Teachers Influence Lives

A significant number of people at some point in their career consider the appeal of teaching overseas. Interest in teaching abroad may reflect a desire to experience the exotic, a way to improve a stagnating career or aspirations to live and work in a new and challenging environment. 

Teachers take a lead role and have a natural way of building trust, winning friends, and lots of opportunities to speak of their faith and convictions.  Teaching shapes thoughts and builds steps to new ideas.

Opportunities for teaching overseas – what’s out there?

Scattered throughout the world are hundreds of international schools interested in employing American, Canadian and British-trained teachers and administrators.This network employs approximately 35,000 professionals and serves close to 350,000 students. About 220 of these schools are run under the auspices of the United States Department of Defense. Around 200 are associated with the United States Department of State and the remainder are autonomous institutions, sponsored by a variety of different groups.

Curriculum varies from school to school and reflects the needs of the student body. Some schools offer a typical American or British program. If the school has a high number of host-county students enrolled, courses are often offered in both English and the host country language. Others offer both American and British tracks.

A growing number of schools are making the International Baccalaureate (IB) available for talented, university-bound students and some institutions have developed their own unique educational program, culled from a variety of source.

Types of International Schools

Here’s a break-down of the various types of international schools offering teaching jobs overseas:

  • Foreign Universities – The Best for Making Contacts. These are schools operated by a nation and often need teachers in their English department.  Sometimes if a university is an English speaking university, they also look for professors in other fields.

  • Private English Schools – The Most Flexible. Their are many schools that simply focus on teaching English to prepare students for exams, or entrance to foreign universities.  These schools have different hiring practices so be aware of what you are signing up for. 

  • Independent International Schools – The Best Salary. There are approximately 400 American, British and other international schools in this world-wide network. Some may be operated by a single corporation. Others are sponsored by the United Nations and their affiliated agencies. Some are religious or proprietary schools with boarding facilities. The majority of these schools are private, non-profit institutions with considerable parental involvement in their governance. All offer instruction in the English language and there are usually American-trained teachers represented on the faculty. 

With the exception of corporation-affiliated schools located in hardship settings, where salaries and benefits are often extremely generous, most schools tend to pay staff teaching abroad sufficient to provide both an opportunity for saving and a reasonable standard of living in the host country. Books, computers, science equipment, and other resources vary widely among these schools.

Department of Defense Dependents Schools: A niche market

The U.S. Department of Defense operates around 200 elementary and secondary schools located primarily in NATO countries, usually on American military bases in Europe, Great Britain, the Mediterranean area, Japan, Korea, The Philippines, Cuba, Panama, Canada and other Atlantic region locations. Teachers and administrators for DoDDS schools are hired in the United States and candidates must have American training and certification. 

Once hired to teach abroad in a DoDDS school, you will be a U.S. government employee and most likely represented by a union. Your students will be the children of military and civilian personnel working on the base. Salaries are very competitive with those in the U.S. and the benefits are excellent. As federal employees, DoDDS teachers teaching overseas pay all federal and social security taxes required of citizens living within the United States.

U.S. Department of State Affiliated Schools For Teaching Overseas: Expanding influence

There are nearly 200 American overseas schools recognized by the U.S. State Department’s Office of Overseas Schools. Located in many of the world’s capital cities, most were established to serve the families of American citizens working abroad and offer a great option for teaching overseas.

Over the years, rapidly changing political and economic factors in many countries have had a strong impact on teaching abroad in these schools. Many are now educating children from many different countries. Several studies indicate that in the last ten years the typical American overseas school has experienced a drop in its American population from two thirds of the student body down to one-half or one-third of the total student enrollment. Thus, teaching overseas often means teaching international students.

Hiring requirements, salaries and benefits for teaching overseas in these schools vary considerably. Indeed, the schools themselves are extremely varied. Some have a student population of 3,000; others run an academic program with fewer than ten students. Some are located in countries with very difficult living conditions, others can be found in locales described as “paradise”. Some schools provide their international teaching staff free housing, a car for personal use, tax-free salaries, and a bonus upon completion of the contract. Others may offer only a subsistence salary and basic travel costs.

Keep in mind that Americans are generally entitled to a $70,000 exclusion of taxable income if they teach abroad for at least 11 months of the year. However, many European countries levy local income taxes on teachers teaching overseas immediately or after one, two or three years of residence. Even if your income for teaching abroad is excluded from tax, Americans who teach abroad must still file a U.S. tax return. Whether British or American, you should check the tax situation for teaching overseas concerning the country you will be teaching in and not make any assumptions.

Where to find an International Teaching Job

If you’re just beginning to learn more about teaching in an international school and you want to know where the teaching jobs overseas exist, what they pay and how to apply, there are a variety of resources for teaching overseas. How you proceed should depend on your goals. If you want to teach abroad in a specific country, or within a small region, your best bet is to get a list of American and international schools in those countries and write directly to them. Be forewarned that restricting the places you might teach abroad will limit your chances of finding a job. Candidates who maintain an open mind towards teaching overseas have a far better chance of being hired.  Start your search here

A few tips to overseas the job search.

For the best results in teaching overseas, we suggest the following sequence of activities:

  1. Start the process early. Review jobs for teaching overseas on www.tieonline.com and begin contacting schools in November for employment the following September.
  2. If you are interested in teaching abroad in one or two countries only, write directly to schools located in these regions. Forward your resume, cover letter, transcripts and at least two letters of recommendation.
  3. Try to determine as soon as possible the international teaching job you are qualified for by reviewing the ads online for teaching overseas mentioned previously. If you find a good option to teach abroad, send a cover letter, resume, two letters of recommendation and your university transcripts. Also indicate when and where you will be available for an interview.