Top 5 considerations
1. Make sure you (and your partner/family) are ready to go. Do you have the travel bug or yearn for adventure in unknown parts of the world? Do you want to experience more than the same daily routine? Do you have a great sense of humour, flexibility and the ability to cope with any situation? Do you feel secure in your teaching practice? If you can honestly answer yes to these questions, then you are the sort of person who will have a successful and rewarding time internationally. Relocating overseas is an experience that changes your life, in both expected and surprising ways, but it is not for the faint-hearted.
2. Think about what is important to you- your deal breakers. Do you want to make some extra dollars – international schools usually offer free rental, medical insurance and flights home, giving you the added benefit of renting out your house? Do you want to travel around Europe or Asia or the Middle East? Think about how many plane trips you will need to take to get to different countries, especially if you are travelling with children. Is weather important to you? If you can’t see yourself living in humidity or extreme weather conditions, rethink where you might be willing to go. Is a ‘for profit’ school vs a ‘non-profit school’ an issue? Do you need a large expat community in an established city or would a small school in a developing country suit you better? Your views on access to hospitals, clean air, savings potential, etc. are also worth considering.
3. Start researching. Find an organisation with a proven track record of placing teachers in quality schools. The growth in international schools around the world has been massive – currently over 10,000, and conditions and benefits vary greatly. Find someone who can help you sort out which schools are worth applying for and who will look after you.
You can choose to ‘cold call’ schools yourself, but be aware that you will go into the pool with thousands of other teachers. Recruiters at international schools are usually the Head of School. They often don’t get time to read resumes thoroughly and appreciate using a company that screens teachers and prepares them for life overseas. Talk to as many people as you can for personal recommendations and to bounce ideas off others. A contact already overseas will offer invaluable information.
4. Attend an information event or recruiting fair. Teaching in an international school is one of the best-kept secrets in the teaching profession. Some teachers take their first position abroad thinking that it will be their last. However once started on the ‘international circuit’, many teachers make international education an extended career choice for the excitement, discovery and fulfilment offered. Consequently, competition is fierce. Researching the best way to apply for these positions yourself, and attending an information seminar means that you can find out what schools abroad really want in a teacher. For example, teaching couples with more than 2 children find it difficult to be placed as tuition, accommodation, flights and medical insurance are provided for the whole family. Also there are different requirements for countries to issue visas, and marital status, qualifications, criminal convictions etc. are all important considerations. Recruiting fairs are a great way to find out more about schools and living overseas as each school runs an information presentation. Heads of school are available to meet with and jobs are often offered on the spot.
5. Seek the advice of a reputable financial advisor who preferably has experience with expat taxation issues. Prior knowledge can save you thousands of dollars when it comes to learning about taxation as a resident/ non –resident, impact on earnings within the country and how to maximise the savings made whilst overseas.
Being proactive in preparing for a career teaching internationally can be a daunting task, but it is the chance of a lifetime to immerse yourself in a new country and a new culture. To see new places, learn new things and re-invent yourself.
This article outlines some expectations that will be required of you when teaching internationally. Teaching overseas can test you in ways you never expected, so you need to approach it with a variety of coping mechanisms in place.