How to Find Teaching Jobs Abroad: Summer and Full-Time
Are you interested in teaching as well as a genuine international experience? Working in education overseas could be the career choice for you.
For Jason Dillon, a current student at the Harvard Kennedy School, teaching abroad allowed him financial and professional opportunities that would have been much more difficult to achieve in the United States. After working as a special education teacher in California, his journey started when he found a book in the library called How to Travel for Free. His experience in independent international schools spans from Venezuela to Beijing, and granted him opportunities to be a leader in the expatriate community in which he worked – even serving as the international school principal in Venezuela after only a short time working at the school.
“The best decision I ever made was to go overseas,” Jason said. “International schools are really good at providing you with a safe environment, and they work hard to orient you in a foreign country. As a teacher you get to explore but you don’t feel like a tourist, and there’s a core group of expatriates there with you doing the same thing.” While a lot of schools are great for professional development, they also carry financial perks. “As far as salary benefits, this is the best deal you’re going to get as a teacher,” he said. “You don’t pay United States’ taxes, and your housing is provided in most cases.”
Before trying to find a job at an international school, Jason mentioned the importance of having a teacher certification, and two years of teaching experience in the United States. “Schools don’t prioritize applicants who haven’t taught before, because having teachers in their first year of teaching as well as their first year in a foreign country is tough.”
Jamie Bruce, the current director of education for WorldTeach, told a different story of how she ended up abroad. She decided to go into education overseas because she wanted to “get dirty with the world’s problems.” After finding an ESL (English as a Second Language) program in Egypt as an alternative to the PeaceCorps, she discovered that her “bossy nature” was instinctive in the classroom. In her position at a language school in Cairo, she was paid a comfortable salary that enabled her to travel as much as she wanted. Although she had not completed the recommended two years of teaching experience in the United States, she was able to work overseas because the jobs happened to be completely in flux. “A last minute job opened and I sort of slipped through the cracks,” she said. Later, she received a job in Djibouti through an NGO.
While even a two-year contract abroad can seem like a long time, Jamie stressed the importance of its duration. “You don’t realize how much culture affects you until you’re separated from it,” she said. “Signing a two-year contract sounds huge, but it takes a while to carve out a life. It takes a little while to acclimate yourself.”
Julia Eger, ’14