A lot of people are interested in the idea of traveling and living overseas for a period of time. I have to say, being a teacher is one of the EASIEST ways to live and work overseas! I have taught in Africa for 6 years and now I’m about to move to China to teach. So what are your options for teaching abroad and how do you go about finding the job?
Options for teaching overseas:
1.Teach at a public school
There aren’t too many jobs with a public/government school because most governments hire local teachers. However, I’ve come across a lot of public school jobs available to international teachers in United Arab Emirates. Having been to Dubai as a tourist, I can say it seems like a nice place to live. When you walk down the street you literally see people from all different cultures and backgrounds! Dubai is rapidly growing and desperately needs teachers. The ones I saw were on the website TeachAway
Qualifications: A Bachelor’s in the subject or age level you want to teach. Might require 2 years teaching experience. 1-2 year contract
2. Teach at a private school
Besides public schools, there are also private schools in every country looking for teachers. Some are private schools that only serve local students (ex. a school in China that only has Chinese students but hires foreign teachers). These types of schools often create a strong bond in the foreign teaching staff. But, sometimes I felt like an “outsider” teaching a class where everyone was from the same culture except me. All the students might laugh at a joke that you just don’t get.
Then, there are private international schools. A truly international school means they have students from many different countries attending. I worked in an international school in Nigeria for 2 years. I had students from Nigeria, India, Philippines, USA and Cameroon. These types of schools allow you the opportunity to live alongside so many different cultures and can be an amazing experience. These schools often have to create their own school culture that is a blend of lots of different cultures.
Private schools generally pay teachers the best. It is common practice for a private school benefits package to include round trip airfare, visa costs, accommodation, health insurance and a salary.
Qualifications: Bachelor’s in Education, 1-2 year contract
Here are several websites that can help you find a teaching job with a private school:
The bottom three use recruiters to filter applicants. Therefore, when you apply for a specific post listed on the site you’ll get contacted by a recruiter before being connected to the school itself. In my experience these companies can be very slow to work with. I prefer interacting directly with the school and therefore focus my job searching on Teach Away’s website. Some of the job postings are filtered by Teach Away recruiters but a lot of the postings will allow you to apply directly to the school. I was able to find, interview and accept a job in China in just three weeks!
3. Teach ESL
If you don’t have an education degree, but still want to teach overseas, it is likely you can get a job teaching English. Asia has the most opportunities by far! There are a lot of language centers that tutor students and adults in English. If you get a job like this you might stay in one location or move around. You will most likely get a chance to work with a variety of ages.
Qualifications: Native English speaker, TESOL certificate, possibly a Bachelor’s degree but the degree doesn’t have to be in Education.
You can find ESL jobs on the same websites as I listed above. Some schools/companies I have heard great things about are M.E.F. China and English First. International TEFL Academy lets you study towards your TEFL certificate and work at the same time. That could be a great way to begin if you don’t already have an Education degree or your TEFL certification.
GoAbroad lists a ton of different organizations that you can teach abroad with but many have a program fee that you have to pay. In essence, not only are you NOT receiving a salary, you are actually paying to be there. But if you just want to adventure of traveling, you might find comfort in going with a recognized organization.
I see volunteer opportunities listed on Idealist all the time. These are jobs with various non-profits. You don’t have to pay a fee but they won’t pay you a salary.
Volunteering abroad may be a good place to start if you have never been overseas. You can do it for a shorter period of time than is required with the other teaching abroad options. Plus, if you are a volunteer they don’t care if you have a degree or previous experience.
Qualifications: depends on the job but usually minimal.