I thought I should write here about becoming an IELTS examiner. This might be a useful extra income stream for many teachers. It was for me, though I no longer do it.
The IELTS test (www.ielts.org
) includes two components -- writing and conversation -- that require an expert to grade them. Grading is subjective, but there's a training process and considerable monitoring to ensure it is consistent.
Pay is good. As of mid-2004, when I was last involved, interviewers were getting 88 RMB per 11-14 minute interview and you'd do 25-30 in a weekend, so 2200-2600 plus travel expenses. Bus or train within province or plane outside, nice hotel, plus 250 a day allowance for food, taxis, etc. Grading writing also paid well. There was talk of a pay increase, but I do not know if that has happened. (it hasn't, as of Oct 2007) -- 2009 update, now 102/interview
Their basic requirements are native speaker or IELTS 9 (essentially prefect) English, degree, TEFL certificate and three year's post-certification ESL experience. That gets you on their training course. The course lasts four days and costs you 750 plus your travel expenses. It is given a few times a year, I think at all of their centers in China -- Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu -- but I'm not certain.
The course introduces their grading criteria. There are sheets with multiple scales, one for grammar, another for vocabulary, etc. You go through those, some lecture and discussion on how they are designed and used. Then they show video interviews or give you samples of writing. Everyone rates them, compare and discuss your ratings, then hear the word from On High (Cambridge) on how and why they should be rated.
At the end of the course, you are tested. Here are 12 taped interviews; rate them. Here are some writing samples; rate those. If you pass, you are certified as an examiner. There are separate certifications for interviewing and for marking writing. These are good anywhere in the world, though you have to re-test every two years to remain certified.
Depending where you are, there may be a lot or a little work. I was in Fuzhou, where they give one or two tests a month, using 6 to 8 examiners each time, and at the time only four examiners lived there. They used us on every test and flew in others. Sometimes they flew us elsewhere too; I went to Haikou and Nanjing.
They had a lot of examiners in Guangzhou, though, so even though they did two or three exams a month there, not everyone got work. On the other hand, all the writing for Southern China -- tests in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Fuzhou, Nanning and Haikou -- was marked in Guangzhou, so people there got that work.