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Questions About Teaching Abroad

Stamp showing FAQ for teaching abroad

Teaching abroad can be a fantastic experience, but planning is essential. Always ask questions during the interview and carefully read your contract before signing. Here are some questions about teaching abroad that you might have and the answers.

Questions about the job

Is prior international experience required?

While international experience is often preferred, it is not required. Having at least two years of experience in the area you are applying to is more important.

How long does an employment contract last?

Most contracts at international schools last 2 -3 years. After the initial contract, follow-up ones are either 1 -2 years. Take the decision to sign your contract seriously. If you break your contract, it is possible to get black-listed. The international market is small and word travels.

Will there be professional development opportunities?

Yes. In fact, PD is usually included as part of the benefits package. Some schools have a cap on the amount you can spend. While others, once you can show how it will benefit the school it will be allowed.

How much will I pay in taxes?

It depends on the country. Some countries have no tax on salaries, while others could have up to 35%. You will generally find this information in your contract.

Will I get a pension?

Schools vary with their pension provision. Some schools offer the local pension scheme (if available) whilst others offer private pension schemes. Others give a percentage of the yearly salary instead of a pension after retirement. To complement what your school will provide, consider purchasing a pension plan in your home country.

Will the school provide flights to and from my home country?

In most cases, yes. Some schools will pay yearly or give a contribution towards this. Other schools will only pay for flights at the beginning and end of a contract. Some schools, especially for jobs in the Western Hemisphere will not pay for your flights. Your contract will reflect this.

Questions about living abroad

Will I need to speak another language?

Speaking the local language might be helpful, but it is more important to speak the language of instruction. The job advertisement will post the required language.

I have several dependents, can I still apply?

Yes. However, there will be fewer schools to choose from. For some schools, it would be easier if you were part of a teaching couple. If you teach a hard-to-fill subject area, this may give you some leverage. But you might have to compromise and foot part of the additional child’s fees.
In general, 1-2 children are allowed in most schools internationally. There are a few that will allow 3 but only as a teaching couple. However, in schools that do not provide flights, visas etc for your dependents, the number will not matter. Since you will be footing those costs.

I am a single parent, can I still apply?

Yes. In some countries, you will need the other parent’s permission or proof that you have sole custody. This also applies to adoptive parents once you have the legal documentation.

Is there an age limit for children?

This is an important question about teaching abroad that teachers with older kids need to ask.  
For the J1 program, your child is no longer eligible for the J2 visa once they have reached 21 years old.  For other programs and schools, the limit is 18. 
Ensure that you ask this question in the interview stage.

I am over 50, can I still apply?

Yes. It is harder but not impossible. It is a bit easier if you are applying for administrative roles. Once you get to 60 and are already in the country you can renew (for some countries). But you wouldn’t be able to apply as a new applicant.

My partner is not a teacher, can I still apply?

It depends. In most cases, you can apply even if your spouse doesn’t have a teaching credential. Ensure that you discuss this during the interview stage. The school will generally sponsor your spouse and children under 18. However, they will not be responsible for applying for their work permit.
You can read this article on Trailing Spouses for more information.

I am in a relationship but not married, can my partner accompany me?

For some regions, it would be hard to find a job. Local laws would prevent schools from hiring you. They would not be able to secure a visa for your partner. Ensure that you research local laws before applying if this is your status.

Further Reading: When Choosing a Job at an International School, Consider This!

If there are any questions about teaching abroad that I missed or that you’d want the answer to, leave it in the comments and I’ll get to it. 

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