Teach English Abroad: 31 Ways To Find An ESL Job (Updated 2020)
When you decide to teach English abroad, you can open so many doors for yourself. There are endless opportunities out there!
Travelling the world and teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to students from around the world lets you experience new cultures and languages, eat exotic food and explore the hidden wonders of faraway countries, and form friendships that last a lifetime.
Whether you choose to teach abroad for one month or twenty years, the experience will change your life forever.
I’ve taught English abroad in Brazil, Belgium, and Spain, and each place has helped open my eyes to the world around me. I wouldn’t change these experiences for anything!
(You can read more about my story if you’re interested!)
It can be intimidating to get started in the ESL industry though, and that’s why I’m writing this guide.
English is the most spoken language in the world, and millions of people around the globe are studying English around the clock.
There are so many countries in the world and so many different ways to teach English abroad that taking the first step can be overwhelming.
We’ll look at different ways to find ESL jobs in a bit, but first let’s look at some basic requirements of the job and what you can expect to find during your search.
Requirements and qualifications to teach ESL are going to vary depending on:
- where you go,
- who your students are, and
- what type of program you’re doing.
Some countries have standard requirements. For example, you need to have a bachelor’s degree to teach English in China.
In most cases though, requirements generally depend on the specific school where you’ll be teaching.
Usually, the requirements to teach English abroad include some (or all) of the following:
- Native or native-level English language skills
- Bachelor’s degree in any field
- TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate (We’ll talk about this a little later)
- Previous teaching experience, whether it’s formal or informal
Don’t stress if you don’t have all these qualifications. In reality, a lot of successful English teachers don’t!
Having these qualifications when you apply for English teaching jobs can move your application to the top of the stack. They can also help you negotiate a higher salary!
If you’re going abroad, it’s also a good idea to try to learn the local language. Some jobs may even require you to speak at a certain level!
Here’s a closer look at what each requirement to teach English abroad entails:
Be A Native English Speaker
To teach English, you obviously need to speak English fluently. If English isn’t your first language though, don’t fret. You can still teach abroad, but you may need to search a little harder. In all honesty, schools usually prefer native speakers though.
If English is your first language and you’re from an English-speaking country, your opportunities are pretty much endless!
Have A Bachelor’s Degree
A bachelor’s degree is pretty straightforward. You should also know that some ESL programs happily accept applicants with an associate degree though!
Most programs accept a degree in any field, but some of the more competitive programs prefer that your degree is in education.
When you’re ready to start looking for jobs to teach English abroad, you’ll see these acronyms everywhere: TEFL, TESOL, and CELTA. Here’s what they mean:
- TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language
- TESOL – Teaching English as a Second or Other Language
- CELTA – Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults
There are a lot of companies that offer TEFL and TESOL certification courses. A lot of them even help you find a job afterwards!
Some certification courses are more expensive than others, and some have to be completed in person while others can be completed online.
There is no organization that regulates the quality of TEFL and TESOL courses, so be sure to do some due diligence to make sure you’re looking at a thorough and comprehensive certification.
A CELTA certificate, on the other hand, is seen as one of the most prestigious ESL certifications. It employs strict standards and is officially certified by Cambridge University.
The fee to pursue a CELTA certification can be on the more expensive side, but you will have opportunities for some of the highest paid ESL positions abroad with it in hand.
Previous ESL Teaching Experience
Although teach abroad programs and English teaching jobs will always prefer that you have previous experience, it’s rarely an actual requirement.
Classroom experience with adults or children will help your case, but previous experience babysitting, tutoring, or working as a summer camp counselor can make your application stand out, too!
Like I said before, requirements vary based on which ESL jobs you apply to. The best way you can improve your chances of finding a great job is to have as many of these qualifications as you can.
Now that you know all about the most common requirements, it’s time to start your job search.
…but where do you even start looking for jobs to teach English abroad?
How To Find English Teaching Jobs Abroad
There are a lot of different ways to find reputable, legitimate ways to teach English abroad. Some of the most common ways to start your job search are:
- Teach Abroad Programs
- ESL Recruiters
- ESL Job Boards
I’ll go through each of these in detail, but first I want to give you a quick word of warning about finding ESL jobs online.
You’ll find a lot of great opportunities during your search, but always be cautious. If a job looks too good to be true, it probably is.
7 Red Flags To Avoid During Your English Teaching Job Search
Scams exist in every industry, and ESL is no different. There are a lot of exciting and interesting opportunities to teach English abroad. You need to know how to weed out the legitimate jobs from the fakes though.
Here are 7 signs that an ESL job may be a scam:
They ask you to send money.
Some programs do have a fee, but this will be listed on the official website. The fee will be paid directly to the school or program facilitator.
Always research any program that has a fee, and look for reviews, past participants, and make sure the partner schools are legitimate.
They involve unnecessary third parties.
Because ESL jobs often involve many different people (recruiters, schools, local governments), it can be easy for scammers to enter the process, too.
Many illegitimate schools will ask you to send money to travel agents or insurance agents that don’t actually exist.
Never send money to businesses that aren’t officially partnered with your program. Also, never send money to individual people!
They don’t have an online presence.
If you can’t find an official website for a school, it probably doesn’t exist. Also, be sure to check for reviews!
Their emails don’t use proper spelling or grammar.
Most likely, the people you’re communicating with about jobs to teach English abroad won’t be native speakers (unless you go through a recruiter).
The school or local government officials may make small mistakes or say things differently than a native speaker would, but they’ll try their best.
If emails are full of spelling errors and terrible grammar, it’s most likely a scammer!
The job posting says “scam free” or “totally legitimate”.
I’m pretty sure I don’t need to explain this one!
The email address isn’t attached to an official domain.
If a “job recruiter” is emailing you from a Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo email account, don’t bother responding.
Legitimate recruiters will use emails that end with their company’s website (firstname.lastname@example.org).
They won’t speak to you over video or phone.
If you don’t have a formal interview over the phone or using a video application, be wary.
You probably won’t be able to meet your future employer for a face-to-face interview, but they will always want to speak to you directly during the interview process. Probably multiple times!
Now that you know how to avoid some common ESL scams, you’re prepared to enter the job market!
Let’s look at a few different ways you can find exciting and legitimate jobs to teach English abroad!
3 Dependable Ways To Find English Teaching Jobs Abroad
There are three main routes you can follow when you start your search for international teaching jobs.
Teach Abroad Programs
You can apply directly through a specific program, which gives you the most control. You know where you’ll be going, what you’ll be doing, and what the expectations are upfront. There are a lot of private and public programs you can choose from!
ESL Job Recruiters
There are also a lot of reputable recruiting companies that partner with English schools abroad. Going through a recruiter allows you to submit one application for a bunch of different opportunities.
You may find that you don’t have as much control over where your application is sent though.
If you have your sights set on a particular country or region, the recruiter will probably try and work to get you there, but there are no guarantees. They’ll place you where they need you the most.
ESL Job Boards
Job boards are also common in the ESL industry. Similar to Indeed or Monster, ESL job boards allow individual schools and recruiters to post open positions from around the world.
I suggest going through some job boards at the beginning of your search just so you can see the wide variety of opportunities available!
Be careful though – Job boards are where the ESL scams are usually posted, so proceed with caution if you choose to apply to any English teaching jobs you see.
You may find some other methods to find high-quality English teaching jobs (if you do, let me know in the comments!), but these are the tried-and-true ways that I’ve had experience with.
To help you get started, I’ve compiled a list of 31 different programs, recruiters, and job boards below.
Let me know in the comments if you end up applying for anything on the list. I would love to hear about your experience!
Also, if you know of an ESL opportunity that isn’t on the list, tell me about that in the comments, too! I’m happy to add it.
The Ultimate List Of English Teaching Jobs Abroad
Teach English Abroad Programs
Like I said earlier, applying to ESL programs gives you the most control over where you end up. This is because you’re applying directly to a specific company or government. The pay and incentives are usually pretty decent, too! Here are some great programs you should check out:
The English Program In Korea (EPIK)
What Are The Requirements To Apply To EPIK?
You need to be a native speaker from any English-speaking country, and the program requires a bachelor’s degree in any field. Your degree also needs to be from an accredited, English-speaking university.
In most cases, you’ll need to have a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification, too. The only exception is if your degree is in education and you have a valid teaching certificate.
You don’t need to have any previous experience teaching children though, so this could be a great program to start your career teaching English abroad!
What Is The Salary At EPIK?
The salary for EPIK teachers varies based on where you’re placed in South Korea, but the range is usually anywhere between $1,450 USD and $2,500 USD per month. Accommodation is provided, and the program also offers the following incentives:
- Settlement allowance when you arrive (around $250)
- Severance pay when you successfully complete your contract
- A renewal bonus when you sign another contract
- 50% of your medical insurance premiums
- Orientation and training programs
The Japanese Exchange And Teaching Program (JET)
The JET Program is very competitive, and that’s because it’s one of the most reputable programs in the ESL industry. Through JET, you’ll be teaching English to children in public schools all over Japan.
What Are The Requirements To Apply To JET?
To qualify, you need to be a native speaker, a US citizen, and have a bachelor’s degree in any field. An ESL teaching certification will definitely help, but it’s not required. Previous education experience isn’t required either!
What Is The Salary At JET?
The pay for JET teachers depends on where they are in Japan, but usually falls between $25,000 USD and $35,500 USD per year. The program will also pay for your round trip flight to and from Japan! Accommodation isn’t provided, but you can rent a comfortable apartment with the great salary.
An additional perk is that the JET program will pay for some of your insurance premiums.
The North American Language and Culture Assistants Program
What Are The Requirements To Apply To NALCAP?
You need to be a native speaker from the US or Canada, and you need a bachelor’s or associate degree in any field. You don’t need an ESL teaching certificate or previous experience to take part in this program, which makes it the perfect fit for recent college grads.
What Is The Salary Of An Auxiliar In Spain?
Travel and accommodation are not provided, but auxiliars are paid between 700 and 1,000 Euros per month (tax free!), so you can definitely live comfortably. Also, since the program is sponsored by the Spanish Government, your healthcare is completely free!
The Teaching Assistant Program In France (TAPIF)
What Are The Requirements To Apply To TAPIF?
You need to be a native speaker from the US to apply, and you also need a bachelor’s degree in any field. No need to get your TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification beforehand though, and you also don’t need previous experience.
What Is The Salary At TAPIF?
The monthly pay is generally around 785 EUR per month, and you’ll need to cover your own travel and accommodation.
What Are The Requirements To Apply To Meddeas?
You need to be a native speaker from any English-speaking country, and you need to have a bachelor’s degree in any field. You will also need to get your TEFL/TESOL/CELTA, but you can choose to complete your certification directly through Meddeas. No previous experience is required.
What Is The Salary At Meddeas?
Your salary will vary based on where the program places you, but is generally a little higher than the auxiliar program. You will need to purchase separate private insurance if you choose to join the Meddeas program though, so keep that in mind.
The program also provides your accommodation, but you’ll need to pay your travel expenses to and from Spain.
What Are The Requirements To Apply To Interac Japan?
To apply, you need to be a native speaker from any English-speaking country, and you need a bachelor’s degree in any field. No ESL certification or previous experience are required.
What Is The Salary At Interac Japan?
Your pay will depend on which region you teach in, but will generally be between $21,000 USD and $24,000 USD per year. Some schools may cover your travel expenses, but this isn’t always the case. Your accommodation will also be arranged by the school on your behalf, but you’ll need to pay for it.
Associazione Culturale Linguistica Educational (ACLE)
What Are The Requirements To Apply To ACLE?
You need to be a native speaker from any English-speaking country, but you don’t need a bachelor’s degree, ESL certificate, or previous experience.
What Is The Salary At ACLE?
Accommodation with a host family is usually provided, but is subject to availability. There is also a small stipend that you’ll receive during the program to help defray your costs. Travel to and from Italy is not included, but the program does cover basic accident insurance once you arrive.
What Are The Requirements To Apply At EDUCO?
The requirements are the same as ACLE: Native speaker, but no bachelor’s degree, ESL certificate, or previous experience necessary. In fact, you’ll receive a TEFL certificate at the end of your program!
What Is The Salary At EDUCO?
There is no financial support for travel expenses, but you’ll be staying with a host family during your time in Italy for free. There is also a small stipend to help defray your costs during your stay.
Aliore Worldwide Workshops
What Are The Requirements To Apply To Aliore Worldwide Workshops?
You need to be a native English speaker from any English-speaking country, and the only other requirements are that you’ve finished high school and speak some French. That makes this program a great experience for young adults to explore another part of the world!
What Do The Aliore Worldwide Workshops Cost?
The program costs between 500 and 700 Euros to participate and travel expenses are your responsibility. However, like I mentioned above, your room and board is provided by your host family.
Teach And Learn Georgia
The Teach and Learn program is sponsored by the Georgian government. This program places you in a public school in Georgia. This is a unique opportunity because Georgia is a beautiful country that most people never have the opportunity to visit!
What Are The Requirements To Apply To Teach And Learn Georgia?
To apply to Teach and Learn Georgia, you should be a native speaker from any English-speaking country, and you should have a bachelor’s degree. A TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification is preferred, but not required. You also don’t need any previous experience.
What Is The Salary At Teach And Learn Georgia?
The pay is between $150 USD and $250 USD per month, and your travel expenses and accommodation are arranged or provided. You also get free health insurance during your time in Georgia.
English Open Doors
What Are The Requirements To Apply To English Open Doors?
To apply for English Open Doors, you need to be a native speaker from any English-speaking country and you need to have a bachelor’s degree. There aren’t any other requirements on top of that, but a certificate and previous experience are definitely preferred.
What Is The Salary At English Open Doors?
Even though it’s a volunteer program, English Open Doors does pay a small stipend of $125 USD per month. Travel expenses are your responsibility, but accommodation in Chile is provided for free by a host family.
The RVF International Program, which stands for “Reaching, Venturing, Finding”, is a premium service offered for teachers who want to apply to the auxiliar program in Spain. While the actual teaching placement is managed by the Spanish government, RVF offers additional services, such as:
- Application guidance
- Personalized assistance throughout the visa process
- Help obtaining your Spanish residency
- Cultural and language immersion opportunities
Because of this, the requirements to apply are the same as the auxiliar program. For their services, RVF International charges between 375 Euros and 999 Euros.
Recruiters For Teach English Abroad Jobs
Recruiting companies for teaching English abroad are plentiful. Like recruitment firms in any industry, some have your best interests at heart and others are looking for a quick commission payment.
Here are some reputable recruiting companies for English teachers, based on reviews and testimonials.
CIEE offers both paid and volunteer teaching opportunities. Paid teaching positions are in Chile, China, Czech Republic, Morocco, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, and Vietnam. The volunteer positions are in Spain and Portugal.
CIEE Teach Abroad Reviews
CIEE has excellent reviews and testimonials from current and past teachers. They excel at finding high-quality placements.
Although some teachers weren’t initially happy with the location of their placement, they grew to love their new homes because of their unique characters and unknown cultural opportunities.
Greenheart Travel is a non-profit organization that provides teaching opportunities as well as other cultural opportunities to travelers who want to experience the world.
Their teaching placements are in Thailand, Italy, South Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan, Russia, China, Costa Rica, Myanmar, Argentina, Spain, and the Czech Republic. You have a lot of options with Greenheart Travel!
Greenheart Travel Reviews
Reviews and testimonials for Greenheart Travel are generally really positive, and many people like the ease of their application process and their support while abroad.
Teaching Nomad Reviews
They have excellent reviews, and a lot of different people mentioned their responsiveness and knowledge about the transition abroad as their strongest selling points.
The staff at TravelBud have all taught abroad before, so they know everything you’re going through. This can make the whole process go a lot more smoothly, and can also help you build a deeper connection with your recruiter.
The company offers placements in Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Myanmar, Japan, and Costa Rica.
Reviews of TravelBud often emphasize their pre-departure support and professionalism.
Korvia Consulting Reviews
Their reviews commend their exceptional professionalism and efficiency, as well as the quality of the schools they partner with.
Travel And Teach Recruiting Inc.
Travel and Teach Recruiting Inc., like Korvia Consulting, exclusively recruits for schools in South Korea. They are a free service, and say that all of their placements include a competitive salary, reputable schools, and airfare and accommodation are provided.
Travel And Teach Recruiting Reviews
Reviews for Travel and Teach Recruiting frequently mention the open lines of communication and the thorough organization of the recruiters.
Placements with LanguageCorps are all around the global: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.
LanguageCorps offers a TEFL certification as well as job placement assistance once you complete the course.
Reviews say the TEFL certification is demanding but worthwhile, and the job assistance is also very good.
Past participants said volunteering with UBELONG was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and they felt they really made an impact in their locations abroad. The UBELONG staff is also described as humble and helpful.
Footprints Recruiting Reviews
Reviews are really positive for the company, and often mention their knowledge about navigating the application and immigration procedures.
OK Recruiting Reviews
Reviews consistently compliment the high quality of the schools, and the ease and security of the application and visa processes.
Teach Away Reviews
According to reviews, Teach Away excels at helping teachers transition to life abroad by providing support and comfort throughout the process.
Reach To Teach
Reach To Teach Reviews
The reviews for Reach To Teach are really positive, and many discuss the company’s job offerings, country-specific knowledge, and general support as major advantages.
Teach English Abroad Job Boards
Job boards catering to the ESL industry can easily be found with a Google search, but not all job boards for teaching English are created equal. You should always do some investigating to see how easy it is for people to post jobs on the sites. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it free to post jobs on this site?
- Does this site partner with specific programs or recruiting companies?
- What is the vetting process for job postings?
If you can find out all of this information before you start looking for jobs, you’ll be able to tell which job boards are worth checking and which aren’t.
To help you get started, here are some job boards I recommend to find English teaching jobs abroad:
There you have it! Hopefully you’ve picked up some interesting tips and tricks to help you navigate the international ESL world.
If you’ve participated in any of these programs or worked with any of these recruiting agencies, let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Also, don’t forget to let me know if you’d like me to add anything to the list. Our industry is always changing, and I love learning about new opportunities!
And as one final note, if you want to teach abroad someday but aren’t quite ready yet, check out some of the best websites to teach English online. This can be a great way to kickstart your career teaching English!