Is a TEFL Certificate Worth It? YES, and Here’s WHY

By Altiné Moumouni
Like anything in life, a TEFL certificate has advantages and disadvantages. Here are 7 pros and cons of a TEFL certificate

Teaching English as a Foreign Language, also generally referred to as TEFL, is an introduction and a minimum qualification to teach English in certain countries. 

But the question most people ask is: Is a TEFL certificate worth it? TEFL certification is worth it, particularly if you want to teach in non-native English-speaking countries. A good TEFL course will equip you with the necessary skills to teach pronunciation and grammar and to be a good teacher (and not a bad one)

But like anything in life, a TEFL certificate has advantages and disadvantages. Here are 7 pros and cons of a TEFL certificate. 

1. A TEFL certificate helps you build hands-on teaching experience 

During your TEFL certification, you will learn the basics of everything you need to know about teaching English. 

I did my TEFL certification at the University of Toronto, and their course actually helped me understand the different teaching methods and their effectiveness. 

Furthermore, you will deepen your understanding of language skills, including English grammar, and how to effectively create lesson plans and manage a classroom. 

2. A TEFL certificate, particularly from a well-known institution, can help you land a better and higher-paying teaching job

Even though a TEFL certificate is not always required, it can make a huge difference when competing with other qualified candidates. 

Recruiters and schools want qualified teachers and would pay a higher salary to attract teachers with a high level of education and experience. 

If you decide to take a TEFL certification, I suggest you choose a 120-hour certificate, as most recruiters and schools require at least the 120-hour TEFL certificate.

3. Getting TEFL-certified can undoubtedly spice up your application

A TEFL certificate will help you succeed in your job interviews when looking for teaching jobs. You will feel confident with the information you learn during your training. 

Whether you are planning to teach English overseas or work as an online tutor, getting a TEFL certificate will make you more marketable and strengthen your resume. 

Given two candidates with the same teaching experience, a TEFL certificate will definitely make a difference. 

4. A TEFL certificate is a low investment to get your foot into teaching English

TEFL certification is one of the best ways to get started as an ESL teacher in countries like China, as it will give you the basic knowledge and tools you need. 

Most recruiters and schools asked about my 120-hour certificate during my job interviews before coming to China. 

I personally believe that getting my TEFL certification from a reputable institution has helped me land a job at a high school in China. 

The good news is that a TEFL certificate is a reasonably low-cost investment and will help you get your first teaching job, even without extensive teaching experience. 


Here are a few cons regarding TEFL certification

5. A TEFL certificate itself is not enough

Even though a TEFL certificate can open doors overseas to secure an ESL teaching job, most countries, including China, will require you to have a least bachelor’s degree and be from a native English-speaking country. 

Without an undergraduate degree, a TEFL certificate will be worthless for working legally in China. 

Generally, without a degree, finding legitimate ESL teaching and work visas in China will be hard. Yes, you might have seen somewhere online people advising you to accept illegitimate work or bogus visas; I don’t recommend working illegally, as the Chinese police are getting stricter on this issue recently. 

6. A TEFL certificate can be quite expensive

A TEFL certificate from a well-known institution can be pretty expensive; I paid over $1200 for mine. This amount can be relatively high for someone who is looking to get a new job, including all other fees. 

Some people get their TEFL certification online for less than $100; I wouldn’t personally recommend doing this. If you want to invest in yourself, choose the best education you possibly can afford. 

7. Other reasons to avoid a TEFL course

If you are on the fence about taking a TEFL certification, I encourage you to read this article by Alex Case: 15 reasons to avoid a TEFL course.


Overall, is a TEFL certificate worth it?

 Based on my experience, it is worth it, depending on: 

  • Which country are you planning to teach English in (a few countries may require TEFL certificates to teach legally)
  • The TEFL certification provider
  • And you and your dedication to becoming a better TEFL teacher
Written by Altiné Moumouni for Teflnet August 2022
Altiné is from Toronto, Canada, and currently teaches mathematics at a high school in Guangzhou, China. He has a master's degree in International Economics and Finance from Ryerson University in Canada and is passionate about helping people worldwide through his blogs. He writes about TEFL Teaching and Health and Fitness. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, running, traveling, and anything that allows him to experience the beauty of nature. You can find him at altinify.com.
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