So You Wanna Try Teaching English Abroad in Your 30s?

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Think teaching English abroad is just for the cool kids? You couldn’t be any more wrong. It’s a popular misconception that teaching English abroad in your 30s is a complete no-no. Many still believe that it’s a rite of passage strictly for folks just out of university who have no clue what they want to do with their lives, who are trying to pay off sky high student loans asap, or who just want to have a bit of adventure before getting married, having kids, snagging a cushy corporate job, signing up for a mortgage, and otherwise “settling down.” 

Man getting on train in Tokyo

Don’t let an age limit for a teacher job hold you back.

You may be thinking, am I too old to teach abroad? Stop that mindset right now! Don’t discount teaching English abroad in your 30s and beyond. Although you may not initially believe it, there are no real age restrictions for teaching English overseas. In reality, there are many ESL teachers out there teaching throughout the world way beyond their twenties. Some are even as young as sixty and seventy! Teaching abroad as a mid-career professional is possible so don’t throw away your dreams of traveling the world to teach just yet. 

Read on to learn the in's and out's of teaching English abroad as a career break.

Considerations to make before teaching English abroad in your 30s

Always wanted to teach English abroad but thought that you missed the bandwagon? Still think there’s an age limit for teacher job openings? Get your head out of the clouds and ask yourself these questions to determine whether you’re ready to take the plunge. Here are eight considerations to keep in mind if you’re thinking of teaching English abroad in your 30s.

1. Are there any age restrictions for teaching English overseas?

In general, there isn’t an age limit for teacher job opportunities abroad. Even if you’ve never been in a classroom since your college days, that doesn’t mean you can’t consider teaching English abroad in your thirties. In fact, if you do your research carefully, you’ll find there are lot of 30+ aged folk who are in the business for the first time or veterans who’ve amassed a wealth of ESL experience over the years. Note, however, that each country and school will have its own set of requirements.

2. What is your real motivation?

If you’re considering teaching English abroad in your 30s, that probably means that something isn’t right with your current situation. Are you in serious debt? Are you unemployed and can’t get a break? Recently laid off? Tired of waiting tables or dealing with a humdrum office existence? 

Want to learn or practice a foreign language in the actual country that speaks it? Dying to experience the adventure of living abroad? Looking for a more rewarding career? If you’ve answered yes to any/all of the above, then teaching abroad as a mid-career professional is something you should seriously think about. After all, who wants to live a life filled with regret and coulda/woulda/shoulda?

3. Do you even want to teach?

This is a very important question that a lot of wannabe ESL teachers don’t ask themselves enough. Many fool themselves into thinking that they’re signing up for a big, exotic adventure in a foreign country and fail to consider the reality that they must face while there: teaching at a school where students want to learn English. Please don’t sign up for teaching abroad if you don’t intend to teach your students something meaningful or aren’t interested in making a big difference in the lives of others.

Man riding bike in Amsterdam

Adventure—and employability—are out there for mid-career professionals!

4. Are you capable of teaching abroad?

Again, this is very crucial. If you’ve never taught before, English or otherwise, maybe it’s not such a good idea to sign up to teach abroad without preparing first. One of the easiest ways to ease those initial classroom jitters is to sign up for a TEFL course that gets into the meat and bones of ESL teaching to foreign students. Once you complete this course, whether online, in person, or both, teacher responsibilities like classroom management, assessment and evaluation, and lesson planning won’t seem so scary after all!

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5. Are you just trying it out or do you want to be in it for the long haul?

If you’ve never taught before, then maybe you should considering getting your feet wet with some volunteer teaching in your community first or taking a work sabbatical/vacation to get some more teaching experience abroad for a couple of weeks or months. If you find that you don’t like it, then you can always return to your desk job with no worries of committing career suicide. On the other hand, if you discover that teaching is your real calling and you want to really commit, make the switch and get into it for the long haul. Bonus: a solid TEFL certification will get you on the road to a rewarding career in ESL in no time!

woman studying at a desk

Will you teach university students or opt to work with small children?

6. What skills can I learn while teaching abroad?

Even if you don’t intend to make ESL your long term career goal, teaching English abroad in your thirties can help you develop and refine some pretty cool transferable skills. After spending significant time in the classroom, you’ll find that you become more adaptable, more patient, and more considerate of cultural differences. You may also find that you’re mentally stronger and more self-sufficient because it ain’t easy to just pick up yourself and settle in a foreign country to teach. All of these skills look great on a resume and can be applied to almost any job. 

7. Where do you want to teach abroad?

If you’re interested in teaching abroad in your thirties, you need to decide where you want to teach and more importantly, where you can teach. Some countries, particularly in Asia, will require you to have at least a bachelor’s degree in any subject. On the other hand, some countries aren’t that fussy and may allow you to teach if you have TEFL certification and some relevant education experience. Make sure to research your chosen destination thoroughly and get your relevant qualifications before you go! 

8. What can you bring to the classroom?

If you’re still worried and thinking, am I too old to teach abroad, don’t believe that you have nothing worthwhile to bring to the table. In fact, it’s the complete opposite! What you can bring (hopefully) is your maturity and experience. Most folks who have passed their twenties have lived and learned. They’ve realized that it’s super important to be professional on the job. For instance, while some of your younger colleagues may be getting sh*t-faced every night and coming to work bleary-eyed the next morning, you’ll make a better impression because you’ve already been there, done that. 

Woman and man reviewing grammar

Teaching English abroad in your 30s can look a lot of different ways.

6 companies offering teach abroad jobs for adults that are 30+

Remember, in general, there aren’t any major age restrictions for teaching English overseas. With that said, here are a few companies that can help you get up and running in the ESL field in a jiffy! 

Premier TEFL logo

1. PremierTEFL

This program provider has been in operation since 2013 and has helped more than 1000 teachers find awesome TEFL opportunities in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. They promise to provide you with a teaching position that best suits your skills and needs. Not only that, they promise to help you understand your teaching contract and provide support when it comes to moving to and living internationally. 

ITA logo

2. International TEFL Academy (ITA)

This Chicago-based program provider offers TEFL certification and lifetime job assistance for paid, professional teaching jobs across the globe. They offer TEFL classes in a whopping 25 locations worldwide as well as TEFL classes online. They have a global network that includes over 15,000 alumni spread around the world. The company also has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (US).

  • Where can you find jobs: Worldwide
  • When do they hire: Ongoing
  • Get more info: ITA reviews
Maximo Nivel logo

3. Maximo Nivel

Want to practice your Spanish and earn mucho dinero while teaching abroad? Maximo Nivel is a highly rated program provider that offers internationally recognized TEFL courses in the corazón of Latin America. Choose from locations in Manuel Antonio (Costa Rica), Antigua (Guatemala), and Cusco (Peru). Their four-week TEFL program also includes lifetime job search assistance, references, a letter of recommendation, and job contacts throughout Latin America and other countries. 

  • Where can you find jobs: Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru
  • When do they hire: Ongoing
  • Get more info: Maximo Nivel reviews
TEFL Worldwide Prague logo

4. TEFL Worldwide Prague

Spend four intensive weeks getting TEFL certified in one of Europe’s most beloved cities. In fact, this program provider has nearly 3,000 graduates who teach/have taught in over 60 countries worldwide. This America-owned company has a massive alumni network and offers support to their students before, during, and after their courses. The 120 hour course includes hands-on teacher training. It’s also accredited and externally moderated by IATQuO and the Czech Ministry of Education.

THL logo

5. The Language House TEFL

Also based in Prague, The Language House TEFL offers more than just your average four-week TEFL course. This program provider will help you adjust to your new life abroad and has assisted most of its graduates in finding work one week after graduation. They also promise students twice the average amount of hands-on teaching practice than their competitors worldwide. Their courses are fully accredited and externally monitored by IATQuO. 

ITTT logo

6. International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT)

This program provider offers several high quality TEFL and TESOL courses on-site, online, or a combination of both formats. Afterward, graduates can find jobs nearly anywhere worldwide. Choose to study in any of its locations in 19 countries across the globe. ITTT also offers meaningful lifetime job support, CV/resume reviews, interview preparation, and lesson plan resources. Bonus: ITTT welcomes students regardless of sex, age (18 and over), race, or nationality.

  • Where can you find jobs: Worldwide
  • When do they hire: Ongoing
  • Get more info: ITTT reviews 

More awesome resources for mature 😉 teachers 

Ready to challenge those crummy teach English abroad stereotypes? Here are some resources to help you kick @ss!

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to teaching abroad resources. Keep reading and researching to find out whether teaching English abroad in your thirties is the right choice for you!

Fancy resort lodge room

Splurge a little on travel comforts. You’re not on a student budget anymore!

You’re not too old to teach English abroad!

Ready to rock the boat? Teaching English abroad is not just a gap year abroad for millennials. It can be an incredibly rewarding experience, even if you teach for as little as one week or as long as an entire year. Maybe you’ll like it, maybe you’ll chuck it, but you’ll never know unless you make the decision to do it today. 

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