As you take your first steps towards your teaching English abroad experience, it’s important that you understand the options available to you. A happy, informed teacher is the best kind of teacher, and so we at Premier TEFL are dedicated to helping you understand ALL the different course possibilities out there (and maybe convince you that we’re the one worth pursuing, too!).

Read on to better understand how CELTA is a TEFL but TEFL is not a CELTA.

What is CELTA?

CELTA stands for “Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults” and is provided by Cambridge English Language Assessment. CELTA enables you to both teach English as a foreign language (TEFL) and to teach English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Yay, more acronyms! In essence, CELTA is a type of TESOL and TEFL certificate, much like Kleenex is a type of tissue.

You’re looking at a month-long in class commitment to successfully complete your CELTA, although some institutions allow for a partially online study component. For those who love in-person learning, the 6 hours of observed teaching practice is something you’ll relish.

With a CELTA, you are able to teach English in both native English speaking countries as well as countries where English isn’t a national language.

A man staring at a mountain range

What is TEFL?

TEFL, or “teaching English as a foreign language,” is a specific type of certification that enables teachers primarily to travel to non-native English speaking countries to teach English to a variety of students. You will have slightly different TEFL training depending on which school, course, or online certificate program that you ultimately choose.

This isn’t something to fret over. Think of it this way: Many universities offer degree programs in Engineering. Though they’re all designed to prepare you for a career in this field, the pedagogies, curriculum, approaches, fees, etc. will vary from university to university. It’s up to you to shop around for the right one for you.

TEFL certifications range in specializations and time commitment. The basic, general one (that most people choose and love!) is the 120 hour TEFL course. You can further your qualifications by getting a 180 or up to 300 hour TEFL course, which includes additional lessons and modules on teaching specific subsets of students (like young learners) or on different emphases (like Business English).

person working on a laptop.

Curveball alert! CELTA equivalents…

There also exists special certifications recognized as CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL equivalents, like Premier TEFL’s 180 hour Ofqual regulated Level 5 TEFL course, which includes 11 study modules to ensure you’re a fully qualified English teacher. The benefit of doing a 180 hour Ofqual regulated TEFL course instead of a CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL course is that it tends to be cheaper and can be completed solely online.


Both CELTA and TEFL are certification programs that can help you on your path towards teaching English. Both are fully accredited and recognizable worldwide, giving you the leg up in your TEFL job hunt and ensuring you are properly trained to do the job well and take it seriously. (This might not seem important, but think of your students! They need a reliable, trained teacher, and you need to make sure you can be one).

So where do the major differences lie between CELTA and TEFL?


Because CELTA is more comprehensive and underwritten by Cambridge, the price of the course tends to be a bit more expensive than a TEFL course. CELTA schools tend to be more expensive, but you can shop around based on price, reputation, and location.

The average cost of CELTA varies widely. Online courses can be slightly cheaper, but it’s hard to replace the value of in-person training for the cost differential. The most popular 120 TEFL course with Premier TEFL is affordable for anyone, even those on a tiny budget. Regardless of which path you choose, feel confident knowing that your investment will pay itself off relatively quickly once you enter the TEFL job market.

⏰ Study Duration

Generally speaking, the study duration of both CELTA and TEFL courses is more or less the same. You can complete an intensive, in-person course in four weeks for either option. If you go the online, self-paced route, the amount of time it’ll take to finish the course depends on how much time you are willing to regularly invest in completing it. We’ve heard stories of students finishing courses in as little as two weeks or as long as a full year.

In general, most students complete their CELTA or TEFL courses in the two-to-four month range. Keep in mind that CELTA requires an in-person portion of the training (even with the online course) whereas TEFL does not.

You will need to check with your local study centers if you would like to complete either the CELTA or the TEFL in person—they will have individualized calendars and admission dates for new cohorts.

Career Choices

The main difference between CELTA vs. TEFL is the availability of career options once you finish the program and are officially certified. Since CELTA covers both TEFL and TESOL training, you are given a wider variety of job options after your graduation. To that end, CELTA is typically a good idea for people who want to make a full-time career out of teaching English. With this certification, you can work abroad in non-native English speaking countries, work abroad in English speaking countries, OR work at home online as an English teacher or as a private tutor.

Students writing on whiteboard

The kicker is that in order to work in an English speaking country with a CELTA, you must typically have an undergraduate degree AND be from a native-English speaking country yourself. Fluency in English just won’t cut it. If you want to become a teacher long term and don’t want your stint teaching abroad to just be a blip on your career path, getting the CELTA certification is probably for you.

TEFL, on the other hand, is a great way to “dip your toes” into the world of teaching. With significantly fewer barriers to certification — i.e. You can be a fluent English speaker (native skills not required) and you don’t have to have a bachelor’s degree (just a high school diploma)—TEFL ends up being the path that most newbies to the world of international teaching pursue. TEFL is a great option if you want to work abroad for as little as a few months to a few years.

TEFL teachers abroad

And, if it turns out that teaching English is your passion and you can’t fathom it not being a part of your life, you can always opt to up your level of certification and get your CELTA accreditation at a later date.

You’re ready for teaching abroad

Now that you understand the differences between TEFL and CELTA and can size up CELTA vs TEFL, make a decision on the path that is right for you and your goals. We’ll be there every step of the way!

Ready to start your teaching adventure? Request a call back now

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyBrowse Courses