Erica Fairchild

Thinking about working abroad? Unless you've already worked for some years with an international organisation that's about to post you somewhere overseas, you're going to have to search for opportunities yourself. Here are some tips on how to go about it and what you should check before you go.

Job hunting

One of the most accessible ways of working abroad is to teach English. If you have a degree, are aged between 21 and 55 and are a native English speaker then there is a good chance you'll find an ESL job. Search for jobs in ESL, TEFL and TESOL (different terms for the teaching English as a foreign language industry), and you'll find a huge range of teaching jobs abroad and many different countries to choose from.


Don't underestimate the importance of visas - you have to have the right paperwork! Research what kind of visa you need to work legally in the country you are interested in going to. Also, ensure that the company employing you is willing to sponsor your visa, apply for the correct visa and support you through the application process. Note that visas are often linked to your employer so if you leave that job expect to leave the country and start the process again.

Choose your Employer carefully

A reputable employer will organise your visa, pay a reasonable salary relative to the cost of living, provide initial arrival support, help you find accommodation and provide training and development. Some employers may also provide local language lessons, social events, and opportunities for career advancement and internationally recognised teaching certifications. Whether working abroad is a short term or long term plan for you, professional development and gaining qualifications can make your experience even more worthwhile.

Which country?

Unless you have a particular country in mind because of personal links or interests, consider both cultural and economic factors. Working abroad in a country that will help you learn a sought-after second language such as Chinese will give you a further advantage in the future but also think about simple things such as whether or not you like the food. Economically, consider whether the salary vs thecostof living makes it a good deal and look into the growth of the ESL industry in the country you are choosing. China is a great option in these respects – reasonably low cost of living, good salaries available, huge demand to study English, a great language to pick up and endless variety in food!

Lifestyle change

Since working abroad in ESL opens up the possibility to live almost anywhere make the most of it. Fancy a tropical climate? Then perhaps South East Asia or Southern China will interest you, or maybe you like the changing seasons so Russia or Northern China could appeal more. Again, countries such as China provide any of these possibilities as well as large or small cities, affordable accommodation and excellent public transport infrastructure.

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