How to start teaching IELTS?

Teaching IELTS
Becoming an IELTS teacher is no easy task! But it's definitely worth doing to bring your career in ESL forward.

So you’ve been teaching English for a while now and have thought about teaching IELTS too. Surely, there are plenty of benefits:

  • higher hourly rates
  • potential career growth (as an IELTS examiner or teaching other exams)
  • motivated students

But how does one start with teaching IELTS? What are the requirements for an IELTS tutor? And are there any courses available for an upcoming IELTS teacher? Worry not, these questions shall be answered!


Now, strictly speaking, there are no particular requirements for becoming an IELTS teacher. Of course, it doesn’t mean that anyone can easily do it without any qualification – a TEFL/TESL certificate is a must for any English teaching on a professional level. If you haven’t completed a TEFL/TESL course yet, I strongly advise you to do so! It will dramatically improve your teaching skills and provide a solid base for IELTS preparation.

Check out one of the best TEFL course providers here!

The next step would be to take IELTS yourself if you haven’t. Seriously, just by preparing for the exam yourself and by studying and applying the preparation techniques, you can learn a lot and then teach those skills and techniques to your ESL students. You will also become familiar with all the IELTS question types in each part. As a result, it will make you much more competitive too – new students will definitely trust you more if your IELTS score is 8.0 and higher. And no, you do not need a 9.0 (which is hard to get even for native speakers!) to teach IELTS.

Getting certified – IELTS Teaching courses

There are a few IELTS teaching courses available, both free and paid. It is strongly recommended that you begin with an official IELTS trainer’s course which will familiarize you with the complex marking system of IELTS Speaking & Writing. You can check the IELTS teacher training programme. Oh, and the best part? It’s free! I believe each IELTS tutor must complete the writing and speaking blocks of that programme. In addition, a full 30-hour course is available for those willing to take their IELTS teaching to the next level.

If you’d like to get more training, IELTS teaching workshops can be amazing too, although they only touch certain points and do not cover the full IELTS preparation. Keep reading IELTS Teaching tips too, for example, how to teach IELTS Speaking!

How to start teaching IELTS?

Now that you’ve got your certification, the next step is to actually teach it. The best way would be to have a chat with your employer and ask if you’ve got any IELTS groups going. If not, I suggest starting out teaching IELTS in any other group environment: it’s much easier since you don’t have to deal with specific requests of each student, you just follow your syllabus or a study book.

At the same time, you could start promoting yourself as an IELTS tutor and find individual students. Make sure to pay special attention to their needs, however: as a rule, individual IELTS tutors focus on the weakest skill of a student and practising it extensively. Always offer a trial class to test the student.

Oh, one more tip: be honest with your students! On average, improving an overall band score by 0.5 takes anywhere from 2 to 3-4 months (the higher the score needed, the more time it will take). One simply cannot expect to prepare for IELTS band 7.5 in one month with a Pre-Intermediate level. Explain this to your students, tell them that it’s pointless to drill the exam questions if their General English level is low.

Check out our IELTS resources and worksheets here!

Those were my few thoughts on how to become an IELTS teacher and how to start teaching IELTS. Best of luck to you, (upcoming) IELTS tutor!

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