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How soon can I teach abroad?

Our friends at University of Toronto TEFL Online published a great post about how soon you can teach abroad:

You’ve decided to teach abroad…let the adventure begin! But hold on before squeezing your life into a tiny suitcase and booking a cheap flight, because the process is not always as straightforward as it might seem. Whether you’re looking to teach English abroad or teach your chosen subject specialization, making the big move can take anything from a few weeks to a few months and even over a year if you want to secure the job you really want. How long it will take to prepare to teach abroad depends on your answers to the following questions:

Do you have the right qualifications to teach abroad?

If not, you will have to allow some time to take a course, which could take anywhere from a few months to a few years depending on the kind of teaching career you’d like. To get a well paying job with a good school, you’ll need to set yourself apart from hundreds of other teachers. The best way to do this is with qualifications from reputable institutions that make you stand out. The kinds of teaching jobs available abroad can be split into two categories which require different kinds of qualifications:

  • ESL jobs: Positions teaching English in language colleges, and sometimes schools. Although you don’t need experience, many institutions will require teachers to have some teacher training under their belt in the form of a TEFL certification. A TEFL certification is considered the standard for applying to teaching jobs overseas and can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete.

  • Certified teacher jobs: Positions teaching children and young adults a variety of subjects in public and private schools. These kinds of jobs normally require a Bachelor’s degree in Education, or a degree in a specialist subject, and require you to hold a teaching credential. It takes several years of study and practical teaching to become a fully certified teacher.

It is important to note that although you don’t need any teaching experience or formal teaching qualifications to teach English abroad, a lot of countries require you to have a Bachelor’s degree in order to work there legally. You should search the work visa requirements of the countries you would like to travel to.

What region are you interested in teaching?

Some countries are well known for having strict requirements that must be met to work as a teacher there. The Middle East is known for requiring a higher level of qualification, such as a BEd or other formal teaching qualification, and requiring candidates to have more experience as a teacher. This has gained it a reputation for being a difficult region in which to find a teaching position. If you’re set on moving to Dubai, for example, it might be worthwhile working on gaining your teaching experience for a few years to improve your chances of employment. Asia tends to be more relaxed when it comes to teaching job requirements. Jobs with language schools and some public and private schools will happily welcome applicants with a basic TEFL certification. As an enormous country with a booming population, demand for English teachers is especially high in China, and therefore there is also somewhat less competition for jobs and a better chance of scoring a last minute position if you’re keen to start soon.

When do schools in your desired country hire teachers?

True, there is no shortage of opportunities out there to suit your timeline — whether you’re looking for a short notice role or whether you’re still saving up the money, or waiting until you graduate. However, you should take into consideration the time of year you’d like to find a teaching job abroad. If you’re hoping to work at a public or private school overseas, check when the school year starts in the country you’d like to live in. In the Middle East and Asia, this can be January or April. Language colleges for children and adults may hire teachers year-round, but tend to concentrate their hiring at the start of the school year, and mid way through the school year.

How soon would you like to teach abroad?

If you fill qualification requirements, there is a good chance you’ll be able to find a good position at short notice. There is growing global demand for English teachers throughout the year and with some basic teacher training under your belt, you will be a desirable candidate for many schools. If you have a longer time line – perhaps you need to save or finish your studies – you can also make this work for you too. Plenty of schools hire for their next intake up to a year in advance. Registering with a teacher recruitment agency, such as Teach Away, is also a good idea as you will be notified about any relevant opportunities that come up in the future.

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