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General information on teaching ESL in Arizona

For a brief overview of ESL employment opportunities in Arizona, scroll down to  the sector of ELT that interests you. All underlined links are clickable.


Teachers in Arizona’s public schools must have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree and Arizona teaching certification, for which fingerprinting, a passing score on the Arizona Educator Exams, official transcripts, and an application fee are required. Valid certificates from other states may also be used in the application process. For more information on Arizona teacher certification, see these sections of the Arizona Department of Education’s website: Educator CertificationEducator Certification–Endorsements, and Reciprocity.

Job seekers should also note that as a result of English-only legislation, requirements for how ESL is to be taught have been formulated by the Arizona Department of Education. For more information, visit the department’s English Language Learner’s page.

The best source for information on ESL jobs in Arizona’s public schools is probably the classified section of the Arizona Republic, a Phoenix-based newspaper. The Republic also has online employment information in its Career Builder section (try “teacher,” “English as a Second Language,” and “educator” as search terms). Another good source is the Arizona section of “Job Shop” (on the website for Language Magazine).

Community colleges

Arizona has nine community college districts; the Phoenix-area Maricopa Community College District is the nation’s largest. Information on full-time job opportunities in the colleges may be found at each district’s website, usually under “Human Resources,” but sometimes under “Employment” or “Jobs.” Information on part-time adjunct work  is generally obtained most easily by contacting an individual college and speaking with the administrator in charge of ESL (generally, though not always, the Chair of the college’s English or Developmental Education Departments).

All of Arizona’s community colleges require a minimum of a Master’s degree in the field to be taught. Part-time positions in ESL are often available, but full-time ESL faculty openings are not numerous and are highly competitive. In normal hiring situations, full-time openings for Fall Semester are generally announced and filled during the preceding Spring Semester and vice versa.


Arizona currently has three state universities: the University of Arizona (Tucson), Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff), and Arizona State University (Tempe). All three have IEPs (Intensive English Programs).

University-based IEPs in Arizona are similar to those in other states: they frequently have job openings, though the positions are often part-time (on a class-session by class-session basis) and may not include such benefits as retirement and insurance. Qualifications for IEP teaching almost always include a Master’s degree in ESL/EFL or a related field (such as Applied Linguistics) and previous university-level teaching experience. Full-time IEP positions are not often available, and when they are, they are highly competitive.

Those interested in information on IEP employment should select a link below and then ascertain whom to contact regarding the possibility of employment.

CESL (the University of Arizona)–Click here to contact them.
Global Launch (Arizona State University)–Click here for their job listings.
P.I.E. (Northern Arizona University)–Click here to contact them.

In addition, IEP openings are often posted in the Careers section of the Chronicle of Higher Education website. Arizona also has private and “alternative” universities, plus numerous technical-training institutes; some have ESL programs. Click HERE for a list which will provide a good starting point for job-related research.

Adult education

Adult education programs are often offered through community college systems but tend to be non-credit and open to the general public; they may be tuition-free for students if they are grant-funded. Courses typically include not only ESL but also Citizenship, Reading, Writing, and Math for High School Equivalency (HSE) preparation.  Instructors are generally required to have a Bachelor’s degree in a related subject and must obtain Adult Education certification through the Arizona Department of Education.

Other settings

Other possibilities for ESL jobs in Arizona include:

Private boarding schools

At least three private boarding schools in Arizona offer ESL classes: the Fenster School in Tucson, the Orme School in Mayer, and the Beaver Creek Ranch campus of Southwestern Academy in Rimrock (near Sedona). There may be others as well.

Social service agencies

A wide range of municipal and nonprofit social service organizations, from city library systems to refugee resettlement agencies, offer English language classes to their beneficiaries. Check the websites of specific cities and towns, or do a search for “Arizona social service agencies” or “organizations”.

Private language schools

Some of these schools offer ESL or ESL-related classes (such as TOEFL preparation). Typing “Arizona private language schools English” into a search engine will produce several hits.