Four common misconceptions about finding a teaching job abroad

If you’ve never taught abroad, separating the facts from the fake news might seem impossible. Here are four common misconceptions

Tes Editorial

Common Misconceptions About Finding Work Abroad

1. You can only teach English as a foreign language (TEFL) in schools abroad

Absolutely not. According to International School Consultancy research, there are currently 3,586 British curriculum schools abroad, all of which will teach pretty much the same subjects as schools in the UK.

Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) tends to require a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) or Trinity Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) qualification and/or an MA in applied linguistics or English language teaching.

Teachers with these qualifications can work in language schools and in some government or public British and American schools abroad.

2. You can secure a teaching job abroad with just a degree

To be eligible to work at the vast majority of schools abroad, it is highly recommended that you are a fully qualified teacher with a teaching qualification or licence from a reputable university, such as England’s Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), Scotland’s Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE), the Irish BEd/MA in education, or a US state teaching licence.

Teachers who have trained in England and Wales should also have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Moreover, it is advisable to have finished the statutory 12-month programme known as the “induction for newly qualified teachers” (NQT) that comes after the successful completion of the teaching qualification.

As countries around the world now insist on employing fully qualified teachers, there are fewer jobs available for unqualified teachers. However, there are still some opportunities. Some language, primary and secondary schools in Asia and the Middle East employ native English speakers with a degree from a recognised university.

Moreover, some ministries of education, national education councils and government schools overseas recruit teachers without a full teaching qualification, especially if the role involves teaching a trade or a vocational subject.

3. You must have at least two years’ teaching experience in order to secure a teaching job abroad

In the past, few schools abroad would have taken on NQTs, but fortunately this is changing. NQTs can now be employed at many British schools around the world, including in the Middle East and Asia.

To have the best chance of securing a teaching job in the most prestigious schools abroad (especially the not-for-profit schools) with the best contracts and higher pay, it is highly recommended that you are a fully qualified teacher. You’ll also need a recognised teaching qualification or licence, QTS status, to have completed your NQT year and have at least two years of teaching experience in the curriculum you have trained in.

Some schools also prefer international school experience, but this tends to be a desirable requirement rather than an essential one.

To accept NQTs for their induction and for the induction to be recognised as valid by the UK government, a British school abroad must be a member of the British School of the Middle East (BSME) or Council of British International Schools (COBIS) and have successfully completed a British Schools Overseas (BSO) inspection.

The school then has to work with an “appropriate body” to carry out the NQT induction programme.

4. The international teaching job recruitment period starts in April

Schools abroad start advertising their jobs so much earlier than we may be used to in the UK, Ireland, Australia and the US. These countries tend to recruit with one or two school terms’ notice, but many schools abroad ask their current staff about their intentions in October, so they have an idea of recruitment numbers in November. 

Many of the best schools in Asia actually finish their recruitment for the next academic year by November. Moreover, recruitment for leadership and senior management roles start from October onwards.

Recruitment tends to start a bit later in the Middle East, where schools begin advertising their teaching positions from January onwards for the next academic year.