As an English speaker you have a valuable skill that people all over the world want and need and that very fact is why so many people each year are saying no to a traditional desk job and instead seeking a career less ordinary half-way around the world.
Image Credit: Korean School Children
If you are struggling to find a job in the UK, or you just don’t feel inspired to start a regular career; becoming an English teacher over-seas is an excellent option. But how do you even start? Securing a job in Malaysia isn’t the same as finding one down the road.
Step 1 – Consider Your Options
This article is about working in Asia, but in reality there are options in most countries around the world and perhaps the biggest challenge is figuring out where you want to go and what you want to do.
Some countries are popular with gap year students and volunteering and others attract a more serious crowd of career minded teachers. On top of that, different countries have different levels of demand and different career and salary opportunities.
Start by writing a shortlist of possible countries and research each one, consider things like:
- How easy are jobs to find, is it competitive?
- What qualifications / experience are required?
- What are salaries like compared to cost of living?
- How much independence are TEFL teachers given?
- How easy is it to get a working VISA?
One thing many people forget to consider is what life is like as a teacher in each country. In some countries you may be given more freedom to do your job, whilst in others you may simply be treated like a speaking clock.
Step 2 – Get Qualified
In most countries you will need a degree and a TEFL certificate. If you don’t have a degree your options may be limited, so do your research and find out where you can go. If you don’t already have a TEFL certificate, you can find courses online or in some colleges (depending on where you live), doing a TEFL course online is easiest though.
As a bare minimum you just need a TEFL certificate, but there are other courses which also include teaching experience. Taking a slightly more comprehensive course can pay off if it helps you to find a better job.
Step 3 – Job Search
Whilst you are working on your qualifications you might also want to start thinking about finding a job. This part of the process will depend a lot on what country you have decided to go to.
Every country has a different way of doing things. In the more popular countries, where TEFL teaching is quite common, you may find applying online is perfectly acceptable, but in other countries you may have to job hunt in person.
Which option you take depends a lot on how risk averse you are:
Ask your TEFL provider
Ask the people who gave you your TEFL certificate for advice about finding work in your chosen area, they probably already know relevant websites where you can find work and may point you in the right direction.
Just like at home, job agencies can help you to find jobs by acting as an intermediary. If you make sure that you are working with a reputable agency, they will be able to point you towards the best jobs and away from schools which might mess you around.
Most countries have jobs boards and once you know where you are going you can either search for TEFL jobs in that country, or even target specific cities. Job availability may be patchy unless you are heading for a popular city in Japan or Korea, but keep looking anyway.
You can also bypass jobs boards and go to schools direct. This is easiest in countries where internet access is common. Do some research and find the main schools in that area, then simply email them or write to them.
Step 4 – Apply In Person (Optional)
If it’s your first time, getting on a plane and flying half way around the world with no job, no home and no plan is scary, but it’s a great way to kick off your new career and build some confidence.
For every school there is always a risk that candidates will let them down and leave them short-staffed, so if you show up in person, you will be a much stronger proposition for them.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Find all the schools in your chosen city
- Make a map and do research on each
- Work on your CV and print several copies
- Get a flight to your chosen city
- Go visit each school, ask to see the headmaster
- Ask for a job
Going in person shows a real commitment and if you want the very best opportunities this is a great way to cut through the competition, but it’s a risk that not everyone wants to take.
Step 5 – Enjoy It!
Becoming a TEFL teacher is an amazing way of life and it can become a life-long career if you want it to. Its hard work and you won’t enjoy all of it, but if you go with the right attitude you might have the time of your life.
About The Author
This guest post was written by Robert who works for ICAL TEFL, travels the world and loves working with kids. Visit his website to learn how do your TEFL course online.