Continuing education courses can be a great option for ESL teachers who are living abroad and looking to increase their marketability as a teacher. These continuing education courses can range from TEFL certificates all the way to a Master’s TESOL or other subjects such as English or education. With the right qualifications, a teacher can easily command a higher salary and a continuing education course can be just the ticket for getting there.
Why should you take a continuing education course?
While education is certainly very important and will benefit you in more ways than one, the rising cost of learning dictates that if you are going to put down money for a continuing education course it should have a monetary ROI. There are some people out there that will take classes because they enjoy them. Most of us have one motivation in mind when looking at education beyond what is required in our lives. Money.
Acquiring advanced degrees or certifications relevant to teaching English can easily increase your ability to command a higher salary. In fact, almost all of the highest paying jobs in the ESL industry are going to require some kind of advanced degree or certification. The reality is that there are also a large number of teachers out there with the exact qualifications these schools are looking for. This means that your application is destined for the garbage if you don’t have the right qualifications.
Let’s use an example of a teacher working in Korea making $2,000 per month who has two years of experience, a Bachelor’s of Arts in English, and no TEFL certification. Simply by completing a 120-hour blended learning or on-site certification, that teacher can open themselves up to jobs in Saudi Arabia or, potentially, in the United Arab Emirates that pay almost double what they are making. If that teacher goes on to complete a Masters in TESOL they can potentially ear triple.
If you are only teaching for a year as a way to experience another culture then the investment you are going to make won’t be worth it. However, if you know that you want a career in teaching ESL and are looking to command the highest salary possible you are going to have to look at continuing education courses if you don’t already have these qualifications.
Which continuing education course should you take?
This is going to be dependent on where you want to teach. If your goal is to live in an Asian country such as South Korea or China or Japan where you can command a comfortable salary then you will be fine with a good TEFL certification.
If you want to work in a country like the United Arab Emirates where teachers are easily making top dollar salaries then you are going to need something better. Many of the highest paying jobs in this country will require a teacher to hold a master’s degree on top of a TEFL certification and the right amount of experience.
However, there are also options for teachers who are teaching English without a degree to advance their career too should they want to move on to countries with better pay.
Let’s take a look at three different options for teachers at different levels and with different goals in taking continuing education courses:
As mentioned above, if you have a bachelor’s degree then obtaining a TEFL certification can easily land you a higher paying job in many countries throughout the world. Many higher paying language schools are going to be specifically looking for teachers with TEFL certifications so that they can market to the parents of their students that their teachers are all highly qualified. Also, a number of countries have requirements that teachers hold a minimum of a 120-hour TEFL certification (blended learning or on-site) in order to work in the public school system. A TEFL certification is quite easy to obtain if you set the time aside to do the work and will most likely pay for itself after only one or two months of teaching.
There are very few opportunities out there for teachers who don’t hold a bachelor’s degree. The number of countries where a teacher can work with no degree is shrinking and the ones that you can work in usually don’t pay great. If you have been working under these circumstances and have been thinking about making a career in ESL teaching, then obtaining a bachelor’s degree is going to be the first step you need to take. This can be accomplished through an online degree program and can easily be accomplished while you are teaching abroad. I know of two people who have completed degrees online while teaching in South East Asia and who have gone on to command paying teaching jobs. One in Japan and the other in China. There are many types of degrees that a teacher can obtain completely online and a degree in English language is one of them.
Masters in TESOL
Teachers who have a few years of experience and who are currently teaching in a moderately paying country may be thinking about taking their career, and salary, further. A Master’s in TESOL is going to do just that. While there are many other masters programs that a teacher can take, a masters in TESOL will be the most applicable to ESL teaching and will set you apart from the competition, of which there will be plenty. It will also qualify you for some of the highest paying jobs including universities in many countries, assuming you have the required number of years of experience.
What are some final tips before looking at continuing education courses?
The main thing to remember is that you want to see an ROI on your investment in continuing education courses and the faster you see that return the better. So, if your goal is to work in Asia, for example, then having a Master’s in TESOL may not be the best option as jobs you are going to qualify for with the degree may not pay that much more than what you were making before. In this case, it may take you multiple years to see a return on the money you put in to obtain the degree, which can be quite significant. In this case, as 120-hour TEFL certification is going to be much cheaper and even if you go for a more expensive on-site program you will easily be able to see a return in a year or less in most of the higher end markets in Asia such as South Korea or China. If you are going to be looking for a job in the middle east, however, that Master’s in TESOL may pay for itself in just year or a little more. This is going to be the main thing you have to think about when you are evaluating whether or not taking continuing education courses is the right decision for you as an ESL teacher.