Each state has different education requirements for becoming an ESL teacher. Aspiring ESL teachers typically need to follow certain steps to become eligible for hire. These can include earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree, obtaining a teaching license and completing specific ESL certifications.
At a minimum, most ESL teachers must complete a bachelor’s degree before they’re eligible for hire. In most countries, this undergraduate degree must be issued by an accredited university that offers a combination of coursework and student teaching opportunities.
Many aspiring ESL teachers will complete a bachelor’s degree in education or in a closely related field. These programs teach fundamentals that help the teachers develop students’ academic, social and cognitive skills.
After completing a bachelor’s degree, ESL teachers need to obtain a teaching license in the state where they want to work. The licensure process requires teachers to complete classes, pass exams and finish a certain number of professional experience hours.
Requirements for obtaining a teaching license vary by state. States issue their own teaching licenses. In some cases, one state’s teaching certification might be transferable to another state with similar license requirements.
ESL teachers can further improve their skills by earning an additional certification or endorsement. Some positions require this. Endorsements can provide new skills in ESL instruction and may improve earning power and expand your career potential. In many cases, teachers could be required to additionally obtain state-recognized certification or endorsements to teach ESL in an elementary or secondary school.
Some common ESL add-on certifications or endorsements are:
Additional certification allows ESL teachers to stay up to date in their industry. Among other skills, ESL certifications teach instructors how to relate to students, implement modern teaching techniques, create exams and connect with learners who might need special attention.
Teaching ESL in a college or university environment often requires a master’s degree in education.
Master’s programs improve your knowledge of education fundamentals and reinforce skills like problem-solving, decision-making and research. Some postsecondary schools, particularly those overseas, require that ESL teachers complete a doctoral degree in education before they are hired.
Some institutions offer ESL-specific master’s degree programs, though this specialty isn’t always required by employers. More often, learners can become ESL teachers through a combination of education and professional experience.
A master’s degree helps deepen students’ proficiency in, and respect for, a particular career path. Master’s program graduates develop an appreciation for learning materials and learn new ways to apply research, communication and collaboration skills.
There are many ways to gain experience teaching English as a second language outside of ESL teaching jobs, something that is often a requirement when becoming an ESL teacher. Some people work as substitute teachers. This role allows future ESL teachers to develop skills and gain exposure to various classroom environments outside of ELS teacher jobs, whether it’s part-time or full-time work.
Some students transitioning from another career field might gain experience through a teaching certificate. Online certificate programs provide education for learners seeking specific skills. Such curricula are particularly helpful for professionals who might already have a bachelor’s degree in another field.
University of Phoenix education programs do not prepare students for licensure, certification or endorsement as an ESL teacher. However, UOPX offers online education degree programs and certificates that teach vital skills such as leadership, cultural awareness and more. Here are a few degree options to consider if you’d like to learn more about flexible courses with a fixed tuition that fit those with a busy schedule: