • Non-profits that work with refugees and asylum seekers 

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

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5 Essential Professional Skills You Gain from a TEFL Course to Highlight on Your Resume

You may be surprised to learn that even outside the realm of teaching and education, the skills you gain from a TEFL certification and ESL experience can help you go far professionally. And in general, international work experience will help you stand out as an applicant. 

Here are some of the best professional skills you gain from teaching abroad and earning a TEFL qualification. 

1. Confidence in your communication and interpersonal skills

At its core, teaching is a form of public speaking and will instill a deep confidence that will help you better communicate and deliver ideas clearly. And for those new to teaching, a hands-on TEFL certification allows you to develop and practice these skills in a safe environment. 

The confidence and communication skills you gain in a TEFL course not only prepare you for your first day in the classroom but can help you excel in job interviews so you can impress future employers.

2. Time management and organization skills

As a TEFL teacher, you're typically responsible for teaching many students of various ages and language levels. Not to mention, you only have 30-45 minutes per class to deliver lessons effectively. This means teachers must be masters of organization and time management.

While this ultimately comes with practice and depends on your school, a TEFL certification shares helpful tips for managing a classroom to prepare you for your first day.

3. A deeper understanding of the English language 

As an English speaker, you've likely got the basics down. However, you may be rusty when it comes to the specific rules and terminology of the English language.

A TEFL certification provides a crash course in essential English grammar and linguistics, so you know how to deliver your lessons in a way that makes sense to your foreign language students. That knowledge is useful for many fields outside of teaching English abroad too.

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4. Adaptability and an ability to problem solve 

The ability to adapt and effectively problem solve is crucial as a teacher. That’s because even the best-laid lesson plans don't always work out, which means teachers need to be able to think quickly to adjust activities in the moment. Additionally, moving to a new country requires teachers to have an open mind, be able to adapt to cultural differences, and take them in stride.

The right TEFL course provides aspiring ESL teachers essential resources and management tips to become better prepared for the unexpected. In addition, a course with an in-class practicum allows trainees to put these critical thinking skills to use in a real-world classroom before the first official day of school. 

5. Cultural awareness 

Cultural awareness is the understanding that there are differences across cultures but that these differences aren't inherently good or bad. A high-quality TEFL course also teaches you the importance of cultural awareness and provides ways to deal with culture shock when moving to a new country. 

In today's ever-connected world, understanding cultural differences and engaging with others without bias is extremely important, especially in a field such as teaching, international relations, business, and more.

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5 Things to Keep in Mind When Writing a Resume

Crafting the perfect resume can be a challenge. These essential tips will help you put all you’ve learned into a resume that’ll turn heads and help get you the job.

1. Format your resume to be clear, concise, and easy to read.

The basic format of your resume is as important as its content. If it's hard to read or too long, an employer may take one look and pass it over. When in doubt, it's best to rely on a template to see how to format your resume and how much to write. There are many templates for ESL resumes online that showcase CV best practices, providing an excellent place to start. 

2. Highlight your previous education and TEFL certification as a professional qualification.

Most teaching positions require aspiring teachers to have a bachelor's degree and/or a TEFL certificate, so it's crucial to showcase these qualifications proudly on your resume. It's typically best to list your educational background and qualifications near the top of your CV. And remember to include essential details like the school, TEFL provider, number of hours of training, and any specialties you have. 

3. Read the job description carefully for buzzwords and include them in your resume.

Job descriptions not only share information about the position but also clues about what to include in your resume! Carefully scan job listings for "buzzwords" or phrases that specify the exact skills and experience the employer wants. Then think about all you've learned from your TEFL certification and frame it to match the job description. 

Doing so helps hiring schools and employers quickly identify your resume as one that meets their requirements while also showcasing your careful attention to detail. This applies to any job you apply to after teaching English abroad.

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4. Share specific examples that demonstrate you can walk the talk.

Saying you have relevant experience and professional skills is one thing, but sharing specific examples that demonstrate those skills is another. For example, instead of merely stating you have "teaching experience," it's better to share examples of your teaching experience and what it taught you. Quantifying your accomplishments can also make your resume sound more impressive.

5. Edit your resume and check that it isn't missing any critical information. 

You risk being overlooked for the job if there are glaring spelling errors or missing information in your resume. That's why it's crucial to take the time to read and edit your finished work carefully. It's also helpful to ask another person to proofread it or to use a copy processor like Grammarly to ensure you haven't missed anything. 

When writing an ESL resume, be sure to include: 

  • Personal info: Your full name and contact information such as email, phone number, and address.
  • Education: Any degrees and diplomas earned.
  • Professional qualifications: TEFL certification and teaching license (if applicable).
  • Objective: A short but engaging sentence sharing your job goals and expertise.
  • Work experience: Framed in a way that relates to the job you're applying to.
  • Related hard and soft skills: Such as English proficiency (if not a native speaker), communication, leadership skills, technology, etc. 
  • Hobbies and interests: To show off your personality and demonstrate any other related skills like creativity. 

Read more: 10 Ways Teaching English Abroad Can Improve Your Resume

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Ready to advance your career? Learn More About CIEE TEFL’s 150-Hour TEFL Certification

CIEE TEFL is an internationally trusted brand recognized for being one of the best TEFL providers in the industry. CIEE has a proven track record of helping graduates secure teaching abroad, adding valuable professional and life experience to any resume.

CIEE TEFL's 150-hour TEFL certification makes it easy to complete your TEFL training online in just three months. This comprehensive course includes:

Learn more