Second careers for cash-strapped retirees

Between 2020 and 2021, interest in taking a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course increased by 56% for South Africans aged 65 and over, compared to 12% globally for the same age group. This is according to data collected by The TEFL Academy, a leading provider of TEFL qualifications. With only 6% of the local population able to afford to retire comfortably, according to the National Treasury, teaching English may be a good way for South African retirees to supplement their income.


With no age limit for taking a TEFL course, retirees looking to explore new subjects can take the opportunity to upskill themselves for a second career. “Using the skills they’ve learned throughout their careers, retirees are perfectly placed to become TEFL teachers. Teaching English provides an opportunity to put your profound knowledge and decades of experience to use, without demanding too much in terms of time or resources,” says Rhyan O’Sullivan, Managing Director at The TEFL Academy, South Africa’s leading provider of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) qualifications.


On average, foreign language English teachers can expect to earn between R190 and R560 per hour, based on experience. When studied full time, a TEFL course can typically be completed within four to six weeks. From here, retired locals can use their qualification to earn an income, stay busy, and build a flexible schedule – while working from anywhere in the world.


For those wanting to travel, teaching English provides an opportunity to escape the rising cost of living in South Africa; “Between rising fuel costs and inflation on basic food items, many retirees have to be careful about how they’re spending their pensions. Depending on where you choose to live, foreign English teachers can potentially make enough to save between 30 and 40% of their salaries after expenses, allowing them to cover their bills while still enjoying the culture and lifestyle of their chosen country,” says O’Sullivan.


Retirees who are looking to stay where they are and supplement their income can opt for virtual classrooms instead of physical ones; “The flexibility of teaching online makes it an attractive option for those who still want to enjoy the free time that comes with retirement, while still making an income. Retirees can teach from anywhere in the world, as long as they have a laptop, a webcam, internet access and a legitimate TEFL qualification,” says O’Sullivan.


Offering accessible, flexible and cost-effective ways to get TEFL qualified, The TEFL Academy provides internationally accredited and regulated online courses. In addition to the core TEFL qualification, the TEFL Academy offers their students free access to three top-up courses, containing 90 hours of optional extra learning, weekly webinars, and free specialist booklets. To help teachers secure work, the company also host a dedicated jobs board with over 1 500 international teaching opportunities. For more information, visit