The TESOL Job Hunt: Choosing Where to Teach
Admin - Feb 02 2016
Choosing to teach abroad is a big decision with many exciting prospects and daunting obstacles. Deciding where to go can be an even bigger challenge, as there are so many options! When making your list of where to start your job search, there are a number of things to consider, including culture, lifestyle and the teaching market.
Culture & Lifestyle
This is going to be your home for an extended period of time, so choosing a place that is going to work for you culturally is important. While we all want to challenge ourselves to step outside of our comfort zone (why else would we want to go on this tremendous adventure?!), finding a balance is important. You do not want to put yourself in a situation that you will not be able to handle long-term.
Are you comfortable dealing with the machismo of some Latin American countries? Can you handle yourself in a more culturally conservative country? Do you need certain amenities and luxuries to be happy? Are you looking for a large English-speaking expat community, or are you comfortable being one of a few native English speakers? These are all good questions to ask yourself when narrowing down your choices.
Though each country has their own hiring practices, nuances, and procedures for their TESOL teachers, there are some generalities that we can attribute to each region. Some things to consider:
- Hiring Procedures. This is the difference between post-departure in country, face-to-face interviews versus pre-departure interviewing and hiring, which means you would have your job lined up before you get on the plane.
- Peak Hiring Seasons. This refers to the time(s) of year when teacher contracts expire and schools are looking for new teachers.
- Salaries. Of course! Different regions will have different standards for TESOL teacher salaries. Some markets can be very lucrative, while others are more break-even markets, in which you earn enough to support yourself and travel around the region, but you most likely will not be able to save a lot of money or make payments back home. This is important to consider based on your financial commitments and lifestyle.
- Contracts Lengths. How long do you want to be abroad? Are you looking to just go for a short stint of international life, or are you looking for something for 1, 2 or 10 years?
- Visas. Visas can be tricky, and need to be considered on a personal basis. In some countries, it is fairly standard for TESOL teachers to stay and work on a tourist visa, renewing when necessary by simply crossing a border. In others, visas are arranged prior to departure and set up through your hiring school. Are you comfortable working on a tourist visa or do you want the security of a sponsored work visa?
- Educational Requirements. There are certain countries that will require a 4-year degree (does not have to be in education!). For those who have not completed this level of education, there are still plenty of opportunities out there, but some countries may be off limits.
Of course, there are a million factors to consider when deciding where to go teach. Each country has its own unique appeal as well as challenges, so doing your own research is really the best way to narrow down your choices. You can check out web resources like Transitions Abroad to get started.