A more realistic time-frame would be approximately six months. This way you can do lots of research into TEFL certification options, countries that are suitable for you, potentials employers, the sort of permits that are required, how much money you will need to take with you, and so on. Your close friends and family will also have more time to get accustomed to the idea of your being overseas. There’s no need to dash off.
Some positions, such as a public schools in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, typically require applicants to begin the application process about six months before the start date. Others recruit all year round. It will depend to a large degree on the hiring policies where you want to go and what TEFL certification options are open to you as to how long the entire process will take.
Online TEFL certification classes tend to be done part-time, so that you can continue a regular part-time or full-time day job alongside it. This means it can take 12 weeks to complete. Intensive in-person courses, such as the CELTA, leave you no free time whatsoever but take just 4 weeks to complete. Remember that you can’t really start applying for jobs until you have started your TEFL certification course and have a certification date.
Many jobs in Europe and Latin America are found in the country, by knocking on doors, speaking to managers and looking at the local English-language press. For these jobs it is difficult to be 100% sure of a start date but thankfully most local hires start work teaching very soon after being interviewed.
One necessary and important but rather tedious aspect of moving to a new country is dealing with the Work Visa process. You need to do as much research online as possible for the most up-to-date information. It could take a couple of months to get started on the Work Visa application procedure, although in some countries you will arrive on a Tourist Visa and later have it converted to a Work Visa (or fly out and back in on a Work Visa – normally at your employer’s expense). Check the rules for the particular country. Research is paramount.
In addition, you may well need a criminal records check, a health check (including HIV test) and a passport which is valid for six months plus the length of contract you are expecting to sign (usually one year).
You will also need to book your flight tickets. One of the benefits to planning several months in advance instead of rushing the process is that airline tickets are often much cheaper if you book several months in advance.
Your departure date will be here before you know it, and in a matter of hours you will be starting one of the most memorable and enjoyable times of your life.