How to Start a Career as an International Teacher
If you’re a high school student deciding what to major in, a college student looking for a career to jump into, or a teacher looking to move abroad, follow these steps to start an international teaching career.
Get Qualified and Certified
Most international schools require at least two out of three of the following: a Bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution, a valid teaching certification in the subject area you’d like to teach, and a minimum of two years full-time K-12 experience. Although you may find a job without a teaching certification, more doors will be open to you and salaries higher if you get certified. In the United States, teacher certification procedures vary from state to state. They usually require post-graduate level training and observation. In some states, like Massachusetts, you can get a 5-year preliminary teaching license after completing a series of examinations in English proficiency and your subject area.
Some international schools will hire fresh graduates, but many prefer 2 or more years of experience. International experience and travel is a plus. Think about what type of curriculum you’d like to teach. International schools generally offer either American, British (GCSE) or International Baccalaureate (IB) programs.
Join a Placement Company
Many schools prefer to hire through placement companies such as International Schools Services (ISS) or Search Associates. These companies provide a database of both schools and potential candidate, and they also arrange hiring fairs around the world. You will need to pay a fee when you apply, and be sure to apply only if you meet the company’s requirements. Once accepted, you will have access to information about international schools, the salary packages they offer, and current vacancies.
Set up Interviews
You can contact international schools via email in the hopes of setting up interviews. Many administrators prefer to interview candidates face to face, but some will do interviews over phone or internet based called. The best way to get interviews is to attend a recruitment fair sponsored by your placement company. Your application fee generally covers the cost of admission to one fair, but you must secure an invitation well in advance for the fair you’d like to attend. For example, in January 2009 in Bangkok there will be a Search Associates fair at the Royal Orchid Sheraton. 90 schools and 400 candidates will meet for the purpose of schools filling vacancies.
Do Your Research
As a candidate, you need to do your research. Know about the different curriculum options as well as information about the countries and schools you’d like to work in. Read about culture, cost of living and travel information. Join an online expat forum to read about other expatriates’ experiences in different cities around the world. Pay for a $29 yearly subscription to International Schools Review to see what other teachers are saying about the schools you’re thinking of applying to. Recruiters want to hire candidates who are conscientious and well informed about the curriculum, the school, and the host country and culture.
All the best to you as you consider a career in international teaching!