The amount of time it takes to get a TEFL certificate varies from teacher to teacher. It depends on how much free time you have, how many hours you opt to take and how much experience you have with teaching curricula. We often see students who have a background in teaching flying through the training, while others take a little more time as the concepts are brand new. Similarly, we see a big difference in time to completion between students who are working full-time positions or studying for a degree and those that have taken time off to complete the course.
The amount of time it takes can range from 1 week (in the case of what we like to call TEFL extremists) to several months. Even with other commitments, we see a lot of students completing the course between a month and 6 weeks. Our advice would be to give yourself plenty of time to get it finished, but we’re aware that many students are fixed for time and those students often knock it out in record time.
Getting TEFL certified quickly isn’t hard, but that doesn’t mean you should jump at the first course you find online. Whether or not you know what country you’re going to teach in… there are a few factors to consider. The whole point of getting TEFL certified is to open doors to schools across the world and we’re here to help you figure out which cert will get you over the line quickly and make sure you’re eligible to teach in as many countries as possible (because who knows where the wind will carry you in 5 years time).
Time concerns when choosing a TEFL certification:
- Does the TEFL certificate cover enough hours for me to get hired in most countries?
- How much time does it take the average student to complete this TEFL course?
These are important concerns - because some courses don’t cover enough hours to get you certified for some countries. For example, there’s no point investing in a 100-hour course if you’re planning to teach with EPIK in South Korea because they require a 120-hour certificate.
We will cover what you need to look out for below when choosing the best TEFL cert for your needs. If you can chat with someone at the TEFL company and make sure to ask about the average student’s completion time. That stat should be readily available and will help you make the right choice if you’re strapped for time.
How far in advance do I need to get TEFL certified?
This depends on your personal situation and where you want to teach. If you plan to make the most of your TEFL certification - sit down, absorb the concepts and really give it your all - we recommend giving it a good 3 months.
You should also consider the other paperwork required for the teaching positions you want. It’s not uncommon for teachers to plan their teach abroad anywhere from 6 months out. This gives them time to track down background checks, get medical certs and mentally prepare themselves for the journey ahead.
We often see students enrolling in TEFL courses anywhere from 6 months to a couple of years out. Some college students complete TEFL certs over winter/summer break with the intention of using it once they graduate. There are no hard and fast rules. And we definitely see last minute TEFL students, who plow through the course in a matter of weeks.
Some teaching positions will be filled over the phone/Skype from abroad and will expect you to be certified during the interview process. The hiring processes for these types of positions usually require teachers to have their paperwork ready to go, so it’s wise for you to have planned to finish your TEFL before the seasonal hiring times. For instance, if you want to teach in Korea, then prepare to complete your TEFL certificate before applying, the same goes for Middle Eastern countries.
Can I get TEFL certified quickly if I am already traveling?
There are situations where teachers are already abroad when they decide to do their TEFL certificate. For instance, you might be traveling Europe and fall in love with a quaint Spanish village, or hiking across Asia when Thailand captures your heart. You might scan the area for English speaking schools to help extend your stay, and it would be wise to have a TEFL cert in your back pocket if you want to be taken seriously. In either of these situations, you could definitely complete an online TEFL course (make sure there’s no in-class component) and be certified in a matter of weeks.
If you’re traveling already, it’s possible to enroll in an online course and complete the modules in your own time, as you hop from one destination to another, you can even plan to land in your ultimate teaching destination with your TEFL complete.
Why online TEFL courses are the fastest way to get certified
This might seem obvious to some, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t realize that online courses are the absolute fastest way to get TEFL certified. Think about it, the entire course is uploaded and ready to go. You can login at your own convenience and tip away. You might complete it a nicely paced half hour at a time, or you might be inclined to eight-hour bursts of productivity.
There can be a small lag time on feedback from instructors, so make sure to choose a course that lets you know how often assignments are graded. Usually, they should be graded twice a day so that students can quickly turn over work and move on to the next module.
The best online TEFL courses to get you abroad fast.
Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of this course is that it has the name of a top university stamped on it. As you progress in your teaching career, credentials will matter, and having that little extra prestige associated with your TEFL cert can’t hurt.
Read this: What universities offer TEFL courses?
There are 100-hour, 120-hour and 150-hour courses available and everything is online. You can choose specializations depending on your personal goals and (most importantly) you can complete the course in a hurry! The average student takes a month to complete this course.
2. Let’s TEFL
This is a popular course and is also fully online. There’s only a 120-hour option (which meets the requirements for most countries). Students tend to finish it within 3-6 weeks, but some students can take 2-3 months. This course will set you up to work in most countries, but doesn’t offer any specializations. So if you’re looking for something tailored specifically to your long-term goals it might not be the perfect fit.
This site can be a little confusing, offering everything from a 120-hour TEFL course to a 470-hour Professional package. The extra hour courses include a diploma and two 50-hour specialization courses, so if you want to go above and way beyond the requirements, this might be an option. Although, those longers will take considerably more time.
The basic 120-hour package is the best solution for someone looking to teach abroad in a hurry and will probably take no more than 3 months to complete.
4. Premier TEFL
This 120-hour course comes with a 70+ page grammar book. For those of you who feel a bit shy about tenses, all TEFL courses will cover the nuts and bolts of grammar in depth, so this is probably just be marketing padding on the description. 😉
It says the course will take 6 months, but the average student will complete it in a lot less time.
The Uni-Prep institute has 4-week online TEFL programs, which would take considerably less time for someone trying to get it finished quickly. They also have a range of other options like a 220-hour master package and a 470-hour professional package. It’s worth remembering that most schools will look for a 120-hour program and anything else is a bonus. So if you’re seriously trying to cut time, go for that option.