Teaching Overseas

A teaching career, while challenging at times, offers some nice advantages which you’re hopefully enjoying. You have the opportunity to impact the lives of young people, and get to end each work day knowing that you’ve contributed something important to the world. Maybe you teach in or near your hometown, contributing directly to your community, which is important and noteworthy.

It may not have been something which drew you to the profession, but it’s a viable and exciting possibility, regardless of what age and subject you teach. Large networks of schools all over the world hire American teachers, offering a great opportunity to live and work in a foreign country while gaining valuable, unique professional experience. If the idea of setting up a classroom in another country appeals to you, here are some tips:  

Dust off your résumé and brush up on your interview skills.

The potential for excitement with an overseas teaching job may overshadow the need for you to remember that certain aspects of your international search will mirror those of a domestic search. If you’re already teaching, you’re likely familiar with the process. Begin by updating your résumé with your current experience. Secure letters of reference from supervisors and others familiar with your work. If you’re a recent grad, you’ll probably need letters from college advisors and student teaching supervisors. Reviewing the basics of interviewing preparation is a good idea, as you’ll have to go through a series of them before being offered a position.

Make note of your unique situation and needs.

It’s easy to categorize expat teachers as young, single, and carefree, able to easily pack their lives into a suitcase and a carry-on. But the reality is different. Teachers of all ages, with partners, children of their own, and pets also seek out and land positions in schools outside their home countries. This post contains helpful overall info, along with additional questions to ask yourself as you look abroad for a school where you can thrive.

Get familiar with the different options for finding a job.

There are numerous organizing bodies which collaborate with international schools, providing support for both the institutions and prospective teachers. The Council of International Schools (CIS) is a not-for-profit organization which screens candidates and guides them throughout the steps to securing a position. Candidates who are accepted and approved will be presented by CIS to schools with openings in the candidate’s area. CIS’s membership network includes 733 schools in 112 countries. The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) runs 194 schools in 12 countries, Guam, and Puerto Rico, and has its own hiring process. Students who attend are the children of military service members and civilian DoD employees. The U.S. State Department assists approximately 200 schools in 135 countries. These schools primarily enroll children of U.S. government employees, but also welcome children from all countries. If this option appeals to you, you can review the information on their website. The State Department does not handle hiring. Like CIS, International Schools Services serves both schools and educators, with the goal of supporting institutions in their quest to provide their students with outstanding educations. They offer pathways to jobs for both experienced and new teachers, and organize job fairs in the U.S., overseas, and online. While they do not guarantee employment in one of their member schools, they do help candidates manage the process.

Manage logistics and paperwork.

You should ideally get or renew your passport before you embark upon your search. If your passport expires in the next year or two, best to renew it now as the country you’re moving to may require more validity. When you accept your offer, consider the entire compensation package, not just the salary. For example, your salary may be lower than you’re used to, but housing might be included. And you might be moving to a country whose cost of living is significantly less than where you live now. In addition to a passport, you’ll also probably need a visa, but this will differ based on where your search ultimately takes you. The embassy or consulate of the country you’re moving to will have details. Finally, some countries will also require you to have a physical, and you may need vaccinations depending on your destination.

Going abroad to teach has the potential to be a remarkable, fulfilling experience, one that can have a great impact on your life and career.