You may have seen several courses if you’ve been researching taking a TEFL qualification. Some systems offer a diploma in TEFL, whereas others come with a certificate. If you are confused about what you should take and what the differences between them are, then keep reading. This guide is designed to help you. To understand the difference between diplomas and certificates. Furthermore, how these terms function in the TEFL world.

The Awarding Body

First, we should note that this guide refers to regulated and accredited qualifications by a recognized awarding body. We have accreditation with more than one awarding body. You should only register for courses that have approval from these institutions. Anyone can create a system to sell online and call it a diploma or certificate. That does not necessarily mean it would be recognized in the TEFL world. So the first thing you need to ensure is that your qualification comes with accreditation. You do not want to pay a lot of money and then discover that your diploma or certificate is worthless.

A TEFL Diploma

If a company calls the qualification a TEFL diploma, it means a postgraduate-only qualification. That means only experienced teachers can apply and should be accepted to the course. Ofqual (who is one of the governing bodies) recognizes a diploma as a level seven qualification. To register for an open TEFL diploma course, you will be asked to provide evidence that you already have your initial TEFL qualification and can demonstrate a minimum of two years of experience teaching. You will also need to show that you have an undergraduate degree for some of these diploma courses. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t teach; many initial TEFL qualifications, and certificates, are perfectly recognized and valuable in teaching English abroad. This is all they plan to do for some people, so they never progress further than a certificate. However, if you plan to work your way up the ladder, making your TEFL certification the basis of your career, then it would be natural to progress to the diploma level.

The most commonly recognized diploma-level TEFL courses are the Trinity DipTESOL and the DELTA. There will be jobs ring-fenced to people with these qualifications only and can be an aim for the future. But, you need to start with a TEFL certificate and work your way up, gaining experience and then returning to apply to one of these diploma-level courses. There is no shortcut available if you want one of these; you must be able to prove your previous qualifications.

TEFL Diploma

A TEFL Certificate 

So a TEFL certificate is the first step in your career and is an entry-level teaching qualification. To undertake a TEFL certification course, you do not need to have previous experience teaching or any specific capabilities. Systems are designed to equip you with everything you need to know to be able to begin a career as a teacher for the very first time. There is no single accreditation or governing body. So you need to take great care when signing up to ensure that, like our courses, they are offered by established organizations and accredited by reputable bodies like Ofqual. Suppose you are offered the chance to sign up for a diploma course but do not have any teaching experience or qualifications. In that case, you are likely dealing with a cowboy operation, and your stuff will be worthless and a waste of time and money.

Learners Beware!

Differentiating between a TEFL diploma and a certificate is straightforward. You cannot enroll in an accredited diploma course without prior teaching experience and, in many cases, previous qualifications. Be wary of any approaches called diplomas. Unfortunately, bogus organizations will use the term diploma because it sounds better in terms of stuff. You can also find organizations offering a diploma when they mean a certificate. So, in this case, your time during the course won’t be wasted because the qualification you will end up with is an entry-level teaching certificate, but you will be disappointed if you thought it was going to be a full diploma.

As an industry, if you have a TEFL diploma, employers know that you are an advanced, postgraduate-level teacher. If they are looking for a TEFL diploma, a TEFL certification will not suffice. The responsibilities placed on a diploma teacher will be greater than those just starting on the career ladder. So while the pay might be more, someone who has never taught English before would not be able to cope with the work.

So Which is for Me?

You can register for an accredited TEFL certificate course without a degree or experience. A degree is the only thing that might set you apart from other candidates at the entry level. If there were a lot of applicants, it is conceivable that an employer might favor a candidate with a degree. However, we have plenty of other information to help you secure work with a TEFL certification and no degree. It is undoubtedly not a confounding variable. Many countries are crying out for TEFL-certified teachers who do not require any previous teaching experience or a degree. 

It’s the same as any industry; the higher-paid jobs will go to teachers with experience and qualifications. For example, you cannot teach university-level students unless you have a Master’s or Ph.D. (you wouldn’t have the required knowledge). In the same way, positions teaching English abroad need this standard of education. So, if you want to pursue a lifelong career in TEFL teaching, you would get a few years of experience after gaining your TEFL certificate before returning to pick up your level seven qualification in the form of the TEFL diploma. But if you want to teach English as a foreign language as you travel worldwide. You can do so with fewer qualifications and less pay than other positions. It pretty much works the same as every other industry in the world.

So How Can I Qualify to Teach?

If you’re hoping to teach English abroad as you travel or perhaps teach English online as a side hustle, then you will be able to do this with a certificate. What is important is the qualification standard. For teaching jobs for level-entry teachers with little to no experience, employees will be looking for the 120-hour TEFL certificate. You will see that courses are offered with more hours, but unless you are not a native English speaker or do not have a degree, 120 hours should be plenty. Doing a lot more hours won’t change the positions on offer to you. Once you qualify, the classroom experience is the next thing you want to build up, and this can only be done by getting a job.

Other worthwhile qualifications, if you want to improve your chances, would be specialist courses often offered as a bolt-on, for example, teaching business English or teaching English specifically online. These courses are not enough as a standalone to qualify you to teach English as a foreign language, but combined with a 120-hour-TEFL-certificate can help you find your dream position.

Can I Teach Anywhere with a TEFL Certification?

In terms of geographical location, you will find positions worldwide that require the teacher to have a TEFL certification. There will be a range of parts in all countries, from newly qualified teachers to those with much experience and a diploma. Teaching opportunities abroad can vary from local public schools to international and private schools, language schools, business schools, and private tutoring. International schools tend to be fee-paying, meaning the parents have greater involvement in their children’s education. These roles tend to require the teacher to have a lot of experience and the highest qualifications. If you have a TEFL certification, language schools are always a good place to start, and they offer a variety of patterns of work, making it great for those traveling.

Many of their classes occur in the evenings and weekends because they cater to people who work during the week. So it means you can earn money and still have your days free to participate in exploring your new location. South America and Asia have a lot of opportunities for newly qualified teachers. If you are an EU citizen hoping to remain within the EU for work to make visas easier, you will find positions for newly qualified teachers. Still, they are not as readily available, and they tend to place quite a lot of emphasis on a degree and a TEFL certificate.

Is a Certification Suitable for Teaching English Online?

The other option for teaching English abroad is to take advantage of the new digital nomad visa. Secure a job teaching English online that will enable you to work wherever you are. You can also teach English in your home country over the Internet. The requirements for each role will differ depending on the employer, but having a TEFL certificate is a good starting point. As discussed earlier, it will be widely accepted, provided it is accredited. Many positions are available for teachers with no experience who have demonstrated their capabilities by obtaining the TEFL certificate. Some employers will be looking for a degree or experience. In much the same way as many industries, there are many opportunities for people looking to get their foot in the door for the first time.

Can I Teach English Abroad Without a TEFL Certificate?

The answer is no, not really. For any job teaching English as a foreign language abroad, you will need to have the 120-hour accredited TEFL certificate as a minimum. Many positions do not require any experience or a degree, so those are lesser concerns. Of course, if you have more experience and a degree, you could be looking at higher wages. However. as an entry-level starting point, you will find many jobs on offer. The only potential possibility for getting a job teaching English abroad without a TEFL certificate is volunteer work, but again even this is getting harder to come by. The only advantage of teaching as a volunteer without a TEFL certification is practical experience. Still, it makes more sense to invest the time in getting your qualification before you leave.

FAQ
How do you know if a TEFL diploma course is genuine?

You need to look at who is accrediting at the course. Expect evidence that you already have your basic TEFL certificate. Anywhere advertising a diploma claiming that these things are not required is not an open course.

Can I teach English abroad with a TEFL certificate?

Yes, there are plenty of opportunities for people to teach English abroad with a recognized TEFL certificate.

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