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Online Teaching Certification. What You Need to Know!

Online Teaching certification

In the pre-COVID world, online teaching certifications led primarily to lower-paying TEFL and TOEFL jobs. But not anymore. Nowadays, you can become a fully-certified teacher online and gain valuable teaching employment worldwide.


Learn from home, in your own time, and the world becomes your classroom!


In the wonderful world of international teaching, the term ‘qualification’ can have myriad meanings. To some, it’s a 3-year university degree in education while, to others, a 12-week online course on Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).

Not all qualifications are alike, of course; they don’t all lead to the same kind of teaching jobs.

The teaching qualification you need will depend highly on the kind of teaching job you seek and where, in the world, you wish to live and work.

In China, top international schools might demand a Bachelor of Arts in Education and several years of classroom experience. On the other hand, public schools, kindergartens and language centres might be more than happy if their teachers have a basic TEFL/TOEFL certificate and a super sunny disposition.

Usually, TEFL/TESOL certificates don’t cut it if you wish to score a job with a reputable bilingual or international school. During the pandemic, however, some schools in China made extraordinary exceptions out of desperation. As the gates to the country closed, most English-speaking teachers left, and many have yet to return. Schools lowered their requirement standards. Some bilingual schools accepted TEFL teachers who had started or had recently finished a professional teacher qualification.

Saying that, the top tier schools still maintained their high requirements. It was a case of qualified teachers in bilingual schools upgrading to international schools.

Since the reopening of China, however, highly qualified English teachers are beginning to come back, so the relaxation of the qualification rule is being re-tightened.

Interestingly, many schools began supporting TEFL teachers who wished to undertake more professional qualifications. They essentially employed teachers with TEFL certifications and helped them upgrade their qualifications. An absolute win-win for teachers and schools alike! Naturally, you can expect a year of teaching + studying in China to be insanely busy and stressful. Yet we think this is a marvellous way to gain experience and further qualifications whilst still earning a full teacher’s salary.


The benefits of distance learning and gaining teaching certification online

The most obvious benefit is that you can gain new qualifications in your own time. You can keep your current job and won’t need to commit to classroom time. You can learn from anywhere, at any time that suits you best. More importantly, you can gain teaching qualifications that are as valued as those gained, in person, at a university campus.

Plus, given these are online course, many start dates are flexible. Just start when you’re ready, and off you go.


The best online teaching certification courses around the world

If you’re contemplating becoming a teacher and moving to China, the following online teaching certification courses can help you get there. Start learning now, and this time next year, you could embark on your life’s professional and personal adventure.

PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) – UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, Canada

Gaining an online distance learning PGCE in one of the countries mentioned above will allow you to teach in China. Given the rise in popularity of distance learning in the last few years, these courses are now available from several reputable institutions.

Since this is a ‘postgraduate’ course, you must have a Bachelor’s Degree to be eligible. The good news is that your degree can be in any subject and does not need to be education specific.

Check out:

PGCE courses are usually divided into two categories:

  • Early Years and Primary schooling;
  • Secondary schooling

You are probably instinctively drawn to one of the categories mentioned above. If not, a little soul-searching (and researching) should help you hone in on your preference.

PGCE courses are further divided into three distinct categories, each with its own ‘value’ when it comes to teaching in China. This is the critical part – choose the one that will lead you to your desired teaching job.


Teacher in class teaching her students literacy
  1. Taught PGCE – the highest-valued teaching certification for China

This is the most valuable PGCE qualification as it includes assessed in-class learning + in-class teaching experience. Considered the holy grail for anyone who wants a wealth of options when teaching in China (or anywhere else), the Taught PGCE is the longest course available and usually takes 1-2 years to complete.

Technically, it is not a fully-remote course, but it does lead to the highest teaching qualification. If you can make this happen, your teaching career path will be off to the best start possible.

  1. IPGCE with iQTS status – a great mid-range qualification

This is a relative newcomer to the remote learning teaching certification sphere. This wholly remote course is incredibly convenient if you work full-time and can’t make time for in-class work. Or if you are taking an online course in a foreign country. This intensive course has become a fast favourite with TEFL teachers already working in China.

Not every university offering remote PGCE courses offers this option. However, since it is aligned with the UK Department of Education, many reputable institutions have added it to their curriculum.

This is quite an intensive course, and you will need support from your school. At the very least, they should provide you with a hands-on mentor who can liaise with the university body.

  1. iPGCE – less valuable overall but with a focus on international jobs

One of the most affordable yet slightly less-valuable options is the iPGCE, which does not include any in-class teaching assessment. This certification is primarily aimed at those looking to gain teaching employment abroad and is a good option for gaining a foothold in the teaching-in-China door.

With the right experience, this qualification can be enough to land you a great job in an international school. It is also a valued qualification throughout Southeast Asia and is the most popular option for teachers heading to Vietnam and Thailand.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite enough to continue teaching back home as the UK Department of Education doesn’t accept it. However, you can undertake an AO (Assessment Only) course at any time and be eligible to teach in the UK.

Can anyone from anywhere take a PGCE course in one of the countries mentioned above?

Not every university offers courses to international students, but many (like the University of Sunderland in the UK) do. In theory, nothing stops a US postgraduate from undertaking a PGCE course from a foreign university. Yet, they must be aware that even the highest valued option (Taught PGCE) might not be transferrable and accepted into the US education system.


Certified Teacher Courses - USA

Online teacher certification programs are also available in the USA.

The most popular one is TeachNow, a 9-month-long intensive course offered by Moreland University. For this course, you will need a Bachelor’s Degree and a minimum GPA of 3.0. International students will need to have their non-US degree evaluated and accepted at the time of enrolment. TeachNow is an excellent online teaching certification program for those wishing to find well-paid teaching jobs in China.

Do note that, in the US, every state issues its own teaching license, and you’ll find a host of state-approved institutions that offer online teacher certification programs. Many states also provide qualification reciprocity (Arizona, Florida, Hawai’i, Nevada, and Illinois, among others) which means that if you find an online course open to all US citizens – like Klassroom – you can gain certification and transfer it to your home State relatively quickly.

Another popular option is TeachAway, whose teaching qualification is recognised countrywide.

Will an online-gained qualification help me get a teaching job in China?

Absolutely. If you’d love to experience life in China and have been thinking of an international teaching career, there is no better time to dive head-first into your new path.

To work as a teacher in China, you must satisfy a list of eligibility requirements that includes teaching qualifications. A TEFL certificate is the baseline, but anything above and beyond that will ensure you can cherry-pick your dream teaching job. The higher your qualification, the more options you will have and, in the end, this translates to landing a much better teaching job that pays well.

Naturally, if you do wish to become a teacher, you will also want to have the option of teaching in your home country. Once you invest your money, time, and effort in an online teaching certification course, you will want it all to be worthwhile.

Teaching is one of the most challenging yet most rewarding professions out there. Nowadays, with so many options to gain teaching certification online, a career change has become even more accessible.

We have a wealth of exciting teaching jobs all over China, just waiting for the right intrepid teacher to snap them up.

Could this be you?

Contact us to know more.

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David O Connor

David O Connor

David is China by Teaching’s chief contributor. When not offering sage advice about teaching in China, David is a headmaster of a Bilingual kindergarten in Beijing. David is a lover of craft beers, book clubs and super long road trips.

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