By Warren LilleyTEFL Coordinator
How do I find a job in TEFL?!
What a fantastic question! This is one of the questions that we always get asked and is an important one especially if you have recently obtained your TEFL and are thinking about where you want to go.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is a growing global industry with lots of incredible opportunities to work anywhere in the world. It is perhaps this amazing range of choices and opportunities that can make the decision really hard and difficult for first time teachers wanting to go abroad. In this post, we offer some guidance on how to find a TEFL job and some advice on what to look for as well as what to avoid!
STEP ONE: Research where you want to go!
The most vital aspect in finding a TEFL job is firstly researching where you want to go. While many people start a TEFL course imagining themselves jetting off to a country they always dreamed of going to, the reality is that many countries have different requirements of the teachers who can work within their borders. Knowing what these are, and seeing that you fall within these criteria is the first and very important step!
For instance, if you want to teach in Europe and do not have a EU passport you will have a lot of difficulty in finding a job. This is because preference is given in EU member states for EU citizens to get job posts first. Other regions like Asia also have different requirements for prospective TEFL teachers. Some jobs in South Korea need applicants to have a university degree of some kind, while other areas like Vietnam ask only for a high school certificate.
What this means is that you need to do some research on the countries you wish to go to. The best place to do so is the use of a search engine or go to teaching abroad website that can offer some helpful information on the countries you wish to teach in. Try to get a feel for what opportunities exist and some of the important information about the lifestyle there.
Some suggested sites that can offer you lots of help are:
What information do I need to look at or find out?
This is perhaps the most important. Look and see if teaching positions only need a TEFL certificate or if you need to have a TEFL and a degree. This is a really important step so you don’t set your sights on a position that you will not meet the requirements for.
Review what the requirements are for a visa. These vary from country to country but mainly involve you getting a police clearance. It is best to see what these requirements are beforehand so you can start getting the paperwork in order. Also, bear in mind that obtaining a work visa is the most preferable option and that advertisements that propose obtaining a visit visa first need to be carefully reviewed and investigated.
Salary and Cost of Living
Have a look at potential salaries that jobs in that country are offering and see if there is any advice about how high the cost of living is in that area. Some of these ‘costs of living’ can be mitigated by jobs offering accommodation or living allowances, so look at some job advertisements and their offerings.
Remember you want to find a place that allows you to live and work comfortably. Finding a salary that is too low will not allow you to live in the city you are based in AND will not allow you to save.
Looking at the teaching hours of most posts is also a great way to get some good overall insight into what will be expected from you as a new teacher in that country. As a fresh TEFL teacher, anything under 30 hours is great!
Another important aspect is looking at where you will be teaching. Try to research the actual location using a travel tool or some reviews of the actual destination, by doing so you can get some vital information about the type of lifestyle you can expect in that location. You won’t be working all the time, and finding a place where you would love to live as well is super important.
STEP TWO: Start preparing the required documentation
Once you have a clear idea of the country you would like to teach in and the specific visa requirements, you should begin getting your documentation in order. Remember knowing what specific documentation the destination you wish to teach in requires can make this a much simpler task, so doing your research beforehand can be an extremely helpful step.
That being said the following documentation are usually required.
- Criminal Background Check/ Police Clearance
- High School AND/ OR University certificates and transcripts
Note that your schooling certificates will need to be apostilled, meaning that they need to be internationally verified as authentic legal documents. To do so, requires these documents outlined above to be sent to the proper authorities like the High Court and the Criminal Record Centre in Pretoria. This process can take some time, so we do advise students to try to start this soon and get two copies made (for safety). This will need to be done at your own expense as these are your documents.
STEP THREE: Go through a reputable Agency OR Find your own job!
Once you have all your information about your preferred destination and know that you can work there it is time to start finding a job.
There are two routes to take: go through a reputable agency or find your own job!
Option 1: Go through a reputable agency
Going through a reputable TEFL agency is perhaps the best option for any new TEFL teacher. These agencies handle everything: from the job interview to getting your documentation in order, to your eventual flight to your new job.
When going through an agency be wary of scams. One big tell is that they ask you for money. Any reputable agency is hired by the school or government that is looking for teachers and will never ever ask you for money. Good reputable agencies also have: in-depth knowledge of the country; can point you to other teachers they have sent overseas; and can clearly outline what your work will be. Moreover, a good agency will keep in contact with you even while you are teaching overseas offering support and help!
On the UCT TEFL course, we can provide you with information about a variety of TEFL recruitment agencies we have vetted. We also offer sessions during our course where you can meet these agents or other teachers that have gone through such recruitment programs - all allowing you to feel more at ease in your new career path!
Option 2: Find your own job
The alternative to an agency is finding your own job. This will involve going to TEFL job websites and reviewing job postings. This can be a time-consuming prospect but allows you to find a job that is more tailored to your own choices. However, please bear in mind that it does entail the need to be extremely cautious.
Here are some suggested sites:
Remember to carefully review the job ads that interest you. There are a number of scams online and you need to make sure the company hiring you is a legitimate one that offers what it says it does.
One of the best things to do is to actually see if the school or company is real. Simply doing a web search can unearth a wealth of information about the school which has posted an advertisement. If there are any signs that the school does not exist or if there is evidence of past scams or poor reviews, the best advice is to walk away!
Another key thing to look at is the salary on offer and the potential benefits. Some basic considerations employers should offer are flights home and good accommodation. If the job advertisement does not offer these then the salary should be higher and you should find out for yourself how much accommodation costs and the price of flights are.
From there, make sure you are interviewed prior to accepting the post. Companies that simply offer you a contract need to be approached with extreme caution. A Skype or Google Hangouts interview can also be eye-opening about the school and who you will work for.
One thing to always watch out for is companies that ask you for money first! The cost of bringing you over is for the school that offers the post. If any employer is asking you for money then you need to be extremely cautious.
On the course, we offer sessions that help you identify viable job advertisements and help you in how to present yourself on your application. In this way we help to ensure you have the best possible chance to get the TEFL job you want after you complete our course!