Like the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, maybe you’re earning your online master’s degree in education for the pay increase – the “master’s bump,” as it’s commonly called. Perhaps this is why 52 percent of public elementary and secondary school teachers in America have master’s degrees or higher.
Obtaining a traditional or online master’s in education in order to increase your annual salary is absolutely a great reason to attend grad school. But it could be a doorway to many more adventures. Have you ever considered teaching overseas?
Why Consider Teaching Overseas?
The obvious and glamorous reason: To see the world! But other perks include tax-free salaries in some locations, job opportunities (more than 5,000 vacancies per year), and exposure to other cultures.
Additionally, there has been keen competition for teaching jobs on our home front since the recession began, with The New York Times declaring in 2010, “The recession seems to have penetrated a profession long seen as recession-proof.” Times have improved since 2010, but even last summer Forbes hailed a master’s in education – online or traditional – as one of the worst master’s degrees for jobs, citing it as “gratifying, but pricy.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, postsecondary, middle school, elementary, and kindergarten teachers can expect average job growth (about 17 percent) through 2020. High school teaching jobs will grow at a slower than average pace – just 7 percent.
In other words, if you’ve longed to explore foreign lands, now is a great time to do it!
Am I Qualified?
Job descriptions vary from school to school and country to country, but it’s possible that you are already qualified – even if you’re still completing your online master’s in education.
“International schools are looking for teachers who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in their subject area,” writes Cynthia Nagrath for The International Educator. For example, TeachAnywhere, a recruiting company by Randstad, recruits primary and secondary school teachers with a bachelor’s or master’s degree who are qualified or certified to teach in a public school in their home state.
Even fluency in a foreign language may not be required, particularly for opportunities at international schools (though it’s certainly a plus!). “The only language requirement for teaching at an international school is that you speak English,” Nagrath writes. “In fact, native speakers of English, or those who command a high level of fluency in English, are exactly the types of candidates that international schools are looking for. American and international schools all over the world consist of diverse, multicultural student bodies whose common denominator is that they are all English-speaking.”
How Do I Look for Jobs?
There are many resources (all of which are cited in the endnotes at the bottom of this article). The Institute for International Education offers the Fulbright Classroom Teacher Exchange Program, which allows teachers to switch jobs with teachers from other countries for a semester or academic year. Participating countries include the Czech Republic, Hungary, India, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Network for Education Information has resources for primary, secondary, and postsecondary teachers who want to work abroad. Though some opportunities for postsecondary educators may require a doctoral degree, others may require a master’s degree.
For teachers specifically interested in teaching English abroad, the International TEFL Academy offers a chart comparing English teaching jobs worldwide, as well as a list of countries alleged to offer the best compensation. For more information, see InternationalTEFLAcademy.com.
 National Center for Education Statistics, “Fast Facts,” http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=28 (Retrieved 16 Mar 2013).
 The International Educator, “Why Teach Abroad?” http://www.tieonline.com/teach_overseas_public.cfm (Retrieved 16 Mar 2013).
 The New York Times, “Teachers Facing Weakest Market in Years,” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/20/nyregion/20teachers.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 (19 May 2010).
 Forbes, “The Best and Worst Master’s Degrees for Jobs,” http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2012/06/08/the-best-and-worst-masters-degrees-for-jobs-2/2/ (8 Jun 2012).
 BLS OOH, “Postsecondary Teachers,” http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm (Retrieved 16 Mar 2013).
 BLS OOH, “Middle School Teachers,” http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm (Retrieved 16 Mar 2013).
 BLS OOH, “Kindergarten and Elementary Teachers,” http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm (Retrieved 16 Mar 2013).
 BLS OOH, “High School Teachers,” http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm (Retrieved 16 Mar 2013).
 The International Educator, “Teaching Overseas: Are You Qualified?” http://www.tieonline.com/view_article.cfm?ArticleID=86 (6 Jul 2011).
 TeachAnywhere, “Minimum Requirements,” http://www.teachanywhere.com/job-seekers/minimum-requirements/ (Retrieved 16 Mar 2013).
 Institute for International Education, “Fulbright Classroom Teacher Exchange Program,” http://www.iie.org/en/Programs/Fulbright-Teacher-Exchange-Program (Retrieved 16 Mar 2013).
 U.S. Department of Education Network for Education Information, “Teaching Overseas,” http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ous/international/usnei/international/edlite-teach-overseas.html (Retrieved 16 Mar 2013).
 International TEFL Academy, “World Comparison Chart of English Teaching Jobs,” http://www.internationalteflacademy.com/country-chart-world-index-english-teaching-jobs/ (Retrieved 16 Mar 2013).
 International TEFL Academy, “Top 5 Countries To Make The Most Money Teaching English Overseas,” http://www.internationalteflacademy.com/blog/bid/51364/Top-5-Countries-to-Make-the-Most-Money-Teaching-English-Overseas (Retrieved 16 Mar 2013).