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tesol certification cost

How Much Does a TEFL Certification Cost?

The average online 120-hour TEFL certification cost is between $99 and $250 and is sufficient for most online or overseas teaching jobs requiring a TEFL certificate. Some students looking for a more robust TEFL certification of 180+ hours or university-level or in-person courses may expect to pay much more – starting from $1,500 and more.

A myriad of factors go into the pricing of the TEFL certification, including whether it’s online, live online, or in-person, the course length, support, and job placement assistance. We’ll get into these factors in further detail so that you can make the best choice for your needs.

Factors That Influence TEFL Prices

The factors that affect a TEFL course cost and contribute to the disparity in the industry are:

  • Instruction Type

    How the course is provided is a huge factor in price. On-demand courses are the most affordable, while live online courses tend to require more resources and cost more. In-person courses will be the most expensive.

  • Number of Hours

    The baseline TEFL certification course is 120 hours. This is what most employers will require. For more advanced or specialized TEFL courses ranging from 180 hours to 400 hours, however, you can expect an increase in cost.

  • Support

    Tutor support or guidance is sometimes included in a TEFL course. This can be support via email, video, or in-person depending on the course.

  • Job Placement Assistance or Guarantee

    Often included as an additional feature (and cost), job placement assistance or guarantee can be very helpful, especially for first-timers.

Understanding TEFL Certification ‘Levels’ and Costs

Your chosen TEFL course will grant you certification – assuming that it is accredited — at one of eight proficiency levels (1-8) as laid out by the UK Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual).

  • Levels 1-3: Minimal training, intended as “refresher” or introductory courses, limited marketability for ESL employment.
  • Levels 3-4: The level of certification that most employers look for. Accredited 120-150-hour courses fall into the TEFL “sweet spot” of maximum cost-effectiveness in terms of future job prospects.
  • Levels 5+: Generally intended for teachers with long-term career goals who want to break into the upper echelons of the industry – such as in higher education at the post-high school level.

If you are looking for a TEFL certificate that will qualify you for meaningful ESL employment without spending unnecessary time and money on certification that you don’t need, a level 3-4 course (120-150 hours) will suffice and this TEFL course cost won’t break the bank. 

TEFL Certification Cost Breakdown

We’ve broken down the standard TEFL course costs below by hour commitment, level of instruction, and mode of instruction (online vs in-person). See more on how to get a TEFL certification online.

Average TEFL Course Cost

Additional (Hidden) Potential TEFL Costs

It’s worth keeping in mind any additional expenses that come with an in-person course that might include:

  • Room and board (if the in-person course is not in your hometown)
  • Any visa fees (if your in-person course is in a foreign country)
  • Transportation costs

Many in-person TEFL courses, especially more expensive ones, offer accommodation packages – often in collaboration with an affiliated local hotel or hostel that will partner with the course provider to lend a discount to students. There are plenty of places worth visiting that can offer courses – you can consider getting your TEFL certification in Portland, Oregon, for example, for a taste of the Pacific Northwest.

Learn more on How to Get a TEFL Certification

Is Getting a TEFL Certificate Worth the Cost?

The short answer, with caveats, is “absolutely.”

If you take a look around at any leading ESL job boards, you will notice that a large majority of employers – from Thailand to Greece to Argentina and online as well – list TEFL certification as either a requirement or a preference.

Especially at the higher end of the ESL pay scale, hiring managers will often not even consider a candidate that does not present at least a 120-hour TEFL certificate with his or her application.

Finding employment in the most competitive job markets without a TEFL certificate is virtually impossible (for international schools or universities often a CELTA is required).

A 120-hour TEFL course will open up the following job opportunities that you cannot access (or will have more difficulty accessing) without one:

  • Private language centers
  • Higher education (college level and above)
  • Corporate training programs (often the most lucrative)
  • International school” (among the highest-paying ESL jobs)
  • More competitive job markets like the UAE (where some qualified teachers earn in excess of $5000 monthly), Saudi Arabia, South Korea, etc.

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In addition to making yourself more attractive to employers, having a TEFL also gives you negotiating leverage in terms of pay – as in most professions, higher levels of certification translate (if you negotiate correctly) into higher pay.

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Are All TEFL Courses Accredited?

Not all TEFL certification courses are accredited, so it’s imperative to always look for proper TEFL accreditation from a recognized accrediting organization. Without such credentials, a TEFL certification will have little value in the international market.

A savvy hiring manager will check the accrediting organization that verifies the quality and legitimacy of an applicant’s TEFL certification. The leading TEFL-accrediting agencies that are most sought-after by ESL employers are:

  • ACCREDITAT
  • IATEFL (International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language)
  • Teacher Training Council
  • ACCET (Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training)

What About Free TEFL Courses?

You can sometimes find TEFL certification sponsorship in exchange for teaching abroad for a company such as EF. You can learn more about these types of opportunities in our list of 5 cheap and free TEFL certification courses – some with no strings attached.

That said, we don’t recommend working for a company simply because they offer a free TEFL certification course. Because of the availability of options today, you can certainly find a budget-friendly TEFL course that will not require you to move overseas to qualify (unless you want to!)

What Are the Components of a Standard TEFL Course?

TEFL certificates, depending on the length and the level, generally include the following components:

  • Basic grammar review

    Review of basic grammar, sentence structure, parts of speech, etc. and how to present it to students.

  • Learning styles & theories

    Written / verbal teacher training that covers learning styles and learning theories.

  • How to deliver lessons

    Written / verbal teacher training that covers learning styles and learning theories.

  • Cultural training

    Beneficial for teaching students with a different cultural background – especially for first-time teachers considering employment overseas.

  • Practicum (in live classes)

    Observed teaching practice – usually reserved for more intensive, in-person or live-online TEFL courses at level 4+.

  • Examination

    End-of-course examination is a basic requirement to passing your TEFL certification course.

What Are TEFL Course Requirements?

Most TEFL courses require that their students:

  • Are at least 16 years old
  • Have a high level of English proficiency
  • High earned a school diploma or equivalent

Some more exclusive TEFL courses have higher requirement thresholds such as:

  • 4-year degree or equivalent
  • Pre-course interview with facilitator
  • Written application

TEFL Hero – which offers a 120-hour, online TEFL course designed by ESL teachers – is more flexible in its standard, which require that students:

  • Are at least 16 years of age
  • Have a reasonable competence in spoken and written English. 

Which TEFL Certificate is the Best? 

Ultimately, the ideal TEFL certificate for you will depend on a variety of factors that you should consider:

  • Time Commitment

    Do you have more than 120 hours to devote to a TEFL certification course?

  • Flexibility

    Do you need a flexible, on-demand course or can you commit to a fixed live online or in-person class schedule?

  • Type of Job You Want

    If you’re looking to teach ESL online, then an online course will probably be suitable. For teaching abroad, your options may be expanded from online to in-person in the country you intend on teaching in!

  • Preferred Learning Environment

    Do you prefer to learn on your own time or do you need the pressures of being in a classroom setting? Every person is different in how they prefer to learn.

  • Budget

    Sometimes the course you choose boils down to how much money you have to spend on it. If you intend on traveling overseas to teach, consider the additional start-up costs of moving abroad.

  • Specialization

    Do you intend on teaching a special group such as adults or very young learners? Some courses have modules dedicated specifically to this goup of learners.

  • Job Assistance

    Job assistance or a job placement guarantee may be worth the investment if you are unsure where to start to get a job.

Why choose an accredited 120-hour online TEFL course?

Here are a few reasons:

  • Sufficient to meet nearly every ESL employer and visa requirement globally
  • More affordable than in-person options
  • Allows greater flexibility time-wise than a course with a fixed schedule such as one with a live or in-person instruction component

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The Bottom Line on TEFL Certification Costs

For the most part, for the reasons described above, the cost-to-benefit ratio indicates that an accredited 120-hour online TEFL course is likely to deliver the biggest “bang for your buck.”

If you are keen on live instruction, tutor support, or a more robust qualification for finding work at the highest ends of the professional spectrum, then you should look at alternatives to the 120-hour format. For everyone else, an accredited 120-hour online course offers the training and certification that you need to get you where you want to go.

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