7 Requirements to Teach English Abroad in 2021

7 Requirements to Teach English Abroad in 2021

Everyone knows that the basic requirement for teaching English abroad is fluency in the language (how obvious, right?) and a TEFL certification. However, what no one tells you is that these are not enough. Many other things are needed before you start teaching English abroad.

Well, WORRY NOT! This blogpost is made for you.

However, you must be wondering, “What! I need to get more things like a TEFL certification”. I may have even scared you into dropping the idea of teaching English altogether. But don’t be scared, none of them entails as much focus and hard work as getting a TEFL certification.

If you have a TEFL certification, 50% of your job is already done. Moreover, I have compiled this list to let you know about the other minute requirements specific to various locations and countries.

So, stop waiting around and dive right into it.

1. Your Passport and VISA

Well, this one is pretty obvious. Before you even think of teaching abroad, you need your basic paperwork to be completed. Forget teaching, you need your passport and the right kind of VISA to do ANYTHING abroad.

First things first, if you don’t have a passport, get started on the filing ASAP. And while you are at it, find out the kind of Visa you may need for the specific country that interests you. Different countries have different Visa requirements, for instance, you may need a bachelor’s degree to apply in some countries. Also, based on your employment types, such as a short part-time teaching job, volunteering, or a full-time job, your Visa requirements will vary.

Ask around and find out the answers to questions like, “How long will it take to obtain the Visa?”, “What kind of Visa will I need?”, “What is the validity of the Visa and when is the renewal due?”.

It is always better to take care of such nuances while you are still at home instead of navigating through while stranded in a foreign country. So, get your house in order before you start applying for teaching jobs abroad.

However, you don’t need to fuss about visas if you plan on teaching English online from your home country.

2. TEFL Certification

Until a few years back, a mere fluency and control over the English language were enough to secure a teaching job abroad. However, today, an accredited TEFL certification online is crucial and central to your job application. No matter if you are an experienced teacher or a new one or even if you are a native speaker.

Without TEFL certification, it is highly unlikely to score TEFL jobs that are highly paid and in popular locations. A TEFL certification ensures the employer of your ability in lesson planning and to manage a class of students with a different language and ethnic backgrounds. It indicates your skills in facing the challenges associated with teaching a second language.

TEFL certification is even a legal requirement, in most countries, for granting a work Visa. Other countries may require other certifications like the IELTS or PTE, it will just depend on the country.

For example, some countries may require PTE coaching, while others require you to reach a minimum IELTS score. So it’s important to check the requirements in the desired country.

However, when talking about TEFL certification, if you are planning to teach an advanced or specialized course like teaching Business English, you may be expected to present a 170-hours onwards TEFL certification. But in most cases, a standard 120-hours TEFL certification will do the trick.

3. A Bachelor’s Degree

The only biggest requirement, apart from the TEFL certification, that you may or may not need is a university degree in any subject. It is not essential but certain government regulations require you to produce a college degree along with your TEFL certification.

Thus, it is the fact that you have a higher education credential that matters with most of the reputable organizations instead of anything related to teaching. Because usually, a specific field of study is not the norm, rather just a validation of your professionalism and ability.

Countries in Western Europe, parts of Asia, and the Persian Gulf typically require a bachelor’s degree with the TEFL certification. Also, the individual schools (public or private), universities and corporates have their conditions.

Whilst countries in Eastern Europe, Latin America, and parts of Asia such as Cambodia may not require the degree. Individual country requirements vary enormously, thus, it is worth checking out the information. You can compare the necessities of over 50 countries worldwide with the abundance of info accessible online.

4. Prior Teaching Experience

Again, different regions and schools have different conditions. Some may not bother to check your experience at all while some may hire only with a certain number of years of teaching experience. Fortunately, most schools don’t require prior experience although it is useful.

Your TEFL certification fits the bill and provides you with an edge over the competitors. Countries as varied as Mexico, Turkey, and Kazakhstan hire teachers based on their TEFL certification and interview rapport even with no experience.

Only countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates need teaching experience. But the good news is they make up the minority of the employment opportunities. Thus, it is recommended to check if your heart is set on any special destination.

5. Native English Speaker

Most candidates believe that being a non-native English speaker damages their chance of getting a well-paid teaching job anywhere in the world. However, that is not true. Yes, the native speakers enjoy the benefit of teaching globally. Nonetheless, opportunities for fluent non-native bilingual or multilingual English speakers are ample too.

Level of fluency, a TESOL/TEFL certification, a university degree, and accent are the only prerequisites in South East Asian, Latin American, and Eastern European countries. Moreover, you can use being a non-native speaker to your advantage by pointing out your struggles through your English learning journey. This way students can relate to you and make you invaluable as a teacher to them.

However, most other parts of the world such as the Gulf countries and the Asian countries (Japan, China, Vietnam, and South Korea) pretty much necessitate a native English speaker.

6. Age Limit

Well, anyone below the age of 18 years is not permitted to receive the TEFL certification. But there is no upper age limit which has made TEFL a go-to for people who want to be productive and gainful post-retirement. Therefore, there are plenty of opportunities for teachers of all ages all over the world.

Popular locations for older adults for teaching overseas include Latin American countries and South Asian countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam. They can find work based on their TEFL certification and work experience in the field.

For people below 20 years of age with TEFL certification, it can be a hassle to find a full-time job. Nevertheless, they can always gain experience teaching at summer camps or volunteering abroad in parts of Africa.

There are certain programs restricted to specific age groups as well. For instance, the French TAPIF Assistantship Program is only for English teachers between the age-group of 20 to 35.

7. Start-up Money

Teachers certainly don’t have to pay anything to teach. That does not mean they don’t end up losing money if there is no well-laid-out plan to cover their expenses. You should take into consideration your flight costs, local cost of living, and expected monthly salary before you make the move.

In some countries and teaching positions, the employer reimburses flight costs and covers start-up costs. The specific amount that you need depends upon the living and accommodation expenses of the region and your monthly salary.

For example, in countries like Vietnam, China, and South Korea teachers can save between $1,000 – $1,500 per month. While in Gulf countries it is safer to have an emergency fund handy to successfully plan your teaching career.

Hence, after TEFL certification, it is vital to be financially prepared before jumping on that plane to the world of your dreams.


Essentially, all you need for teaching abroad is a good attitude and an excitement to immerse yourself in new cultures. A spirit of adventure and an open mind is certainly enough for this rewarding career. However, in actuality, you need the right paperwork to reinforce that dream.

An internationally recognized best TEFL certification and the other requirements mentioned will, undoubtedly, expand your possibilities of living your best life. Gear up to have an influence in your and your students’ lives with the proper motivation.

7 Requirements to Teach English Abroad in 2021

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