It can seem like more than any other type of work abroad job, teaching abroad presents a large number of possibilities, each offering high salaries and benefits that can seem to good to be true. To further complicate matters, most job ads are posted on the Internet and research has to be done online, where it can be hard to tell what the work abroad experience will really be like in person.
So how do you know which teach abroad jobs are legitimate and which aren’t? And beyond that, how do you decide which teach abroad job best suits you?
1) Know the law
As we’ve said many times on this blog, work abroad jobs are really dictated by visa laws, and your ability to earn income in a host country depends on the type of visa that you have. If you are thinking about teaching abroad, you generally have two options: get your own visa and find a job once you are in-country, or choose an organization that will sponsor your visa. The second choice is generally easier, and can expedite your teach abroad experience.
However, just because the teach abroad organization is doing most of the work, doesn’t mean that you don’t need to do some homework too. In fact, the best way to spot a teach abroad placement organization or school that may not be all the ad says is by their claims about getting visas – since most countries will require at least 30 days for a work visa, and organization that promises to deliver one faster than that may not be the best choice for you. However, knowing the rules of your host country can help you to make an informed choice.
2) Age matters
We’re not talking about the your age here, but the age group of your students. Some people are very comfortable teaching young children, while others may want to work with adults in a one-on-one setting. When choosing a teach abroad program, you should be aware of how English teachers are placed as early as possible. As an English teacher abroad, you may not have complete control over the type of classroom you in which will be teaching – many organizations simply place teachers to meet demand. Others allow the teacher to state their preference foe age group and learning level. If you feel like you will be most successful in a specific type of English learning classroom, make sure that the placement process of your school or teaching organization will support that once you are in the host country.
3) Certification also matters
There are many teach abroad jobs out there – search through Craigslist, Idealist or other work abroad search engines and you cannot avoid calls for English teachers abroad. Very often, previous experience teaching English is not an important component of your application to teach abroad. Similarly, not all placement agencies and schools require that you have TEFL or TOESL certification before you apply, and might even sponsor you to take the test. This could save you a lot of your own time and money upfront. However, already having certification and experience could actually help you command a higher hourly wage as an English teacher abroad. Many schools that hire your before you have taken the TEFL or TOESL may actually pay you less in the long run.
4) Wages should be negotiable.
One of the most important aspects of teaching abroad is wages – you need to know that you will be able to pay bills, eat and travel using the money that you make as an English teacher. When choosing the right teach abroad job, wages should be discussed with the school or placement organization upfront. Wages will vary greatly from country to country, region to region. Many English teachers in Japan can command up to $50 an hour for teaching English to businessmen. In developing countries, wages might be closer to $500 per month to teach young children. You’ll need to know not only what your wages are going to be, but whether or not they will increase based on performance, if you can work extra hours to earn more, or if you are allowed to pick up additional work through other clients. Many English teachers abroad have said that private tutoring can be a great way to earn some extra money abroad, but that this has to be checked with placement organization first.
One of the great things about working abroad in today’s world is the Internet is available to help bring different experiences together – when you are considering each of these aspects when choosing a teach abroad job, you might what to hear from actual teachers. There are many message boards and resources out there that allow you hear directly from people who have taught abroad, which can help you decide which teach abroad program is right for you.