How to turn your TESOL certification into a long term career

Congratulations, you’ve prepared for and passed your TESOL exam and are now TESOL certified.

Now it’s time to pursue a fruitful career in the field. To many, this can prove a daunting task.

Often, the advantages of ESL: the opportunity to travel, the various ages you can work with, and type of teaching you do, can make it difficult to build towards a long term career.

In this field of work it can be easy to become trapped by low wages or oppressive visa regulations; likewise it’s also not uncommon to find teachers who never really take their career to the next level.

That said, it doesn’t have to be that way and many ESL teachers do have fruitful long term careers with their TESOL certification.

Here are 8 helpful suggestions for turning your TESOL certification into a long term career.

1. Use it!

This may seem obvious, but many people receive a TESOL certification as part an independent program, of a larger education degree, or as a minor while in university.

Likewise, people may become certified and find themselves stuck at a comfortable, if non ESL, job.

The fastest way to begin building a career in ESL is to start working in ESL. Seek ESL work both home and abroad, specifically work that requires a TESOL certificate.

2. Be ready to take a few risks

Should you decide to take a job abroad, be comfortable with the risks.

We have all heard a few ESL horrors stories. Understanding the risks of moving abroad will help you make better career decisions, and leave you better prepared in the off chance that you do get into trouble.

Likewise, it’s important to take risks in work, staying at a less reputable school for a slightly higher pay may be a case of being penny-wise and pound foolish.

Be willing to take jobs that polish your resume.

3. Know what you want

Do you want to work abroad? If so, for how long?

Maybe you plan to do a year in several different countries.

If you’re seeking work domestically, who do you want to work with; refugees, immigrants, children or adults? Likewise, if you’re heading to a foreign country, do you understand the types of schools there?

Whether its buxibans in Taiwan, hogwans in Korea, or international schools in Norway; know what kind of work, and skills you want to develop.

Must View: Top Reasons to Become an English Teacher

4. Know the Law

Different countries will have different laws regarding ESL and qualification.

Many countries will also have ways of skirting these laws.

Understanding these laws may help you avoid any stains on your resume.

Likewise, being banned or deported from a place of work will limit your options.

5. Build other Skills

If you hope to move into ESL training, management, or recruiting you’ll need to build other skills.

Learning to advocate, manage, and interact with people of differing cultures will make you a more valuable asset in the future.

6. Save money

Creating an ESL nest egg will allow you take lower paying, resume building jobs in the future.

Likewise, if you should choose to move into Non-governmental organizational (NGO) work, having savings will allow you to take greater risks, or even open up your own school


7. Think long term

Know what jobs will look good on a resume, use this education resume to guide you.

If you find yourself working at a school which is abusing students, you may want to distance yourself from them.

Conversely, nothing will ruin your ESL career faster than a string of broken contracts.

Consider where your career is going, and how your next ESL choice will affect this trajectory.

8. Keep Learning

Being certified does not automatically make you a good teacher.

In fact, many teachers complain that they feel unprepared in their first ESL jobs.

This is normal. Keeping and open and plastic mind will allow you to become a better teacher, and make the job progressively easier. Similarly, a willingness to learn will ingratiate you to your employer and peers.

With these eight tools it is time to step into the wide world of ESL.

Good Luck!

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