What are the Basic Requirements to Teach English Abroad?

The Top 5 Teaching English Abroad Requirements 

By Jessie Smith

The requirements to teach English abroad vary region-by-region and country-by-country. But here are the 5 key requirements to teach English abroad no matter where in the world you plan to teach:

I. TEFL Certification

II. Visa

III. Money

IV.  Hiring Process & Requirements

V. Country-Specific Documents


You do not need a degree in education or even prior teaching experience to teach English abroad, however, an accredited TEFL certification is a key requirement to teach English abroad. Top employers across Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, expect to see this accredited training on your resume. Your TEFL certification shows that you're not only a native English speaker, but it shows that you're professionally trained to teach the English language. 


An accredited TEFL certification class will provide you with the skills and confidence you need to successfully run a classroom and provide your students with a high-quality education. It is also required or highly preferred for most job opportunities.  If you want to give yourself the best opportunity to get a great job location, a TEFL certification is key if you don't already have a degree in Education and an ESL endorsement/certification.

To learn more, check out Is TEFL Certification Required to Teach English Abroad? 

A legitimate and recognized TEFL class must have a minimum of 100 hours of coursework, 6-20+ hours of live practice teaching with non native English learners, it must be accredited by a recognized body within the field, and it must be taught by university-level instructors.

To learn more about how to evaluate a TEFL school:  5 Key Tips to Help You Pick the Best TEFL Certification School (and Not Get Ripped Off)

From nitty-gritty teaching methods to cultural sensitivity and lesson planning, your TEFL class will prepare you for every aspect of teaching English abroad. Check out a full overview of ITA's 11-week Online TEFL class.

Armed with an accredited TEFL certification, you are well on your way to securing a fantastic teaching job overseas or online.


Every country has its own unique visa laws & process for English teachers, and it's vital that you completely understand what the process is for the specific part of the world you're planning to teach.

In some countries, it is standard for employers to sponsor a work visa for the duration of their contract. In other countries foreign English teachers will work on some sort of an independent or free-lancer contracts, and some teach English on a working holiday visa, which is typically based on a bilateral agreement between 2 countries that enables certain qualified citizens to travel and work in the other country for an extended period.

Many English teachers are legally able to teach on student visas, and still other others work as teachers on a tourist visa.  In some countries this is legal, while in others it is not lawful, but is still a common practice, which is why it is referred to as "Teaching English Under the Table."

Before enrolling in your TEFL class, be sure to speak with your International TEFL Academy (ITA) Admissions Advisor about visas and get all of your questions answered. 

  • What type of visa will I be working on?
  • How long does it take to obtain this visa?
  • How long is this visa valid and when does it need to be renewed?
  • Does this visa cost money, if so, how much? 

If you're teaching English online from your home country then you don't need to worry about visas, but if you plan to teach English abroad then a visa is a key requirement. 

To learn more about visas, check out:

Get your free Country Chart about teaching English abroad!


It's important to be financially prepared before getting on a plane to teach English abroad. From initial start-up costs like your TEFL certification class and your flight, to the local cost of living and your expected monthly salary, you need to be aware of these costs to successfully plan your move overseas. 

To learn more, check out: What are Start-Up Costs for Teaching English Abroad? 

Do you need to save money each month after living expenses or are you comfortable breaking even each month?  Certain countries like, South Korea, Vietnam and China, allow English teachers to save between $600-$1000+ per month. These are ideal choices if you're looking to pay student loans or pay off debt while teaching abroad. To learn more about which countries offer the best pay and benefits, please read Top 5 Countries to Make the Most Money Teaching English Abroad.

While teachers in a lot of countries throughout Europe and Latin America, like Spain, Italy, and Costa Rica, typically break even financially. If you choose to teach English in a break even country, you can boost your income by private tutoring or teaching English online

Get your financial guide to teaching English abroad!



So you earned your accredited TEFL certification, you understand the visa process for your respective country, and you are financially prepared to take the plunge and move overseas. So what does it take to actually get hired in a country like Japan or Germany?

When it comes to qualifications, you'll find some countries require a 4-year university degree while others will hire you with just your TEFL certification. Certain countries have strict citizenship requirements for English teachers while others will hire non-native English speakers with a TEFL certification.

Once you've determined specific countries of interest that meet your qualifications, you need to know the hiring process. 

  • What is the best time of year to find a teaching job?
  • What materials do I need to apply?
  • Do I need to do an in-person interview or will I interview from home?  

Long story short, you want to set yourself up for success before you begin your job search, so be sure you're familiar with the hiring requirements and the hiring process in the respective country you're planning to teach in.

Here are some great resources to get your started:


In most cases you will need certain documents both to get a job and to live & work in foreign nations. Every country its own unique requirements when it comes to required documentation.

If you're planning to teach English in Latin America, you potentially don't need a whole lot other than your passport and TEFL certification. While teachers interested in Asia will potentially have a much longer list of required documents, ranging from a background check to college transcripts and/or a health check, for example. In limited cases you may even have to provide a bank statement or some other proof of financial solvency and/or access to a certain amount of funds.

You'll find a variety of documentation requirements across Europe. Some countries like Germany and the Czech Republic have very detailed, specific processes. If you're considering a student visa program in Europe, then you definitely want to start the process at least 6 months in advance. 

Once you're enrolled in your ITA TEFL class, you'll work closely with your Student Affairs job search advisor to ensure you fully understand the required documentation for your respective country. 


Want to learn more about Teaching English Abroad?

Request a free brochure or call 773-634-9900 to speak with an expert advisor about all aspects of TEFL certification and teaching English abroad, including the hiring process, salaries, visas, TEFL class options, job placement assistance and more.

Check out the following articles to learn more about the basics of TEFL certification & teaching English abroad:

Meet the Author: Jessie Smith

Meet the Author, Jessie SmithJessie is an ITA Alumni and is currently the Marketing Manager at ITA. She taught English abroad in South Korea and Vietnam, and then joined the ITA team in 2014. She earned her B.A. in Journalism from The University of Iowa. Learn More About Jessie.

Previous Article
What is TEFL and What is TEFL Certification?
What is TEFL and What is TEFL Certification?

“TEFL” is the acronym for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, or simply, English language instruction f...

Next Article
International TEFL Academy Wins Recognition as Best TEFL Certification School
International TEFL Academy Wins Recognition as Best TEFL Certification School

By John Bentley International TEFL Academy (ITA) staff, students and alumni are proud that IT...


Download Your TEFL Brochure to Get Started!

First Name
Last Name
Phone Number
Educational Level
TEFL Class of Interest
Thank you!
Error - something went wrong!