A quick guide explaining which qualifications teachers might want to get before or during their English teaching career.

Getting started

A certificate qualification is normally the minimum requirement for teachers working in English language schools, although demand for teachers in some parts of the world is such that it is often possible to start teaching without a formal qualification. 

A range of introductory, or taster, courses are also available, online or face-to-face, which vary between one day and two weeks in length. These can provide a helpful introduction to language awareness and the theoretical aspects of methodology but, without observed teaching practice, are of limited value and not an adequate preparation for teaching. If you aim to teach English in the state system, be aware that most countries require their own specific teaching qualification.

The Trinity College CertTESOL and the Cambridge CELTA are recognized by the British Council, as well as worldwide in the private sector and some public sectors. These are typically delivered as 130-hour, four-week intensive courses (although part-time modes are available, too), which can be taken in a variety of locations and with a range of course providers. They include observed teaching practice. Similar four-week courses, not recognized by the British Council, exist and offer a similar format, but they are of varying quality and have limited acceptance worldwide.

Find out more about the CertTESOL and the CELTA by following the links below.



Developing your career

Both the Trinity DipTESOL and the Cambridge DELTA provide a full teaching qualification for teachers with at least two years’ experience who want to develop their career and expertise. These are typically 240-hour courses with practical and theoretical components. Part-time, full-time and blended (mixing online and face-to-face) modes are available. A diploma is often a requisite for senior posts such as teacher trainer or director  of studies. 

You can find out more about the DipTESOL and the DELTA by following the links below.



There are also a range of more specialist qualifications available, particularly for teaching business English and teaching young learners. Teachers can further develop their skills and  their CV by participating in short online and face-to-face teacher-development courses in other specialist areas.

A master’s degree in TESOL, ELT or applied linguistics is an option for teachers who wish to develop a more profound theoretical background in English language teaching. These are usually one-year courses, which can be full-time or part-time, and distance-learning options are available. Credits are usually given to teachers who have completed a diploma. A master’s qualification does not include teaching practice and is not a replacement for a certificate or diploma qualification. It can be an asset, or a requirement, when applying for senior academic and managerial posts.


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