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Teaching ESL – A Wise Career Move?

By Stephen Daniels

Due to the constant influx of immigrants from all over the world, domestic ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers are in great demand. These teachers work in private and public K-12 schools, private institutions, community colleges and universities. In addition, teaching English abroad is an attractive opportunity for many educators. Whatever one’s goals, getting ESL-certified is a wise career move in terms of future employment and overall educational enrichment.

Those considering a career in ESL should become familiar with the education and/or certification requirements, as well as employment opportunities in the field. Aspiring K-12 teachers need a four-year degree in education plus a state-certified license. Each state determines its own set of rules regarding ESL certification. At the K-12 level, periodic renewal may be necessary. Those interested in teaching abroad need a bachelors degree, but depending on the overseas school, certification is not always required.

Hundreds of public and private colleges and universities offer bachelor’s, master’s, and in some cases, doctoral degrees in education. Alternative education programs can include online courses that provide a more convenient means of acquiring certification. Specialized master’s degree programs in ESL or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) include a teaching certificate with the degree completion. Technically, a TESOL certificate can be acquired with nothing more than a high school education, but the certificate is more commonly built into master’s ESL and/or education programs.

Consider the following degrees when evaluation options in this field:

* B.S. in Elementary or Secondary Education

* M.A. in Teaching

* M.Ed. in English Teaching

* TESOL Certification

* M.A. in TESOL

One’s desired teaching position largely determines their educational aspirations. Degree and certification courses help improve strategies and narrow down the age group teachers wish to work with. Going abroad to teach is one option upon program completion. K-12 educators need state certification which requires a PRAXIS test, as well as the appropriate state license. The requirements are different for teaching ESL to adults through private organizations, on the other hand, so be sure to do appropriate research if you are considering this path. An M.A. in TESOL qualifies one to teach English practically anywhere at home or abroad in addition to improving general employment prospects.

In-school and online course availability and requirements vary with the program. Besides holding the necessary preliminary degree or high school diploma/GED, some schools may require students to be a certain age. A GPA of 3.0 and/or GRE test scores are usually necessary to enroll in a master’s program. Second language ability is helpful but not required to become an ESL-certified instructor, although this also depends on whether or not you want to teach abroad.

In terms of career, additional education and certification are always beneficial. There are time and cost factors to consider, but a TESOL and/or ESL certificate can improve employment opportunities abroad as well as in one’s state of residence. Teachers already working in this area will benefit from the extra credentials, while future educators who are certified are afforded more options from the start of their professional careers.

Reproduction permitted only when all active hyperlinks are included. 2010 All rights reserved.

Stephen Daniels is an acclaimed NetBiz SEO 2.0 researcher. If you seek a quick start to a teaching career, he recommends National Teacher Education Center. They offer alternative teacher certification programs for bachelor’s and master’s degrees with bilingual or ESL endorsements, as well as secondary education certification.

categories: Alternative Education Programs, Master’s Degree Programs

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Daniels, Stephen "Teaching ESL – A Wise Career Move?." Teaching ESL – A Wise Career Move?. 25 Jul. 2010. 4 Aug 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Daniels, S (2010, July 25). Teaching ESL – A Wise Career Move?. Retrieved August 4, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Daniels, Stephen "Teaching ESL – A Wise Career Move?"

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