There are different forces that push and pull us into our careers.
Now you’re ready to shove yourself out of your current one.
You’re looking for something different. Maybe you want to see the world, or perhaps you want something different from the day-to-day monotony that life can bring.
Whether you’re looking to start a career you’ve been prepping for your whole life or just want to try something new, you should definitely consider teaching English as a second language.
We’ll be focusing specifically on those jobs that allow you to teach English language learners online or that take you overseas. There’s a wide array of job opportunities out there, and we’re going to help you work through the options.
The Perks of Being an English Teacher
The first perk of the job is that you get to do something you enjoy. If you find the ins and outs of the English language fascinating, there’s a good chance this is the job for you. Whether you enjoy working with youngsters or adults, there are plenty of possibilities to teach English in a wide variety of settings.
There’s also the independence. If you want to leave the nest to take on this big world on your own, a job as an English teacher can give you that opportunity.
If you decide to teach abroad, it goes without saying that you’ll have lots of new adventures. On top of experiencing a new culture and picking up a target language faster, you’ll have the chance to travel outside the country and explore the world. It’s also important to mention that some schools provide essentials such as healthcare, housing assistance and even airfare.
And guess what? Even if you don’t want to teach English for the rest of your career, how awesome will it be to have this experience on your resume? There’s no better way to stand out than to say you’ve spent time overseas.
If teaching abroad isn’t for you, there are some also advantages to teaching online. Teaching online allows you to control your hours and work from just about anywhere. Plus you’re able to work with students from all over the globe, so you’ll get exposure to lots of different cultures.
Let’s go through some of the burning questions you might have in case you’re still unsure about whether or not this is the job for you.
The Hows of Landing Your Dream Job as an English Teacher
How #1: How Much Do English Teachers Make?
You can’t deny an important perk of any job is the money. How much can you make teaching English? Your paycheck depends on a lot of factors, including whether you choose to work online or abroad. If you pick the latter, how much you make depends on the destination and company of choice.
We’ll start with online. If you decide to go independent (not with a company), you have a bit more control over what prices you set. You can base your prices on whether you’re creating plans for a large class or for an individual student. It can also depend on the type of lesson; if you’re focusing on improving conversation, you won’t charge as much as you would if you were going really heavy into grammar and syntax.
If you do decide to go with a company, the pay scales can also differ. It’s important to note that platforms can require rates that vary by how many hours you put in. For example, organizations like VIPKID pay up to $22 an hour after you reach a certain number of hours a week. After calculating how much time you plan to teach, you can definitely earn a decent living with this amount!
The salary can be just as enticing when you’re looking at teaching abroad. If you consider a country with a lower cost of living, you can often save a good amount. You can earn between $600-$1400 a month in South America and live decently on this salary. Working in Europe is somewhat similar pay-wise; a salary in Spain varies from $950 to $1,800 depending on where in the country you go and what type of school you’re hired by.
But the most lucrative of the continents would have to be Asia, particularly the Middle East. Though eastern countries such as China, South Korea and Japan are popular destinations that can net you well over $2,000 a month, the best-paying jobs are in countries like Oman or the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where they pay up to a whopping $4,000 per month.
How #2: How Do I Start My Journey as an English Teacher?
By now you’re thinking the benefits and paycheck are right up your alley. But how do you get started?
One thing most countries require to teach online or abroad is a bachelor’s degree. And if you didn’t major in English don’t worry—plenty of places will accept any BA or BS degree. You could even major in underwater basket-weaving and still qualify.
It’s important to note, however, that not all places require that degree. While the better-paying jobs do, all you may really need is a CELTA or TEFL license. Courses for the license by itself range from a few months to a year and cover a wide variety of topics such as language structure, lesson planning, classroom management and more. I obtained my license in a short program offered through International TEFL Academy, a company based in Chicago, and the general course lasted from August to November.
If campuses aren’t your thing, then numerous accredited universities and organizations offer CELTA or TEFL courses online. Learning and obtaining your license is something you can easily fit into your busy schedule.
How #3: How Do I Decide Where to Go?
So you’ve got your bachelor’s degree, or you’ve obtained your license certifying you as an English teacher, and you’ve decided that you want to see the world. For those who have decided to take this route, you’ll have to narrow down where you want to go.
It’s possible to move away and still work from (your new) home. If that’s your desire, you’ll need to check out the requirements for living in your country of choice. You’ll also want to look at the country’s immigration laws to make sure you pay the right taxes that come with being a resident.
Other than that, as long as you have a decent internet connection in your desired country of residence, you can work from anywhere. Since you’re working from home, you don’t have to worry about being offered a job in order to make the move there!
Whether you want to work from home or a local institution or organization, the options are still overwhelming.
Take a moment to think about where you want to go. Which places in the world do you want to explore? Look through the benefits of countries you think would be great to live in and see if you meet the qualifications for working there as an English teacher.
If you’re looking to go somewhere that’s noted as one of the best places to teach English, most websites will agree that China, South Korea or Japan are the places to go.
If Europe or South America is where you want to go, shoot for those destinations. The Czech Republic, Spain and Brazil are hot markets for teaching English, and I’ve even noticed Poland creeping up in recent years.
Keep in mind there may be a ton of paperwork. Europe is a bit difficult for American or Canadian English teachers because it costs less to hire someone from Britain, and many schools prefer their students learn British English.
I moved to Hungary in 2015 to work at a kindergarten and learning center, and I lost track of how many times I had to spend my lunch break at the immigration office filling out paperwork. But don’t let red tape discourage you. If you push through the tough stuff and make it through to the other side, it’ll be worth it.
Finally, if you’re looking to make lots of money and you’re well-qualified (and feeling a little adventurous), then head towards Qatar or the UAE.
How #4: How Do I Find a Job Working as an English Teacher?
Now comes the hard part. You need to investigate every nook and cranny to find the best prospects. There’s no special way to do it. Like any other job, your greatest resources are job boards and advertisements.
But before you start, you’ll want to make sure your resume or CV is in tip-top shape. Emphasize any prior teaching experience, though don’t sell yourself short if you’re new to this and don’t have any. Highlight special assets like computer skills or patience. You should also have someone check over your resume or CV for errors; you’re applying to be an English teacher and language proficiency, as well as professionalism, is a must.
Next, you’ll want to comb through databases. Just like any other job, Craigslist can be a good place to start. Other great places to look are Go Overseas and ESLemployment. If you’ve decided on a destination, then try Teach English Abroad, Teach Away or Teaching House that let you sort by country.
Finally, a great place to find jobs is Dave’s ESL Cafe. It’s probably the most cited ESL resource in terms of lesson tips and tricks, and they have a fantastic job board to boot.
Now all that’s left to do is apply. Don’t be shy, apply to any job that sounds interesting and that you’re qualified for. This is your dream and you’ll have to take a risk to get it!
That’s how I ended up here in Hungary; I went through the job boards, found the advertisement for the kindergarten I currently work at and sent in my resume. A few days later my employer emailed me asking for a Skype interview.
Now you know how to land your dream job as an English teacher. The rest is up to you.
Happy job hunting!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach English with real-world videos.