Can I Teach in the USA with a TEFL Certificate?

 

As a CELTA trainer, I talk with people who are thinking about teaching English all over the world, even in their hometowns of Biloxi or Idaho Falls. Does it make sense to get CELTA or IDELT training if you plan to teach in the U.S.? Can you get a job with it locally? There are some jobs in the U.S. that you would immediately be eligible for with a TEFL certificate.

For example, private language immersion schools – like BridgeEnglish in Denver – hire English teachers to work with foreign students and business people. Many community service and church-based organizations want English teachers.  Schools and colleges often hire paraprofessionals, tutors, and aides, especially if they are bilingual. Most cities have Family Literacy programs associated with elementary schools with high immigrant populations. Many of these jobs are low-paying or volunteer, but the satisfaction and job experience you can gain through them is priceless.

Teaching jobs in public schools require licensing, and each state demands that its teachers meet its own qualification standards. Many states have special requirements beyond their basic license for specialists in Teaching Speakers of Other Languages. Usually (and this is my experience in Colorado and California), a Master’s Degree and passing a certification exam are required.  Short answer: an IDELT or CELTA alone will not qualify you for those jobs.  However, it is possible that some school districts may hire you on a probationary basis, and give you two years to complete the state requirements for licensure. These are usually school districts with a great demand for ESL teachers that are not able to fill all of the positions with regularly qualified teachers.

Because IDELT and CELTA are designed for teaching English abroad, you should be strongly considering that step to get the most out of the courses. However, each time I teach a CELTA one or two trainees tell me that they have decided that they love this work and want to make it their profession by pursuing Master’s degrees in Education/TESOL or Applied Linguistics. For them, that one month training period opened a door that will take them back to their hometown universities. And that’s great, too!

Hear more about TEFL in the United States from Kristi, a teacher in Idaho!