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Where Are ESL Teachers In Demand In The USA?

Globally there is a shortage of ESL teachers, but even closer to home, in the USA, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find and recruit good, well qualified English as a Second Language teachers. As immigration continues to increase, and populations expand this is becoming more of an issue for many states in the USA. So we take a look at some of the areas that the demand is highest for Esl teachers in the USA.

States with large immigrant and refugee populations, such as California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas, have a particularly high need for ESL teachers, however more rural areas are also in need. Qualification constraints, status, salary, and additional demands on ESL teachers are some causes for the shortfall.

According to a report issued by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), almost one-third of all schools that offer bilingual or ESL teaching are faced with a serious obstacle of filling teaching vacancies. The demand for ESL teachers in the USA shows no sign of abating and subsequently, there has been a surge in the number of ESL job vacancies since this report.

This is not a Second Language teaching issue it an issue across the whole teaching profession. The 2016 research from the Learning Policy Institute has shown that across all subjects schools are struggling to recruit qualified teachers. However, that subject is hugely broad so lets take a look at where is the demand for ESL teachers in the USA.

Where Are ESL Teachers In Demand In The US?

Which States Need ESL Teachers?

Although the demand for ESL Teachers in the USA will be fluid and change year by year (usually increasing) There are certainly states that have higher demand than others, we have mentioned New York, California and Texas above, but there are others. We have included information on the table below. (These numbers are suggestions rather than set in stone)

StateApproximate number of ESL teacher JobsAverage Salary
California2000+$68,000 +
New Jesery1000+$53,000
New York1000+$57,000

We have included the top 20 here and if you need more you can check out the full list of 50 states on the Zippia site. You can also create an account and started firing off CVs for the jobs they have there as well.

Notes On The Table Above.

There are going to be more jobs in the larger states just due to sheer volumes of people who live within them. However there are more consideration that just the volume of opportunities within a state.

We have included the average salary from the Zippia site to give you an idea of much you can earn in these states and as you can see the range between Indiana, and California is almost 100% difference. ($33 – $68K)

However there is more to it than that, Positions will range from early years all the way up to university lecturing and the more universities or colleges in a state the more likely that average salary will be driven up.

The number of new arrivals through immigration or refugee programs will have a varying impact on positions available in the ESL teaching field, and obviously those closer to borders with other countries will have a location bump in their requirements as well.

Where to Look for ESL jobs in the USA.

At the moment you can look in any of the states in America and be deluged with the job opportunities (of varying quality.) Teaching in general, and ESL teaching in particular is in great demand all over the world, including in America.

So much so that in some states they have adopted a ”warm body” approach to recruitment and teachers with perhaps the wrong type of qualifications, or a lack of experience, or even from different subjects are being recruited to fulfil ESL teaching demand.

The merits of this are an argument for another day, but teaching is one of those professions where being on the ball 99% of the time is kind of a prerequisite so it is with little surprise that these warm bodies don’t tend to stay employed, through their choice or their schools, for very long.

The table below has examples with some of the better sites and locations that advertise job vacancies for ESL teachers. We have included state specific ones where appropriate, but some of these sites are national and even international recruitment sites, and others will be the local papers!.

A quick search will show you how in demand ESL teachers are in the USA at the moment.

ESL Teaching Recruitment LinkNotes
Indeed.comCaliforniaGlobal (our link narrows it down to California)
Daves ESL CafeUSA SearchFocus on Overseas but USA jobs fdo appear
LinkedInIllinoisGlobal but searchable
Tesol.orgUSAJobs and advice for ESL teachers
Transitions abroadUSAIncluded state Dept Jobs
Simply HiredTexasTexas link but covers all of USA

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Reasons for the Growing ESL Job Demand

Why exactly is there an increase in demand for ESL teachers? A US Census Bureau report suggests that as many as 55.4 million people nationwide are said to be speaking a language other than English at home and the number is growing. This makes ESL instructors a prerequisite for many schools and communities.

  • Just taking the years between 1990 and 2000, the overall number of school-age persons in the United States went from 52.9 million to 61.2 million, as stated by the United States Census Bureau. As the next generation of school-aged children is born, this number is anticipated to rise sharply in the following years.    
  • What is interesting to add is that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has made it known that teaching employment expanded by up to 13% through 2018, however even with this rise in teaching supply there is still a vast demand for all teaching staff, including ESL.
  • An additional reason is that the strain on school systems to recruit instructors with the abilities necessary to teach these programs has increased as the number of students who have trouble speaking English has gone up and this trend is expected to continue upward.
  • A lack of fully qualified teachers graduating increases the demand for ESL teachers in the USA.
  • The reasons a lot, though not all, of teachers decide to specialize in ESL is the opportunities it provides to live and work abroad in other countries. Once qualified, teachers often seek employment overseas and not be able to fufil the demand for ESL teachers in the USA.
  • For the less qualified ESL teachers an ESL teaching position may be seen as transient, something they will do for a summer or two and then move to either a different subject or different profession.
  • One additional indicator of whether the current number of bilingual and ESL teachers is adequate to meet demand is how difficult it is for schools presently to fill such positions. The job searches above show how that demand for ESL teachers continues.

As attempts are being made to meet the current demand for new teachers gearing up to work with these groups of students, schools and institutions ought to strike a balance between the requirement for quantity and the importance of quality. Is a warm body better than no body?

The Importance of Highly Qualified Educators

The need for high-quality instructors in our public schools is growing at a time when students are expected to attain higher standards than ever before. A multitude of problems has been identified by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future concerning the quality of ESL educators in US public schools.

Approximately 25% of newly hired American teachers are unqualified for their positions. More than 12% of new instructors arrive in the classroom with no formal training, and another 14% start the job without meeting state criteria in full, according to the NCES.

Teacher quality is one of the most important school-related characteristics that have an impact on student accomplishment, according to research. Hence, teachers’ quality and effectiveness are emphasized heavily in federal educational initiatives such as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Race to the Top.

To better illustrate it, to keep federal money flowing, states must look for “highly competent teachers” and report their numbers to the federal government under NCLB and following educational initiatives, as the latter requires that — in core academic subjects — all public-school instructors must be highly qualified.

There are hundreds (yes Hundreds) of ESL / TEFL / TESOL / EAL /ELL / qualifications to be accessed all over the world. Some of these are more legitimate than others. However if following a warm body policy some states may let the quality of these qualifications slide and recruit what is semi insultingly referred to as a “weekend tefl, or “backpack teacher”

That is not to say that they are better or worse than a fully qualified ESL teacher, in my 20 years or so of teacher Second Language i have met superb unqualified teachers, and terrible Doctors of English teachers. (and of course vice versa) But qualifications show a level of commitment and knowledge that can be built on at the very least.

The lowering of standards in high demand and low supply environments in Economics 101. It will force states and education departments to lower their standards and bring in less suitable candidates to fill the gaps. although it fulfils the immediate problem, it creates a whole new one centred around quality of education.

 What Do you Need to To Teach ESl?

Even though every individual state may come up with different requirements, the bottom line is that all educators are required to hold a bachelor’s degree, have a proper pedagogical background necessary for the level they teach, and to some extent, classroom experience and qualifications in second language. (in an idea environment)

The required qualification for tutorial or home schooling may be as minimal as a month’s certificate like the CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Adults), or DipTesol, nevertheless it depends on the school. CELTA and Cert Tesol ( trinity) is recognized all over the world. There are also variations for teaching children.

You can also take up Masters, and even Doctoral level qualifications in Second language teaching and acquisition.

Some universities, on the other hand, offer training through online and weekend courses. You’ll most probably need a master’s degree, or Post graduate certificate as a minimum, preferably specialized in ESL, if teaching at a community college or university is your higher aim.

States require further certification for those who aspire to teach in public schools (where demand is booming), with varied criteria for each state. It would be a useful idea, nevertheless, to conduct research beforehand regarding the certification requirements in the state where you would want to operate.

Classes in ESL degree programs are comprised of topics such as the history of the English language, how it has developed and continues to evolve as well as methods of teaching the language to people whose first language is not English.

Outside of the country, business English or English for Special Purposes teachers are in high demand, and they are frequently engaged by particular companies to teach their employees. Regrettably, private enterprises in the United States rarely hire in-house educators and rely on the employee to take the taks on themselves, or use an unqualified collegaue as a mentor.

Where are ESL teachers in demand in the USA

Why Are There So Few ESL Teachers in the USA.

With ESL teaching requiring at the very least the same time commitment (to do it properly) as a more mainstream subject teacher, and in most cases requiring more training and study it is not surprising that the teaching of English as a Second Language is not one of the more popular subjects for teacher training.

Couple this with the general, incorrect, opinion that in someway teaching ESL is an easy option and less important as other subjects, AND the often lesser paid or alternative scale that some states and schools put ESL teachers or instructors on it becomes easy to see why despite the demand for ESL teachers in the USA there are still plenty of vacancies.

Some states, California for example, are realizing this and starting to offer increased salaries to ESL teachers. However none of the salaries ( and tax regimes) can compare with some of the best paid ESL jobs there are in the world.

Some of these positions, although they can be rare, can pay upwards of 110,000 USD before bonuses and perks. So even if not in it for the money, numbers like that can make it very attractive to look elsewhere where the position in both respected and remunerated well.

What are an ESL Teachers Responsibilities

As an ESL teacher, you will be giving lessons and providing support to students learning English as a second language. ESL teachers frequently employ a real-life scenario to assist students to gain a better insight into the language’s intricacies.

When working with students from other cultures, ESL teachers must be versatile, innovative, and attentive to the cultural variations that are expected, as failure to observe all this will not only make it hard to achieve the desired outcomes but will also negatively impact the students learning.

Best Paid ESL Job in the world?

Those who teach English as a second language at times serve also as mentors, consultants, and liaisons for students and families who are just settling into a new environment.

An understanding why students are looking to improve their english is vital, as is finding new and useful real world uses for their language use. Especially if teaching adults who have just arrived in the USA and need to start communicating.

ESL instructors in the government-funded educational system might work with youngsters in all grade levels, frequently taking ESL students out of their ordinary classrooms and putting them in a special separate space where they can work with them individually or in groups to improve their English skills.

These small groups may include English language learners of various ages and grade levels who all require help with their English language skills, but all that is contingent on the size of the school.


While there are several areas in the United States where ESL teachers are in high demand, what matters is that there presently is an upward trend in hiring ESL educators in order to address a major teacher vacancy gap all across the nation, which is where new aspiring ESL instructors will fit right in.

In this article, longer than we first planned, we covered the following:

  • The areas in the USA where ESL teachers are in highest demand (currently) (Texas and California)
  • Average salaries of ESl teachers in top twenty demand states ( and links to all)
  • reasons the demand for teachers in high
  • Reasons ESL teaching may not be popular
  • The important of qualifying as an ESL teacher and
  • Some of the responsibilities you may face as an ESL teacher

The demand for ESL teachers in the USA is certainly there, across all states. So whether you want to work close to home or across the country you should be able to find a position that suits you.

Good Luck!






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