Teaching as an International Career
You have backpacked through Europe and taught ESOL in East Asia. The time to grow up and choose a career has come. If you want to continue the thrill of living abroad but also want a respectable career, teaching at an international school may be for you. If you already have the career as a teacher, an international school could provide the adventure you’ve always wanted.
What is an international school?
From Argentina’s American International School of Buenos Aries to Zimbabwe’s Harare International School, international schools are created to provide education to students in expatriate communities. In some cases, embassies or companies open schools as non-profit organizations. Other schools are proprietary; still others are non-secular. International schools come in all shapes, sizes and colors, but as a general rule, they all exist to serve an expatriate student body.
What do international schools look for in a teacher?
Different schools look for different kinds of teachers. Most schools prefer teachers with at least two years of teaching experience; however, some schools require four or five years of experience while others accept applicants with less experience. Teaching candidates who do not have overseas experience (studying, working, or growing up abroad) should demonstrate a strong commitment to working in an international education environment. The study of a foreign language might prove advantageous.
Since schools are trying to fill various positions and usually provide housing, they consider marital status when hiring. Some schools prefer to hire married teaching couples without children while other schools welcome children. Singles are preferred by other schools. A school’s preferences can vary throughout the hiring season: couples being preferred early in the hiring season, and the remaining vacancies being filled by singles. Bigger, well-funded schools have the reputation of hiring whoever is believed to be the best for the job—regardless of marital status.
While the characteristics of flexibility, creativity, and sense of adventure will be important to most principals, strong teaching ability will usually be the priority when hiring. The majority of interview questions will reflect this priority. Sample interview questions from The American School in London include the following:
- How will you get your students to do things that they don’t want to do (e.g. homework, following instructions in the classroom, etc)?
- What adaptations do you make for different learners?
- What is your approach to classroom management?
What do international school contracts consist of?
Most internationals schools offer a two-year contract with the benefits including housing (often fully furnished), air tickets or travel stipend, health insurance, and moving allowance. Teachers with children should look for travel stipends, school tuition, and health insurance for dependents. Professional development is another common perk.
Finally, all schools claim to offer “competitive salaries”. When thinking about salaries, the real question concerns saving potential. For example, according to Search Associates in 2003, a teacher with a BA and four years of experience could earn US $23,000 at both ESOL, American International School in Abu Dhabi and the American International School in Egypt. In Abu Dhabi the estimated saving for a singe teacher is $8,000 while in Egypt the potential savings is quoted as $18,000—a $10,000 difference for the same base salary.
How can I learn more?
Individual school websites often post vacancies and benefit packages. The International Educator (www.tieonline.com) is a newspaper that has both job ads and a resume bank. In addition, several recruiting agencies specialize in helping teachers and schools by hosting job fairs around the globe.
International School Services: www.iss.edu
- $150 File Establishment Fee / Reactivation fee
- No placement fees
Search Associates: www.search-associates.com
- Placement and registration fees vary
Council of International Schools: www.cois.org
- No registration or placement fees
University of Northern Iowa: www.uni.edu/placement/overseas
- $5 Registration Packet /or free online registration
- Annual recruitment fair registration fees