So you want to teach abroad. Perhaps you’re already a licensed career teacher, looking for a new direction in your career. Or maybe you simply want to have an adventure while trying out the teaching profession for the first time.
Either way, a move abroad can seem quite daunting. Relocating to a new country is no small thing. So where do you start? How do you pull off “the great escape” and get to a new teaching job in a new country as safely, smoothly, and successfully as possible? Well, there are three main ways that people do this.
Using a recruiter
Prospective foreign teachers and the schools that hire them often face the same problem: a lack of knowledge about exactly how to get a teacher form country A to country B. This is where recruitment agencies come in. Recruiters have expertise in immigration processes and the logistics of international hiring and relocation.
Recruiters use this expertise to help foreign schools get in touch with teachers who want to go abroad. A recruitment firm can help you get job interviews and facilitate your hire and relocation… for a fee. Some recruiters charge this fee to the school that hires you. Other recruiters charge the fee to the hired teacher instead.
Although you may be willing to pay a fee for placement in a good job within a nation that intrigues you, it’s industry standard for recruiters to collect their fees from employers, not from job applicants. So be wary of recruiters who charge fees, especially particularly high ($500+) fees. Recruiters who place the financial burden on job hunters often engage in other questionable or fraudulent practices.
Recruiters are easy to find. Web-based ESL job lists are dominated by ads from recruiters, and many large overseas recruitment companies have their own websites. Some companies (such as Footprints Recruiting) are multinational while others (such as Access South Korea Now) place teachers in just one country or region.
Contacting schools directly
Recruitment can take a lot of the headaches, hassle, and personal research out of your job hunt… and your employer’s search for a teacher like you. But there is a downside to recruitment—teacher recruitment agencies create a certain degree of separation between applicants and schools, minimizing communication between you and your future employer during the hiring process.
As a result, getting a job through recruitment increases the risk of a poor match between teacher and school. This can lead to a very unsatisfying experience for both the teacher and the school administration for the duration of the teaching contract. Sometimes all parties involved are in for a long unpleasant ordeal, as recruitment-based teaching contracts usually last from one to three years.
Because of this, a lot of aspiring overseas teachers prefer to make direct personal contact with the schools they might apply to. There are several ways to do this. Online job boards are one way, although online overseas teaching job lists tend to focus on ESL, and again tend to be dominated by recruiters rather than individual schools.
To talk directly to foreign schools that offer non-ESL subject-area teaching jobs for certified teachers, you can comb very carefully through ESL boards (which contain some direct-hire non-ESL international teaching jobs), or you can subscribe to pay sites that specialize in international school job listings, such as Joy Jobs or Tie Online.
There are offline “real world” options for direct contact with foreign schools as well. You can attend international school hiring fairs. One of the largest ones in the US is held annually in Iowa and there are others elsewhere.
You may also simply book a flight to the country you want to teach in, and start knocking on the doors of schools once you arrive. In “off the beaten path” countries such as Cambodia ore Peru, sometimes showing up in person is the best or only way to get gainful local teaching employment. Public listings of foreign schools can help you know where to go in such an in-person job hunt. One really great listing for Latin American countries is the LA Joblist. This list is free, while other listings can cost money.