4 Ways You Can Teach Abroad

Ways to teach abroad

Most people think about teaching English as a Second Language when they consider teaching abroad. However, expatriate teaching opportunities are just as wide and varied as teaching opportunities in the U.S. Expat educational organizations typically hire teachers from elementary through graduate school to teach in a variety of disciplines. Such positions may be volunteer or paid, depending on the country and/or organization. Some expat teaching positions are for short-term, temporary periods, while others may be for one to three-year contract terms or longer.

So if you are interested in teaching abroad, check out the various ways you may be able to join the expat teaching community around the globe…

English as a Second Language

Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) is by far one of the most popular ways of becoming an expat teacher. Some of the better-paying ESL roles are typically filled by candidates with a bachelor’s degree in English, Education, ESL, or a related discipline and ESL certification. However, some educational institutes also hire bachelor’s degree holders of various disciplines who also have some type of ESL certification. Also, other companies will hire candidates with or without a bachelor’s degree and no ESL certification. Education and credentials vary by country and organization.

As with most other expat teaching opportunities, it is best to have a degree, certification, and experience in ESL prior to seeking expat teaching positions. These qualifications will usually get you in the door faster and allow you to negotiate higher pay. At a minimum, it is recommended that you have a bachelor’s degree prior to your first expat teaching assignment, even if you don’t have experience in ESL. You can get experience in certain countries while working on your certification as well. In fact, some employers will train you in ESL and reimburse the cost of the certification test. Once you have considerable experience, it will be easier for you to get better-paying or more desirable teaching opportunities in other regions that require a bachelor’s degree for ESL teaching jobs.

Public Schools

Expat teachers are highly sought after in public schools in many countries. Several countries hire expat teachers at every grade level in almost every discipline. The student population at public schools is generally local and immigrant students within the country. This means that they may not be fluent in English or be familiar with western culture, especially in the early years.

Working as an expat teacher in public schools in foreign countries typically requires a bachelor’s degree in education and a teaching license/certification. In essence, you will usually need the same qualifications that are required to teach in your home country. Again, more stringent requirements generally equate to better pay, benefits, and living conditions. So my advice is to be as prepared as possible.

It is also important to note that sometimes teaching credentials from specific countries are only accepted in certain expat teaching environments. This usually includes credentials from westernized nations such as the U.S., Canada, many European countries, Australia, and South Africa. So please read all the details before applying to expat teaching jobs to determine if they are the right fit for you.

International Schools

Expat teachers are usually the bulk of the teaching population in private, international schools. This is because these schools often cater to children of diplomats and corporate and other expat workers who are in the country. In some regions, a growing number of local children are also enrolling in international schools. Thus, the student population in these schools will typically be multicultural and very diverse.

Top-level teaching qualifications and experience are highly encouraged to get jobs in these schools. While a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license are usually the minimum qualifications to work in international schools, master’s degrees are often preferred. At any rate, it is virtually impossible to find teaching positions at international schools that do not minimally require a bachelor’s degree and teacher certification.

College and University

There is also space for college and university educators in the expat teaching arena. Many public, private, and international colleges and universities often seek international faculty to teach in their institutes of higher learning. Qualifications for teaching posts in this area typically requires a master’s degree or higher in a specific discipline, work experience, and teaching experience.

Education and work experience alone is usually not enough to get full-time teaching gigs in colleges and universities. Hiring managers at post-secondary education institutes typically want to see a significant amount of teaching experience on your curriculum vitae as well. They want to know that you are capable of teaching in your chosen profession even if you have a significant amount of industry experience. Typically three to five years of full-time teaching experience or a combination of full and/or part-time teaching experience is required at this level.


This is my last post in this series on working abroad. I have covered a number of topics to help prospective expats prepare for exciting international career opportunities. I will continue to share more information about expat career development in future articles.