Surprisingly, this is one of my most frequently asked questions: where do your find your teaching jobs abroad? Many people think you need to go through an agency, or that I’ve used a company to find all of my jobs. Many believe that it is a difficult process to find a teaching job abroad but I couldn't agree less. Finding teaching jobs around the world is pretty easy if you know what you want, and where to look.
When I first looked into teaching abroad there were plenty of jobs advertised for popular destinations like Abu Dhabi and China, but I wanted something unique and I was specifically looking for a rural teaching placement. Basically, I wanted to find the most rural teaching job I could - and I’m pretty sure I came close when I decided to move to Bhutan. This was literally just a google search of something like “rural teaching job” and my journey began through Teach in Bhutan. Words cannot even begin to describe what an amazing experience this was and I am still in awe of it all today. I would highly recommend teaching in Bhutan to anyone who is qualified and looking to experience something that so few have access to.
Next, I was fixated on the destination. I had always dreamed of living in Costa Rica and came across my future school on Volunteer South America while actually looking for a volunteer position, because everyone had told me it was impossible to get a paid teaching job in Central America. After finding an international school in Costa Rica through their volunteer portal, I noticed they were in need of qualified teachers and the rest just fell into place.
After these experiences I wasn't really sure about where I wanted to go. I routinely scroll through a great website for job listings called Dave’s ESL Cafe and found a job advertised with the word to my heart: rural. For this job it wasn't that I wanted to come to Vietnam specifically but rather that I wanted to experience a culture in its rural form instead of the modernised version. Through Dave’s ESL Cafe, I had access to my language centre directly.
The most difficult part of finding a job for me, was knowing what I was looking for. When it comes to the end of a teaching contract and I need to decide what to do next, I often spend hours searching simply because I’m not focused and I don’t have a clear idea of my goal. So, this would be your first step.
Get clear on what you want
It can be a daunting task to sift through hundreds of jobs if you don’t even know what you’re looking for. Perhaps you’re drawn to a specific country or area like Southeast Asia, or maybe you’d really love to work in a rural community in the Amazonian Jungle. Once you know what you’re looking for, it’ll be easier to find the right fit for you and you won’t be wasting anyones time applying for jobs and doing interviews you know you’re not even going to take.
Finding your dream teaching job
Finding jobs are the easy part once you know what you want. There are two ways to find your dream teaching job.
Option 1: Buy a plane ticket and go to your country of choice. This would have to be a country where ESL is commonly taught - I wouldn't suggest getting on a plane to Australia planning to work there because you’ll be in for a nasty surprise at immigration! Countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Nicaragua and Costa Rica are safe options. Next, all you’ll need to research is language centres in your area of choice, and get your teaching resume to the right people. You’re even more likely to be hired because you’re already in the country and the employer can speak with you directly. You’ll also be able to see first hand what situation you’ll be getting yourself into. It’s a win-win, really!
Option 2: Apply online before you leave. The plus side to this is that you might be able to score a free flight so this is a good option if you’re low on cash initially. Many of us also prefer the security of knowing that we’re going to have an income straight away. Here are some job search engines I use for finding teaching jobs abroad:
Dave’s ESL Cafe is a long time favourite mine. I routinely scroll through the international job boards simply for fun to see the options that are out there. I found my current teaching job in Vietnam through this search engine. There are also tons of forums with information about schools, countries and scams so you know you’re in a community that look after you.
Teach Anywhere is an agency I joined when I first began looking for jobs abroad, and they list jobs in international schools around the world for qualified teachers. Although I never accepted any jobs through them, my interaction with them and their willingness to assist me was a positive experience.
I am fairly new to using ESL101 but have recently been in contact with them about various positions. I originally inquired about a specific position that I was unable to take, and have since received regular updates about other interesting jobs that are suited to my qualifications. What I like about this job board is that the listings are different with positions in less familiar places like Brunei and Kurdistan. I am also pleased to see variety with listings for international schools and language centres alike. I even asked questions about bringing my rescue dog into the country which they were more than willing to assist with.
These are the main guys in the international teaching community. Search Associates is an exclusive search engine for qualified educators looking to teach in an international school, and they list some of the best schools in the world. The are high paying jobs that reap a serious amount of benefits. They host various job fairs at locations around the globe which you are only permitted to attend if an invitation is received. Many of the best international schools will only recruit new teachers through Search Associates.
Volunteer South America is the search engine I mentioned earlier and the one I used to find a teaching job in Costa Rica (accidentally). They have tons of volunteer and even some paid positions throughout Central and South America. My advice for looking for jobs in these areas would be to pick a area and research schools to contact directly, as job opportunities here can be limited and under paid.
WorldTeach has jobs in locations that are high on my teaching bucket list and should be on yours too if you're looking for something different and rural. With programs in Namibia, Samoa, the Marshall Islands and Morocco - it's an off the beaten path dream. These programs only apply to qualified teachers and they are volunteer positions, so don't expect to be saving all that much.
EPIK is program specifically for teachers wanting to work in Korea. I know of numerous people who have taught through them and it is an easy and safe option for your first Asia experience. It makes the list simply because of the sheer volume of teachers who have gone through this program.
I know this one is getting very specific, but I cannot recommend this experience enough - I might be a little biased because this is possibly my most favourite place in the world. Teach in Bhutan aims to get qualified teachers to rural areas in Bhutan in order to positively impact the overall education of the country. Bhutan is a magical place and one so few people get to experience without a tour guide and restrictions to what they get to see. As a teacher in Bhutan, you are given total freedom and access to an ancient way of living and being. Go to Bhutan!
Don’t get scammed
Although I haven't had any bad experiences, I know that with everything we need to practice caution. Get everything promised to you in writing and don't pay anything to a school or company - if they ask for any money it’s a clear sign that you are getting scammed. I like to look up the schools website, search them on Google and find others who know that the organisation exists. Ask to speak to other teachers of the school and make sure you get to speak to the employer beforehand.
Even though coming to Vietnam was my fourth teaching contract and third country abroad, it was my first experience doing it alone. With a father as a former police officer in South Africa, you could say I’m a tad paranoid about safety. I made sure to know the location I was going to, I let my family know where I was and I bought a sim card at the airport before getting into the car with anyone. Practice common sense and listen to your gut, if you’re feeling uneasy its probably better to practice caution.