About TEFL - TEFL career paths
There are different motivations for teaching EFL. For many, it is primarily a means of earning money while travelling around the world. For others, it is a career. Many people start out with this intention, but many whose initial motivation was to travel discover that teaching is the career for them.
If you continue beyond the first couple of years of teaching and decide to make a career out of it, there are opportunities for further study and promotion.
Cambridge University and Trinity College, who offer the CELTA and Trinity Cert TESOL respectively as entry-level qualifications, both offer a higher level qualification. Cambridge offers the DELTA (Diploma in Englsh Language Teaching to Adults) and Trinity offers the LTCL Diploma TESOL.
You will normally need at least two years of teaching experience to take one of these courses. They take two to three months full time, or a year or more part time, and include research and assignment writing, a written exam, and observed, assessed teaching. They cover teaching theory and practice in much greater depth than the CELTA and Cert TESOL.
As with the CELTA and Trinity Cert TESOL, many institutions also offer equivalent qualifications to these Diploma level courses.
Another option for further study is to focus on one area, such as teaching young learners or business English. Qualifications such as Cambridge’s Young Learner Extenstion to the CELTA or the LCCI First Certificate for Teachers of Business English can help prepare you to specialise.
Some teachers take these additional qualifications to enhance their teaching skills. For others, they are a route to promotion.
Many schools have senior teacher or Assistant Director of Studies positions, where you could be in charge of running some workshops and training, or responsible for one part of the academic side of the school, such as Young Learners or Business English. You might have to create materials or a course plan, devise tests, observe teachers, or help with scheduling and other administrative tasks, for example. Some of these positions come with a slightly lighter teaching schedule to compensate for these extra tasks.
The next step up is Director of Studies (DoS). Most DoS positions around the world require a Diploma level qualification such as those mentioned above, as well as several years of teaching experience.
As a DoS, you are in charge of the academic side of the school, and will normally liaise closely with the school director/owner. Responsibilities can include recruitment, induction, training, observation, evaluation (and dismissal!) of teachers, class scheduling and organisation, placement testing of new students, devising course plans and testing materials and procedures, advising students, organising teacher meetings, helping the School Director and Marketing team with promotion of the school, as well as some teaching. A DoS position can be very challenging, and often requires wearing many different hats at the same time.
Some large organisations have schools in many countries, often as franchises, and have other positions to manage this. You could oversee the academic side of a group of schools within a city or country, for example, or if you have a more business-oriented mind, sell or help to set up new franchise schools.
There are several other career paths you could follow. You could become a teacher trainer, running a CELTA or other TEFL certificate course. You could open your own language school, become more involved in the marketing and other non-teaching areas of TEFL, such as developing and publishing teaching materials, organising student exchange programmes or activities for students at summer schools. Many teachers choose to go into other areas of teaching in their own country’s school system.
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