Is Teaching Abroad For You?

Am I qualified to teach abroad?

If you have a passion to teach and are open to new cultures, teaching abroad may be for you. There are teaching positions in many disciplines and languages around the world and if you are flexible you will surely find one that suits your interests and qualifications. The majority of teaching positions available are for native English speakers willing to teach English as a foreign language.

Do I need a degree? Or would a TEFL certificate be sufficient? Is teaching experience required?

The qualifications required by employers vary widely depending upon the demand and availability of teachers and work visa requirements in your country of interest.

In many countries, a bachelor's degree is required to be able to work legally. The majority of full time teaching positions require a bachelors' degree, though not necessarily in education. Some English teaching schools do not require a college degree as long as you are a native speaker.

There are schools that employ native English speakers who do not have a TEFL certificate, but many competitive employers require a TEFL certificate. Regardless, you can be sure that any certificate will help you develop your skills and prepare you for the classroom experience. A TEFL certificate is a must if you are serious and you want to be a better teacher. While native speakers are often preferred for English teaching positions, a non-native speaker with a TEFL certificate may also qualify. In general, most certificate programs assist with job placement.

In most cases, English teach abroad programs do not require teaching experience but your chances of getting hired will be greater if you have it.

If you have a degree in teaching English as a foreign language there are no limits to your destination options. The US, UK, Australia and many other destinations have highly paid teaching jobs for qualified professional teachers.

Does age matter? Are teaching positions available for both young and older teachers?

Age might be an issue in other countries due to working permit and visa requirements. In some cases particularly in Korea as well as other Asian and middle-eastern destinations age may be a factor in hiring. Many of these schools require photos and more important than age is often a well-groomed appearance.

Aside from teaching positions in a university or a language school, there are also 'volunteer' teaching positions open to any age; there are even some open to high school students. Many volunteer teaching placements exist in developing countries. Often these jobs are better than locally paid positions. The in-country pay may be so low that the volunteer placements, with its perks, may be worth more than what you would get on the open market. Volunteer teaching placements also provide a chance to meet unique students. Teaching in an orphanage or in an eco tourism project to eager local students may be more rewarding than a bushi ban full of well-off and not so eager young boys.

Can I teach with my partner?

Schools seek stability from their internationally recruited staff members.

If the school takes care of the travel, housing, medical, insurance and visa application expenses, then most likely single teachers are preferred. They are highly appealing if they are open to shared housing. Some schools opt for single teachers because they are mobile.

Other schools prefer to hire teaching couples because they can be hired together and share a single living accommodation. Also, couples who have no children and share accommodation may be more stable. In most countries there is zero tolerance for dating local students. This is obviously less of a risk with teacher couples. In many places the demand is so high that a couple just means more students, more classes and more income for the school owner.

Not all destinations are gay friendly. Prospective teachers concerned about destinations should check out Rainbow SIG.

Do I need to speak the local language?

You don't need to speak the local language. Many schools prefer that you do not speak the local language and most students do not expect you to speak the local language.

Many schools offer language classes and social activities to help their teachers familiarize with the local culture. Having a little background in the local language will give you an edge why certain diction, grammatical and pronunciation problems are obstacles to foreign language learning. A bit of knowledge of the local language and culture will also help you determine what topics of discussion will be of interest to your students for a good English conversation starter in the classroom.

Do I have to go for a year?

Most teaching positions are for a year. Some schools provide you with a return ticket only after you have completed your year commitment. Others will reject your visa if you try and change schools before your yearlong commitment has been completed. There are still short-term teaching jobs. Occasionally summer camps in Asia, for example, hire teaching counselors. Most volunteer teaching positions have flexible commitments from a few weeks to a few months.

Teaching abroad is an incredible way to immerse yourself in the local culture, interact on a meaningful level with the locals and earn some money to travel. Teaching however is not easy, it's challenging and you will earn the money you make. It is a job after all, and like any job you should commit yourself to it. Take a TEFL course, research the local culture, and ask yourself in advance if you have the patience and commitment required to teach abroad.

How much money does a teacher abroad make? How much can I earn?

The amount of money a teacher abroad makes is relative to their position, qualifications and destination. One very important factor to consider when applying for teaching jobs abroad is the cost of living. In China, for instance, you may enjoy a high standard of living but you probably won't be able to pay a large mortgage payment back home. Many teachers make extra pay teaching additional classes or tutoring individual students. In South Korea and Taiwan, the pay is higher and so is the cost of living. Some employers provide free accommodation and utilities to help teachers cope with the cost. Some provide additional benefits like reimbursing your air fare and providing medical insurance. Offers vary from one destination to another and highly recommends researching your placements in advance to make an informed decision regarding the job offer.

Which English accent is in demand?

It depends upon location. Preferred accent is determined by who the host country does the most business with. In Mexico, the American teacher is preferred. In Indonesia, a school may prefer the Australian teacher. In Europe, British English may be preferred and within the European community, teachers from the UK may be the only teachers hired.

Where will I stay?

Take a clear understanding of the arrangement for your accommodations when applying for a teaching position abroad. Some schools do normally provide free accommodation either on the school campus, homestay, privately rented room or dormitory. You need to find out though if it is shared accommodation or not and if it involves duties. If your would-be employers do not provide accommodation, you may ask help or seek for initial accommodation to provide at the start of your work. It might be difficult for you finding a house without any help from someone else or if you do not know any local language.

Who will I teach?

You may be teaching children, housewives, college students or corporate executives. It will depend upon your employer. Most language schools enroll students of all ages and backgrounds. Consider all the teaching positions that come your way because each type of teaching requires different skills, and offers different rewards.

Is there a contract? Should I sign a contract?

In most cases you must sign a contract and stick to the terms. You can research a school in advance by speaking to former teachers. Just remember your experience is individual and just because someone else loves or loathes a school doesn't mean you will share their views.

Where do I find the jobs?

The Teach Abroad directory of is an important resource for teaching positions. Our database is reliable because the positions are actually posted and updated by the schools themselves. Many organizations post listings for one year at a time and hire throughout the year. Other employers post a job for a week and are overwhelmed with the e-mail responses. If you are searching for the perfect job, you might want to regularly check out the Most Recent Job Postings on

What costs are involved?

The costs involved vary depending usually on whether you are being hired directly by the school or the program that you participate in is a TEFL placement or a volunteer placement. In many paid teaching jobs, you have to shell out for transportation costs, accommodations and meals. There are schools which provide benefits like medical insurance, subsidized housing, and there are some employers who reimburse your airfare, usually when you successfully finish your contract. If it is a TEFL placement, there may be a cost for the TEFL course. If it is a volunteer placement, there is usually a program cost and no compensation, although there are some schools which give their volunteers a stipend. You need to clarify all of these costs with your program provider or employer.