Digital Nomad TEFL Education, Beach

Digital Nomad: TEFL Guide and Finding Remote Jobs in Education

This article covers how to become a digital nomad via finding job opportunities with TEFL certification. We will do our best to outline popular strategies to establishing remote international employment in the scope of education.

Certifications for TEFL

A variety of institutions based throughout the world provide employment in remote positions for workers interested in teaching English. In most cases these jobs require a certification as a government regulation or private requirement by the institution.

Typically coursework that awards graduates with TESOL or TEFL certification (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages / Teaching English as a Foreign Language) are enough to get native English speakers in the door with many establishments for a remote job position.

TEFL certification in particular concentrates on helping students learn to teach English to those abroad. TESOL on the other hand will allow students to acquire the skills to teach English as a second language both at home and elsewhere. Both are equally useful for finding employment in a remote position as a teacher.

These certifications often have varying hour requirements attached to them so it is well-advised to work through programs with longer and more thorough time investments of around or greater than 100 hours, in particular if you are completing coursework online.

Be sure that the program you choose is reviewed favorably and contains accreditation from an authority, preferably through ACTDEC, Online TESOL and TEFL Standards Agency and other reputable groups.

Many organizations with credible programs will offer a department specifically designed to help successful students find jobs, with a few companies offering good connections with online only employment opportunities. Established organizations that have been around for a while with an active jobs and employment department are good signs of high credibility.

Online Education for Digital Nomads

certifications, picture of graduates throwing up hats for TEFL

The good news is, again, these types of certifications can be earned entirely online if you do not find a program in your area. Standards will vary by region of the employer but in some countries a high school diploma and proper certification along with native English fluency will be enough for a remote position in education.

However, this position is most ideal for those that already have earned a Bachelors Degree of some kind in order to maximize personal marketability in the field.

Another less accessible but worthy program to look into is the CELTA certification program. This certification will go above and beyond other certifications in that these qualifications are tied to the Cambridge English Teaching Framework, which is much more highly regarded among employers for which you will be working under. Programs available for CELTA certification are only available in person and involve training in a professional setting.

The Nomad Lifestyle

the digital nomad lifestyle, picture of sunglasses on beach

Most schools will connect instructors with students through a variety of online video interfaces which are scheduled through the day. Almost all of them will want their teachers to be available during specific times which may be something to take into consideration when thinking about where you wish to travel and live in relation to time zone requirements.

In order to get the job done you will need not only a reliable computer for video-conferencing with students but a reliable internet connection as well. 

Good institutions pay on average between $14-$19 USD an hour for your work as an English teacher. Some employers will require you take part in active lesson planning for your students while others will have already prepared this work for you as it is a standard of the institution or mandated by government.

Fortunately as these kinds of jobs are in demand due to the globalization of society and demand of English speakers, it is likely you will have more abundance in choice.

$14-$19 USD an hour on average may not seem high for those that are new to digital nomadism, which is understandable at first glance. Keep in mind that it is entirely up to you to find out how lean you are willing to live abroad.

I encourage additional research to consult cost-of-living in your desired countries of travel and temporary residence. You may be surprised as often times this will be more than enough to live comfortably, much more comfortably than one would enjoy on a comparable income in the United States.

Additional Considerations

additional considerations, picture of group working on laptops at table studying TEFL

For people that have not found their niche in other areas that remote work may be available, teaching English can be a fruitful and fulfilling opportunity. As outlined earlier some schools may accept just certification alone with demonstrated fluency in English, without the need for secondary education.

However, if you find yourself with secondary education any degree will pair well with a certification to increase your marketability in this domain, ensuring good chances for employment. 

You will need to consider your mode of travel in relation to time zone requirements. In embracing this path your lifestyle as a digital nomad must be constructed in a way that affords you a quiet space to teach your students. Quiet airbnbs, hotel rooms, houses and other quiet spaces with good internet access are the bare minimum for the requirements of this type of career opportunity.

Keep in mind teaching English can be demanding and exhausting even but if the occupation fits your personality the opportunity for sustained travel will become abundant.

Important Points to Consider

  1. Online certification programs can be as reputable as programs that require in person attendance.
  2. TEFL certification prepares students to teach English to those abroad.
  3. TESOL certification prepares students to teach English as a second language both at home and elsewhere.
  4. Look for reputable accreditation in your program. 
    1. ACTDEC or The Accreditation Council for TESOL Distance Education Courses
    2. Online TESOL and TEFL Standards Agency
    3. Other reputable accreditations
  5. Consider program reputation and reviews.
  6. Go for higher hour programs, preferably over 100 hours.
  7. You don’t have to be a native English speaker, but it may help.
  8. You must be over 18 years old.

Additional Resources for the Digital Nomad

  • More on how to get your TEFL certification online by Go Abroad.
  • Cost of living considerations by NomadList.
  • Search for remote teaching opportunities at Oetjobs.
  • A few employers in remote education and tutoring – no referral links here

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Brian Wilson

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