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How to Get TESOL Certification

Are you looking to teach English abroad? Do you want to become fluent in another language? Or maybe you just want to travel and see the world while earning extra income?

There are many reasons why you might want to get TESOL certification. But before we dive into how to get certified, let me tell you why you should do it.

I'll explain why you should get TESOL certification and share with you the benefits of being a TEFL teacher. Then I'll go over the requirements and deadlines for each level of certification. Finally, I'll talk about how to prepare yourself for the exam and pass it on the first try.

If you've always wanted to learn a new language, earn additional income teaching English overseas, or explore the world, then you owe it to yourself to get TESOL certified. It will change your life forever!

What Is TESOL Certification?

TESOL is a program for teaching English to speakers of other languages, and the acronym reflects this. You may see TESOL listed under the TESL heading, which uses similar wording for teaching English to others as a second language. If you enjoy teaching, enjoy learning something about other languages and cultures, and like helping people excel in different environments, a path to TESOL education could be just right for you. In our article, we’ll break down how you can gain your certification in this area. We’ll also answer some common questions about what you can do with these credentials.

In-Class TESOL Certification

Getting certified through a traditional classroom regimen is one of the two major ways most applicants can obtain TESOL credentials. We’ll also talk about online courses further down in the article. However, in either case, you will probably deal with about the same number of credit hours. Both paths will usually demand at least 120 hours of a combination of study and training in order to graduate you. That said, there are still a few stark differences between these routes, and we’ll cover the major points here. Getting your certification for TESOL in a classroom should give you the benefit of some practical knowledge while you are still in training. You’ll have the ability to communicate with other students or your English language instructors in a formal setting where questions and discussions are the norms. While you can still do this in online forums, the experience may have more of a streamlined feel in the classroom. Further, in-class instruction gives you the opportunity to go elsewhere to get your training. TESOL is all about the English language teaching students from other places or cultures how to understand English. Getting your credentials in a classroom can happen from anywhere in the world, giving you the chance to experience some of the cultures you may teach later.

Online TESOL Certification Courses

With all that said, there is some practical benefit to getting your TESOL training online. You only need a computer and a stable internet connection to do most of the work you’ll have during your courses. You’ll be able to take your work with you just about anywhere. While you may still have deadlines, this method could increase your flexibility. For the most part, online courses have lower overheads in terms of expenses. This should make them more affordable for the average student. If you really want some in-class instruction, you may be able to find a hybrid online TESOL model.

TESOL Certification Costs & Requirements

There is more than one accredited program that can offer you full certification to teach English to others. These program costs can vary quite a bit, so it is worth it to take some time to research some of the top ones to see which of them might be the right fit for your budget. On balance, online should be cheaper than anything you do in person, but the course costs between these two categories can also vary by several hundred dollars. Because of the expansive nature of TESOL, certification in the program usually opens up teaching doors for you across the globe. This means you’ll have some flexibility in where you go to teach and make a return on your investment.

Top TEFL Program Opportunities & Career Paths in the TESOL Industry

There are several programs from which you can choose, but we can give you a good primer here. We’ll list some of the major TESOL avenues you can go down, but we encourage all potential students to look into which options might be right for their needs.


Major institutions from around the world recognize UNI-Prep as one of the leading paths that can provide potential educators with the tools they need in order to teach English to others. In general, it is fair to say that they also have quite competitive pricing models for what you get. With UNI-Prep, you’ll receive instruction that is a full combination of tutoring, online lectures, and the ability to have work materials shipped right to you for free.


We mentioned that 120 hours of coursework is pretty standard for most TESL programs, but you can also get training that lasts more than twice as long. Such is the case with On-TESOL, a program that allows students to choose a 250-hour educational path in lieu of the standard length. You can visit their site to see all the differences between the two paths. Which one is right for you will depend on your needs, but it is important to remember that the standard length should be adequate for many people.

Premier TEFL

If your goal is to get your certification in just a few months, this one might be a good choice for you. Premier usually designs programs that allow candidates to complete all of their coursework in as little as three months. In doing so, they provide different packages that can vary in both cost and depth. Whatever choice you make here, the company has decades of experience in this business to help you meet your educational milestones.

TESOL Certification FAQs

Readers may have a solid grasp on how to take their first steps into finding the proper TESOL course. However, we can also try to answer some of the most common questions about the different facets of how one can do this in the following sections.

What Is the Difference Between TEFL and TESOL?

You may hear some academics use TESL or TESOL as interchangeable terms. Although this is acceptable in some circles, there is also TEFL to consider. As a whole, these are three related but still separate courses that may have some goals that are unique to each one. Knowing some of the key differences is a good first step to determining which one should serve your needs best. TESOL work is more recent than either of the other two programs. As a result, it takes some inspiration from both of its predecessors. With TESOL, the primary aim is to help prospective teachers learn the skills they need in order to teach in countries where people don’t speak English natively or in those that do. While it may sound strange to try to prep educators to teach English in places where some of the population already speaks the language, you can still get a teaching job helping some non-native speakers improve their skills in English. This is also a good career path for those who are interested in linguistics but unsure about how they would like to apply their knowledge.

TESL is a program that will sometimes see used in conjunction with TESOL. However, speaking generally, developers working with TESL tailor it to help educators find language-based work within their own countries instead of abroad. As such, you can think of TESL as a way to help you get the skills you need to help non-native English speakers in your own country better refine their knowledge of this language. If you want to help others learn English while staying in your own country, this is a good option. As the full name suggests, TEFL gives teachers the skills needed to teach English as a foreign language. While TESOL will draw from some of the principles of TEFL, you can think of the latter as one of the most direct paths to teaching English to citizens of foreign countries in which people do not speak it much. TEFL is probably the type of certification that most institutions around the globe will recognize the most out of the three major ones here.

How Do I Choose the Right TESOL Certificate?

There are many ways you could go about choosing your TESOL program, but we can give you a few pointers here. You’ll find quite a few options during your search, but the main things you should look at are the length of time the course takes, the qualifications of the primary instructor giving the course, the practical items they’ll require you to complete, and possible job search help after you get your certificate program. You have to be sure to prepare a great teaching CV.

What Can You Do With TESOL?

Becoming qualified through TESOL can open up several avenues for you. For example, you could become a private tutor to a select few individuals, take a job as an ESL instructor or director, write materials or curriculum for the purpose of teaching English or develop online classes of your own.

How Long Does a TESOL Certificate Take?

Most institutions and schools looking for teachers who will be able to do TESOL work will look for those who have at least 100 credit or practical hours. As such, most certificates will take at least 120 hours to complete, but there are longer programs out there.

How Long Does a TESOL Certificate Last?

Typically, a TESOL certificate program lasts for a lifetime.

Does TESOL Certification Require a Degree?

No, you should not need to get a particular degree in order to get your certification in TESOL. However, all prospective students in this field should be aware that some countries may ask applicants to complete additional program requirements.

Related posts - Can You Become a Teacher Without a Teaching Degree

Are TESOL Providers Able To Find Me a Job?

Yes, many programs that provide training for TESOL will have some kind of job placement center where you can apply to look for placements in the country or field of your choice.

Is It Possible To Teach English Without Prior Work Experience?

Yes, this is possible. The certification itself should open some doors that tell other institutions throughout the world that you have the skills necessary to teach the language to others.

Does TESOL Have an Age Restriction?

Many programs will have some certificate requirement that the candidate is at least 18 years of age. However, most of them should have no upper age limit.

Can I Get a Better Job With a TESOL Certificate?

While we can’t make any guarantees, having more certifications in a field should give you some hiring advantage over candidates who do not. Most institutions will express a strong preference for such certifications. Be sure to take a look at our material on how to start teaching English to beginners which will help you in finding your next job.

Where Are the Best Places To Find TESOL Jobs?

With TESOL applicants traveling all over the world to teach, online portals from specific countries can be some of the best resources for you to use when looking for jobs in this field. J1teachers is among the best places to find your next teaching job in the USA.


The path to a full TESOL certificate has two major routes, and both of them should be quite straightforward. You can choose the approach that is best for you, and you’ll gain the training you need to travel almost anywhere in the world for work in the classroom as a result.

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