Last update on March 11, 2019

Most international schools hire teachers for the new academic year as early as January to March, so you need to apply early if you want to teach abroad.

Currently, there are 280,000 teachers working in international schools around the world. It is estimated that about 10 percent of these teachers were new to international schools this year; the busiest year ever for international school recruiting. For this coming September, the recruitment drive for teaching abroad is even greater as current international schools expand and the number of international schools continues to grow. As such, teaching abroad is increasingly become a viable option for teachers looking for an international move.

The language for learning in most international schools is English, so most teachers come from English-speaking countries, in particular the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the US. A number of these teachers are expats already living internationally as a result of their partner’s career. There are, of course, other opportunities to teach abroad in other language schools, such as French or German international schools, among many others.

Jane Denby is one example. “I go where my husband’s job takes me,” she says. So far, that’s been to Oman, Brunei, Dubai and the Netherlands. The Denbys are now in Russia, thanks to Patrick’s work as a reservoir engineer with Shell. Several years ago, knowing her that her job needed to be portable, Jane trained as an EAL (English as an Additional Language) teacher, as she explains, “To open up opportunities for me, wherever we’re living.” Jane has since worked in several international schools. She is now an EAL specialist trainer, travelling to international schools all over the world to support them with their Professional Development learning.

All teachers who are considering applying to international schools for this coming September should think about a number of things at this stage, says Andrew Wigford, Director of Teachers International Consultancy (TIC), a specialist recruitment organisation that helps English-speaking teachers from all over the world find teaching jobs in international schools.

“Start your planning now,” says Andrew. “Most international schools begin recruiting for the new academic year in January, February and March, so you need to act now.” Here is Andrew’s advice on preparing for an international job search:

Look for cities with large international schools

“There are some cities that have a huge number of international schools. Dubai, Doha and Bangkok all have over 100 international schools each. Over 10,000 qualified teachers are employed by the international schools in Dubai alone. So there is great demand for skilled and experienced teachers, as well as skilled support staff such as librarians, who speak English. There are many opportunities available to you if you have the qualifications.

Make sure you apply to accredited schools

Apply to accredited international schools or schools that are part of respectable organisations such as COBIS, BSME, FOBISSEA and others. You can find details of these organisations on the TIC website. If a recruitment organisation is helping you with your search, make sure that they only recommend you to accredited international schools, or that they personally vet non-accredited schools in advance of your interview.

Submit a strong CV

Make sure your CV is up-to-date and well written. International schools will be looking for strong personal skills, as well as teaching experience.

State your current location in your application

If you are an expat already living in the location of the job you are applying for, make sure you make that fact very clear. If you are still located in your home country, or in a country or region away from the job that’s advertised, you may want to include details of previous foreign travel and other international connections.

Be prepared for a Skype interview

More and more international school interviews are being conducted through Skype, so be prepared for this. Make sure you have the correct equipment set up and have practised communicating through Skype in advance of any interviews.

Work through a reputable organization when searching for foreign teaching positions

There are a few unscrupulous owners in some international schools who do not take the appropriate procedures to ensure that foreign teachers have the correct health and safety coverage, visa back-up, or suitable accommodation. Teachers have been known to find themselves in difficult circumstances, sometimes a long way from home. So working with an established organisation to oversee your placement will give you the security you need. If you work with an organisation that is specifically experienced at recruiting for the international school market, they will be able to give you all the advice and expert support that you need and will know – and may well have visited – many of the schools that you are considering. This will help you significantly during your job search.

Check the terms and conditions of any offer

Ensure that the recruitment organisation you work through cross-checks all your terms and conditions once an appointment is offered, to give you the peace of mind you need when taking up a new job.”

Andrew says that some of the best advice for teachers considering the possibility of working overseas comes from teachers already there.
Nancy Appelbe started her career in international teaching as a result of moving to France for her husband’s job. The family has since moved to Beijing, where Nancy is working at the British School of Beijing. “Take the plunge and just do it,” says Nancy. “You can always get short contracts that last a year or two, and then move back home or move to another school in a different country to experience different styles of living and teaching.

Clare Lauritzen moved from the UK last year and is now teaching primary students at St Michael’s International School in Kobe, Japan. She describes the type of personality that she thinks best suits an international school teacher: “You must enjoy a challenge, be fairly confident and resourceful, be able to bound back when you have a bad day, not take it all personally, and be able to laugh at the oddities, annoyances and differences,” she says.

And Dulcie Copeland moved this year to The British School of Budapest in Hungary. She says “Find out as much as you can about the school. Read its website and prospectus. Has it got what you are looking for? Does the school reflect your beliefs?”

All three teachers all agree about one thing: “Go for it!” they say.