The specific time it will take an individual to complete their TEFL training and find a suitable teaching job will depend on several factors and vary from one case to the next. The main factors to consider are your own levels of determination, the amount of time you have to commit to your studies, and which country you plan to live and work in. On average you should probably allow around four to six months for completing your training, completing the recruitment process, and to make all the other arrangements required. If you are in a rush to get going, there are also ways to speed up this process.
What if I complete an online TEFL course and then apply for jobs from my home country?
This is a particularly common method for teachers who want to work in the Middle East, in many of the main EFL countries elsewhere in Asia, European countries such as France and Spain, and jobs secured via government sponsored recruitment programs. As most employers in these areas will require a 120-hour TEFL qualification, you should set your study plan for this duration taking into account any existing commitments you have. For example, your circumstances might dictate that you can only study 12 hours per week over a 10 week period. For others it might be possible to cover the hours in half the time or even less.
Next you need to factor in the job hunting process. This can obviously vary considerably, however, most graduates should find they can apply for jobs, conduct interviews, and accept the best option within just a few weeks. Just remember, in some cases it can take a further two to six months to arrange things such as contracts, visas and work permits, flight bookings, accommodation etc. One way of speeding up this process is to start applying for jobs as soon as you start your TEFL course rather than waiting until you have graduated.
What if I complete an online TEFL course and then apply for jobs in person?
This method is the most likely approach if you are heading to Latin America, or certain parts of Asia and Europe. As with the previous approach, you should plan your studies to realistically fit around any ongoing commitments such as work, study, or family. As soon as you have completed the course and have your TEFL certificate in hand you are free to head off to your chosen destination whenever you are ready. Once on the ground you can immediately begin the job hunting process in person. On average, most teachers find themselves working in their own classroom no more than two or three weeks after arriving. This time frame can often be shorter, particularly if you time your arrival to coincide with the peak hiring seasons in your destination country.
Are there any other timing issues to think about when preparing to teach English abroad?
One simple but highly important thing to check is that your passport is up to date and valid for at least one year as sourcing a new one can take several months in some cases. Entry visas and work permits might also require further documentation that can take time to organize. It is not uncommon to be asked for a police background check and a medical certificate, both of which can be time consuming if you are not prepared in advance. Processing your visa or work permit can also be a drawn out affair in some countries so it is good to know what to expect as early as possible. Despite all these potential hold ups, by preparing in advance and being organized you should be able to get your new life as an EFL teacher up and running in a reasonable time frame.