How do you know you’re ready to work in an international school?
Think about whether you (and your partner/family) are ready
- Do you have the travel bug or yearn for adventure in unknown parts?
- 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 in any situation?
- Do you feel secure in your teaching work and commitment to a school?
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.
The Search Associates comprehensive database is a great way to find out more about international schools. 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.
What is important to you – what are your ‘deal breakers’?
- Do you want to make some extra dollars? International schools usually offer free housing, medical insurance, and flights home.
- 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. When some of those countries are ‘next door’, travel plans become easier.
- How important is the weather to you? If you can’t see yourself living in heat and humidity, or extreme weather conditions, rethink where you might be willing to go.
- Is a ‘for profit’ school vs a ‘not- for- profit’ school important to you?
- Do you need a large expat community in an established city or would a small school in a developing country, maybe even a rural boarding school, suit you better?
- What are your thoughts on access to hospitals, clean air, savings potential, etc.?
Then start planning
Get some help
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, there are over 12,000 international schools, although fewer than a quarter of those offer overseas-hire contracts. Conditions and benefits vary greatly. You need someone who can help you sort out which schools are worth applying for and someone who will look after you if times get tough.
Or go it alone
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. We screen teachers and prepare them for life overseas.
Networking is so important
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. Aso check out online advice groups such as International School Educators and Global Educator Collective
Attend a seminar or recruiting fair (virtual or in-person)
Seminars and recruiting fairs, both in-person and virtual, are wonderful opportunities to learn about living overseas as schools run information presentations. You have the chance to meet associates and school principals in person and get your questions answered.
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 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. Almost always the students are incredibly positive and exciting to work with. Consequently, competition is fierce. If you are ready to work in an international school, start researching and find out what schools really want in a teacher and how to apply.