Is a DELTA Qualification Worth it for Freelance Teachers?

Posted on

You want to be the best educator you can be so you can impact more students and build a profitable, fulfilling ELT teaching business. And you’re wondering if a DELTA is the thing that will help you do that. 

Holding a DELTA myself, I can say that it offers a lot of great benefits in the way of professional development. 

BUT as a business coach, I have to ask… is professional development what you need to grow your business? Will another qualification help you attract more students? And how quickly can you expect a return on investment?

In this post, I answer all these questions to help you decide whether a DELTA is worth it for you as a freelance teacher. 

What is a DELTA qualification?

The Cambridge DELTA is an advanced certification for experienced teachers who want to further develop their English language teaching skills and knowledge. It’s a step beyond CELTA and a level seven qualification (in the UK), which means that it is the equivalent of a Masters degree. 

There are three DELTA modules, which cover topics such as language analysis, language skills, methodology, and teaching practice. You can choose to take a full-time or part-time course and complete the exams when you’re ready. Depending on which option you choose, it can take between 8 weeks to 12 months.

The benefits of a DELTA for English Language Teachers

DELTA is the highest certification for teachers in the ELT world. 

It gives you a much deeper understanding of how language is taught, which, in turn, helps you become an even better teacher. This can also give you a massive confidence boost, which is a huge benefit in itself for many teachers.

Besides skills, holding a DELTA opens up career opportunities. It can help you become a senior teacher, move into academic management, become a teacher trainer, or a Director of Studies. The qualification allowed me to move from being an English teacher to the Assistant Director of Studies at a big language school.  

A DELTA also gives you the option to specialise in a certain area of the language and, of course, get a higher salary. 

BUT! Such an advanced level certification is absolutely not necessary, especially for freelance language teachers. I’ve worked with tons of fabulous teachers who haven’t taken the course. Its benefits honestly depend on what you want to achieve.

Is a DELTA worth it for freelance language teachers?

If you asked me this before I became a business coach, my answer probably would have been YES!! But after several years helping teachers build, market and sell their own language courses, I’ve got to say that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. 

There are pros and cons to doing a DELTA and spending your time and money elsewhere. So let’s look at what they are.

Advantages of a DELTA for freelance teachers

It can make you a better teacher

Because DELTA gives you a much deeper understanding of effective language teaching methodologies and learning strategies, it can give you more confidence. That’s exactly what it did for me. I now feel like a true expert in the field with a much better insight of how language is taught.  

Having an English language teaching specialism, such as Business English, teaching young learners or English for Academic Purposes, can also be a big advantage if you want to develop your skills in a particular area. 

It can give you more authority

Having an advanced qualification like DELTA can add to your authority. But it depends who your target audience is. 

If you’re working with teachers, it adds to your credibility and shows them that you know what you are talking about. That’s definitely the case for my client, Erin. She’s a teacher trainer, and that five-letter acronym is a big help in her selling her fabulous products for teachers. 

BUT! If you’re working with young adult students or teaching business English, they may not know the difference between a CELTA, a DELTA or a Trinity DipTESOL. Let’s be honest: they probably don’t even care. 

So in this case, I would say that although it gives you more authority on paper, it’s unlikely to be the reason they want to work with you. 

Disadvantages of a DELTA for freelance teachers

It’s… expensive

Maybe this is why you’re wondering if a DELTA qualification is worth it? That’s understandable. 

The exact cost of the course depends on whether you take the online, in-person or blended option. But expect to spend at least £3000 on the modules, plus the Cambridge Assessment Fees (which are around £100-200 per module). Ouch!

Many employed teachers often get a quick(ish) return on investment through salary increases. But freelancers? There is no guarantee. 

My client Lizzie was made to believe that by doing the DipTESOL, she would develop in her career and be able to charge more. This may be true in theory, but the reality is, she hasn’t seen any ROI from it in her business.

You can (and probably should) raise your prices after getting your qualification. But that doesn’t solve the issue many business owners have, which is actually finding clients. 

My point? Think about whether or not this is the right financial investment to help you reach your goal. Because I would hate for you to suffer through one of the most challenging courses and not get the results you want. 

It probably won’t make you stand out 

Although your students may appreciate that you have a DELTA, it’s very unlikely to grab their attention. 

Why? 

Because most language students are not shopping around for teachers with the highest qualifications. They are searching for someone who understands their needs, is likeable and has a course (or classes) to help them. 

Your DELTA may help you create this, but it will not make students choose you (even if they appreciate that you have one). 

Take my client, Basia, for example. She specialises in teaching English to entrepreneurs. Her clients know she has a DELTA, but she built a successful business without this being the focus of her marketing. 

The reality is, you don’t need any qualifications to start an online teaching business. So if you are considering getting a DELTA in the hope that it will help you stand out, this may sound harsh but it is probably a waste of money.

When it comes to standing out, you will probably see quicker results from learning how to use social media properly. Download my free guide to using social media as a teacher for ideas on where to start.

What are the alternatives to taking a DELTA?

In my experience, it’s not that teachers need more teaching qualifications to succeed as freelancers. Besides, if you are considering a DELTA, you must already have lots of teaching experience. Instead, you probably need more knowledge and confidence in building a business.

If that sounds like you, then here are some other options for teachers. 

A business course for teachers 

I personally believe that teachers make the best entrepreneurs. But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. There are still TONS of new skills we need to learn, and that includes thinking of things in a completely different way. 

That’s where business courses come to the rescue! They teach you everything you need to know about choosing your business model, building the foundations of a successful business, creating irresistible offers and selling them to your ideal students. 

There are TONS of business courses online. I recommend choosing one specifically for language teachers because as you know – our industry is unique, and it takes someone with special knowledge to give proper advice and support that will help you!

Marketing course for teachers 

If the main reason you are considering taking a DELTA course is because you want to stand out, then a marketing course may actually be what you need.

See, standing out as a freelance language teacher isn’t so much about the qualifications you have, but the message you share with your audience. If your focus is on ‘I have a DELTA’, you won’t stand out. But if it’s that you offer courses for Polish IT professionals who want to learn English for work, you have a much better chance. 

Marketing is one of the most important things you can learn as a freelance teaching business owner – so a marketing course is likely to make a bigger difference to growing your business than a DELTA, at least for now.

Coaching and mentorship 

If you are not sure what your next steps should be, then coaching and mentoring can be a great option. By working with a business coach (like me!), you can troubleshoot problems and create a personalised roadmap to achieving your business goals – whether that’s finding more students, launching a new offer or finding (and selling) your special superpower. 

Now I know that none of these options come with a fancy certificate from Cambridge English. But the investment is often much lower, and the return is much higher when it comes to building, running and growing a teaching business. 

And, if you’re considering a DELTA just because of the lovely certificate, then you’re doing it for the wrong reason. 😂 

Should you do a DELTA or a business course?

The answer to this question completely depends on your career goals. Running a business and taking a DELTA both take time and cost money. It’s about deciding where yours is best spent. 

If you want to develop your skills and confidence as a teacher or build your authority with a target audience in education, then a DELTA is sure to help with that. 

However, if your goal is to stand out as a freelance teacher, attract more students and grow your business, specific training in these areas will probably pay off much quicker. 

And who knows, maybe once you’re running a super profitable business and you have more time to spare, you’ll decide that’s the right moment to take a DELTA. 🤩

That leaves one question: to DELTA or not to DELTA?

If you have decided that a DELTA is the right step for you, and you want to know where to go next, I recommend looking at Sandy Millin’s course.

And if you want to go down the business route? I would love to be your guide! Read about my coaching programs, where I give you proper advice that actually helps you move your business forward!

Know someone this article might benefit? Share it with them for biz buddy brownie points! 😁