Updated December 21, 2021
You got your TEFL during a lockdown - now what?
In the past few years, much has changed in the world. The Covid-19 pandemic that spread worldwide starting in 2019 disrupted many industries, not the least of which was the world of teaching abroad.
For many teaching abroad enthusiasts, people who wanted to grow their teaching skills, those looking to supplement an income with a teaching online side-hustle, and just some regular dreamers thinking about life outside their own four-walls, getting an online OISE TEFL certification has been an excellent learning opportunity.
I’ve completed my TEFL course - now what? Prior to these past few years, raise your hand if, at some point in your life, you've dreamed about packing up your belongings and moving halfway around the world. Yep, we’re with you on that front! Now that you have that all-important TEFL certification, you’ve hit your first key milestone along the path to your new and exciting life adventure teaching English abroad (psst - if you haven’t gotten TEFL certified yet and are looking for handy tips on finding the best TEFL course for you, check out our step-by-step infographic guide to choosing the right TEFL course).
What’s up next? Now’s the time to start researching and making concrete plans to ensure that your dream of living and teaching abroad doesn’t remain just that - a dream. Simply follow the steps below to get started and you’ll be a teach abroad job-search pro in no time!
Step 1: Figure out your goals. There’s no better time than right now to start putting pen to paper and honing in on your motivations for teaching abroad.
Do you crave adventure and want to teach abroad for the chance to travel, explore different cultures and meet interesting people? Maybe your priority is to save as much money as you can - either to pay off debt or to start building a nest egg for the future. Or, perhaps you’re laser-focused on finding a job that will help you further your ESL teaching career for the long term.
Maybe it’s a combination of the three. That’s great - these are all fantastic, valid, reasons to teach abroad. Prioritizing your goals at this early stage will help you make more informed decisions to when it comes to finding the English teaching job abroad that best suits you.
Step 2: Figure out what type of teaching job is right for you. Knowing what kind of teach abroad job that best suits your personality and capabilities will help you narrow down your job search. First off - what age group would you most like to teach? If the very idea of a classroom full of children breaks you out in a cold sweat, it could be worth looking at tutoring adults and business professionals in English instead.
Next, get started by looking through some current teach abroad job postings. Figure out what hiring schools overseas offer teaching candidates in terms of salaries and benefits, and what the minimum requirements for English teaching jobs in your preferred locations are.
What perks appeal to you most - a competitive salary, free flights, free accommodation, bonuses? It’s important to honestly assess whether the packages offered match your qualifications and experience.
Step 3: Figure out where you want to go. Deciding exactly where you want to teach abroad is a crucial - and arguably the most exciting - part of your job search. With demand for teachers internationally at an all-time high, there’s never been a more exciting time to explore teaching abroad.
Maybe you already have your heart set on a particular continent - even one country or one city. It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that a location you’ve dreamed of living in in the past may either have prohibitive visa restrictions or may not, in fact, be the best fit for your personal, or financial, goals.
In many European and South American countries, you might just about manage to break even at the end of every month, so if your priority is to save money and travel, maybe it’s time to start exploring other locations that can help you achieve that end goal.
It’s important to be flexible and keep an open mind at this early stage - that way you won’t feel discouraged before you’ve even started applying for teaching jobs abroad. Teach abroad blogs like University of Toronto TEFL Online and Teach Away are all great jumping-off points to help you learn more about the requirements and realities of teaching jobs abroad in many countries.
Right now, teaching jobs in Asia offer some of the best opportunities for certified teachers to take their teaching career to the next level as well as for beginner ESL teachers looking to get started with a new adventure abroad. Salaries are high (especially compared to the much lower cost of living), benefits are great and the travel opportunities are unbeatable.
As a result, countries like China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are quickly becoming popular ESL teaching locations for those looking to save money and travel at the same time.
China, in particular, has quickly become the world’s biggest ESL job hotspot, with the number of English language learners in the hundreds of millions and growing daily. To get the full lowdown on what teaching English in China is like, check out Teach Away’s recent blog post covering five top reasons why you should teach in China.
Step 4: Amp up your resume. Resume talk time! Schools across the globe have been slowly demanding higher and higher standards for the teachers they hire - a TEFL certification being the most common minimum requirement (aside from fluency in English, of course). So, if you’ve got your TEFL certification and Bachelor's degree ticked off the list, you’re already in pretty good shape when it comes to qualifying for many of the higher-paying, competitive teaching jobs abroad.
There are also a number of affordable, online professional development courses for teachers that can help kick your teach abroad resume up a notch. Now is also a great time to start taking courses that cover strategies to help grow your teaching skills in areas such as culturally responsive teaching and digital literacy in the classroom.
This is a big chance for you to not only shine in your teach abroad interview but also to convey your commitment to being an effective ESL teacher to potential employers. Improving student learning outcomes is a huge priority to hiring schools overseas, so be sure to show them that this matters to you, too. Be sure to also include work experience that may boost your teach abroad application. Volunteer work or any experience with children can give you a great leg up on other candidates!
Step 5: Start prepping for start-up costs, stat. It’s a fact that you’ll need some savings as a buffer before you venture on your new journey teaching English abroad. Even if you land a teaching job that covers the cost of your flights, accommodation, and visa, you’re still bound to incur some daily expenses until that first paycheck hits your bank account. How much you need to save beforehand will depend on what perks your hiring school offers in their compensation packages, as well as the cost of living in the location you’re teaching in. As a rough guide, we recommend you save enough to live comfortably for at least six weeks after your arrival.
Step 6: Find a job! Once you have a clear idea of what kind of teach abroad position you should be looking for, it’s high time to get started on your job hunt! A great first step is to register for a Teach Away account, complete your teacher profile and start applying for the teaching positions that appeal to you.
Easy - peasy right? Not so fast. Remember to have a little patience at this point - there’s no hard-and-fast rule for how quickly you can be hired to teach abroad. There are peak hiring times and this part could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Good luck job hunting! With your TEFL certification in hand, you’ll be teaching abroad in no time. Looking for hands-on job search advice? Talk to us today!