Step 1 - Choose a destination
Remember, different countries have different qualification requirements, so it is important to pick a country before you move onto the next step. If you can't pick just 1 country, narrow it down as much as possible as you will have to research multiple countries, which is more time consuming. We've complied a helpful list of questions to help you get started.
We also recommend Dave's ESL, JimmyESL, r/TEFL and Waygook as general starters. Also be sure to google 'country/city' teach English abroad forum' to get more specific information.
Step 2 - Get Certified
Most countries will require a BA from a University just in order to get a visa. If you have a BA (in any major) you can teach almost anywhere! Without a University degree, you can still teach in many great places like China, Russia, Spain, Mexico, Ecuador, Vietnam and more!
If you are one of the few who have a B.Ed or M.Ed, then the sky is the limit as most English teachers abroad have unrelated undergraduate degrees.
TESL certificates can give you great experience and insight into teaching and also help you stand out from the pack. But, there are a ton of certificates out there. Which one should you get? Well, this is where it gets tricky.
It totally depends on what country you want to teach in. Some countries won't care if you have one or not while others will require you to be certified just so they can tick off the box. All countries and jobs have different requirements, which is why researching in step one is so important.
We strong suggest you read our article 'Picking a TEFL course' to see which course is right for you.
For some reason, CELTA isn't as well known in Asian countries, where some of the highest paying jobs in the world are. If you want to work in Asia, or aren't looking to teach abroad for more than a year or two, we advise to get a TEFL or TESOL certificate. We recommend taking a course with a guaranteed job upon graduation such as the paid teaching program in Vietnam.
Which ever certificate you get, make sure that it meets the requirements from the country you wish to teach in.
Step 3 - Market Yourself
Use spell check. Then use it again! You are applying for a job as an English Teacher. If you can't even write your own resume and cover letter correctly, how are people going to expect you to teach English to others! Read over your resume and cover letter with a fine tooth comb. Then have a friend do the same. Even one spelling error can lead to your resume being thrown in the trash.
Your cover letter should be no longer than one page. In it you should explain why you want to teach English abroad, what kind of teacher and person you are, what kind of job you're looking for and what kind of skills you could bring if hired.
Check out our article about how to write the perfect cover letter.
The most important part of your application is the resume. The average employer only looks at your resume for six seconds. That's right, six seconds! You need a resume that is easy to read and only includes relevant information. Have a read of our article about resume tips and tricks.
You should have the following digital files ready to sent as soon as asked.
2 photos of you (1 full body, 1 face)
Scans of your University degree and TEFL Certificate
Scan of your passport information page (with important information blacked out)
Step 4 - Apply
That being said, it is always wise to apply for jobs from abroad before heading to any country. You have nothing to lose and even if you don't find a job, you'll have a list of schools to contact once you arrive in the country.
There are a number of job boards you can use to look for jobs such as: Dave's ESL Job List, Serious Teachers, TEFL Search, r/tesoljobs, TEFL Jobs and TEFL Jobs World. You should go to as many job boards as possible. The best way is to apply of through rapid fire approach. Email as many schools possible.
There are also a ton of private recruiting companies that will help you. Recruiting companies are a mixed bag. They can be good or bad, but the one thing to remember is they are there to make money. They usually get paid a commission from the school if they hire you. It is not necessary to pay a recruiter any money. They can be great and helpful, but they are trying to get you take any job so they get paid.
Don't be afraid to say 'no'. A recruiter will often show you the jobs that others have rejected first. Remember, there's usually a reason why others have rejected these jobs.
You can also apply directly to schools. A quick google search will often show many schools in the country, or city you want to teach in. While most won't be advertising, many will in fact have positions available. Even if the school isn't hiring, they may put you in contact with another school that is. Applying directly can also help cut out recruiters.
Applying in person
Apply to as many places as possible, even if you see a job that isn't ideal. Try to negotiate. Inquire about other possible positions available. Talk to the other teachers there. Network as much as possible.
All though it would seem like commonsense, don't expect all vacancies to be advertised in English. If you can't speak the language, learn the work for 'English Teacher' and search the internet for that. You may pull up addresses, names and phone numbers that you can then search for in English.
Better yet, have a local friend help you search. They are privy to much more information that someone who doesn't speak the language or has just arrived in the country. On top of that, they may have contacts to introduce you to.
Try and try and eventually you will succeed.
STEP 5 - The Interview
The school will most likely email to set up a time for a Skype interview. If they don't do this, but still want to hire you, then you should be wary. It could be nothing, but don't you want to see what kind of place you'll be working at? If the school is so desperate to hire you without even interviewing you, then something may be wrong.
Before the interview
Take time to research the school you will be interviewing with. Have a couple of positive points to mention at the right time. The interview has taken the time to read your resume, so they will expect you to take the time to read about their school.
You should also do a quick google search about the city and location of the school within the city.
You should also write down a list of questions that you want to ask during the interview. Asking questions isn't rude, in fact you can appear disinterested if you do not ask at least a few questions about the city or job.
Be on time. This is trickier than it sounds as you're most likely going to interview with someone in a vastly different timezone. Confirm the time you are meeting in both their time and your time. A simple google search "Time in Bangkok/Hanoi etc" will help you double check the time.
Dress like you would for a normal interview. Just because it's on Skype doesn't mean it's OK to be poorly presented. Be professional. Make sure the area behind you that is visible to the camera is clear and presentable.
We've heard horror stories of people standing up to get something only to forget that they only bothered to dress professionally from the waste up. This should be a no brainier, but please wear pants!
Treat the interview just like any other. You're on time, dressed properly and mentally prepared.
Expected to be asked:
About your teaching experience
Why you want to teach English
What interests you about their school
Why you want to teach in a particular country
What you would bring to the role over other candidates
How you deal with disruptive students
Your teaching philosophy
Have answers ready for all these questions beforehand. Be sure to study basic grammar points leading up to the interview. During the interview, if you don't know an answer to a grammar question, don't panic. Remain clam and politely say you're not sure of the answer but you do always research relevant grammar points before teaching them and if you don't know the answer when asked by a student, you always promise to research and explain it next class.
At the end of the interview, be sure to thank the interviewer for their time and ask when you should expect to hear back from them. If you are offered the job, but are not 100% sure, tell them that you will get back to them withing 24 hours.
After the interview
Unless you were offered the job, now is not the time to relax. Even if you think the interview went well, you still need to keep applying and interview for jobs. Until a contract arrives for you to sign, you should always be on the look out for other jobs.
Aren't interested in the job? The most important thing to remember is not to burn any bridges. If you don't want the job, tell them. Email back and let them know what was wrong with the job. Maybe they have another job that matches your criteria. Maybe they can refer you to another school that's right for you. There are thousands of jobs out there, the hardest part is hearing about them. These people can help.
Step 6 - Make the jump
Make sure you are totally prepared for your flight and arrival. Check what dates and time you should arrive. Will you be picked up at the airport? Where will you stay? Will your accommodation be paid for until you're settled? If you don't know the answer to any of these questions, ask!
Step 7 - Network
You're already one step ahead than most - you're in the country. Schools are more likely to hire locally as it means no need to worry about your visa/flight/apartment. The best way to find your next job is by speaking to as many other English Teachers as possible and making as many acquaintances (doesn't matter who) as possible. You never know where the next job offer or part time job will come from.