Most jobs to teach English abroad require applicants to have a TEFL certification.
This means that before you receive your first paycheck, you’ll have to invest a big chunk of your money on a TEFL course.
TEFL certification costs can vary widely due to factors like program length, location, and add-ons to the certification itself.
So how much does TEFL certification actually cost?
This post will help you understand the prices for TEFL courses, as well as other expenses you may encounter on your way to getting TEFL certified.
Is Taking a TEFL Course Really Worth it?
If you’re serious about teaching English as a second language, you should absolutely take a TEFL course.
Not only is a TEFL course mandatory for getting an ESL teaching job in many countries, but it will also prepare you to teach properly.
A TEFL course it really worth it for a number of reasons:
Aside from giving you teaching skills, your TEFL course will give you job guidance and career advice. If you take the TEFL course in the place where you’ll be teaching, you may also build relationships with people who will remain your friends after the course ends.
Although some jobs have different requirements for how many hours of TEFL certification you should have, 120 hours is the standard length.
A 120-hour TEFL course is comprehensive enough to leave you feeling comfortable in any ESL teaching setting. It’s also long enough to cover almost anywhere’s TEFL certification requirements.
The cost of a TEFL course may put you off of taking one, but be assured that the certification will put you in a position to get a job that will help you quickly offset the cost of the course.
TEFL certification isn’t required for all jobs. Many online ESL teaching jobs and some countries don’t require it, for instance.
In the cases where a TEFL certificate isn’t required, your certification will give you an edge above other applicants and make you look more prepared to teach in the eyes of potential employers.
Note that certain jobs require different certifications. For example, if you’re applying for a job in the Middle East you’ll need CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL certification rather than the TEFL.
Make sure to always check the specific requirements for a given job before spending money on a TEFL course.
You also may not need a TEFL certificate if you have a teaching degree or a teaching certificate in your home country or state, or if you have many years of teaching experience.
What Are the Costs of Taking an In-Person TEFL Course?
Choosing whether to take your TEFL course in person or online is a big decision to make, not least because in-person courses are much more expensive than online ones.
Price isn’t the only factor you should take into consideration when choosing what type of TEFL course to take (although it is, of course, important).
You should also consider what it is you’re trying to get out of the class.
In-person courses prepare you to lead a real classroom better than online classrooms do because they give you hands-on teaching experience and let you interact with your instructor and classmates in real life.
Taking a TEFL course in person may also give you a chance to move to your teaching destination early so that you can begin acclimating to your new home, meet people in your program, and explore your new city.
Two popular providers of in-person TEFL courses are the International TEFL Academy and International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT). Their courses are full-time, four weeks long, and scattered all around the globe.
Typically, in-person courses range from $1,000 to $2,800.
Most in-person courses come with benefits like job search guidance, airport pickups, and assistance finding housing. Of course, you should be sure to double-check on what is and isn’t included in the courses you’re considering before choosing one.
The cost of the course itself will be affected by the region you choose to get certified in. Your locale will also affect other incidental costs that may be incurred during and surrounding the course, like housing, food, and activities.
The United States, Europe, and the Middle East will be more expensive, while Central America, South America, and Asia will be cheaper.
The nature of your TEFL course will vary depending on whether you get certified at home or abroad.
Here are some factors to weigh when choosing between these two options:
Getting TEFL Certified at Home
Whether or not you should get TEFL certified at home is dependent on some of the specifics of your situation.
If you don’t know what kind of teaching job you want yet (or where or when you want to start teaching), then you can go ahead and get certified at home while you decide.
It might also be a good idea to get a certification at home if you’re planning on teaching in a country like South Korea or Japan, where there are fewer options for TEFL courses.
However, TEFL courses in North America and Europe tend to be more expensive than courses abroad.
Unless you find a class right in your neighborhood, you’ll have to pay for housing during the course.
The money you’ll save on travel by taking a TEFL course might not matter in the end anyway, as you’ll have to travel to your teaching destination at some point regardless.
If you already have a job lined up in a foreign country or know what country you want to teach in, it makes sense to take the TEFL there. That way, you can be looking for long-term housing and getting settled while you take the course.
Getting TEFL Certified Abroad
Getting TEFL certified abroad is generally less expensive than you might think.
Course tuition and living expenses vary depending on what region you’re in, but generally, you can live cheaply and find inexpensive TEFL course options abroad.
Some TEFL courses even include housing!
Of course, you need to consider the cost of airfare when you’re traveling abroad.
However, if you’ll be in the country where you’re taking the TEFL anyway, then you might save on airfare by only traveling to one location instead of going one place for the TEFL and then a second place for your job.
If you travel to a foreign country to take the TEFL it’s a good idea to secure a teaching job before or during your TEFL course. This way, you can start working directly after the course.
Getting a job right after the course will help make sure you have enough money to live on.
You may find that the connections you make during your TEFL course help you find a job. The people you meet during your course can also help you build a network of expats and locals and get advice on the country you’ll be teaching in!
Getting a TEFL certification at your destination rather than at home is also a good idea because some employers prefer teachers to be certified in the country where they’ll be working.
The Overall Cost for In-Person Certification Courses
The biggest thing to keep in mind when budgeting for an in-person TEFL course is your living expenses during the course.
Since in-person courses are typically four weeks long, you’ll need to figure out the cost of living in your destination and budget accordingly.
As mentioned, the region you choose to take your TEFL course in heavily affects the overall costs during your training time.
Another important factor is your lifestyle: If you live frugally in a shared apartment and prepare your own meals, you’ll save a lot more than if you reside in a downtown loft and go out every night.
The International TEFL Academy has put together a helpful TEFL Course Cost Comparison Chart which lists the expected total costs for their 4-week in-class TEFL training in different locations.
We’ve picked four examples from locations on different continents for you:
Airfare costs are calculated based on someone traveling one-way from somewhere at the East Coast, USA. Keep in mind that airfare prices shift throughout the year according to travel volume.
In-class TEFL course in New York City, USA
- Tuition: $2,795
- Airfare: $100
- Housing: $980 – $2,500
- Expected living costs: $800 – $1,200
- Estimated total: $4,575 – $6,495
In-class TEFL course in Quito, Ecuador
- Tuition: $1,600
- Airfare: $300
- Housing: $200 – $500
- Expected living costs: $500 – $800
- Estimated total: $2,600 – $3,200
In-class TEFL course in Florence, Italy
- Tuition: $1,650
- Airfare: $400
- Housing: $550 – $1,200
- Expected living costs: $800 – $1,000
- Estimated total: $3,400 – $4,250
In-class TEFL course in Hanoi, Vietnam
- Tuition: $1,749
- Airfare: $600
- Housing: Included in Tuition
- Expected living costs: $600
- Estimated total: $2,949
If you plan to stay and find a job after your course ends, you should save up an additional month or two of expenses to hold you over until you start getting paid.
What Does Online TEFL Certification Cost?
Online TEFL certifications tend to be the cheapest option, and many people decide to go this route for its ease and affordability.
The best part of getting certified online is that you can continue working full-time while you take the course and thus easily finance yourself. This means that your only real cost is that of the course itself.
Online courses that are internationally recognized, accredited and at least 120 hours can cost as little as $200 or as much as $2,500.
The price varies widely mainly based on the organization providing the course and their reputation, and whether an observed teaching practicum is included.
Carefully read each course’s terms and graduate reviews to find out how much support and what perks, like job search guidance, you’ll receive from a given TEFL program.
Adding on course supplements like Business English or Teaching English to Young Learners may also increase the overall cost of your certification.
Some providers offer course options ranging from 20 hours to 300 hours. Just ignore them, as you will almost certainly need nothing more and nothing less than a 120-hour TEFL certificate.
Depending on if and where you choose to do your practicum teaching hours, you may have minor transportation expenses.
Online courses do not typically require you to purchase supplies of any kind, and the headteachers provide everything you might need during your practicum hours.
Are Low-Cost Online TEFL Courses Bad?
If you’re looking for information about TEFL courses in Facebook groups or elsewhere online, you’ll find TEFL course providers and graduates trying to convince you not to buy cheap online courses.
If I were selling a high-priced course or had paid a lot of money to take one, I probably would be telling you the same thing.
You can find online courses for well over $1,000. But does a higher price tag really guarantee a better course? Not necessarily.
Of course, a course you buy for $69 with a Groupon deal is probably a scam (or poor quality).
Not only will you run the risk of not getting the proper certification to get a legit job, but the course may also come with hidden costs. For example, you may have to pay extra just to get a paper copy of your TEFL certificate.
But in general, affordability doesn’t necessarily indicate a lack of quality.
As more and more people enter the TEFL industry, the costs of building online courses and running a TEFL website are declining. This means you can now profitably sell a comprehensive online TEFL course for a couple of hundred dollars.
Before enrolling in a course, do your research and read reviews from course alumni.
You can find any number of affordable courses that will cost you around $200-$500.
A good course is one that receives great reviews, supports its students in getting high-paying teaching jobs abroad, and is accredited by reputable institutions.
The accredited 120-hour online TEFL course from Let’s TEFL is one of those recommendable courses.
Some teachers want to have a renowned institute’s name written on their certification for prestige. Others want in-person training because they learn better in a face-to-face setting than online.
However, if you’re a self-driven person who wants to learn at home on your own schedule you should consider an online course.
The online TEFL will give you the certification you need to get started on your ESL journey, and you can even work full-time while you complete the course.
If you work at a language school that hires inexperienced teachers, they’ll probably provide on-the-job training in the first weeks of your contract. Because you’ll receive pertinent training onsite, taking an in-person practicum before arriving isn’t necessary.
What Does CELTA Certification Cost?
First and foremost, let’s distinguish CELTA from TEFL.
TEFL stands for “Teaching English as a Foreign Language”, and can be used as a broad umbrella term for teaching English to non-native speakers (TESOL and TESL mean essentially the same thing).
CELTA, on the other hand, is a specific TEFL program sponsored by Cambridge University.
CELTA has strict standards, and cannot be administered by anyone besides Cambridge. With CELTA, the quality is guaranteed, while TEFL programs are varied and require more research to ensure that they’re valid and accredited.
Because it’s considered the “gold standard” of TEFL courses, the CELTA cost is significantly higher than your average certification – typically ranging between $1,500 and $4,000.
One benefit to the price tag is that a CELTA certification has prestige and international recognition, so you may be able to get higher-paying jobs and more teaching opportunities.
In the Middle East, which is said to be the region with the highest-paying jobs, you will most likely need a CELTA (or a Trinity CertTESOL) to get hired.
Regardless of your situation, you should be able to find a TEFL certification that suits your goals and your wallet.
You can continue your normal lifestyle while taking an online course for as little as $200, or you can move to a new location and immerse yourself in your TEFL course full-time.
When you decide on a course, the TEFL certification cost should not be your sole criterion. Make sure that the TEFL course you choose includes the benefits you want and provides quality training which will help you land a well-paying job teaching English abroad.
The demand for English teachers is only growing, so you should be working and earning money in no time after your course.
With so many course options and possible countries to teach in, the hardest part will be making a decision!