Many people get into TEFL as a gap year activity before going back to the “real" world and getting a “real" job. However, there are some of us who stay in the game for a while. Although time is a great way to move up in the TEFL world, you'll have to do more than that if you want to snag the good jobs. There are two tried and true ways to move up and get better jobs in the TEFL world. First is experience and the other is qualifications.
Experience is pretty easy, you'll want to work at good places, not only institutes, but schools as well. You'll want to work with a variety of age levels and English levels in order to get as much experience as possible. If you teach the same age and level for a while, you'll be likely to get into a rut. Changing classes will allow you to work with different books and try out different activities. If you spend a lot of time at one place, you'll probably get the chance to work with different classes. Another reason to stay at one place is that you'll also be more likely to be chosen for promotion.
Qualifications is the other. Employers place high value on attending workshops, congresses, and conferences, and belonging to professional associations. The place where you work might be willing to subsidise part of the cost of belonging to a professional organisation or attending a training event. Some places may stress training sessions so your school may offer these free to their employees. If not, try to attend a conference, as it allows you to do some networking. Create a section on your CV that lists a few of the recent conferences that you have attended.
Longer-term options include certificate, diploma, master, and even doctorate courses. While some places may offer to pay for part of your education, even if they don't, you should consider investing in yourself.
In addition to paper qualifications, becoming a member of a professional association has benefits. Not only will you find out about the latest training courses, but they often offer discounts on courses or material. Also, by joining a professional association, you'll be put in contact with others in your field, and many of them can be prospective employers.
So if you want to make TEFL your career option, remember to get experience and qualifications and you'll be a shoo-in for a promotion.
Sharon de Hinojosa (naturegirl321) has lived and worked (mainly teaching English) in the US, Scotland, Spain, the Czech Republic, China, Korea, and Peru. And taught short-term in Venezuela and Taiwan. Her work has been featured in Transitions Abroad, Viva Travel Guides, TEFL News, and ELT World.
She has created The LA Job List http://www.thelajoblist.blogspot.com which lists schools, institutes and universities in 19 Latin American countries which offer English teaching positions.
Since living in Peru since August 2006, she wrote The Ultimate Peru List http://www.theultimateperulist.blogspot.com . With 50 pages and updated monthly it's a comprehensive guide for those living in or moving to Peru.