It’s happening! You’ve told your parents and your besties that you are researching English teaching jobs abroad. There are a mix of emotions and everyone is asking you loads of detailed questions. Where are you going? How long will you be gone? Can I sleep on your couch? Pause—you’ve only just begun.
You aren’t 100% sure of what you are signing up for yet and feel a tad overwhelmed. Fear not! Take a breath and relax. We’re here to help you learn how to find, evaluate, and compare teaching jobs abroad.
Why you should compare English teaching jobs abroad in the first place—shop SMART!
With constant internet and social media at our fingertips, it’s easy to just click YES on that first job hiring for teachers abroad. However, you have to do a bit of research to make sure you are finding the best jobs for teachers abroad. Take inventory of what you need, what you want, and what you can live without before you sign up with the first job that screams your name.
You can’t always just wing it. Maybe you’re feeling a bit free-spirited and liberated at the idea of packing up a bag and heading overseas to teach abroad. Cheers to a new and exciting lifestyle! However, keep your head on straight before you sign any contracts. You have to make sure all of your documents are updated and that you are signing up to work at a school that has a good reputation. Having support through programs for teaching abroad will give you the proper to-do checklist that will keep you in line and able to get abroad smoothly during this transition phase.
You want to make sure you are being compensated fairly. Comparing programs for teaching abroad is great for comparing salaries. Yes, teaching salaries around the world will all be different. But if you are looking for jobs in Thailand and see that an average salary is about $1,000 per month, don’t settle for less! However, you would never settle for that salary in a place like South Korea. Make sure that you know what the average income for your region will be so that you get paid fairly. On the other hand, you may be willing to take a lower salary if the school gives you perks such as free housing, free meals, and health care. Weigh the pros and cons of your compensation, but make sure you know your salary expectations before saying yes to the first job hiring for teachers abroad.
You want to make sure you will get the experience that you are hoping for. Moving across the world to teach English abroad should be an experience of a lifetime. There is no reason that you should be told that you are going to be working in Paris and then realize that the programs for teaching abroad actually meant an hour train ride from Paris in a village with 1,000 people. Make sure you know exactly where you will be living, exactly what ages you will be teaching, and what you can expect in your new city. You can be picky! Don’t let anyone take advantage of you just because you got sidetracked from excitement while looking for teaching jobs abroad.
Tools to help you when comparing programs for teaching abroad
Before you get overwhelmed by the mass amounts of jobs for teachers abroad, narrow down your search. Do you have a specific country or continent in mind? Do you require a certain income to pay back debt at home or save? Are you looking to live somewhere to learn a new language? There are easy ways to narrow down your search.
Be picky. Don’t fall for something that may be too good to be true until you do some legit research.
This is your magic tool to filter programs for teaching abroad. Get signed up, create a profile, and start searching and saving away. You can search recommended jobs for teachers abroad that match your interests. Then you can compare your favorite programs side-by-side to see which meets all your needs and checks every “must-have” box!
2. Past ESL teachers abroad in your network
Everyone seems to have a friend of a friend of a sister’s boyfriend who went and taught English abroad. These are your key people! Ask their perspectives and opinions. Knowing someone who has taught abroad is a great way to gain insight on the nitty gritty of the different programs for teaching abroad. There’s no sugar-coating it when you can chat with a friend about their experiences teaching English abroad.
3. Teaching forums online
There are so many ways to connect with like-minded people online. Use these! Dave’s ESL Cafe is a great resource for ESL teachers. You can also find teach abroad groups all over facebook. If you are looking to teach abroad in Korea, there’s a group for that! There are so many online resources to answer all of your questions and give you ideas on what to expect when looking at jobs for teachers abroad. This way you can connect with people in your shoes and get great advice before you commit to anything.
What to evaluate
Create a list of what is important to you when looking for English teaching jobs abroad. You’ll have certain priorities and need to make sure that you are searching for something that is within your needs. Do you require a minimum salary? Do you want to live in a city or a small village? Do you prefer teaching a specific grade or are you flexible?
The following tips are sure to help you narrow down your research when comparing programs for teaching abroad.
Pay special attention to…
- Program fees. Some teach abroad programs have fees while others do not. Sometimes the fees exist because the program also offers a TEFL course upon arrival. Other programs will pay your flight with zero fees. So before you sign up, check the program fees and see if they are worth paying or not.
- Program reviews. You obviously want to check English teaching jobs abroad reviews before you sign up. This is a great way to hear from people who have done exactly what you are about to do. You can read up on GoAbroad’s teaching program reviews here.
- Program requirements. What are the requirements for teaching jobs abroad in the country where you plan to teach? Some countries require a bachelor’s degree while others do not. Does the school or program you’re interested in require a TEFL or any sort of teaching experience? Does the program offer jobs to only native English speakers? Do you need a bachelor's degree? Make sure you know the requirements so that you can find the perfect job that fits your skills and experience.
- Contract requirements. No matter what, don’t sign a contract without reading it. Yeah, maybe it’s a lot of boring reading and your squirming in your seat ready to sign already, but read it thoroughly. You need to confirm that your contract meets your expectations and that you are signing for the correct duration. You don’t want to be stuck on a one year contract if you were expecting something for six months. Pro tip: Contracts can be edited! So if you don’t like everything that it entails, see if you can tweak it a bit. (Not applicable everywhere, but you won’t get what you want if you never ask!)
- Hours and expectations. You need to know what your working hours are, what your teaching hours are, and the ages that you will be teaching. Some schools require you to do all of the lesson planning while other schools have a much more laid back atmosphere and a nonchalant attitude toward planning. Know what the basics expectations are for your school environment so that you can adapt to what is required.
- Cost of living. What is the cost of living in the country where you are looking for programs for teaching abroad? Can you adapt to the lifestyle in your new city with the cost of living? Whether you’re making $1000 a month or much more, have an idea of a budget you want to set. That way, you don’t have to deal with any surprise bills while living and teaching abroad.
- Salary. What’s your salary goal when looking at jobs for teachers abroad? If you have a lot of student debt and need to send money back home, you will likely be aiming for a location that pays well and still can provide you with a high quality of life. If you have loads of debt, look into places such as South Korea, Japan, or UAE. However, remember that a higher salary doesn’t always matter. It’s all about the cost of living to salary ratio. Have some expectations on what you would like to earn and a budget for how much you will spend so that you can check out teaching jobs abroad within your financial range.
Consider all of the other possible benefits:
Yes, a salary is key if you are teaching abroad. But besides the cash flow, there are loads of other potential perks that come along with teaching ESL abroad. See if you can find a good balance with these benefits in comparison with your expected salary range.
- Flights: Does your program provide airfare? Some programs for teaching abroad provide round trip flights, some provide a one-way ticket, and some will say yes if you ask nicely. See if you can get a free ticket across the world—there’s no harm in asking!
- Visa: Does the teach abroad program or school provide your visa and/or work permit? This is crucial if you want to work abroad legally, so make sure that this is provided through your ESL teaching program.
- Housing/meals: Does your program or school provide housing, a stipend, or any sort of “hold your hand when you arrive” assistance? Some countries provide housing while others do not. If you are applying for a program abroad and you read that many expats get free housing, make sure that you acquire that as well. Some schools provide you with meals during lunch while others do not. This can save you loads and be really convenient while teaching abroad.
- Health care: Oh yessss, the dreaded thing we throw in the back of our mind but nervously stress about, especially when going abroad. Check out the health care packages that the programs provide. You don’t want to get scratched up on a motorbike and be sent back home with a large medical bill because you forgot to read the fine print regarding health insurance. Most programs will have some sort of health care included to keep you healthy and taken care of while living abroad.
- Stipends/bonus/pension/raise? Back to the $$$$$. Do you get a contract completion bonus through your program? Are there any ways to make overtime if you work on the weekend or at summer camps? Can you throw some money into a pension? Are you eligible for a raise if you renew your contract? Yes, money questions are always awkward, but that’s what program recruiters can help you with.
- Vacation time: Pretty sure you’re not heading abroad just to work 24/7. You’ll need some R&R and will want to know exactly when that is and how much time you get off of work. Make sure you know the vacay schedule or rough time frames so that you can start planning all of your adventures abroad! Each country has their own holiday agenda, but make sure you are alloted the time that is normal in that country where you will be teaching.
- Language classes: ¿Hablas Español? See if your school can hook you up with some free language classes. It’s a great way to live local, learn the culture, and be a better teacher. These aren’t always provided, but you may as well check and see if you can find a program that wants you to learn the lingo.
Put your foot down and don’t get too flexible—but also, be nice. Each region and program will be a bit different, but if your heart is set on teaching in Argentina, then scour the Argentina teach abroad forums, GoAbroad programs, and chat with the recruiters. It’s your life and don’t settle for something that you’re not 100% comfortable with.
Now you know what to look for to find the right teaching program for you
Easy peasy—comparing jobs to teach abroad is no sweat. As you search the internet and chat with your friends of friends of friends, you will find exactly what it is that you are looking for in teaching jobs abroad. Doing a bit of research beforehand will make the process of going overseas a breeze. Soon enough you’ll be signing your contract and moving onto that ESL adventure abroad. Bon Voyage!