Friday, July 23, 2010

How to get a job abroad - my advice to non NESTs

I’ve been asked a couple of times how I (a non NEST) managed to get a job as an EFL teacher abroad. I'd lie if I said it was easy. It took me a year to get ready and still many things went unplanned. I had to take risks, count on people I hardly knew and experienced things that are better left forgotten. Nevertheless, it was worth all the time, money and effort.

So, if you are a non NEST who’s dreaming of working outside of your country, read my tips and get inspired!
  1. Get certified – CELTA or TEFL might be expensive but they’re totally worth the money. You may have a Master’s from your local university but the employers need an internationally recognized document proving that you’re a teacher. It will simply make your life easier though it certainly is possible to get a job abroad without CELTA / TEFL. I wouldn't recommend doing the courses online though - good schools won't accept that!
  2.  Look for a job on reputable websites this one has worked for me. 
  3.  Send out tons of resumes – don’t get discouraged if you get hardly any replies. Send more and more and more!
  4.  Try to get some international experience – short summer courses are a good option. Summer schools need  plenty of teachers every year so your chances are a lot higher.
  5.   Don’t be fussy – most likely you will have to teach kids, business English and/or 1 to 1 classes.  Take what they give, you can get picky later on.
  6.   Do a thorough research – there are plenty of forums and message boards – get  to know people who have worked in a country you want to work in. Check out the visa regulations and the local market requirements.
  7.   Be realistic – if you’re not and EU citizen, your chances of getting a job in Europe might be slim. Some countries employ only NESTs and you won’t be considered at all. Sad but true.
  8.   Save some money. You might need it for the flight, flat deposit, first rent, getting a new phone etc.
  9.   Once you’ve been offered a job, check out the employer. Google the school  and check whether they have a website. Look for reviews and opinions.
  10. Be cautious – if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Use your common sense!

Alternatively, you can do what I did:
  1.      Choose a country you want to work in.
  2.       Find a CELTA course there.
  3.       Save some money.
  4.       Do the country/ visa/ local market research.
  5.       While you do your CELTA a) ask the local teachers for help and advice b) start looking for a job and a flat.

Don’t give up! If I did it, you can do it too

Any questions? Bring it on!


  1. You missed one thing- Experience!
    I believe it's worth more than your qualification to your job prospects. Many new CELTA grads think they're teachers 'cos of their new ceritifcate but sadly they are not. Yes, with a qualification you have taken a step in the right direction but you're not a teacher, after four weeks training? no way!

    I volunteered at my local college in England and taught ESL for free for six months. I asked for people to watch and review my lessons and I volunteered to design courses. This is the best thing anybody can do. Get experience, get a good reference and you'll see the doors open for jobs.

    Most schools and colleges will probably have in-house training you can recieve. This training is also invaluable as it makes your C.V. stand out from the other recent grads, and honestly, is probably more practical than the trainng you recieved on your CELTA/TEFL course.

  2. All good advice. The possible (but only possible) exception is the upcoming Online CELTA, which will still have face to face teaching practice and will lead to the same ole CELTA cert as anyone else

  3. Hi guys,

    I'm a non-NEST, but like Anita I have a philology MA and the CELTA and have been applying for about 6 months now without success. I've had a few phone interviews though.

    Not sure what I'm doing wrong, any tips appreciated.

    Would love to work in the UK (EU passport), but I guess that's the least likely for me, right?


  4. Anonymous,

    get experience, teach for free, do whatever it takes to get yourself into a classroom.

    This is the key, I promise ;)

  5. Hi, it's me again.

    Thanks SecretAgent.

    Guess what, I just got an offer from International House in an exotic country.

    The pay's not that good, but do you think that eventually I would be able to access the UK job market settle down for the long-term there?

    After getting a good reference from IH of course.

  6. Congratulations! :)

    You wanna work in the UK? I think it's possible!

  7. Thanks Anita:)

    Possible, but only after a good reference like IH right? (due to being non-NEST)

  8. Not sure but it should definitely help!

    I'm really happy 4U :)

  9. You've given me inspiration by showing that non-nests do have a chance so thanks:)

  10. All good and sensible advice. But I agree with one commenter. Non-NESTs also need experience.