How to Find an English Teaching Job Abroad

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

Teaching English is probably the most common job for an expat (a person living outside of their home country). If you are a citizen of any country that has English as their native language (USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, & S. Africa) this will be the easiest way for you to get a job abroad! Nearly every country in the world is looking for English teachers, so you'll have lots of options on what location you can go to. Here are some recommendations on trying to find an English teaching job abroad:


What You'll Need to Apply

Every company/school is different, but typically these are the things you'll need to apply for a teaching job abroad:


TEFL

A TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate is required for nearly every teaching job abroad. Some companies will give you a free TEFL course when they hire you, but most likely you'll have to do the course on your own. Make sure to do the 120-hour TEFL course because that's what is required by most companies. Look on Groupon and multiple websites before you pay for a course to make sure you're getting a good deal. I've seen the 120-hour courses for as low as $25 USD, so I definitely wouldn't pay much more than that.


Bachelor's Degree

Not all companies will require you to have this, but a lot of them will. And I'd say about 99% of them that require it don't care what you majored in. It doesn't need to be a Bachelor's in Education. Just any Bachelor's degree will do.


Types of English Teaching Jobs

ESL Language Companies

This is usually the easiest way for an expat to get a teaching job, especially if they don't have teaching experience. An ESL Language Company is typically after school/weekend English help, which is additional to the student's regular schooling. Which means typically you will work weekday afternoons and all day on the weekends, since that's the time that kids aren't in school. It also means that most likely you'll teach a variety of different age groups and English levels- aka you won't have one class the entire week like you would in a traditional school classroom setting.

Pros: Easy to find jobs, little/no experience required

Cons: Not a traditional work schedule, typically no summers off/long paid holidays

Typical hiring requirements: Bachelor's degree, TEFL certificate


International Schools

This is usually the option with the highest salaries for teachers, but you often need more experience or education than a language company. An international school is a school that promotes an international environment, typically adopting an international curriculum. For the most part, international schools have all their classes taught in English (with the exception of foreign language classes), so it presents the opportunity for teachers to teach a subject other than English. You should expect to work a regular school week (typically M-F from 8am-4pm, but can vary), with weekends and all public holidays off. If you teach Kindergarten/primary school you'll have your same class all week, whereas middle/high school you'll have several classes throughout the day just as you would in a school back in your home country. Of course some international schools are run by local people, but I would say a majority of them are run by expats or have a staff of nearly all expats. British, Australian, Canadian, and American International schools are extremely common around the world, so it's a great place to meet friends with similar backgrounds as you.

Pros: Higher salary, traditional work schedule, paid summers & holidays, lots of expat co-workers

Cons: Can be harder to find, can require more experience/education

Typical hiring requirements: Bachelor's degree in Education, teaching certificate from your home country, TEFL certificate


Public Schools

This is usually the option people prefer if they are trying to learn the local language and immerse themselves in the local culture. However, it can be quite difficult to find a placement. Typically you'll have to find a company that places foreign teachers at local public schools, otherwise it would be extremely hard to find a public school teaching job on your own. Public school is exactly that- you would be teaching an English class at their regular public school. Often times you will have a local teaching assistant to help you with the language barrier. You should expect to work a regular school week (typically M-F from 8am-4pm, but can vary), with weekends and all public holidays off.

Pros: Culture/language immersion, traditional work schedule, paid summers & holidays

Cons: Can be harder to find, can be lonely if not many expats work there

Typical hiring requirements: Bachelor's degree, TEFL certificate


Look on International Job Boards

I personally think this is the best way to look for teaching opportunities around the world! If you're not picky on what country you want to live in, you can search international job boards for all possible English teaching opportunities around the world. Even if you have a country or two in mind, you can still easily browse through these job boards to give you an idea of current job opportunities.

Dave's ESL Cafe

ESL Authority

ESL Job Feed

Learn 4 Good

Teach Away


Look for Well-Known Companies

If you have a specific country or two that you're dead-set on moving to, you can start researching well-known English teaching companies in those countries. Then, directly apply on their company websites. Below are a list of some well-known ESL companies in each country listed: (Full disclaimer: I have not personally worked for any of these companies besides EF in Chongqing, China, so I cannot say if they are great companies to work for. I am merely stating that they are some of the biggest & most well-known companies in these countries)


ASIA

This will be the easiest area to find a teaching job abroad (along with the Middle East). There is an abundance of jobs and decent wages.

China: Aston English, English First (EF)

Japan: AEON, JET, West Gate

South Korea: EPIK, GEPIK, SMOE

Thailand: BFITS

Vietnam: APAX, Apollo


EUROPE

Europe can be a lot more difficult to find jobs than Asia, and typically the pay is less. Unless you can get hired at a high-ranking international school. Check out these 2 that have locations throughout the continent:

British Institutes

British Schools of English


SOUTH AMERICA

There are quite a lot of opportunities in South America, just like Asia. Although the pay is a LOT lower and sometimes it's hard to find a job online in advance. It may be easier to fly there and get hired at a language school.

Brazil: Red house International School

Chile: Nido International School

Colombia: Colombo Americano


LOCATIONS ALL OVER THE WORLD

Wall Street English


Do Your Research

Once you've found a company you're interested in applying to, make sure to research them. Browse through their company website to make sure the salary/benefits are good, and make sure to check their reviews on job review sites like Indeed and Glassdoor. Here are key things to look for when reading reviews online:


Visa Help/Legitimacy

This is a major one that you might not think of if it's your first time teaching abroad. It is so important to make sure that your company will help you with the visa process, so you are legally allowed to work in that country. I've heard of several horror stories of different ESL companies that are sketchy about this and just ask you to leave the country every time your tourist visa expires, and then come back. So technically you're illegally working there because you're only supposed to be a tourist for a certain amount of days.


Monthly Paychecks

Make sure that the company will pay you every month what you are owed. Sometimes I've looked at reviews for a company and literally every review said they were late on monthly paychecks every month or the amount was always different, not what was signed in the initial contract. So be aware of this and make sure there are no negative reviews about the company doing this before you apply.


Working Hours

Another big one is working hours. In the initial contract you sign, it should say how many hours you are expected to work each week. It might even say the actual times, like 9am-5pm or whatever it may be. And if you work overtime, it should state in your contract how much your overtime pay rate is. If you see lots of negative reviews about a company saying they were overworked or worked more hours than they agreed to in their contract without overtime pay- run for the hills. Don't apply for that company. The last thing you want when you're living somewhere new and trying to travel is to be over-worked and under-compensated.


Overall

Make sure to do a thorough research job, but also make sure to take things with a grain of salt. Trust your gut. If literally every single review is saying they overwork you, trust it. But if only a couple say that, just know that it could just be those individual's experience. It always helps to be prepared for your interview with both good and bad reviews you read online and let your interviewer know. For example, I was interviewing with a company in South Korea and they had multiple bad reviews online about not giving as many vacation days as promised. So I straight up asked the interviewer. I said I read these things online and just wanted to confirm with you because I don't want to put myself in a negative situation. And she reassured me that she had personally taught with this company for 4 years before she became a recruiter for them and never once had a problem with vacation days. So again, do the research and inform yourself. But make sure to follow your gut and know that you can't base a company on one negative review.


I'm Hired. Now What?

Well, every company/school is different. But, typically after you've signed your contract with a company/school there should be someone to help you gather your visa documents. Once your visa is taken care of, it's time to buy your flight. Many companies will either buy your flight for you, or reimburse you on your first paycheck. So make sure to look for that in your contract as well, because that's a nice bonus!


Now you're living and working abroad. Wow. YOU DID IT! You are embarking on a journey you will never forget. Immersing yourself in a new culture. Building relationships with kids. Traveling around the world. It truly is a life changing experience that you will remember forever.


Watch my experience working at EF in Chongqing, China


And my typical work week as an EF teacher:


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