Certified Teacher vs. Teaching English

For those who don’t know before I became an International Teacher, I started off working as an English teacher in South Korea, and have noticed considerable differences between the two jobs. This question keeps coming up from a few friends: Is it worth getting a teaching certification while working as an English teacher?  Is getting the certificate worth the money?  Time?  The effort?  Etc.?  to become a certified teacher?  To answer this question, speaking from personal experience as a professional teacher in Morocco for the past year, with my credentials and as one who served as an English teacher in South Korea (without my certificate), I say without a doubt, one hundred percent yes!  It is worth the effort to get one’s professional credentials.  However, I do believe everyone has their ideas about this topic.  I just want to be clear as to my thoughts about the question.

Here is my take on a few pros and cons of being a certified teacher vs. an English teacher.

Certified Teacher Pros:

Different Schools:

When you’re certified, you can move to many more countries, as you’re no longer teaching strictly English.  I teach grade-level reading and writing, but I also teach history. I’m also given an opportunity to move up in my school, I know many people who have done the same in South Korea, but while working as an international teacher, you may have the opportunity to be principal.  While working in South Korea, I only taught conversational English and letters to younger kids.  Again this is subject to change depending on the school you’re serving. Many of the English language schools I’ve seen are mostly in Asian countries, but if you love this, it’s perfect.

More time off:

I teach at an American school and get American holidays and summer vacations.  I got several months off and less time off in Korea.  While teaching in Korea, I received the Korean holidays off, which were at most up to a week.  In Morocco especially,  I get up to two months off for summer and three weeks in Winter.  Yay!

More money:

This is true; you’re certified now and considered a professional teacher.  Starting as an English teacher in South Korea, my salary ranged from $2,000 monthly.  Others may be able to negotiate more depending on the position and school.  In comparison, some English teachers made less due to changing schools, or how your visa is set up.  The bottom line, salaries vary up and down. Don’t get me wrong, as an English teacher, many of my friends start at jobs for several years and always gain a pay raise, but the same is said for my school as well.


I love the teaching package I get here in Morocco.  In Korea, I received a package but considerably fewer benefits.  Both gave me free housing, the difference?  Korea, I got a studio and here I have a two-bedroom apartment. Both gave me free medical, here? I also get vision and dental. Again your benefits will be different depending on country and school. I worked at two separate schools in South Korea and both schools gave me the same benefits, hours, and contractible obligations.

NOW what are the cons of teaching without certification?

English Teacher Pros:

Less work:

I’ll be honest with teaching English; you’re told what to teach, when, and how to teach.  As a certified teacher, many professional development meetings and days filled with contacting parents and planning.   I love what I’d do so I don’t mind the additional tasks, but others may not be fans.

Less responsibility:

In Korea, I rarely interacted with my parents, mainly due to many parents not speaking English.  The parents preferred just talking with the TA (Teaching Assistant, who was usually Korean).  However, you will interact with parents or guardians as a certified teacher.  My parents in Morocco are mostly fluent English speakers.  They will contact me immediately with any questions or concerns about their student.  Like in America, each classroom has a homeroom mom who will want to be in direct contact with you often.

Less time at school:

In Korea, I was contracted to work one weekend a year, which was a lot for me at the time.  Currently, in Morocco, I have been hired to work an after school program one trimester at my current school, which could sometimes mean going out of the city and chaperoning overnight trips.

Both jobs have pros and cons, depending on what you’re looking for and how much you want to sacrifice.  Both are great job avenues.  You can make a decent living, live in your dream country and meet people from all walks of life.  Whichever path you choose, make sure it works for you 🙂

Until next time.

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