Is TEFL a good career path, and is it a stable career?
It is what you make of it! TEFL can be a great and rewarding career path. A typical career trajectory for someone who wants to be involved in the industry might be to take a job as a teacher, progress to senior teacher, academic coordinator, academic manager, and finally to a director of studies (DoS) position. However, this is far from the only way to go. You could go from teaching onto publishing educational materials, working for a large, international publishing house. You could sidestep into language school or ELT industry recruitment or HR. You could also go into academia and lecturing, or even set up your own business. Many people eventually move into language school ownership. Put simply, TEFL is a growing industry in a growing market with a huge contingent of people who need to learn English to get better opportunities in life. The industry is only getting stronger year by year, and it’s a flourishing place to be.
Don’t get us wrong – TEFL is challenging, difficult, and at times not rewarding, just like any job. But equally, there are days when most of us would rather not do anything else for a living, and love the experience, freedom, and challenge of living in a different corner of the world, exploring, and not being chained to an office in a 9 to 5.
Is TEFL a stable career?
Stability is probably not the option to go for if you want to teach English as a foreign language – at least not initially. While there are many permanent, full-time positions, especially at schools and universities if you’re qualified enough, most ELT teachers work on part-time or seasonal positions, or sign rolling year-to-year contracts. This is often seen as beneficial for both the teacher and the centre, although it has its disadvantages too.
There are many ways to find work however, and if you have the practical skill of teaching English, coupled with some experience, you’re unlikely to find yourself unemployed simply due to the sheer number of jobs available. That said, you might at times have to be flexible with your location.
Some people still recollect TEFL as being something people did on a gap-year. While people do still take that approach ,TEFL can also be a long term stable career, although you will likely not stick in one job for too long until later in your career. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though – many TEFL teachers enjoy the fact that they might be in Turkey one year, Egypt the next, and China after that. It allows you to truly experience the world and get to grips with all kinds of cultures. So the answer is that there is stability to a degree – jobs are plentiful, although they are often not permanent positions.