Teaching in North America

Opportunities to teach in North America may be scarcer than they were, but once you take the USA, Canada, The Caribbean and Bermuda into account, they do still exist. Apart from established exchange schemes, those looking for teaching posts are likely to either be wanting to teach in one of the international schools or because their partner either lives or works there. 

One of the points made repeatedly on the TES Teaching Overseas forum is that getting a job in the US is tricky to do on your own. It’s much easier to work through a teaching programme such as VIF, Teach For America, Teachers Council or the British Council’s Fulbright teacher exchange scheme.

Another alternative is to apply to the British school groups such as World Class Learning Schools. You’ll find these groups advertise regularly in the TES.

Are you qualified to teach in state schools in North America?

Schooling is a State and provincial activity across mainland North America, and rules about the recognition of overseas qualifications vary between individual States. Most State government web sites will have details on what is required for registration. The US Department of Education has links to all the State Education Agencies on its website and the University of Kentucky has compiled a handy guide to the certification requirements of 50 States.

To get certification for your State you will need transcripts of your degree program and all your paperwork to submit to the State teaching council. The teaching council will assess your qualifications and advise you on any further exams you need to take to secure your certification.

You may have to complete various Praxis exams; the Praxis Series tests are part of the teaching certification process required by many states and for professional licensing organisations. You can find more details on the kinds of questions asked in these tests on the Praxis website.

A contributor to the TES Teaching Overseas forum who has been through this application process explains how tricky the application process can be: “Some of the best states according to pay, satisfaction, and academics (such as New York, California, Washington, Vermont) will absolutely not hire you unless you have a teaching certificate recognized by their own state. This means you need to check if they accept a teaching degree from the UK. If you already have some classroom experience, then your chances do increase considerably. And if you need to send in paperwork be warned these processes usually take many months to complete before you can even begin to apply.”

Applying to international schools in North America

Another option available to you is to apply to international and private/independent schools. There are several private school groups that follow broadly a British curriculum, such as World Class Learning Schools. Many of these schools require 2-3 years of teaching experience but there may be others that are willing to consider NQTs. Find out more from the Council of British International Schools.

Private/independent schools do not necessarily require the state teaching licenses. One teacher, who worked in such as school in America explains, “I worked at private schools for 15 years and met many British and other foreign teachers who were not certified to teach, but got jobs because of their university degree and/or previous teaching experience.”

However you proceed, make sure any school you contact will support you fully for visa application.

Pay and conditions for teachers in North America

Wages, conditions and standards of living vary significantly from state to state for example a teacher in the North East earns significantly more than a teacher in the South East.

Teaching won’t make you rich, but it provides a comfortable lifestyle for many. Working in state schools you can expect to be paid on the same salary scale as US teachers – somewhere between $30,000 to $50,000 USD.

However, with no universal health care, insurance is an extra cost to be factored into the budget although it may be partially offset by cheaper housing costs in many parts of the continent.

Teaching jobs in North America advertised on TES

View all teaching jobs in North America

Check out all the teaching jobs currently advertised in the United States

Find all the teaching jobs currently available in Bermuda

Don’t forget to set yourself up with a job alert on TES so that you get details of the latest jobs emailed directly to you when they’re advertised on TES Jobs  

Useful links for teaching in North America

VIF International Education

Through this programme you can serve as a full-time classroom teacher in primary and secondary schools in the United States on a three year cultural exchange visa.

Teachers Council

Offers programmes for international educators to teach in the US.

Fulbright teacher exchange programme

Run by the British Council in collaboration with the US Department of State, this programme offers outstanding UK teachers the opportunity to trade places with an American teacher. To apply you must be a qualified teacher or equivalent with five years full-time teaching experience in the UK.

World Class Learning Schools

A network of private schools in the US who cover the international curriculum delivered by British-trained teachers

University of Kentucky

Find out the certification requirements of 50 US States


The Praxis Series tests are part of the teaching certification process required by many states and professional licensing organisations

US Department of Education

Includes links to the State Education Agencies

Conversations on the TES Teaching Overseas forums

Interesting discussion about teaching in America

Advice for an NQT looking to teach in America

More advice for a trainee teacher on the options available in the US