How to start working abroad


Erica Fairchild

When I first decided that I might want to teach English abroad, there were many questions running through my head. I didn’t know where to begin! I initially thought the process would be too overwhelming. In the end, however, it was much easier than I ever expected, and it left me with a significant feeling of accomplishment for navigating the process and successfully working abroad in Asia.

Here are my top 3 tips for starting to work abroad.


Besides the glamourous side of living abroad, there are many things to consider before you begin to apply to schools or companies. Some important questions to ask yourself are:

“Where do I want to teach?”

“What income do I want to earn?”

“Do I want to teach kids or adults?”

“Do I need a TEFL certificate?”

ESL jobs are available all over the world. For example, Europe, Asia, South America, and the Middle East. It’s important to do your research into these different locations to see which region appeals to you the most. For example, if you have always wanted to backpack through Asia while working and saving money, then working abroad somewhere in China would be ideal for you.

The key to being successful living and working abroad is to be as prepared as you can possibly be. There are so many resources on the internet. Search through articles, blogs, and YouTube to get an idea of what life is like in these different regions of the world and which would suite you best.


While teaching and working abroad is a great way to earn and save money, most teachers forget about the initial start up costs of moving to a different country. Finding housing, paying for a deposit, and buying basic living supplies often add up in the first month of living abroad- especially if you do not get your first pay check until the end of your first month. I suggest saving money for the big move for at least 3-6 months before leaving- and yes, I know 6 months seems like a long time, but you’ll be so happy you did! This doesn’t mean you will need to spend it all at once; it is great to have a safety net of money in case you need to fly home, want to take a trip to a nearby country, or just to generally feel the security that you have a bit of savings.


This is the most important step in this process. The ESL industry has grown significantly over the past 10 years, which leads to some shady companies trying to cash in on it. Moving abroad might be one of the most amazing experiences in your life, but nothing can ruin it quicker than false promises by a company you thought you could trust. If something seems too good to be true, then it most likely is. Things to look out for:

  • An extremely quick visa process

  • If they tell you to lie on a visa application

  • If they promise you a specific location or salary, but do not follow through on it

  • Spelling mistakes or typos on their website or flyers

Lastly, read their reviews! First-hand experiences are invaluable when making the move abroad. Get in touch with others who have made the move or send an email to an International Recruiter. EF’s recruiters are great at getting back to you and have a wealth of information about their company, the process, and the country you want to move to.

If Teaching English in Asia sounds like the right fit for you, then Check out EF’s website for more information on teaching abroad in China. You do not need prior experience, the salary is competitive, and you’ll meet so many amazing friends from all over the world!

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