This past weekend, I met up with some friends I haven’t seen since having left to teach English in Costa Rica. After completing my six-month contract, I decided to come back home to regroup, and work out a plan for my next overseas adventure.
“You’re already planning to leave, again?!” one friend exclaimed, “how does it work, anyway?”.
I started explaining how I was looking for a position that allowed me the freedom to work from wherever I wanted to. And not just any position. A position that involved real skills. Something I could possibly turn into a career. And after reading about the high demand of English instructors around the world, I knew it was my opportunity to escape the 9-5 rat race I saw all my friends falling into–mundane routines, work related stress, lack of sleep, and glorified weekends.
Most of my friends were intrigued by my experiences of getting certified, living abroad, and teaching English in a foreign country. They were even more impressed with the freedom I had to do it again in any other country, or even from my couch, online. But funny enough, the friend who was most interested happened to be a very successful finance guru who worked his own hours, and thoroughly enjoyed the stressful challenges his work provided. His interest wasn’t just in my freedom to create my own schedule, he was fascinated with the idea that I could so easily tap into the same international markets he’d been trying to zone in on for years. That’s when I started to ask myself, “Why aren’t more people getting TEFL certified?”
Traditional education sees high school students enrolling in four-year colleges for a Bachelor’s Degree most haven’t quite figured out by the time they graduate. According to the U.S Census Bureau, only 27% of college graduates actually land jobs in their field of study, yet student loan debt continues to rise year after year.
A TEFL certificate is possible to obtain with just a high school diploma, and opportunities to become employed with a decent paying position thereafter isn’t as uncommon as you might think. The same countries paying competitive salaries for native speaking English teachers, maintain low costs of living, making it easy for a non-degree holder to become competitive in the market, and financially independent. However, those who have already invested in a degree are afforded many of the better paying opportunities for English teachers, especially in the more developed countries in Europe and the U.S.
Some of those same people who decided to invest in a TEFL certificate after accumulating so much student debt saw teaching English as an opportunity to pay it down. Living overseas can sometimes cut your expenses in half, allowing you to pay debt faster. And those without the degree might consider saving up to obtain one to become more marketable internationally–the same issue my finance guru friend was having, even with the 4-year degree. What he began to realize after our chat was how this one credential could easily expose him to opportunities he can’t quite reach without it.
See, what he was after was a way to build a new network in an international market, which would allow him to do business overseas. He quickly learned that my TEFL certificate could bring me perks like free flights, accommodations, and a monthly salary for committing to a teaching contract in-country. If he had his certificate, he could be afforded the same opportunities, which would allow him to make a decent wage, while working on his own business proposal for the connections he would make on his time off.
By no means am I suggesting that a TEFL certificate is the end all-be all to career advancement. However, what’s evident are the benefits granted to those who have one, compared to those who don’t. Today, a degree can’t guarantee employment, a career, or global business, but a TEFL certificate can. And when you combine these two very sought-after credentials, the attractiveness of your resume can make you a top candidate to an ample amount of international employers.
So, what are you waiting for? Getting TEFL certified should be a no brainer. Not only will a certificate help you to stand out among the average applicant pool, and inevitably make you more self-sufficient, but you’ll also gain unforgettable experiences that will add to your personal development, as well; realizing your job as an English instructor means more to your students than you’ll ever know, having the privilege of learning and exploring new cultures, languages, and foods, and making valuable, lifelong connections with people from all over the world is the sole difference between those who TEFL, and those who don’t.
– Tish O.