How do you become an international school teacher?

When I first decided to leave the public school system in NYC and try this international teaching thing, I had no idea what I was going into. I didn’t know anyone else that had been an international school teacher. I just ended up researching international schools and stumbled upon two organizations that help place teachers in international schools. Now, I’m in my 4 years of teaching abroad, and plan on doing it for at least 2 more years.

How do you find an international school teaching job?

1. Sign up with an international school recruiting company.

I would highly recommend Search Associates or International Schools Service (ISS). A lot of the accredited and reputable international schools uses either or both of these companies. Both companies have multiple job fairs throughout the year in the US, Asia, Australia, and Europe that teachers can go to. Also, they have extensive online database that they put your profile in that many international schools look at to recruit. There is a fee when you sign up, but it is worth it. I would recommend Search Associates, because I’ve used that and had good success with finding jobs. Also, you will need confidential administrator recommendations and also parent recommendations for teaching positions.

If you’re interested in only Christian schools, there is Network of International Christian Schools.

2. Contact the international school directly.

If you have a particular country and/or school in mind, you can always contact them directly.  If you go their website, you can often find contact information for employment. Many of them may ask you to submit a cover letter and resume to the school directly. Some schools even have a separate online application. Do your research!

A lot of the more competitive schools do recommend you go to a job fair that is sponsored by either Search or ISS, however it’s not required. They like to meet candidates in person for an interview. Remember, that the hiring time line for international schools is a lot earlier than schools in America. Many schools know what openings they will have by December/January. So you should start contacting schools as early as November if you are really interested.

3. Be open! 

If it is your first time trying to find a job internationally, you need to be open. If you don’t have the international school experience, you will be at a slight disadvantage with another candidate with the same experience and international school experience. If you are set on one country and/or  particular school, your choices will obviously be very limited.

Be open to different schools and countries. Think about what are your priorities and the opportunities available at the school and country. Part of the joys of teaching internationally is getting to experience a different culture, country and school. Don’t limit yourself!

If you have any other questions about teaching internationally and finding a good school, please leave a comment! We will definitely be writing more follow up posts about  this topic.

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*UPDATE*

As we have continued to receive many questions concerning more details about how to become an international school teacher, we decided to write a FAQ post for you. Please refer to this post, FAQs About Becoming an International School Teacher, and see if we have already answered your question!

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28 thoughts on “How do you become an international school teacher?

  1. David says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write out this information 🙂 I am looking into starting soon, but I just have to figure out what I need! Do I need a teacher certificate?

  2. LCC says:

    Hi, I was wondering what qualifications are necessary in order to become a teacher at an international school. I’ve taught in Korea for three years with a TEFL cert, but potentially want to up my qualifications. Certain teaching programs etc, thanks!

    • jee young says:

      Most reputable international schools will require teachers to be certified and/or have a master’s degree. If you are going to continue staying in Korea, there is a teacher certification program and master’s degree program through Simpson University. You can read more about the program on our previous blog entry. Or, you should start an online teaching program where you can get certified and your masters. I wish you the best! Let us know if you have any other questions….

  3. Hi I am barely starting on my research of teaching internationally. I am hoping to “get in” by Fall 2013. I read on this post that Nov. is when the recruitment starts happening? Is there a general timeline I should be aware of as I start. I hope I’m not too late already!?
    Thanks for responding when you get a moment.

    • jee young says:

      In November, I would apply to either Search Associates or ISS. That way you can start uploading your resume and information for schools to start contacting you. Also, you need to register and get in to a job fair, and those usually start in January, the earliest. Best of luck finding a job!

    • Hi Daro,

      You could probably just apply to the schools directly by sending them your resume & cover letter. Most schools would post opening on their website by late November/December. You should check with the school to see what requirements they want for teachers (i.e. Masters degree, certification, years of experience).
      I wish you the best!

      Jee Young

      • Daro says:

        Hi again! Thank you for your feedback. I am still in college, it is my sophomore year so I have a long way to go. But I went on one of the schools I was looking on Okinawa and it said that a bachelors degree and at least 2 years of experience were needed. There were other requirements also. But I was also wondering do you anything about teaching at a DOD school on bases over seas? Thank you again.

  4. eg85 says:

    Hi!
    I will soon have a PhD in Physics, but am not sure I want to continue in research… I have often thought I might like to become a teacher… I am also bilingual in Spanish and English.
    What would be the next step for me if I wanted to have the possibility to teach at an International School?
    Thanks so much!

    • Hello! It depends on where you want to go. Most top international schools around the world require a teaching license, and there are several programs that can get you your teaching license in nine months, and a lot of universities are offering online programs for it now (usually you have to do your internship wherever the university is located). You have a lot to offer since you are bilingual! Decide where you want to go and research, international schools start hiring earlier than normal schools, over on this side of the world there is an amazing job fair in Bangkok that Jee Young has blogged about (click here for that post!), this is where she found her new teaching position in Singapore! I hope that helps you get your feet wet, thanks for the question!

      • eg85 says:

        Hi again! Thanks so much for your quick reply!
        Could you give me a bit more info on these teaching licenses? I’ve looked on the internet, and mostly I’ve run into TEFL licenses for teaching English. I’m wondering, do you know anything about the license required for teaching science (I am mainly interested in European schools)?
        Thanks very much!

  5. Hi there,

    If you have a physics PHD, you may be able to get a job more easily without certification right away since Physics teachers are very difficult to find. However, I still do recommend going through the process of getting your master’s degree and a teaching license through an accredited university. You can do that easily online through a lot of different universities. I just did a google search on online masters degree in education. Here are some universities here: http://www.elearners.com/online-degrees/master/education.htm?page=8

    Just look for online master degree programs that allow you to be certified. Let us know if you still have any questions. We wish you the best in your journey!

    Best,
    Jee Young

  6. Chirag Kamra says:

    Hi there,
    I’m currently a sophomore in an engineering college and so far I don’t really find it as interesting as I thought it would be. I know its still early but I have moments when I feel that engineering is not really my ‘thing’ and its not something I want to take up as a profession in the future.

    I really feel that teaching internationally is something that I would like to do because I love travelling and I did spent my High school years in an international school as well in Kyiv, Ukraine but I have some questions regarding the approach.

    Is Masters Degree in Education after I get my bachelors the right thing to do? Do you get a teaching license along with the degree? And is there really a difference whether you take up the course online or actually sit in the college? If someone could just help me with the general approach and how do I start from scratch after I get my bachelors, it would be highly appreciated.

    Btw, I’m an Indian nationality currently studying Structural Engineering in India.

    Cheers,
    Chirag

    • Hello Chirag!

      If you plan on finishing your bachelors in engineering, then I would say- YES get a masters in education, but you don’t necessarily have to. There are programs you can take to get your teaching license in less than a year without getting your masters. One thing to be careful of if you do decide to get a masters in education, is to make sure that the program also gives you a teaching license. Certifying you to teach, and getting your masters in education are two separate things, but many programs will offer them together. They are usually two years long. In order to teach at any international school you must have a teaching certificate/license. I actually have a good friend who was an engineer in the states for several years, and then went to night classes for nine months to become a teacher and now teaches in Austria, he loves it! Teaching abroad is an amazing experience.

      I hope that was helpful!

  7. Kina says:

    Hey there,

    Really enjoyed reading your posts.

    I am currently a 2nd year business student (in Australia), but im a realizing as well that my degree might not be the ideal thing for me. Ive grown up abroad my whole life so i have been at many international schools, going through PYP, MYP, and IB. I am considering taking a masters in secondary education after i am done with my business degree. My question for you though is,

    Is there anything else specifically that they look for in international teachers, that i should be aware off?

    How hard is it to find a job as an international teacher given you have very limited experience in teaching, but have the necessary degrees and attitude?

    Really looking forward to a response,

    Cheers,
    Kina

    • Hi Kina,
      I would definitely recommend getting your masters in secondary education and certification as a teacher from your country. If you have the masters degree and certification it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a job. However, it depends on where you want to teach and what type of international school. The top international schools usually prefer to hire teachers with at least 2 years of experience. Also, what area do you plan on getting your certification in? There is always a higher need for math and science teachers that teachers of humanities. Let us know if you have any other follow-up questions!
      Best,
      Jee Young

  8. Hi, My name is Da Yeon.
    Your article was very informative 🙂

    I’m now becoming a junior in university. (I’m Korean and studying in Korea.)
    My major is Tourism management and I’m studying education too.
    I’m not a double major. After a graduation, I’ll get a teacher license as a ‘Tourism’.
    Now I’m interested in becoming as an international teacher.
    Actually I’m searching about the IB school.
    I have attended international school when I was young.
    (From grade 1 to grade 5 in Indonesia.)
    So I have some questions to ask about.

    What should I prepare to become as an international teacher in IB?

    I would like to be a science teacher. So could you recommend or give some advice any about getting a license in science teaching or related school to study to get?
    (That means I should study more after the graduation. So I would like to get master degree abroad or in Korea about science and teaching.)

    That’s all of my curiosity.
    I’ll wait for your reply.

    Thank you 🙂

    • Hello, Day Yeon.

      To my understanding (and quick research) there is no special “IB” certification you can get, you receive the training that you need when you work at an IB school. No matter what, to become a teacher you must have your teaching certificate. There are several programs available that last from one to two years, and others as short as nine months. There are also programs that will give you a masters degree as well as a teaching certificate, but not ALL education master programs do that, so make sure you do your research. You might even be able to find an online program so that you can stay in Korea, though you might have to fly to where the school is to do your internship teaching.

      Hope that helped! Blessings!

  9. Serina Hernandez says:

    Do international schools hire social studies teachers from the U.S.? I am looking into getting my teaching cert with a subject concentration in social studies, would I be appealing to international schools? My school also offers the MA with the teaching cert. but I am weary of spending the money on a Masters if it isn’t necessary. Based on the international job market, what would you recommend? Your incite would be appreciated! Thanks.

    • Yes, international schools hire social studies teachers from the U.S. I would recommend getting an MA with the teaching cert. It makes you more marketable in today’s education world. The best way to get hired at reputable international schools is to have two years of teaching experience and actually go to the job fairs (though it is definitely possible to get hired without experience, if you aren’t picky on your location!). Most schools like to hire face to face.

  10. Yuhrih Park says:

    Hi! Reading your blog has really helped me grasp more about international school teaching and I have some questions to ask! I’m currently an undergraduate student in Hong Kong studying English as my major (but my nationality is Korean!). I’ve always wanted to teach in a global community like international schools so I’m definitely thinking of doing further studies that will help me gain teacher certificate. I want to ask if getting a MA with the teaching certificates in US or UK (English speaking countries) is more preferred by the schools when employing? Do you have any recommendations for schools that provide teaching certificate as postgraduate degrees? Also, most of the schools require minimum of two or three full-time teaching experiences, but how can I initially gain these years of experience?

    Your response will really help me 🙂
    Thank you!

    • Hi YuRih,
      Thanks for reading our blog and leaving a comment. I would recommend getting a master’s degree in education for a US college. You can look into online programs or onsite programs in the US. I’m not too familiar with the British colleges. There are so many universities in the US that offer a Master’s degree and teaching certificate through their program. It depends on where you want to be (location wise) and what programs you are interested in. I don’t think most schools are picky in terms of which university you went to. They care more that you have your masters degree and are a certified teacher.
      Also, even though many schools prefer “experienced” teachers, you will find that many newer schools will hire teachers without much experience. I wish you the best with your teaching journey!
      Regards,
      Jee Young

  11. I am 49 years old and have my masters in elementary education. I taught school for 21 years before moving into another state about 6 years ago and let my license expire. Is it possible for me to apply for an international teaching job?

    • Hi Tanya,
      Thanks for leaving a comment.I think that if you have your masters and experience you can apply for an international teaching job. I guess it would depend on your school and the country you are moving to. Some countries are more stricter in having teachers that have certification when you apply for visas. However, other places are fine with a master’s degree. I would look into schools and find out if you need a license as well.
      Sincerely,
      Jee Young

  12. Nayyar Azam says:

    Hi Jee

    I desire to get a teaching position in an international school or any other private school in Middle east. I have recently graduated majoring in computer science. Now I intend to go for masters. There are two choices in front of me. One is masters in general computer science and second is masters in a specific area of computer science. What is your advice? Which one should I opt for.

    Kind Regards

  13. Diane says:

    Hi Jee,

    Excellent post!

    I am looking to be a Guidance Counselor at an International School-anywhere!

    I actually attended an International school in Tanzania, then went on to get my Bachelors and Masters degrees. I have worked different jobs and in all kinds of sector.

    Would I need another Masters in Education or straight for a teacher qualification? Is that even necessary for a guidance counselor?

    Thanks

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