One of the most common occupations of expatriates throughout the world is that of a teacher, and international teaching jobs offer a viable option for individuals to attain gainful employment overseas. In order to be successful in this type of role, you should be flexible and adventurous and should be open to new cultures and ways of working.
Native English speakers are always in demand in countries where English is not the first language. For this reason, it can be possible to secure an international teaching job and sponsorship visa without any formal qualification. However, where possible, it is always better to acquire a formal TEFL certificate as this will provide you with more options and will also allow you to earn a higher salary. In addition to this, undergoing formal training in how to teach English as a foreign language will also arm you with appropriate skills to complete the task effectively. At minimum schools and educational establishments will expect you to have a first degree.
While a large number of jobs may be available throughout the world, it is crucial that you carefully research and evaluate any international teaching jobs that are offered to you. Aside from the more obvious considerations pertaining to pay and location, there are some other important areas that should never be overlooked-
Role & Contractual Obligations for Expat Teachers
During interviews and any research process, you should always ensure that you address the role itself. You need to fully understand what the international school will expect of you, how many different courses or curriculum subjects you will be teaching, the size of the class you will be dealing with and who you will be working with. If you get the opportunity you should try and meet or talk with someone who already teaches at the school as learning about their job and their day-to-day tasks will help you to evaluate whether it will suit you, your career aspirations and your expectations for a teaching job.
When seriously considering a teaching role you should ask to see a copy of the contract you will be asked to sign and should read it thoroughly to ensure that you fully understand what will be expected of you, how many hours a week you will be working and how many events a month you will be required to attend outside of normal working hours (e.g. school promotional events, parents’ evenings and staff meetings).
Many expatriates agree to work at schools only to find out that the small print of their contracts detail that they have to work additional hours without pay upon request. You need to be fully aware of working hours, roles and responsibilities so that you do not have any nasty surprises.
Salary & Benefits for Teaching Overseas
When evaluating any teaching position you should consider the current salary and benefits and the potential for these to grow over a period of time. A very important consideration at this stage of the process should concern the cost of living in the destination within which you are considering living, as you need to ensure that you can live comfortably. Many native English teaching positions offer staff a bonus if they remain at a school for the duration of their contract, find out what this bonus is and what the requirements for achieving it will be.
If you are not yet an expatriate in the country within which you are intending to teach, try and negotiate biannual or annual flights home as well as a housing allowance. These are common in many expatriate teaching positions and if the one you are looking at does not include them then you should consider searching for one that does, especially if you have a full teaching qualification.
Before accepting an international teaching job you should ensure that the school at which you are considering working is well equipped and has suitable resources. Consider the curriculum that will be taught and any materials that you will need to adequately teach that curriculum. If the school does not have all the basic resources that you feel you will need to teach to an appropriate level that you should consider looking elsewhere, especially if you are an expatriate looking to teach in a country that has a large supply of international teaching jobs.
Visa and Sponsorship Requirements
Depending upon the type of expatriate visa you have, you may find that you need sponsorship to teach abroad. Many schools will be in a position to sponsor you, especially if you have a full teaching qualification or degree in teaching English as a foreign language. Make sure you double-check whether a school will be providing such sponsorship and how much assistance they will give you with attaining work permits, licenses and visa extensions.
Working Hours for Expat Teachers
While you may have had an office job where you worked 35+ hours a week you should bear in mind that teaching is very different and will place different demands on you. You should ideally try and secure a teaching position where you will be expected to spend 15-20 in the classroom, anything above 25 and you should look elsewhere. Remember that you will quite often be on your feet facing continual demands for your attention and, for the sake of your own sanity, you should try and limit the teaching hours.