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Qualifications Needed to Be an English Teacher in HK

Published on Sunday, 15 May 2016

Qualifications Needed to Be an English Teacher in HKHong Kong is one of the most dynamic cities in the world with an international culture that is always in need of qualified English teachers. As a traveler or professional teacher, the opportunities for teaching English are endless in this vibrant city. With some jobs requiring only 20-25 hours a week from teachers, most people are vying for these roles. Unfortunately, sorting through the number of qualifications available for English teachers can be confusing. If you’re interested in learning more about the different requirements, follow our guidelines that will help you keep these certifications clear and concise.

BA. An undergraduate degree is required by all teaching institutions in Hong Kong that employ English teachers. To qualify for the NET programme through the Hong Kong Education Bureau for public schools in Hong Kong, and you do not have a Education degree or TEFL certification, you will only be allowed to teach primary public schools or in private ESL (English as a Second Language) institutions. To work your way into the NET programme, obtain teaching experience and at least one of the certifications below.  

PGCE. Another route to take is with a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE). For UK residents, this is a great option for those who wish to teach when returning to their home country. The PGCE must focus in TESOL, or Teaching English as a Second Language. With this certification, you are eligible to teach through Hong Kong’s NET programme as well as at the secondary level. Universities in Hong Kong also offer this particular course, so securing this certification a breeze. 

TEFL. A Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification is the most widely recognised and easily obtained certification for teaching English abroad. As long as you have an undergraduate degree in any field, this teaching certification will enable you to be employed in primary and secondary school within the public sector. For those looking to work in private schools, this certification will also give your resume a bump up. Combined with an education degree and more hours of teaching experience, the TEFL can earn you a greater income.  

IELTS. The International English Language Test System (IELTS) is actually a test required by non-native English speakers for certain jobs, education, and immigration purposes. IELTS is required by many executives, so English teachers with the certification and experience will be in high demand and can find work as a business English tutor through companies that wish to hire experienced IELTS tutors to coach their employees. This would be a creative way to teach English in Hong Kong. High scores are desired on this test, so be forewarned that your reputation will depend highly upon the performance and test-taking skills of your previous students.

CELTA. The Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) certification is a widely recognised addition to any English teacher’s resume. Though it does cost upwards of $1,000 USD, it’s association to the University of Cambridge makes this certification very 
reputable. Not only is CELTA recognised and highly valued by private institutions in Hong Kong, it can be used to teach English in other countries in Europe as well. With the CELTA and a Bachelor's degree, you’ll be able to find work through the NET programme and for private institutions. For some university positions, the CELTA and teaching experience may also be enough to help you land a professorship position. 

QTS. A Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) also enables you to teach English in Hong Kong. This is an acceptable form of certification by the NET programme as well. Without teaching experience, or any focus on teaching english as a second language in the form of a certification, you’ll be able to begin working in the primary public school systems.

MEd. A Masters in Education (MEd) is a higher degree that can allow you to work in Hong Kong’s university system. If your dream is to to hold this position, some advanced planning before traveling to Hong Kong may be in order. For teachers looking to make teaching English overseas a lifelong career, obtaining a MEd while living abroad is one of the best ways to ensure a long and successful career.

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