Region Overview: Where Am I Qualified to Teach English Abroad?By Jennifer Collis
July 22, 2015
Are you newly (or even not-so-newly) TEFL certified and ready to use your certification to venture out into the job world? It’s an exciting time, and opportunities for certified English teachers abound in just about every corner of the globe! Do you have a country or region in mind? When choosing where in the world to apply for jobs, some points to consider are:
- The demand for teachers in that country
- Whether schools in the country typically require teaching experience
- If a 4-year bachelor’s degree is needed to get hired there (read more on this topic here)
- If schools in the country typically accept online TEFL certification (most do), or if you need classroom-based TEFL certification
We’ve provided the following overview of these points to help you get a sense of where you are qualified to teach abroad. You can also refer to this chart for a quick guide to teaching requirements worldwide: Jobs at a Glance.
Demand for Teachers: The TEFL market in countries like China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan is extremely strong, and positions often pay well and have attractive benefits, like housing and airfare reimbursement.
Experience Requirements: Teachers can usually get hired here without previous teaching experience, so most countries in Asia are a good choice for new teachers.
Degree Requirements: In most Asian countries, schools require teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree. This is usually related to qualifying for a visa to work. Cambodia is a country option if you do not hold a degree.
TEFL Requirements: Both online and classroom-based TEFL certifications are widely accepted throughout Asia.
Region-specific considerations: Many countries cap the upper hiring age at 60, to correspond with their own country’s age of retirement.
Demand for Teachers: The market for teachers is strong in Europe, but pay and benefits are average.
Experience Requirements: Experience may or may not be required, depending on the school.
Degree Requirements: A bachelor’s degree will be required by most schools.
TEFL Requirements: Many schools in Europe will require that teachers earned their certification in the classroom, via a 4-week course that included teaching practice (such as the Cambridge CELTA or Bridge IDELT). However, if you were TEFL certified online, try to get some volunteer teaching experience before you apply for jobs to make yourself a better candidate for positions here.
Region-specific considerations: In Western Europe, hiring preference is given to teachers who are citizens of European Union (EU) countries, since they have legal status to work in this region. For non-EU citizens, more job opportunities exist in Eastern European countries, which are more flexible on this point.
Latin America (Mexico and Central and South America)
Demand for Teachers: Teaching opportunities abound in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile Costa Rica and states throughout Mexico. Teaching salaries and benefits are average.
Experience Requirements: Most jobs do not require previous teaching experience, making it a good region for newly certified teachers.
Degree Requirements: A bachelor’s degree is not always required by schools in Latin America, but having one (in any discipline) can help you get the best jobs.
TEFL Requirements: Both online and classroom-based TEFL certifications are widely accepted throughout this region.
Region-specific considerations: Most schools in this region (with the exception of Mexico) usually do not hire teachers sight-unseen from abroad, but instead prefer to interview and hire teachers once they are in the country. Read this post for tips on getting TEFL jobs in Latin America!
The Middle East
Demand for Teachers: Demand for very qualified and experienced teachers in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar or Saudi Arabia is strong. However, exceptionally high salaries in this region mean schools can afford to be very selective when hiring teachers.
Experience Requirements: Schools here typically seek EFL teachers who have plenty of experience teaching English abroad (1-3 years, on average).
Degree Requirements: A bachelor’s in a related field (such as TESOL, education or linguistics), or even masters’ degree in one of these subjects, is almost always required in this region.
TEFL Requirements: The vast majority of jobs in the Middle East will require that teachers hold a classroom-based TEFL certificate, such as the Cambridge CELTA, rather than an online certificate. Saudi Arabia is one country known to be a bit more flexible on accepting online certificates, especially a university-level online TEFL course.
Region-specific considerations: Saudi Arabia is a high-paying country in the Middle East which can be a more accessible option for newly certified teachers, since some jobs there do not require as much experience as other countries in the region.
There are opportunities to teach abroad for people of every background and education level; you simply need zero in on locations that fit yours!
Ready to learn more about top teaching destinations? Check out the BridgeTEFL Country Guides to learn more about salary, cost of living, TEFL job markets, and teaching in different countries around the world!