TEFL Courses in the USA

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A Guide to Earning TEFL Certification in the USA

By earning a TEFL certification in the United States you'll be able to choose from plenty of opportunities, with the added benefit of being surrounded by native English speakers. For those who already call the U.S. home, TEFL courses can be one of the more affordable ways to gain necessary experience without traveling far. Additionally, TEFL courses in the United States provide teachers with a wide variety of experiences and training related to teaching English abroad, providing a solid foundation for launching an international career.


As widespread as the United States is, so are the opportunities for teachers to earn TEFL certification, hence it is one of the most popular places to enroll in TEFL courses abroad. If big city living is what you’re after, places like San Francisco, Chicago, and New York are great cities to consider. Each of the latter cities also offers the benefit of bringing together a plethora of cultures, giving you an edge in intercultural communication before you even head abroad. If you find yourself strapped for cash in commuting, or live in a location that doesn’t offer many options for in-person classes, many organizations will also offer an online TEFL courses that lead to full TEFL certification too.

The most important thing is to do your research, since there are so many organizations and institutions in the United States that offer TEFL certification. You should take advantage of the chance to select a TEFL program that best fits your own personal needs and career goals.

Courses & Programs

There will be no lack of TEFL courses in the United States for you to choose from. That being said, it’s important that teachers do their research before opting for one organization over another. TEFL programs in the U.S. will be structured in a variety of ways; some programs will take place over a few weeks or weekends, and others will be spaced out over a couple of months.

While it isn’t always necessary to have previous teaching experience to enroll in TEFL programs in the U.S., it all depends on the accrediting institution or organization. All TEFL certification programs will require that applicants have a basic understanding of the English language. If English isn’t your native language, many organizations will require some form of competency to be demonstrated, usually with an essay, before allowing you to begin TEFL courses.

The structure of TEFL certification programs in the USA will depend on the type of course you sign up for. You can expect a standard 100+ hour course to incorporate academic training and practical experience. This combination will typically hold accreditation by most reputable institutions, though standards may vary from one institution to the next.

If you’re still up in the air about your post-certification destination or plans, it’s recommended to partake in a TEFL program that includes practicum experience, to better prepare yourself for teaching English abroad and help ensure you are the most beneficial teacher for your future students. The amount of time you spend training in the classroom will also correspond with the quality of the TEFL program and the level of certification you receive.

For those who don’t have as much time to spend on training, a four week TEFL program in the U.S. is another great option. These courses are condensed into a few weeks, so expect learning to happen at a faster and more intense pace.

For individuals who require even more freedom with a schedule, Online TEFL courses may be the right choice. The type of learning involved is more self-directed, and is the most cost-effective for those who can’t relocate to a new place. It is important to consider how much time you can devote to your TEFL certification courses. If you’re looking for a shorter timeline, an online course may be more cost-effective and efficient than a classroom-based course.

Many TEFL programs in the U.S. also include lifetime job placement assistance or at least initial help in securing a English teaching job abroad. Jobs search assistance can become a huge benefit for newly certified teachers so it is definitely something to ask about before committing to a program.

Salary & Costs

The costs associated with earning a TEFL certificate in the U.S. will vary. It’s typical for an accredited TEFL course to cost upwards of $1,000, as this includes 100+ hours of training and six or more hours of practical teaching experience. Depending on where the program takes place in the United States, these numbers may increase depending on accommodation costs and your standard of living. Cities on the coast, like San Francisco and New York will be much more expensive to call home and earn TEFL certification, then destinations that are more focused on the Midwestern United States.

In addition, other things like transportation, food, and entertainment may contribute to an extra $200 to $1000 per month, depending on what you budget for yourself. Daily spending and relocation are two of the reasons why an online TEFL course in the United States can be a great way to cut costs, as you wouldn’t have to worry about accommodation or transportation.

Accommodation & Visas

Living arrangements for students earning a TEFL certificate in the USA will be different based on the location and organization offering the course. If you’re traveling out of state or out of your native country for your TEFL program, you can typically expect that an organization will work with you to arrange accommodation beforehand. If you’re living in a bigger city, like San Diego or Boston, your accrediting organization may assist you in getting set up with an apartment, or on campus housing if you’re taking courses through a university.

Other organizations may require that you go about setting up accommodations independently, though suggested options or recommendations are usually made. If cost is a major factor, it is worth considering a TEFL certification program that includes online courses, or is run in a location close to where you already live. If you do end up relocating, you can expect that the cost of living may increase or decrease by several hundred dollars each month.

If you’re already a citizen of the United States, there’s no need to worry about a work or student visa. If you’re planning on becoming TEFL certified in the U.S and you’re not a U.S. citizen, a work visa will be required to complete your coursework.

GoAbroad Insider Tips

Affordability. If you already call the United States home and you’re still trying to save up on funds to travel, earning your TEFL certification in the U.S. is one of the best moves you could make. Not only does it allow more time to save up before teaching English abroad, but you’ll also end up spending less money when participating in a course that’s close to home or cheaper than it would cost to fly somewhere international. Costs will vary by location and organization, so it is recommended to lay out a realistic budget while researching different states and cities.

Native Experience. The experience you’ll gain being surrounded by native English speakers can make it easier to acquire the knowledge you’ll need once placed in an English teaching job abroad. For those who are looking to come to the United States to earn their TEFL certification, there will be just as many opportunities available. 

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A Guide To
Earning TEFL Certification in the USA


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