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How to Avoid TEFL Job Scams Abroad and Online

After you’re done celebrating your new online TEFL certification, it’s time to start the job hunt. Whether you’re looking to embark on an adventure in a different country or teach English online, it’s important to keep in mind certain criteria when looking for an English teaching position. There’s certainly no lack of opportunities, but you have to be prepared to avoid TEFL job scams both virtually and in the foreign classroom. Luckily, the tips below make it easy to do just that!

How can I know if a TEFL job abroad is legitimate?

Moving to a different country to teach English can be very exciting yet daunting at the same time! Before renting an apartment and setting up a bank account, remember to verify that the TEFL job abroad is legitimate. Here are some ways you can do so:

  • Use a reputable job board, such as the Bridge Job Board, to find pre-vetted TEFL/TESOL schools and companies. Bridge also has a very active Jobs Facebook group where vetted teaching abroad and online opportunities are constantly updated.
  • Conduct a general online search to check for a website, physical address, contact information, etc.
  • Vet the company or school you’re looking at on all social media platforms.
  • Read reviews from past or current teachers. If you’re applying somewhere that tends to take a crop of TEFL/TESOL-certified teachers every year, then there are probably Facebook groups where others have shared tips, as well as any problems they may have encountered. Lots of people who move abroad also tend to start blogs about their experience, so make sure to read those as well.
  • Note the application process. Reputable schools aren’t going to hire you overnight. And, almost every legitimate program requires an interview prior to hiring you. This will give you a chance to ask more specific questions about the curriculum, dress code, schedule, etc.
  • Cross-check the position with other ESL teaching jobs in the country. The pay, benefits, description, etc. should be comparable to other jobs in the area.

Check out the 10 best places to teach English abroad!

What are some common red flags for TEFL job scams abroad?

Below are some things to look out for when applying to TEFL/TESOL jobs abroad:

  • Be very wary of a position that requires an upfront payment when you’re applying. It’s probably a TEFL job scam advertisement. If you’re taking a job that also involves workshops or training, those ESL professional development opportunities are usually free.
  • Speaking of money, one of the common red flags for TEFL job scams is when they do not disclose the salary at any point. If you’re going to move abroad, make sure you know how much you’ll be making before getting on the plane! The TEFL/TESOL salary also shouldn’t sound too good to be true.
  • Another way to detect possible fraud is by noticing when a school has a sketchy website. Make sure there’s always a way to contact the company or school and that there’s a physical address too. Having clear and constant communication is a good sign that you’re taking a legitimate job.
  • Be wary of TEFL/TESOL jobs that don’t have basic requirements for applicants. For example, most schools or companies abroad require teachers to have a TEFL/TESOL certificate. They will also ask to have an interview before hiring you.
  • Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, keep in mind that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Learn more about teaching English abroad requirements.

Can online TEFL jobs be scams too?

There’s been a huge surge in the demand for online ESL classes, especially after COVID-19 began in early 2020. So, you’ll have to consider how to avoid TEFL job scams in the virtual space too.

  • First of all, comb through the company’s website and keep an eye out for inconsistencies and offers that seem too good to be true.
  • The hiring process for online teaching jobs tends to be a giveaway too. Legitimate companies will want proof that you’re TEFL/TESOL-certified and will have listed application guidelines.
  • Just like you would for a job abroad, cross-check online companies using social media and search engines. Try to read as many reviews as possible, and make sure that the payment methods are valid (for example, direct deposit or PayPal).

Check out ESL companies that are currently hiring online English teachers.

What does a legitimate TEFL job abroad or online look like?

Any legitimate TEFL/TESOL job will have the following:

  • You’ll have to go through several steps before you land an offer. This could include filling out the initial application, submitting proof of your TEFL certification, having an interview, or teaching a demo lesson.
  • The school/company will have a nice website with contact information. The site will almost always include a visa FAQ section if the job is abroad.
  • You’ll most likely have a monthly salary and a year-long contract for TEFL jobs abroad. For online ESL jobs, contracts could be as short as six months long. The salary should match the cost of living where the job is located.
  • The hiring process won’t be rushed. In fact, if you’re going to work at a school abroad, then your application process from start to finish could even take several months.
  • As for an online TEFL job, it’s very likely that you’ll be working as an independent contractor. This means that you’ll be paid for every class you give, and you’ll be responsible for sending in your invoice and paying your own taxes. Make sure that all of this information is noted in the contract!

Get help understanding independent contractor agreements when teaching English online.

Whether you’re looking to move abroad for a job, teach online, or do both at the same time, check that the school or company has a clear website, positive reviews, and a social media presence. There are many legitimate opportunities to put that TEFL/TESOL certification to good use, so make sure you avoid TEFL job scams out there!

Looking for reputable TEFL/TESOL jobs abroad or online? Check out the Bridge Job Board for the latest available positions!

Rashmi is a culture vulture who hopes to travel the world. News is her second love, after coffee.