• Zach

How did you get a job overseas?

Updated: Feb 22, 2019

The most common question I get from teachers back in their home country when they're frustrated and want to escape. Here I tell you how and give some good resources I've used to get jobs overseas.

Had it with state standardized tests? Sick of tiny paychecks for way too much work? Want to escape the crushing bureaucracy of public schools? Here's how I escaped, twice!


I've had the travel bug from the time I was born. One of my first memories is being very angry with my parents because they didn't take me to San Francisco, when I was TWO! (They later took me, thanks Mom and Dad!) Every time I got to explore a new place, I was ecstatic, and I knew that no matter where the new place was, I was home.


When I was in college I talked to a friend who had done a Teaching English as a Foreign Language certification in the Czech Republic and I learned that with just a 3 week certification and any undergraduate degree, I could join the ranks of "backpacker" teachers and get a job straight out of college in a huge variety of countries. I did that and caught the bug of overseas teaching in a BIG way. I knew what I wanted to do with my life.


When I was in my last year of university, I decided to go for it, and I thought that Thailand would be a good option. It was warm (a critical consideration as I went to university in VERMONT and was sick of being cold), jobs were plentiful, the food was great, something something women, and did I mention, jobs were plentiful? I found a GREAT resource in www.ajarn.com ("ajarn" is "teacher" in Thai) which has tons of jobs listed in Thailand, great articles answering all your possible questions, and a lively forum to ask and get answers to anything the articles don't cover.


Two weeks after graduation I landed in Bangkok to explore a bit before I settled down. I found a city I liked (Hat Yai) and my two job "interviews" both started with the same question "Can you start Monday?" (I think I mentioned that jobs were plentiful).


I loved my time there, but I soon realized that I wanted to make a real career out of it, and found out about teaching in proper, accredited International Schools, but I realized I didn't have the right qualifications, namely a real teaching certification and Western experience. So back to the States I went where I got those things and taught in Memphis, TN, but that's the last I'll speak of that experience or I won't be the Happiest Teacher anymore.


Way back then, in the relative dark ages of 2007, there were only three main options if you wanted an international school job. They still exist, and have a lot of cachet in the community. They are:

International School Services (several job fairs all around the world)

Search Associates (several job fairs all around the world)

UNI Recruiting Fair (one fair in Norther Iowa of all places)


Now, are these ALL of the options, even for 2007? NO! But they were the big ones, and the ones that TONS of people get jobs through.


But job fairs can be stressful, like speed dating, where the stakes are you ending up in rural Paraguay for two years with a director who never comes out of their office except to scream at invisible monsters. And fortunately, times have changed a bit. We have Skype interviews now, and proper web sites. The options for finding jobs overseas have blossomed like mushroom spores in a college dorm room.

Some good new ones are:

TIE Online (I really like their job search function that's a globe with a pin for each job, it excites my wanderlust)

Schrole Connect (I haven't used this one, but they send me a LOT of interesting emails)

GRC (this one has a super early fair in Dubai, and it's where I got my current job)


These are the highlights. There are lots of other sites, but I don't have personal experience with them. There are A LOT of dodgy schools out there, so you have to be careful. In a future post, I'll talk about how to do that and how to nail your interviews (the key is wearing pants to the in-person interviews, but NOT wearing them for the Skype interviews).


Keep smiling, there are LOTS of options out there.


If you liked this post, come join the discussion over at The Happiest Teacher Facebook Group! I would love to have your voice added to the discussion! Also, if you're into that Twitter life, come follow me!

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Currently in Dubai, UAE