Do You Really Need a TEFL to Teach English Online? (No!)

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A TEFL certificate, or Teach English as a Foreign Language certificate, has become a globally accepted qualification to teach students.

Teachers need a TEFL certificate to teach for the majority of online companies. While it was more of an optional thing in the past, it has undoubtedly become much more necessary, as the online ESL industries have become more regulated. 

I’ve talked to many teachers who have listed their degrees and diplomas, even in education. The answer still stands.

Teaching English as a foreign language is a different ball game. It is taught uniquely, and many companies want to see your certificate as ‘proof’ that you can Teach English as a Foreign Language.


Do you need a TEFL to Teach English Online?

You may not need a TEFL certificate when you are applying for a company to get hired. There are a few companies that do not require a TEFL certificate. You can find those companies down below.

However, many online teaching companies require an ESL certificate. You can find out by checking the job requirements before applying for the job.

If you pass your interview, the company will usually expect you to upload documentation such as your degree or diploma, criminal background check, and TEFL certificate. 

The companies ask for your certification number so they can check you have a valid teaching credential. If you find a company that doesn’t require a TEFL certificate, they won’t request this.

Which Companies Hire Without a TEFL certificate?

There are a few companies that do not require TEFL certification. Here are some potential companies to apply for:

Teach English Online

You may also be interested in: The Best English Teaching Companies in 2022.

All of the companies listed could update their policies at any time and may require their teachers to have a TEFL certificate at some point in the future. For now, it is safe to apply without a TEFL certificate. 

*EF and VIPKid provide their own training and certification. You will want to check if this certification is valid, if you’re going to teach at other online teaching companies and if it would come with a fee.

For example, while VIPKid’s certification is free, if you want to use that certificate for another ESL school (in a physical classroom), you’ll need to pay $79 to obtain a printable version of the certificate. EF will provide you free teaching certification and teaching placement abroad.

Why You Should Consider Getting a TEFL Certificate

Here are some of the reasons which might encourage you to get a TEFL certificate.

More Knowledge

The teacher will know how classes are run and all the areas the teacher needs to develop to teach an effective class.

TEFL certificates often cover listening, reading, writing, and speaking in English, grammar, lesson planning, applying for jobs, and more. Therefore they can really support a teacher’s development and help in the long run.

Higher-Paying Online Teaching Job

When you don’t have a TEFL certification, it can be hard to acquire a job teaching English online. As many online teaching companies require it and have many applicants applying, they can be picky. This is not helpful for new teachers or teachers without a TEFL certificate.

Some companies allow students to select their own teachers. Students usually prefer teachers who have teaching certification.

If you have a teaching certificate, you can list this on your profile list of qualifications and charge a higher rate. You could also apply for higher-paying online teaching jobs.

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Greater Chance of Getting Hired

As I’ve said, teaching English online is competitive, especially amid a pandemic when more people are applying for jobs online than ever before.

If teachers can show their qualifications, they are more likely to get hired.

Higher Starting Rate

Many online teaching companies pay teachers a different rate for their services. Some companies have a large pay scale (think $18 to $30 pay rate for teachers).

The base pay rate is usually decided at the interview and is based on the teacher’s performance at the interview, their qualifications, and experience. 

This means if you have a TEFL certificate, you are more likely to receive a higher base pay when you are first starting.


TEFL Course Recommendation

You do not have to spend a lot of money to teach English online at all. The International Open Academy is an option for teachers who are just starting. 

We have partnered with The International Open Academy to give you their TEFL course at an unbelievably discounted rate of just $19 (reduced from $119). You can grab it here.

This course is a very popular one that countless online teachers have taken to start teaching at an ESL company online. While it meets the regulations of a 120-hour certification, it can be completed in just a few hours.

If you are looking for a more in-depth course, I recommend checking The TEFL Academy and their level-5 168-hour course. This is a much more intense course that I completed and recommended to others to teach English online or abroad. You can check my review for more information.

To Conclude

You can teach English online with no teaching certification, although it might be a more complicated process in the long run, as you will have to learn the ropes yourself and find a job that accepts your qualifications. 

Teaching English online is an excellent position for anyone looking to increase their salary or teach on a part-time or full-time basis. With that in mind, it might be worth the investment.

Useful Links

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Start your teaching journey and get certified now. Watch my YouTube video about how I got started, or read about my experience here: The TEFL Academy review.

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New to the world of online teaching or just want to fill some hours in? Curious if this is a career you want to pursue? Check out Cambly to get started. Read the Cambly review.

Highest-Paying Online Teaching Jobs

In my post, I cover a list of some of the highest-paying online teaching jobs. Alternatively, use the curriculum online and find your own students. It’s easier than you think!


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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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