How to Become a TOEFL Teacher

Learn how to become a TOEFL teacher. Research the job description and the education and certification requirements, and find out how to start a career as a TOEFL teacher.

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Should I Become a TOEFL Teacher?

The Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL/TOEFL iBT, is used to assess non-native speakers who wish to study in an English-speaking academic setting. A TOEFL teacher's job is to prepare students for success on the exam and assist them in attaining proficiency in English.

The test is a product of Educational Testing Services, a company that produces a large line of assessment instruments. It can be taken in a pencil-and-paper format or over the Internet (TOEFL iBT). Many students pursuing the TOEFL are motivated and interested in learning, which can make the teaching more enjoyable. Some of these jobs are only part-time.

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Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree required; some employers require a master's degree
Degree Field Any, but English is the typical field for the master's degree
Certification Certification usually required
Experience Teaching experience is usually expected by most employers
Key Skills Patience, creativity, communication skills, cultural sensitivity; some training for teachers is online; the TOEFL iBT is administered online
Salary (2016) $39,956 per year (Median salary for English as a second language teachers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, TESOL International Association, Oxford Seminars,

Step 1: Earn a College Degree

A bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement to teach TOEFL courses in most countries. Generally, organizations that hire teachers for TOEFL courses accept candidates with a baccalaureate degree in any major, as long as the individual has expert-level English fluency. A prospective TOEFL teacher is not normally required to complete teacher preparation coursework, such as student teaching, or obtain teacher licensure from his or her state.

Step 2: Get a Teaching Certification

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most overseas employers require job candidates to be certified. One place to start when looking for a certification program is with local universities or community colleges. One can frequently find a certification program in his or her hometown at a local post-secondary institution. Other options include online programs offered by colleges or universities or businesses that focus specifically on Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification courses.

Success Tip:

  • Get some work experience teaching. The BLS reported that most employers prefer TOEFL teachers to have some teaching experience when they are hired. With this being said, you should attempt to get some teaching experience under your belt by working in an educational setting before or while you're obtaining your certification. Keep in mind that you'll have to earn a teacher's license if you plan to work for a public school.

Step 3: Find Work

After completing a bachelor's degree, TOEFL teacher training and certification, an individual will need to start looking for work, either in the U.S. or another country of his or her choice. Overseas institutions, including governments, colleges and universities, private schools and businesses, need teachers to prepare those learning English to take the TOEFL. There are many sources where one can search for a position as a TOEFL teacher, including job boards for teaching English as a foreign language. Colleges and universities also offer career services for graduates that include information about teaching English overseas or to speakers of other languages. Additionally, volunteer organizations like the Peace Corps place prospective teachers in TEFL programs as well.

Step 4: Consider Pursuing a Master's Degree

Depending on one's career goals, some individuals continue their education with a master's degree in English, ESL, education or linguistics. Although a master's degree is not typically needed to teach TOEFL courses, some institutions require it, such as colleges or universities. If one is interested in career advancement, such as a position in curriculum development for ESL or TOEFL training programs, a master's degree will be helpful.

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