Thinking about applying to an international school?

Looking for adventure in an international school


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?
  • Are you planning 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.
  • How important is weather 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 ex-pat community in an established city or would a small school in a developing country suit you better?
  • What are your thoughts on access to hospitals, clean air, savings potential, etc.?

Travelling teachers sit and admire the scenery near their international school
What are my non-negotiables?

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. Conditions and benefits vary greatly. You need 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 like Search Associates who 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 as can online advice groups such as International School Educators and Global Educator Collective

4. Attend an international school information event or recruiting fair (virtual or in-person).

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 fulfillment offered. Consequently, competition is fierce. Researching the best way to apply for these positions yourself means that you can find out what schools abroad really want in a teacher. For example, teaching couples with more than 2 children often find it difficult to be offered a position as tuition, accommodation, flights, and medical insurance are provided for the whole family. There are also 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 outlining their requirements.

Finding a teaching job at an international school at a job fair
In-person job fairs can be a great source of information

5. Seek the advice of a reputable financial advisor

Try to find someone who 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.

Teaching overseas can test you in ways you never expected, so you need to approach it with a variety of coping mechanisms in place. Here are some expectations that will be required of you when teaching internationally.

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