FAQs About Becoming an International School Teacher

Last year, we had posted about How to Become an International School Teacher? This post continues to consistently get a lot of hits and comments from people all over the world. So we decided to follow-up on that post and share out some of the answers to the many questions we have received. 

Q: What would be the next step for me if I wanted to have the possibility to teach at an International School?
M: 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 as well (usually you have to do your internship wherever the university is located).

Q: 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.
J: I 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  Make sure that the online master degree program allows you to be certified.

Q: Is a 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? 
M: 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 yourself 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.

What qualifications are necessary in order to become a teacher at an international school?
J: Most reputable international schools will want teachers to be certified and have at least a bachelor’s degree. Some of the more competitive schools would like you to have at least 2 years of teaching experience and/or your master’s degree as well. If you are already living abroad and you want to pursue teaching, you can start an online teaching program where you can get certified and/or your masters.
M: No matter what, to become a teacher you should have your teaching certificate (as mentioned several times previously, but hey- some people overlook it!). 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 master’s degree as well as a teaching certificate, but not ALL education master programs do that, so make sure you do your research.

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 searching?
J: International schools tend to recruit earlier than schools back in the US. Many international schools will require teachers to let them know if they are not coming back the following year anywhere from October-January of the previous year. The recruiting fairs start as early as January and many schools even hire before that if they already know of openings! It never hurts to start looking for openings and send your resume to schools that you are really interested in earlier on.

Q:  Do you know anything about teaching at a DOD school on bases overseas?
J: Unfortunately I can’t say that I know much about the DOD school system.  You can find more information on their website here: http://www.dodea.edu/  

Q: Is there anything else specifically that they look for in international teachers, that I should be aware of?
J: It really depends on the school, and what fit is good for them. There are some newer schools that may tend to hire more young & single teachers, verses some schools that prefer married couples. Many schools do generally prefer married couples when hiring. Some schools may have more of a focus on a certain type of curriculum like IB or AP, and may prefer candidates with experience in teaching that. While other schools are willing to spend time and to get teachers trained for those programs.

Q: 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? 
J: There are actually many international schools out there. Again, if you are willing to teach at newer schools in countries or cities that are not as popular for foreigners to live at, you will probably have a better chance. It really depends on how picky you are going to be with the school and country you want to live at.
M: To go off of what J said, once you have a solid two or three years of teaching experience at a possible “less popular” international school the chances of getting a job at a school and in a country that you desire are much higher.

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

M: 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.

Feel free to leave us any further questions you may have in the comments section!

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16 thoughts on “FAQs About Becoming an International School Teacher

  1. Another thing I often am asked about is what state should you be certified in. If you only plan on teaching overseas it doesn’t matter. If you think there is a good chance you will teach in the States at some point then you have to be certified in the state you want to teach in.

    One other thing to note, if you don’t need the degree, Rio Salado is a community college in Arizona which offers a post-bach certificate program at community college rates and the entire thing can be done online and overseas (except for the state exam, which is offered in several major cities a few times a year).

  2. Allison Rascoe says:

    I have a question: I will be a certify School Counselor/Professional Counselor with my Master’s degree In the summer of 2014, certified Play Therapist in 2015 and will have my teaching license for Elementary School by the year of 2016. My experience in the education field will be primarily Counseling.
    Are there jobs at International Schools that deal with the field of school counseling? If not, are there certain international schools that will allow a Master Degree holder who will have a teaching license (in NC you will receive a teaching license as well as a School Counselor License in order to be employed) via School Counseling/paraprofessional. I would love to teach overseas (I do prefer South Korea due to falling in love with the country when I was there in my teens; mom was in the military) within the next 4 years or so; I want to get my ducks in a row in order to prepare myself for my future career plans. Thank you

    • Hi Allison,
      Thank you for your comment. It’s great to hear that you are planning ahead. Yes, many international schools do have positions for school counselors. However, I’m not sure if there are usually a lot of openings since there’s always a small number of counselors per school compared to the number of teachers. That’s good if you have a master’s degree and a valid teaching license in the US, because most international schools will want that.
      I definitely recommend going through an organization like Search Associates or ISS when you are ready to start looking for international school jobs. Or, you could always apply to schools directly, but going to job fairs are always helpful especially if you don’t have prior experience. Let us know if you still have any questions!
      Jee Young

  3. Heejae Lim says:

    Hi Jee Young,
    I have a question. I’m from Korea and I’m currently a college student in the U.S. I’ve just started researching about graduate schools for education and becoming a teacher at an international school (I went to an international school before I came to college). I wasn’t thinking about going to a graduate school at all, so all I have done during the past summers are internships. I haven’t done any researches at all, and I am graduating in a year. 😦 Do you think it matters when I apply to graduate schools (of education)? Also, my major is Art History, but I don’t think I would teach Art History when I become a teacher. So, I was wondering if I have to choose a subject I want to teach in order to get the teaching license, and whether or not the admissions officers of the masters program consider my undergrad major to decide if I am qualified to enter the grad school.
    Lastly, do you know if masters programs are generous about giving scholarships to internationals?
    I’m sorry for asking so many questions, but more I search masters programs for education, the more I get confused. *sigh*

    Thank you so much!!

    • Hi Heejae,
      Thanks for your comment.I think it is fine to apply to graduate schools without previous “experience” during your college years. There are many people that switch into education from other fields. In regards to being an art history major, I think that might be ok if you go into elementary education. However, if you want to teach secondary grades like high school, you will need to have majored in the subject you want to teach or have taken a certain number of courses in that subject area.
      I’m not sure how generous masters programs are about giving scholarships to internationals. I would recommend looking at to masters programs at public universities instead of private universities. That way, it’ll be slightly cheaper than private universities.
      I would suggest you continue to research different masters programs in education and see what specific requirements they have. Let me know if you have any additional questions! Wish you the best in your search.
      Jee Young

  4. Seo says:

    Hey, one question, If I major Mathematics in Korean university and get my teaching license(also, is all teaching license international? or would this teaching license would be useful for me if I am thinking of being an international school?), would that be applicable for applying to QTS and EEA? Would I be able to apply for international schools after I graduate from Korean universities?


    • Hi Seo,
      Thanks for the comment. I think an English speaking international schools would probably prefer to hire people with a teaching license from an English speaking country (US, Canada, UK, Australia, etc….) . However, some international schools are more flexible depending on which country they are in. If you have a specific country or international school you would like to teach at, it might be best to contact the schools directly and ask if you could apply with a Korean teaching license.
      Best regards,
      Jee Young

  5. Trevor says:

    Hi. In your opinion…would one be competitive for international school jobs with a master’s in TESL (with teaching license) combined with a physical education degree? I don’t see why an international school would be interested in a teacher with a TESL/TESOL. Although, perhaps being qualified as a gym teacher may help. I’m most interested in teaching elementary school. So, is just having the teaching license most important? Thanks.

    • Hi Trevor,
      Thanks for the comment. I think that both are great things to have when applying to an international school. Yes, having a teaching license is most important.. Also, having a TESL certification is definitely a benefit, b/c many international schools have a high population of English language learners (ESL). Good luck with your search!
      Jee Young

  6. mcorra8@hotmail.com says:

    hello. thanks for the information. i have a couple questions. i am american and live in korea now teaching in a public school. is there an online program to get my certificate in which i don’t have to travel home to take the tests? also i am trying to teach art in the international school. is one kind of certificate better than the others for that? thank you!

  7. skko says:

    Hi Jee, I am from India. I am very much interested in getting a International Physics/Electronics Licence to teach. I would like to know the valid certification process. I did my Bachelors in computer science, Masters in Physics and Dual M.S in Electrical Engineering. I have 4 years of teaching experience from India.

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