You are scrolling through Instagram and see people around the world traveling and living their best life. You say to yourself that you want that too. Lo and behold, everyone is teaching English abroad. You start googling. There are pages upon pages of information about TEFL courses, so you naturally get overwhelmed. What is the best course for you to do? The answer isn’t straightforward I’m afraid. There are a lot of personal factors that come into play. You’ll have to have a look at your budget, your spare time, and your goals as a teacher. 

No Level

Before we move on to the differences between TEFL certifications and their levels, we first have to ask ourselves why a certification at all? Let’s face it, we’ve all come across job postings that don’t require one and potential employers are only looking for native or fluent English speakers, so what’s the point? Yes, you’ll indeed come across these jobs. 

Here are the top reasons why you should get a TEFL qualification: 
  • You having a TEFL certificate means that schools will offer you a bigger salary. Like in any industry, qualified professionals are automatically on a higher wage. For the money you spend on a course, you’ll make this back in the first month of teaching. 
  • For most TEFL opportunities, you’ll need a TEFL certification. If you don’t have one, this will limit your options. As someone uncertified, you will need to be seriously flexible with everything from location preference to salary to students’ age range. 
  • Some governments require a TEFL certification for work permits. You’ll need your certificate for all the best places, such as the UAE, Taiwan and some places in Europe. 
  • You will only be able to teach young learners at a beginner level. Jobs within the exam preparation sector or business English require a TEFL certificate. 
  • If you can work around these points, there is the most important that you’ll need to consider. The lessons you’ll learn throughout the course will help become a better teacher. You’ll have confidence walking into the classroom and your lesson plans will be killer! You will have support from us that includes job assistance and join a TEFL community that will make life so much easier and more enjoyable. 

books in library

Now that we’ve got you psyched up for your new TEFL certificate, which one is right for you? Let’s break them down from the minimum requirement to going above and beyond and everything in between. 

Beginner Level

In most of the job postings and most of the programs advertised, you’ll see one thing: employers require a minimum of 120 hours of training. This is the minimum amount of hours you’ll need to study for to obtain a TEFL certification. This is our 120 hour TEFL Course. It is the most affordable and fastest route to getting a TEFL certification, and it’s completely obtainable online! 

Years back, you couldn’t get any qualification at a higher level than this, so it was the most popular choice. It still is a very popular course and has all the information you need to become a great teacher, with the teaching resources promised to all of our students. Nowadays, a level 5 certification can be got online, so it is becoming the front runner. We still suggest the 120 hour TEFL course for the following aspiring teachers: 

  • To elementary (primary) or high school (secondary) teachers with a Bachelor’s of Education, who are simply looking for the minimum requirement to teach online or during the summer. 
  • To non-native English speakers to start with, as the level 5 TEFL course can be difficult at times. If you are a non-native English speaker, you may feel more comfortable doing this one and getting some experience online or through a volunteer program. 
  • To those who are doing an internship program. If you are partaking in a program like this, we’ll most likely enroll you onto the 120 hour TEFL course. This is because the training that you’ll receive pre-departure and in-country is outstanding! You’ll also have experience by the end of it and will have no problems getting a permanent TEFL job. 

Higher Level 

If you are just looking into TEFL, you’ve probably already heard about a level 5 TEFL course. In recent years, this is the up-and-coming course to do. Only recently have you been able to obtain this qualification online and it’s the new way of learning! Like our own, most are government-regulated. This means that the course has met the standard outlined by governing bodies, such as content included and the assessment process. Why is this important? Well, potential employers know about these standards and know that you know your stuff! It enhances your employability tenfold! A UK level 5 TEFL qualification is level equivalent to a CELTA or TrinityTESOL qualification. With the TEFL course being completely online, this means that you can get a CELTA equivalent qualification affordably and with time flexibility. 

studying tefl

Our new Highfield Qualifications Level 5 TEFL Course meets these standards and goes above and beyond! Our very own DELTA qualified assessment team wrote the course and approved by Highfield Qualifications. It is also government-regulated. The new assessment process created makes the whole process a lot smoother and the content inside (such as podcasts and videos) is the most updated on the market! This course has the largest enrollment numbers for us and it’s not hard to see why. We would suggest this course to the following aspiring teachers: 

  • We recommend this course to those with no or little experience who are looking to stand out in front of the crowd and get a higher paid TEFL opportunity. 
  • If you wish to go to places like the UAE, who know require a level 5 TEFL certificate for the visa. 
  • To those who want to get their pick of the job pool and want to succeed as a TEFL teacher. 

Mastery Level

Any qualification that is higher than a level 5 can only be obtained in-classroom and with a lot of work! This can include a Master’s in Education in ESL or the DELTA qualification. It is hard work, but it’s a serious qualification! For those who just looking to teach English abroad or online, this process can be a little pointless (unless you really want to!). However, there are some instances where we would suggest this. As a global, online company, we don’t have level 7 or 8 ourselves, but here are some reasons why should go further: 

  • You are looking to open a school and would like business management included in your course. 
  • You’d like to train teachers yourself or be part of an assessment team. 
  • You have studied TEFL before and are looking to go one step further. 
  • To run an ESL program within a University or College. 

Teaching abroad


What are the levels of TEFL?

TEFL certifications are not always marked on a national framework as most are privately accredited by bodies and internationally recognized. TEFL certificates can range from the equivalent of UK level 3 (the minimum hours of 120 hours) to master’s degrees, the now most common being Level 5. 

What is the difference between Level 3 and 5 TEFL?

These levels are based on the UK framework. The Level 5 TEFL course is normally longer on average, costs a bit more, and contains open-ended, essay-type questions. Employers know this and know that Level 5 qualified TEFL teachers have gone through the assessment process, meaning your qualification is more desirable to employers. 

Is there a level 6 TEFL course?

As standard online TEFL courses go, there is no level 6 qualification. Level 6 qualifications would include either classroom learning, teaching practice, or the course to be coupled with another major, such as business management. Going beyond the level 5 TEFL certificate means that you’re most likely looking at starting your own business and looking into management when you don’t have any prior experience or qualifications. 

What is the highest level TEFL certificate?

The highest TEFL/ TESOL qualification that you get is a DELTA. This is no easy feat and is on the same level as a Master’s degree. Our very own Head of Assessments, Jacob, has one! So, you can be assured that our new Level 5 TEFL course has elements of the DELTA stored within. Meaning you can gain this knowledge throughout our course online. 

What level is a 120-hour TEFL course?

TEFL providers write and assess 120 hour TEFL courses to suit a global demographic. They normally do not measure on a national framework and are internationally recognized. To compare it to our Level 5 certificate (which is government regulated and therefore on a framework), you can define the 120 hour TEFL course as the equivalent to a level 3. 

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