Ask Tes Institute: which qualification do I need to teach abroad?

Teaching abroad, which qualification do I need?

We regularly hear about teachers being seduced into moving abroad by the allure of an international teaching career, often enhanced by tax and salary incentives, professional development opportunities, increased work-life balance and of course the thrill and adventure.  

The international schools market is a fast growing, dynamic sector with an increasing demand for high quality teachers. According to the International Schools Consultancy Group (ISC) data (January 2017) it is estimated that there will be 12,100 international schools worldwide by 2022, up from 8,646 in 2017, and roughly 6.9 million students enrolled in international schools by 2022, up from 4.6 million in 2017. This rapid growth in new schools and increased student numbers means that the demand for highly qualified teachers will only continue to grow all over the world.

International teaching jobs and the required qualifications can vary considerably based on a number of factors - the type of school, the country, the curriculum and the education rules and regulation in the region. For example, nearly all schools in Abu Dhabi require evidence of a least two years teaching experience or equivalent as part of their recruitment process.

We know that finding relevant information about the teaching qualification required for international roles can be extremely difficult - it’s a bit like pulling teeth. That’s why we’ve created this simple guide to help point you in the right direction.

The scenarios below are designed to give you an idea of the different types of qualification and to help you decipher what qualification might suit you. However, we highly recommend that you independently research the requirements for the country you are interested in moving to and that you contact a few schools in the region before making a decision on what qualification to pursue.

Scenario one: you’re working abroad and you already hold Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

QTS is the accepted standard to work as a teacher in England and Wales – fortunately though the qualification can still take you overseas:

  • British Schools Overseas (BSO) accredited schools recognise and accept QTS and with over 200 schools covering almost every corner of the globe, your qualification could take you as far afield as Turkey, Thailand or even Madagascar without having to gain any additional qualifications!
  • If there’s no BSO school in the location you’re hoping to move to, gaining an additional qualification, like an International Postgraduate Certificate in Education (iPGCE), could be useful. Our iPGCE is a recognised level 7 postgraduate academic qualification that could give you the opportunity to teach in a wider range of international schools

Scenario two: you’re currently working in a BSO school but you don’t hold a formal teaching qualification

Like many others you may already be working in a BSO school without a formal teaching qualification. If this is the case, you could gain QTS without leaving your current school and ultimately increase your salary, teaching responsibilities and career opportunities if you decide to move back to the UK. You can achieve this through:

  • Our unique Straight to Teaching programme, which allows Teaching Assistants and other relevant school support staff who have some existing teaching experience to build evidence against the Teachers’ Standards before being assessed and awarded QTS
  • OR – if you have at least two years’ of existing teaching experience our ‘Assessment Only’ route might suit you better. It’s a low cost way to up-skill, gain QTS and become a qualified teacher in as little as 12 weeks

Scenario three: You’re working abroad and you have a PGCE but you don’t hold QTS

Many teachers working overseas have already gained a PGCE qualification but you might not hold Qualified Teachers Status. If you’re planning to return to England or Wales in the future, it could find holding QTS extremely valuable. You can gain QTS via Tes Institute while you’re still working and earning overseas via our Straight to Teaching or Assessment Only programmes if you’re working in a BSO school. 

If you’re not in a BSO school Tes Institute can help you gain QTS in as little as 12 weeks (depending on existing experience) when you return to England.   

Scenario four: you’re currently working in an English speaking international school with no formal teaching qualification

For those working in an English speaking school, regardless of whether it follows the American, Cambridge or IB curriculum, you may be eligible to undertake an International iPGCE.  

You might be employed as an unqualified teacher, a Teaching Assistant or perhaps you’re volunteering at the school, as long as you meet the entry requirements, such as holding a degree of a 2:2 or above and your school is able to commit to giving you the required teaching time, over the course of the school year – you would be able to complete your iPGCE and increase your teaching responsibilities. This in turn would help you in future to move between different international schools in different countries.

Scenario five: you currently have a TEFL/CELTA teaching qualification

If you’re teaching English as a foreign language abroad and you want to further your teaching career with an internationally recognised Master’s level qualification our iPGCE could be your best option.

It consists of two core modules that blend applied teaching theory with practice, focusing on the relevant aspects of the professional role of a teacher as well as the aligned Teachers’ Standards. It’s important to note that the iPGCE qualification doesn’t lead to Qualified Teacher Status but it does help you to prepare a portfolio of evidence against The Teachers’ Standards. This means that once you return to the UK you would be able to gain QTS, with Tes Institute (at a discounted rate), through our ‘Assessment Only’ route.


To find out more about iPGCE, Straight to Teaching or Assessment Only, simply contact one of our enrolment advisors.