Dreaming about moving abroad in 2021 (or even sooner)? Teaching overseas can provide the opportunity to live in a new country and make money at the same time. Megan Vander Lugt shares how to teach abroad – even if you don’t have experience.
Whether the idea of teaching abroad is new to you or you’ve spent years dreaming about it – here are my personal insights after teaching on four continents (and counting).
Keep reading to get answers to your questions about teaching overseas.
- Where can I teach abroad?
- What are the requirements for teaching abroad?
- Should I invest in a teaching certification?
- Where are the highest-paid teaching jobs?
- What about volunteer teaching jobs?
- Where can you find teaching jobs online?
Where can I teach abroad?
If you’re an American like me, our ability to get a visa and work permit in Europe can be quite difficult. Difficult but not impossible (I’m currently teaching in Sweden now!). It’s much easier to find a teaching job in a country that is in need of teachers and can sponsor your visa.
Start your teaching abroad journey by looking at which countries have Working Holiday Visas (WHV) that you may be eligible for. For example, Americans can get a Working Holiday visa in Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea.
There are some restrictions to this, though. For example, in Australia, you must be 30 years old or younger when you enter the country, and can only hold a job in one location for six months. The visa duration is one year, although there are ways to extend it for an additional two years.
If a WHV isn’t available to you then the best option would be to teach in a country with a high demand for native English speaking teachers. It should be of no surprise that you can find English teaching positions in Asia very easily. In fact, you can teach it online as well. A good compromise if the idea of teaching abroad sounds exciting, but you aren’t ready to make the move, yet.
Although there are endless English teaching positions, don’t feel like that is the only thing you can teach abroad. Math and Science teachers are also highly sought after in Middle Eastern countries, as well as international schools. Getting sponsorship for a visa will be quite easy if you work in an international school.
What are the requirements for teaching abroad?
For those that have a teaching degree and license, there will be more opportunities for higher-caliber schools, such as International Baccalaureate (IB) and international schools. Having a degree can also increase your pay. For example, my starting salary with a teaching degree was higher than my coworkers’ salary who had been working at the school for a number of years but didn’t have a degree.
Never taught before? Don’t worry! Often a Bachelor’s degree and the desire to teach is all you need. If you have a special area of focus, for example, you got your bachelor’s degree in Art, then you will stand out more when applying for an art teaching position.
Although most positions require you to have at least a Bachelor’s degree, if you don’t have one, there may still be some opportunities available to you. Many schools will consider hiring you if you’re a native English speaker.
Should I invest in a teaching certification?
For those looking to teach English abroad, a way to make yourself stand out is to obtain a TEFL or CELTA certificate. These can be done upon arrival in some teaching abroad programs – often at a very fast pace in four weeks. Or, they can be done in your home country over a longer period of time, either in person or online.
If you hold a teaching license and degree, getting a TEFL or CELTA is not as important since you already possess the qualifications to show that you both understand the English language and how to teach it.
Where are the highest-paid teaching jobs?
Teaching abroad is not a “get rich quick scheme.” Just like in the United States, teachers abroad are often severely underpaid. However, when you factor in the quality of life, ability to travel, and other benefits some schools provide – teaching abroad may look more financially appealing.
Truly think about what you are wanting to get out of your teaching abroad experience. Are you looking to make money, meet new friends, understand a different culture, or learn different teaching methods? Prioritize what is the most important aspect to you. If money isn’t one of those things, the opportunities are endless.
Teaching in the Middle East or Asia (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China) can bring you the most money. Often these schools pay a minimum of $2000 USD per month and I have heard of some teachers even making up to $5000 USD. In addition to the salary, schools in Asia and the Middle East may provide round trip flights, health insurance, visa costs, daily transportation fees, gym passes, and a furnished apartment. Essentially, your monthly paycheck can be pocketed, minus any food or extra spending.
In Australia, you can also make decent money. As a supply teacher, I was earning around $150 USD per day. Take in mind that during school breaks and holidays you’re not working and therefore not getting paid. It’s also much harder to find a school that will pay for your visa costs and airfare. Having an apartment paid for by the school is also rarely heard of. Health care is free though, so no need to worry about insurance or expensive medical bills.
Europe, Central America, and South America generally provide a lower stipend, but depending on the school, they may be able to offer benefits. Many schools in Central America provide teachers with housing, gym passes, flights, and daily transportation, but your take-home earning could be as little as $1000 USD per month. Europe can be quite similar. I was offered a position in Poland for just $1000 USD a month with no benefits. Keep in mind the lower cost of living there, though.
What about volunteer teaching jobs?
In addition to paid teaching positions, there are endless volunteer positions. These can be found around the world, from Thailand to Ghana. With these volunteer positions, you could teach in a school, as well as care for young children, either with learning or physical disabilities. If you can’t financially make a long-term commitment to teaching as a volunteer, it could be a summer opportunity for you.
Where can you find teaching abroad jobs?
- Google – If you are certain you would like to teach in Italy, Google “Teaching Jobs in Italy.” Lots of schools, blogs, companies, and articles will pop up. Get a feel if that’s where you still want to go and start applying.
- Facebook – There is a Facebook group for everything! That may be how you came across this blog post even. Look into teaching abroad groups, teaching in a specific country, or even a school. Depending on how comfortable you feel, you can message specific people from the group to get “insider information.” I often will message someone who currently teaches at the school I’m considering to hear about their experiences.
- Word of mouth – It’s all about who you know. Three years ago I would have never even considered Australia if the principal who rejected my application in Europe did not mention it to me. Since then, every school I have worked at was mentioned or recommended by a fellow teacher I had met. Pieces always fit together perfectly, if you let them. Be open-minded, you never know where you may end up.
If you are flexible about where your teaching abroad journey will take you, I suggest looking into different companies that can help set you up and connect you to multiple schools. Often they are free and collect money from the employer once you secure a job. They have great insight into all the different opportunities out there and can help make sure you have all the correct documents.
BTB writer – Megan Vander Lugt
Megan is an avid travel enthusiast originally from the United States. Three years ago, she left home to pursue her dream of teaching abroad and hasn’t looked back since. Her goal is to teach in every continent – having taught in North America, Australia, Asia, and Europe so far.
If you would like more information about making the move to teach abroad or to follow Megan’s adventures, check out MeganMovesAbroad.com.
All photos in this article are the property of BTB guest writer, Megan Vander Lugt.
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