The Path to Employment through OCELT Certification

Written by Reza Mazloom-Farzaghy, Accreditation Services Manager, TESL Ontario

Equipped with OCELT (Ontario Certified English Language Teacher) certification, job seekers have access to employment opportunities across a broad spectrum of teaching sectors in Ontario and beyond.    

Certification versus Certificate 

Is certification different from a certificate? Although some may use these two terms interchangeably, there are significant differences between them. A certificate recognizes the completion of training, such as a workshop, a course, or a program, and is usually awarded after the attendee has passed one or more formal tests. Certification, however, is awarded based on a formal assessment of a candidate’s existing credentials and qualifications against a set of industry-defined standards. It usually requires the completion of one or more training programs, a practicum course or a certain length of work experience. Furthermore, certification usually comes with a professional designation that is recognized locally, nationally, or internationally. In addition, certification usually requires participation in ongoing learning and professional development.  

To an employer, the certification status of job applicants and existing employees is important for a number of reasons: 

  1. Certification introduces consistent, measurable, and industry-recognized standards to the workplace. 
  1. Certification helps new hires and existing employees have a better understanding of their employer’s expectations.  
  1. Certification gives employees confidence in their knowledge and skills and inspires high standards among themselves. 
  1. Certification builds a commitment to the profession and encourages employees to continue developing and growing in their profession. 
  1. Certification sends out the message that the employer values their staff members and views them as skilled and committed professionals with long-term career goals. 

What is OCELT? 

OCELT stands for Ontario Certified English Language Teacher. It was officially registered as a professional designation and certificate trademark with the government of Canada in 2017. OCELT is awarded to TESL Ontario members who meet the university education, English language proficiency, and TESL training requirements of certification application. OCELT holders are listed on the TESL Ontario online Registry, which is accessible to all members of the public.  

How does OCELT support employment? 

Obtaining OCELT certification and designation is an important investment for ESL teachers. Why? OCELT signifies that the certificate holder meets a set of industry-recognized standards that are developed by the TESL Ontario Standards Committee, a committee composed of TESL professionals, experienced ESL teachers, and program managers. Moreover, OCELT designation is proof that the certificate holder is well-prepared to teach English to adult learners in publicly funded programs in Ontario, in private sectors in Ontario, and in a variety of ESL and EFL programs in other Canadian provinces and territories or foreign countries. 

Additionally, OCELT recognizes the certificate holder’s professionalism and integrity. It enhances respect for English language educators in Canada and international settings. It highlights TESL Ontario’s certified members’ commitment to excellence through continuous professional development. Of equal importance is that, by obtaining OCELT-certified status, teachers join a community of highly educated, responsible, and dedicated professionals who strive to support the best interests of English language learners both in Canada and abroad. 

Another benefit of OCELT certification is that approved applicants automatically qualify for and receive the TESL Ontario ICTEAL certification and designation. ICTEAL stands for International Certificate for Teachers of English as an Additional Language. Just like OCELT, ICTEAL is officially registered as a certificate trademark and a professional designation with the government of Canada. TESL Ontario-certified members use ICTEAL to apply for jobs in other countries.  

Training Certificate or Professional Certification? 

So, what training certificate or professional certification may one need to be able to work as an adult ESL teacher in Ontario? To answer this question, you should first determine the context in which you would like to work:  

  • Government-funded LINC and Adult ESL program providers in Ontario, such as Ontario school boards and settlement agencies require the TESL Ontario OCELT certification. 
  • Non-government-funded language instruction providers (private sector), such as private language schools, private career colleges, community colleges and universities, tutoring agencies, and testing organizations may require  
  • a university degree in TESL 
  • a TESL certificate from an accredited training provider 
  • a CELTA certificate 


  • a similar certificate in TESL, TESOL, or TEFL.  

These employers may prefer TESL Ontario OCELT certification or consider it an asset. 

Professional Development (PD) 

Regular engagement in PD activities plays an important role in finding employment, maintaining it, and growing in the profession. OCELT holders are required to get engaged in ten hours of PD every year. To meet this requirement, they can participate in a variety of PD opportunities provided by TESL Ontario and its affiliate chapters. Some examples of these PD opportunities are as follows: 

  • Live Webinars 
  • Archived Webinars 
  • The TESL Ontario Annual Conference 
  • TESL Dialogue Sessions, and 
  • Affiliate Chapter Workshops, Conferences, and Other Events 

Also, OCELTs benefit from a variety of resources provided by TESL Ontario to help them grow professionally. Here are some examples: 

Need more information? 

For detailed information about the requirements of OCELT & ICTEAL certification application, please visit the TESL Ontario website at If you have any questions, please contact me, Reza Mazloom-Farzaghy, at or at 416-593-4243, ext. 205.  


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