From UWC Thailand, one of our partnered schools: International teachers supporting students

If you are thinking about going back to school to be an international teacher, there’s good news! According to the latest research report by the Council of British International Schools (COBIS), 82% of new international teachers are happy with their experience. We’ve pulled together the top three reasons for becoming an international school teacher, supported by the latest findings from the report.

Why become an international school teacher?  

A glimpse of teaching life at Yew Chung International School.

International school jobs are in demand, international educators find it a rewarding career choice and teachers abroad gain a close-knit and supportive community. These are just some of the reasons that people get into the international teaching sector. Looking at the results of the COBIS report showing the motivations of international teacher supply has prompted us to explore why you should consider re-training to be an international teacher. 

There is and will continue to be, a demand for teachers abroad

There are currently about 11,000 schools based worldwide, according to ISC. The international school sector continues to grow, on average about 6% per year. New schools continue to open and therefore the demand for teachers continues.  

Salaries for international educators 

Where there is demand there is money. International school salaries are one motivation for retraining as a teacher. 49% of teachers asked in the recent COBIS report said that the salary was a key motivation for moving overseas. International school teachers earn significantly more overseas than in their home country. Where the net salary isn’t matched to home earnings, it is often compensated with perks & benefits or good opportunities to save. We’ve written all about salaries and benefits in international schools, a great resource to help you make an informed decision when choosing teaching jobs abroad. 

You get to experience different cultures and parts of the world

The COBIS results show that the main motivation for moving overseas to teach in international schools is travel & cultural exploration, with a massive 72% of the teachers asked. With such a world to explore and experience, often finding a career that will support you to do so feels like a distant dream. 

Work-life balance for international educators 

You get the opportunity to see the countries you work in. 75% of teachers felt their work/life balance had improved since moving to the international sector and 74% felt their working load was acceptable. This is very different from teachers teaching in their home countries where they feel overworked and underpaid. According to an article in the Independent last year speaking directly about teachers in the UK, teachers in this country work longer hours than their peers around the world

It’s challenging but also enjoyable

75% of the international teachers said they feel valued and respected as a teacher. When you retrain to be an international teacher you become part of shaping the future of international education which is both exciting but bears responsibility. According the COBIS report  “It’s challenging but also enjoyable”  was the second most popular motivation about going overseas to teach. 

You will be part of a close-knit & supportive community

International educators are rewarded with an extensive community of like-minded fellows around the world. While global and close-knit might feel like a contradiction in terms, the common experiences of being far from home and flung out of your comfort zone mean that support systems are important and valued. Community is the reason many teachers remain in their international schools, some staying around 10 years.

Accrediting bodies and international school associations

There are many associations that support and govern the international education sector. International schools like to be members of these bodies as they reflect a high standard. When looking for international teaching jobs have a look at the associations they are part of.  Council of British International Schools and International Baccalaureate are two examples. Often you will notice international schools display their accreditation or membership on the homepages of their website. 

Already work in education but dissatisfied with the sector? 

You are not the only one. Over a third of international school teachers considered leaving education and or teaching at home before going overseas and 42% were dissatisfied with the home education system. It’s not surprising when low pay and long hours are reported to want to “get away”. 

Qualifications to become an international school teacher.

Teacher Horizons connects teachers from all over the world to schools all over the world. Steps on training to be an international school teacher varies depending on where you do your initial teacher training.  Our advisors are happy to help and support you to find the right position for your training background and qualifications. Here’s the basic low down on certification needed: 

  • a valid teaching certificate plus a degree (masters desirable but not required) in the subject area you want to teach. This varies depending on where you are getting trained. For example, it’s a little different in the US compared to the UK. In the UK you might take a PGCE training course and in the US teacher certification. 
  • Some teachers train on the job. In the UK for example, many start off through TeachFirst. In fact, many of our teachers and advisors are TeachFirst ambassadors. 
  • A recognisable teacher training, whether certification or PGCE, is needed before you can teach in an international school.  

Don’t be overwhelmed by the process. Often schools will call for the experience but Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) can also take their induction year abroad given you options to embark overseas almost immediately. Take a look at our extensive FAQs for international teachers page which covers everything from qualifications to visas and contracts! We have you covered with all the information needed to make the decision to embark on your career as an international teacher! 

Happy teachers in international schools. 

We hope that you found this a supportive overview to embarking on a new career as an international teacher. We’ll leave you with this comment from a teacher we placed who retrained to be an international school teacher. 

“TH were extremely helpful from the beginning. I had some reservations because my degree was in law not in English, so I was unsure whether I could get the job. Alex made enquiries and before I knew it I was entering the next stage. I did a mock interview and felt very comfortable and relaxed about it because Alex made me feel confident. TH was quick to respond to queries and receptive to my needs from the off. I have been working with several agencies since deciding to change my teaching career for the better and TH were by far the most efficient and compassionate service that I was provided with and now I have the job of my dreams. Say no more…”   Scott, teaching in Brunei. 

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