Is a CELTA Worth it? An Experienced Teacher’s Perspective

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You often hear teachers praise the CELTA as the be-all-end-all certification to teach English as a Foreign Language. But is the CELTA worth all the hype?

As an experienced EFL teacher who began my teaching journey five years ago at just nineteen years old, I have accumulated some knowledge about this industry that I want to share. I’ve also taught at multiple online ESL companies, built my own teaching businesses, and know how to make a good income teaching online.

What is a CELTA?

A CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is a qualification for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. It gives you the skills you need to become a confident ESL teacher to teach abroad or online.


Myths about the CELTA

It’s time to debug some of the common myths you hear when people talk about a CELTA.

1. You need a CELTA to get a good job

Some teaching jobs state that they require a CELTA, Trinity TESOL, or equivalent in their job description. However, I was told at my TEFL course teaching practice that I should apply for those kinds of jobs anyway, and I did.

I never had any problems getting a teaching job, and this is coming from someone who has the unfortunate track record of failing every job interview for what I am actually degree-qualified (NFQ Level-8 International Commerce degree).

I have even applied to jobs in the U.K. that very specifically requested a CELTA in the job description, yet I still got the job.

Many teachers say the CELTA is what got them the job (probably because that is what it says in the job description). However, it quickly became clear to me that my TEFL certificate and teaching experience I had gained at another school had also deemed me worthy of the job.

And now, with my teaching business, I make much more hourly than most CELTA-qualified teachers.

2. CELTA teachers are better

The CELTA course is certainly more intense, but that does not mean the teachers are better!

Think of it like this. If you completed a bachelor’s degree, but your friend is qualified with a master’s degree, does that necessarily mean that your friend will be better at the job than you? Not necessarily; that is not the deciding factor.

I have had seasoned teachers attend my classroom to observe. They were stunned by my ability to manage and control my classroom and asked me how I could do it.

I am not trying to brag at all (I wish I had a better example); I just wanted to give my personal experience to show that you don’t necessarily need a CELTA to do your teaching job.

Therefore, the ability to forge relationships with students and provide a quality classroom experience is not defined by your certification, although a CELTA would help, I am sure.

Advantages of Getting a CELTA

I am not anti-CELTA or anything; it is a really good course and definitely, one to consider!

  • More job opportunities
  • Gain teaching knowledge
  • Level-5 qualification

More Job Opportunities

It may be easier to get more jobs because of the teaching practice you gain by completing your CELTA, and the CELTA is a well-known qualification.

If you are starting off in this industry with no teaching experience, the teaching experience you gain from the CELTA course will stand to you when applying for your first job.

Gain Teaching Knowledge

The most important reason to take any course is to better yourself and your skill set.

A CELTA gives you the teaching knowledge you need to perform the job, and you can find courses for new and experienced teachers alike.

Level-5 Qualification

All CELTA courses consist of a minimum of 120 hours. They are also a level-5 qualification per the UK’s Regulated Qualifications Framework.

They allow you to gain real live practice as an ESL teacher, which gives you the skills you need to be confident in the classroom.


Disadvantages of Getting a CELTA

Some cons that people don’t always talk about.

  • Expensive course
  • Language schools accept the “equivalent” of a CELTA
  • There are much cheaper, alternative methods of gaining information


There is no question about it; it is an expensive qualification and the most costly out of all the other TEFL courses.

Prices vary wildly from country to country, but you are still looking at a price tag of $1200-$4000. You definitely want to be committed to this job in the long run.

“CELTA Qualification or Equivalent”

Many TEFL courses are reasonably priced and faster to complete than the CELTA. Regulated TEFL courses are level-5, which means that they are the same level as a CELTA, without the hefty price tag.

Some schools state they want candidates who have “CELTA or equivalent” qualifications. As TEFL courses become more known and regulated in the industry as time progresses, they also stand for this “equivalent,” which is enough to get you a high-paying ESL job.

It’s not the only way

We are living in the digital age where we can learn for free or at a very low price.

You can find much of what you need to know about ESL from the library; for example, pick up a book about ESL methodology or teaching theory, and you will already know more than the vast majority of teachers.

You can also gain teaching experience by volunteering for free or starting out small for a couple of hours each week until you achieve the teaching practice you need when starting your career.

Who Am I?

My name is Caitriona Maria, and I completed my TEFL course in 2016; and have since traveled to Spain, and the UK and now teach online full-time. I am the proud owner of TPRTeaching and write inspiring content about teaching online so that you can gain a job teaching ESL.

In Conclusion

The whole point of this post is to show that while a CELTA may be worth it for some people, you don’t need a CELTA to succeed, and I think many TEFL courses have caught up to a similar level.

If you have a CELTA, it looks superb on your resume because it is such a well-known course. But, like anything else, your qualifications or certifications don’t define your abilities. It’s how you do your job that counts.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Let me know in the comments section below!

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I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.

I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!

I enjoy traveling, nature walks, and soaking up a new culture. Please share the posts if you find them helpful!

3 thoughts on “Is a CELTA Worth it? An Experienced Teacher’s Perspective”

  1. I have to say I completely disagree with a few statements you’ve made here. Many schools, the one I work at for example, it is actually their policy to only accept applicants with a CELTA. There is a reason for this. The CELTA and Trinity TESOL are accredited and standard, and just like a degree, a statement of what the person should know. Therefore, the recruiter knows that that person’s teaching is of a certain level without having to go and do online research checking up the particular qualification which is supposed to be equal to.

    The question of whether someone with qualifications is better or not is a totally different one, and it is perfectly true that someone with qualifications coming out their ears may not be as good as someone with no qualifications. The issue of course is, when you need to quickly employ 5 or 10 teachers you may well be fitting this in with many other duties, so just as most employers seem to want a degree to prove a level of education now, many schools want a CELTA or Trinity TESOL to prove a certain level of practical teaching skill.
    An Online qualification may well be ok if you are going to teach online, but it is not going to give you the same practise with teaching face to face.
    I feel it is only fair to have this alongside your article as I get so many applications from teachers with these much cheaper, quicker qualifications who believed they were as good and as acceptable, and are very confused to find out they are not.

    • Very important points, thank you Charlie. There is definitely value in the CELTA qualification, I don’t doubt it. However, it is a very high price for some people to pay, especially if they aren’t sure whether they want to do this long term. Some TEFL courses offer the equivalent level-5 qualification, and are hundreds of hours long. While they may not have the same reputation as the CELTA, if you research them you will find that they are also accredited and regulated. The hiring conditions for some schools may have changed since I was teaching in-person back in 2020, but I believe if you put in the work you can be successful with or without a CELTA.

  2. Hi Caitriona Maria
    thank you very much for publishing my comment, I wasn’t sure you would, but that is very fair of you.
    I am kicking myself however, as the main point I wanted to mention, I completely forgot 😉
    That is that, the CELTA and Trinity TESOL have six hours (at least) of observed teaching practice with feedback given by a DELTA/Dip qualified trainer. And this is the crux with so many qualifications (even MAs) is that they are all theory but not practical element. So this is one of the reasons British Council Accredited schools generally require this as a minimum.
    Thank you again, for being very fair and allowing the other side to be said.
    Best wishes


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