Before we answer this question we will first look at the three most common routes towards TEFL qualifications. A TEFL qualification is usually a prerequisite when looking for TEFL employment of any kind. These are:
1) Online courses: a 120-hour TEFL certificate course is the entry level qualification for most jobs. This type of course is conducted 100% online.
2) In-class courses: this type of course is conducted 100% in-class at a location somewhere in the world. Typically these courses also involve teaching practice.
3) Combined courses: this type of course is conducted by a combination of online study followed by a short in-class attendance to complete teaching practice.
Three most common working options
Once you have completed your chosen TEFL certification course, there are three common working options for TEFL teachers, which are;
1) Working in government schools, private schools, or language centers in the country of your choice.
2) Working for an online profile company. This is a kind of short term freelancing opportunity. You post your qualifications and experience with an online profile company and employers can look at your details and potentially offer you work.
3) Online English teaching through a company. There has been a massive explosion of online teaching companies over the past ten years. With a TEFL qualification, stable internet connection, computer and headset you are able to work for one of these companies.
What other roles can TEFL teachers move into?
Another factor to consider in regards to possible employment are all the areas peripheral to being a teacher. This is particularly true if you already have a few years experience in the classroom. In this case you might consider some of the other possible employment opportunities out there. These may include:
School manager/director of studies
With a few years or more experience you can start to look at management roles. These will usually mean a reduction in teaching hours and a greater role in administration and mentoring.
Becoming a TOEFL/IELTS or similar examiner
If you have experience or are able to take some form of training then being an examiner for these types of external exams can bring in a useful income.
Once you have a good idea of how school systems work and what qualifications and experience are needed in certain roles, you may be able to put that experience to use in a recruitment environment.
After gaining around five years of varied teaching experience, you should have picked up enough knowledge in the two main areas needed to be a teacher trainer. These two areas are the teaching skills required to be in a classroom and the subject knowledge required to teach English to ESL students.
Text book writer/contributor
If you have some experience and some new ideas you can attempt to get your work published with one of the many educational textbook companies.
Coursebook sales person
If you are unable to write a book then you could try to sell them instead. This type of work is usually commission based.
You can also keep your eye out for opportunities to either start your own school or become a part owner of one.