So you're a TEFL teacher...what's next for you? Ways of moving up the ladder into other, better paid jobs.
Most people train to become English teachers as a way of seeing the world and experiencing different cultures. However, after starting teaching abroad, they discover it to be an exceptionally rewarding experience and soon start planning to build a long-term career from TEFL teaching. People within a range of senior EFL roles, all started out as newly trained TEFL teachers, setting out on their first teaching experience. But how did they do this and how can you follow a similar path away from the classroom and into higher paid jobs? What avenues are open to you after a few years English teaching?
Many English training schools overseas have a Senior Teacher role, particularly when the school has ten or more teachers. The Senior Teacher works under a Director of Studies and is usually the voice of experience within the teacher's office. They are the ones who always have an idea for classes and can lend a word of good advice to newer teachers.
Often Senior Teachers will be asked to personally mentor new teachers or be asked to run teacher training workshops. This is a good stepping stone towards as Director of Studies position.
Director of Studies
The Director of Studies position is usually the top position within a training centre for TEFL teachers, particularly overseas. This is a multi-faceted and important role, requiring people in the job to have a balanced skill set and be good with people. You'll usually be responsible for hiring (and probably firing), scheduling classes, liaising with parents and local staff, ongoing training and assessment of teachers and a thousand other important tasks within the school.
Area Operations Manager
If you are working for a large chain of schools, with training centres in many different cities in a particular country, then there may be an opportunity for advancement into an Operations Manager position. These roles require you to travel from city to city, ensuring that schools within each city are adhering to national and international standards expected of the brand. You'll also have to assess and train Directors of Study, as well as giving workshops to teachers in the schools you visit.
At National Conferences, you'll probably be asked to give seminars to other managers or give speeches. Most AOM applicants are expected to be Delta or MA TESOL qualified, or at least be enrolled onto a course.
All English schools of any type need good teachers in order to function as a business. Whenever a teacher leaves, then this teacher will need replacing, but the problem for schools is that they often don't know where to look or how to contact qualified TEFL teachers.
A good area to move into is TEFL recruitment, especially if you enjoy networking, social media or building websites; all ways of sourcing English teachers. You might find that you can earn the equivalent of one month's salary, by simply finding two teachers for a school each month. Once you have a few schools under your belt, then you have the makings of a very successful business and with minimal start-up costs.
This is a good avenue to go down if you have experience of many different course books and curricula. Maybe you've used a text book in your school and absolutely hated it, knowing you could probably make a better and more thoughtfully written course.
If you have a good mix of grammar knowledge and awareness and a flair for writing a creativity, then Curriculum Development is a rewarding and well-paid area you could find a niche in. Once you have a name in the area, you've got a job for life.
Many experienced TEFL teachers go down this route as their career progresses. They fancy a move back home after teaching overseas and now can put their own experience of teaching and living abroad to perfect use by training new TEFL teachers. Teacher trainers often have a background as a Director of Studies and have gone on to further education in the form of a Delta or MA in TESOL.
If you are planning on moving into Teacher Training, then look into these courses and speak to other teacher trainers about how they did it and to get any advice from them. I'm sure your own teacher trainers you had when you were new would remember you and be very helpful.
IELTS or TOEFL Examiner
Thousands of international students take IELTS or TOEFL exams each year, usually to go overseas to study in English-speaking universities. Candidates must do a reading, writing, listening and speaking test. Each and every one of these test takers, have been tested by specially trained examiners, who try to ensure that the test is equal and fair to all, regardless of who you are and which country you've taken the test in.
Becoming a qualified examiner is a good route for TEFL teachers and will make sure you have a job for life. You may also have the opportunity to travel to other cities whenever a shortage of examiners arises, which is common. You need well compensated and are put up in 5-Star hotels.
Own your own school
Although this is not so common, I know of quite a few people in China who have become share holders and part-owners of schools. This is usually after you've been at the same school for a number of years and the investor knows and likes you. Importantly, you're good at what you do, are hard-working and have an entrepreneurial spirit.
The investor, who at first probably saw you as another teacher in the school, now sees you as an equal and who would be a smart choice to go into business with. You know the school, you know the TEFL industry, you know what works and what doesn't. Becoming a share-holder in a school is possible for those who are worth their salt.
For those people out there who are TEFL teachers and feel that they've gone as far as they can with it and that there is no new direction, think again. Getting TEFL qualified and teaching English is just the beginning if you have a will to push on and move into areas of the industry. The world is still your oyster, just as you thought it was when you first began training as a teacher in the first place.
by Stuart Allen