Which ELT Qualification?

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There are thousands of ESL teaching courses available, with all sorts of claims being made about them and accreditation that can be valid or bogus. One simple test is to look at adverts to see what employers are looking for, so I went through 200 adverts for basic teaching jobs around the world, and a few teaching online.  I ignored managerial positions, university and specialist jobs.  This does not rate the contents of courses, though it is clear which courses employers trust and prefer.  Qualifications are given with the percentage of the teaching jobs advertised that a person could apply for.

CELTA- 100%

You could apply to 100% of the jobs advertised with the CELTA.

Trinity College- 89%

The Trinity CertTESOL is almost universally recognised as being the equivalent of the CELTA, and many argue that it is better, but 11% of the job adverts surveyed only mentioned the CELTA.  It is possible that you might get one of these jobs with the CertTESOL, but employers might really only want the CELTA, possibly down to snobbery or ignorance, and it is a buyer's market. It is the only other qualification that is regularly named, though I haven't seen any advert that only asks for it.

Or Equivalents- 78.5%

Courses that have over 100 hours of tuition (120 is a common figure) and several hours of observed teaching practice are generally regarded as equivalent, though the quality may vary according to the provider. Anything less than this is not equivalent despite what it might say on a website or in promotional materials.

Other ELT qualifications accepted- 37%

Courses that don't include teaching practice or that are shorter than the ones above but provide some certification would be OK for just over a third of jobs.

No teaching qualification required- 10%

Some adverts where no teaching qualification is required did specify that applicants had to be graduates.

I looked at 200 basic teaching job adverts on Tefl.com- some of these were for multiple positions, but percentages are based on the numbers of adverts.  This survey does not assess the pedagogical worth of a course, but it may give an idea of what employers want.  CELTA and Trinity are the two courses that are repeatedly asked for by name- so far none of the equivalent courses has managed to make the leap into being name-checked.  2% of job adverts asked people with online courses not to apply- a small number, but the fact that they don't want the bother of throwing an application in the bin may be worth noting.

I have no involvement with or interest in any ELT training course.

Categories: General


Given the intense interest in teaching English from recent graduates, midlife professionals, and still active seniors, many job seekers remain rather confused as to how to proceed in a potential ELT career. Your brief survey illuminates the clear advantages of CELTA. Sometimes documenting the obvious serves practical purposes, and allows us to put numbers to complicated situations.

I'd be curious, of course, about the number of more desirable positions requiring an MA or Delta. Perhaps that's a future survey.

This does document the obvious, but with so much disinformation, I thought some putting numbers on things might help people who are starting out choose an appropriate course.

I think the DELTA/MA would also be an interesting- I will do that one next. Thanks for the idea. With the resurgence of the DELTA in some areas, it could make for an interesting comparison.

Very good, since I've just paid the fee for a CELTA course!! :)
But I'm not that surpirsed honestly: last time I asked around for a teaching job in some language centre, I was told by almost everyone that I should have a CELTA or equivalent certificate.
I'm a graduate in English Language and have got some work experience both in a British company (useful for improving the four skills) and in some private schools (useful as teaching experience); but then nobody seemed interested in those abilities of mine :s so I had to be content with working in private schools (whereas I'd rather teach in language centres)

I hope you enjoy the course. It is clear what employers are after- the gap between the equivalent courses and the rest is so big that it strikes me as pointless to get anything less if starting out in ESL.


This advice holds true for Europe and ESL, but is certainly not true for EFL in Asia. Asian universities employ tens of thousands of TEFL teachers, but they have rarely heard of CELTA. They are looking for the normal academic qualification: a Masters degree, or a Bachelor's/doctorate for less/more prestigious institutions.

The survey was of entry level teaching posts and university posts were excluded. CELTA is the number one qualification for entry jobs in ESL in Asia too. This is clearly set out:

I ignored managerial positions, university and specialist jobs.

For university posts worldwide, people are looking for a Master's or more. For ESL management jobs the DELTA is the number one qualification. However, I didn't consider these to be an entry level position in ESL.

There are jobs in Asia where no teaching qualification is required, such as classroom assistants in some countries. These were included.

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