Teaching in International Schools - Frequently Asked Questions

Kelly Blackwell

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Ever since I wrote my book The Complete Guide to Securing a Job at an International School I’ve been inundated with questions about teaching overseas. I’ve selected the most frequently asked ones to answer for you here…

Where can I teach in an international school? How can I find out?
There are over 4000 international schools of varying sizes worldwide and all of them need teachers. So the answer to the first question is… just about anywhere!

One way you can find out whether there’s an international school where you’d like to work is to ‘Google it’. I simply typed in “international school Bangkok” and up popped a whole page of listings.

Of course this isn’t the way to go about landing your new teaching job abroad, but you can certainly check out how many schools are available in the destinations you’re interested in.

I’ve got kids, will an international school employ me?
Yes they will! You may have some trouble if you’ve got 7 kids and you’re a single parent, or something similar, simply because the recruiters know you probably won’t be able to manage on a single teacher’s salary and allowances.

Contracts for overseas hired teachers often include such perks as free tuition for your children (often limited to two, but not always), so you’ll get a private education for your children too.

Do I need a TEFL certificate to get a job teaching abroad?
This all depends on what kind of credentials and experience you already have.

If you don’t have a teaching qualification, then you probably don’t have any other option. With a TEFL certificate you can teach the English as a Second Language classes that are offered at most international schools.

Based on my experience doing both, teaching EFL or ESL at an international school is preferable to teaching at a private language school. So plan your job-hunt accordingly.

Also, if your experience is all in mono-lingual and mono-cultural situations, then getting a TEFL qualification to add to your current credentials will only improve your chances. It will show recruiters that you are prepared for the issues you’ll encounter in your multi-cultural classes abroad.

Will I make enough money?
Exactly how much is enough? This is a hard one to answer because we all have different opinions on how much is enough, don’t we?

However, my answer is this… do your homework! It is possible to make loads and loads and put your investment portfolio on the map (or cover the map with your travels! Or both?), but it really depends where you go. Western Europe doesn’t have the same potential for earning that the Middle East or South East Asia has, but you’ll still make enough to live reasonably. Even in Western Europe, some schools pay better than others, and Eastern Europe is different again because of the low cost of living.

Teaching Abroad – the best decision you’ll ever make
Teaching overseas is an opportunity to put your qualifications to good use. You’ll be able to support yourself, and often have more left over at the end of the month than you would at home, and travel extensively to exotic destinations you’ve only ever dreamed about.

And guess what? Internationals school principals have been discussing the looming shortage of international teachers!

That’s right, with the sudden explosion in the number of schools opening for business in the last couple of years there’s been an equal explosion in the number of positions recruiters need to fill… but as yet there hasn’t been the required increase in teachers applying.

You do the math on that one and it all comes out to be a positive move in your favor.

Good luck in your job hunt, Get the No.1 Guide to Getting a Teaching Position at an International School here!

Not sure teaching overseas is for you? Get all the answers from experienced international teachers.


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