There’s that old catch-22 that gets trotted out time and time again.
“You can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job.”
If you’re wondering whether it’s really possible to get hired to teach abroad without any experience, you’re not alone! In fact, that’s one of the most commonly asked questions we get at Teach Away.
You’re in the right place, though, as we’re about to answer it for you.
So let’s get started with the quick answer:
The good news is that, even without any teaching experience, there are literally thousands upon thousands of opportunities available for fluent English speakers looking to travel and teach abroad.
All you need to do is figure out where you’d most like to teach, what kind of overseas English teaching job you’re looking for and what qualifications you need to get there.
Do you actually need experience to teach English abroad?
Take it from me - your lack of teaching experience doesn’t make snagging a great-paying job teaching abroad an impossible feat. By any stretch of the imagination.
However, there are two basic requirements to teach English abroad that you can expect most overseas employers to impose on any aspiring ESL teachers. Those are:
- English fluency
- Bachelor’s degree (any major)
While it could certainly help you get a job, you don’t need to be a certified teacher or have a degree in education (or English, or linguistics for that matter) to teach English abroad.
Of course, having a teaching license from your home country and/or teaching experience is always a plus when looking for jobs teaching abroad. Especially if you’re interested in teaching in the Middle East, where requirements tend to be a little more strict.
Essentially, the more you have on your resume that relates to the opportunities you’re applying for, the more desirable you are to employers. But for anyone who has their sights set on teaching in Asia, Europe or South America, professional teaching experience is not the be all and end all.
How about teaching abroad without certification?
This really varies, but TEFL certification is becoming more and more of a basic requirement.
We do advise you to do your research into the typical qualifications to teach in different countries, though. Each of these will vary from job to job and country to country, so make sure you do your research!
But all in all, if you’re looking to make yourself as hireable as possible, it’s worth bearing in mind that preference tends to be given to job candidates who have some sort of ESL certification.
And the most commonly recognized qualification for anyone interested in teaching English abroad in a 120-hour TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate.
Remember, because the application process for teaching abroad is done online, your employers won’t necessarily get to meet you in person before handing a whole classroom full of English language learners over to you.
They’ll want to feel confident that they’re hiring someone they can trust to do the job and do it well. You can build this trust and show them that you’re both prepared and eager to do the job by getting TEFL certified.
You’ve likely come across a variety of different TEFL certification courses, online, in person, or in the destination country of your choice. Choosing the right TEFL course can definitely be overwhelming. Been there, done that!
The main takeaway is to find a TEFL course that is:
- Recognized by hiring schools abroad
- Equips you with knowledge and skills you need for the foreign classroom
Of course, the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures is a fantastic one, but let’s face it, ultimately you need to be able to do what you’re being paid to do. And that’s teach! So you’ll want to find a TEFL course that is the best bang for your buck, while also preparing you for the job.
Recommended reading: Why you can't teach English abroad without certification >
Tips for tailoring your resume when you don’t have teaching experience.
Okay, so now you know that the experience needed to teach abroad varies. Can you still use the experience you do have to help you find a job overseas? The answer’s yes!
What many employers are really looking for are transferable skills that will come in handy when in the classroom. Maybe you don’t have real-world classroom experience just yet, but having any kind of experience like those listed below is hugely advantageous. Stuff like:
- Experience working with children
- Experience traveling or living abroad
- Industry-specific experience (like IT or business English)
- Volunteer experience
- Experience in a classroom setting
For example, if you’ve worked as a camp counselor or a tutor, that will give you an edge because you’ve already gained skills on how to work with children.
Or if you have experience traveling or volunteering abroad, employers will feel confident that you won’t get homesick or quit halfway through your contract. And don’t forget, you’ve been a student yourself! You already have experience in the classroom and know the drill!
Plus, if you have specialized knowledge that focuses on a specific industry or learning environment, like teaching business English or adult learners, be sure to emphasize that on your application. Employers are looking to see that you have skills related to the students you will be teaching and showcasing those abilities will go a long way to helping you find a great job teaching abroad.
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teaching jobs around the world.
International teaching jobs that don’t require experience.
However, there are lots of places, like Japan, Thailand, Costa Rica, Spain or France, that will happily hire someone without any prior experience. As long as they’re TEFL certified and from an English-speaking country, that is.
If you’ve got your TEFL and degree in tow, it’s also easy to teach English somewhere like China without any previous teaching experience.
Watch this video: Requirements for teaching English in China >
Again, while you might not have any professional teaching experience, one crucial way you to ensure you find a great opportunity is by taking a reputable TEFL certification course.
Next steps for finding a teaching job overseas without experience.
You can absolutely find an opportunity to teach abroad without any teaching experience, travel the world, and get paid well while doing it!
Countries and schools that are hiring English teachers are hiring you because you already speak English, not because you have decades of teaching experience. Of course, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to be prepared to actually teach the language you know so well.
That said, if you’re looking to gain some teaching experience before committing to a teaching contract abroad, then there are definitely great opportunities to teach English online.
Teaching English online is a great way to earn some extra cash in your spare time, all while gaining some relevant experience teaching English in other countries without actually having to fly there!
Recommended reading: Want to teach abroad? Try teaching English online first. >
Or, you could always check out local postings where you live now. There are a lot of opportunities available to someone who speaks English and has a TEFL certification right near their home. Just check out local tutoring centers or services offered to those learning English as a second language. This is a great way to build your experience and find out if you’re ready for the classroom abroad!
So, long story short, you don’t need teaching experience to get a job teaching abroad. But the more training and experience you have, the better your teaching contract will be.
As a next step, try asking yourself these questions:
- What experiences do I have that would be relevant to teaching abroad?
- Have I traveled before?
- Where do I want to teach abroad?
- Am I ready to teach English abroad?
- Do I want to teach adults or children?
Asking yourself questions like these will help you determine what opportunity you’re looking for and what you have to offer as a potential candidate in the TEFL industry without prior teaching experience.
If you’re passionate about traveling and experiencing different cultures, then teaching English abroad is a great way to do just that, while funding your living expenses. And it’s really not as much work as you might think, we promise. It’s time to stop making excuses and take the first step. To help get started, check out some of Teach Away’s current ESL job postings - no experience necessary. Good luck!