How I made over $100K a year teaching overseas

black expat african american in hong kong how i made 100K teaching overseas

Teaching overseas can be very lucrative– I earned a six figure yearly salary teaching abroad.  Here’s how I did it, and how you can, too.

If you follow my adventures on Instagram or Facebook you’ll know that I travel a lot.  On average, I travel anywhere from 3 to 5 times a month; last year I journeyed to 27 countries for both work and play.

As a travel junkie who is also a full time travel journalist, blogger, and influencer, all this globetrotting is kind of par for the course– it’s not just a passion, but also a job.

Just call me the reindeer whisperer… ? With around 200,000 of the cuddly creatures living in Finnish Lapland, it was only natural that I get up close and personal with them during my stay! Yesterday morning I thus made my way to Kujalan Portila, a reindeer farm located in Kuusamo. It was there that I learned that reindeer are not only cute, but a source of income in the Lapland region– used for meat, fur, and transportation, reindeer are a way of life and not just an attraction. But chances are, if you're a tourist like me, that all you're looking for is a snuggle from Rudolph and his kin. And snuggle I did: at Kujalan Portila I got to hug, cuddle, and whisper sweet nothings into the ears of the gentle beasts until my heart nearly burst! As someone who ADORES animals, this was a wonderful experience I won't soon forget. I know I'll be back at some point — in the wintertime the farm offers reindeer-drawn sleigh rides! Already having visions of dashing through the snow in an open sleigh ? … Have you ever visited a farm on your travels? @alaskaair @feelfinnair

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But what a lot of people don’t realize is that I’ve only had this current gig for about 18 months. Before that, I had a very successful and lucrative career in international education– one that not only allowed me to travel loads, but also earn a handsome six figure salary, acquire lots of professional development, and benefit from many job-related perks.

While I’ve written a bit about my stints teaching overseas in my blog post “How I afford to travel”, this post will give a more detailed break down of this career path and its financial rewards.

However, I’ll be honest– as most people are loathe to talk about money, I feel slightly uncomfortable about being so candid about my job history and compensation.  With that said, I hope that my transparency will be helpful for others thinking of pursuing opportunities in this field!

So you want to teach overseas?  Here’s what you need to know about teaching abroad

Being a digital nomad may be all the rage right now, but for someone who enjoys working with young people and/or is interested in committing to an overseas destination for at least a year, teaching overseas is where it’s at.  There are so many reasons to teach abroad!

There are two different ways to teach abroad and both of them have their advantages and disadvantages.

Path #1 to teaching overseas/ teaching abroad: Teaching ESL

The first way is to teach ESL or EFL (English as a Second Language or English as a Foreign Language).  In this scenario, you move to the host country (say, Korea) to teach at a language school.  Once there, you’re tasked with teaching English language, grammar, and composition to host nationals of the country (Koreans, in this case).

Qualifications required- In terms of qualifications, usually the only requirements to apply are a university degree and native fluency in English, though, depending on the country, sometimes a CELTA/DELTA certificate, or other specialized training in teaching English as a foreign language, is required.

Pay and benefits- This is by far the most popular option for teaching abroad, and it can be lucrative in terms of earnings and savings.  Depending on where you teach, you can make anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 USD a month, and in some cases this salary is tax free.  Additionally, in many countries you are provided with free or low-cost housing and round-trip airfare from your home of record. I have heard of people routinely being able to save $10,000-$12,000 USD after teaching for a year in South Korea (living modestly, mind you, but still).

Path #2 to teaching overseas/ teaching abroad: Teaching in an “international school”

However, the second way to teach overseas is to teach in what is known as an “international school”– not only this is the path in which I have the most experience, it’s also the one I most emphatically endorse.

In this scenario, you move to your chosen host country (say, Thailand), but you wouldn’t work at a language school, nor would you teach local Thai students ESL.  Instead, you’d work at a school that largely caters to the children of expatriates, and offers variety of subjects at the primary or secondary level.

Most international schools follow an American, British, Canadian, or International Baccalaureate curriculum, so they function on a similar level to public or private schools in the U.S., U.K., or Canada.  However, the most notable difference is student body, which often comprises the children of diplomats, CEOs of major companies, or other affluent people in the community.

In the most “international” of international schools, the student body is exceptionally diverse: when I taught at an international school in London, my 7th grade homeroom class had 17 kids who represented 15 different nationalities!

Qualifications- To teach overseas in an international school, you usually need a specialized degree/certificate that allows you to teach in public elementary and/or secondary schools in your home country.  In Canada, this teaching degree is called a Bachelor of Education, which is typically an 8-month to 2 year program usually done after completing a 4-year university degree.  In the UK, there is a similar diploma is known as the PGCE.

In the United States, teacher licensure is often state-specific and can involve different processes that either include procuring a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree in Education and/or passing a teaching licensing exam (like the Praxis) administered by the state in question.

Completing these programs will certify you to teach basically any subject that is taught in schools, like Math, Science, Art, or Physical Education.  However, one can get a generalist certification to teach primary grades or kindergarten.

I’ve always loved languages so I am certified to teach Grade 4 to 12 English Literature and French.  After I obtained my two Bachelor’s degrees (a Bachelor of Arts in French and English, then a Bachelor of Education in Secondary School Education), I went on to complete a Master’s of Education in Secondary French teaching.

Pay and benefits- A clear advantage international schools have over language schools is the working conditions and pay for teachers.  International school teachers typically only teach from 8am to 3:30pm and can get approximately 12 weeks of paid holiday, whereas language school teachers can work evenings, weekends, and through summer break.  Moreover, the pay at international schools can be double or even triple what’s offered at language schools due to bonuses or other financial incentives.  Which brings me to…

How I made six figures a year teaching overseas

A common misconception is that teaching pays terribly.  While that may be true in some places, any savvy international school teacher knows that certain parts of the world pay very well.

In my experience, the top paying regions for international school teachers are Asia and the Middle East, while schools in Europe and Latin America pay the least.  Schools in Africa and the Caribbean are somewhere in the middle of that ranking.  Of course, there are notable exceptions everywhere in the world.

My experience teaching in at an international school in Hong Kong

What are the best countries to teach in international schools?  Which countries pay international school teachers the most?  It’s often said that schools in China, Thailand, and Singapore offer the best salaries for teachers and, as someone who taught in Hong Kong for five years at two different schools, I can vouch for this claim.  While many expat salaries in Hong Kong are astronomical no matter the domain, the ones for teaching are particularly impressive given the working hours (anywhere from 16 to 20 teaching hours a week) and paid time off (nearly 14 weeks of paid holiday when all international and local Chinese holidays are taken into account).

A teacher with a Bachelor’s degree, teaching license, and two years of teaching experience under his or her belt can expect to make at least $80,000 USD annually at one of Hong Kong’s reputable international schools.  That was approximately how I made when I first went to teach there in 2009.

However, once you add a few years of teaching experience, additional degrees or specializations in your teaching subject, and/or additional supervisory roles, that number can soon climb well above $100,000 USD.

This was the case for my experienced colleagues as well as myself. During the 5 years I was in Hong Kong I ran a few after-school clubs, obtained my Master’s degree in Education, and took on a couple of middle-management positions (for example, one year I was the Assistant Head of 6th Grade). These actions all had a hand in bumping up my pay packet.

Tutoring at an international school = a great way to beef up your salary when teaching overseas

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that tutoring (or private tuition as some people like to call it) is a big business in many international school communities. As I discovered, it can be an excellent way to supplement your already handsome income.  The rates for private tutoring in Hong Kong are especially enviable– I tutored on and off when I lived there and made anywhere from $80 to $90 USD an hour, and at one point I was pulling in an extra $1000 USD a month from my tutoring jobs.  However, I soon gave it up because it was exhausting!


Crazy high pay at international schools in Saudi Arabia and Switzerland!

Salaries for teaching abroad don’t get more attractive than in Saudi Arabia and Switzerland– the Aramco schools in Saudi Arabia and various schools in Zurich are known for having insane pay packages for teachers.  It’s rumoured that the starting salaries in those countries is over $100,000 USD!

However, there are extenuating circumstances to consider in both places.  Saudi Arabia is often said to be a “hardship post” since local laws and customs make living there as a Westerner/expat difficult.  As for Switzerland, by all accounts it is horrifically expensive, which can eat into what may seems like an exceptionally high salary.

A note on gross salary vs. savings potential when you teach overseas in an international school

One thing I always tell prospective international school teachers to consider is how much of their salary they will actually be able to save.  Cost of living, income taxes, currency conversions, your spending habits… All of these factors play a role in how much money will actually end up in your pocket (and bank account).  My Switzerland reference above is a great example of this– while the salaries there are high, the cost of living is also super high, which will make a dent in your savings potential. It’s not how much you make that counts, it’s how much you can save!

I was a teacher for 10 years; I spent 8 of those years teaching in international schools in Mexico, Hong Kong, and London, England.  I therefore know a thing or two about gauging savings potential in different places.

I tell you all this because when I took my first international school teaching job ever in Mexico back in 2007 (a decade ago, wow!), I was slightly depressed by what I thought was a dreadful salary package: a piddly $30,000 USD a year.

However, I soon realized that it wasn’t so bad after all– not only was that $30,000 tax free,  I also received free housing/cable/internet, free round-trip airfare to Toronto, free transportation to and from work, AND an extra $150 a month for groceries!

All of these benefits meant that I had a great time travelling, was able to eat out and shop often, and generally never had to worry about money.  And the even more amazing thing– at end of my year of teaching I still returned home to Canada with $10,000 USD cash in hand!

As it turns out, Hong Kong is also a great place for saving money.  While it can be wildly expensive in terms of some things (I paid $2000 USD a month in rent for a one bedroom apartment in a Chinese walk-up building), it can also be cheap in other ways.  For example, transportation is very inexpensive, food prices are quite reasonable, and taxes on income are incredibly low.

This means that with some discipline it’s easy to save anywhere from 30-40% of your salary. Case in point, because of working in Hong Kong I was able to pay off all my student loans, pay for my Master’s degree in cash, pay off all my credit cards, and still save between $25,000 to $40,000 USD a year.  Keep in mind that I still was able to travel liberally, ate out most nights, and shopped a decent amount as well.

Is teaching overseas in an international school for you?

As with anything, teaching overseas in an international school comes with its pros and cons.  A clear advantage of this field is the potential to make good money, the opportunity to live and work all over the world, and the chance to build a career in education that you can tap into when/if you return to your home country.  However, if you despise young people or have no interest in teaching, your talents would be better served elsewhere. Money isn’t everything!  You’ll be miserable despite an attractive international school salary.

Likewise, if you enjoy teaching but don’t want to invest the time or money into getting a specialized degree and/or teacher’s license, then perhaps teaching ESL might be a better use of your time.  The best paying countries for teaching English overseas seem to be the UAE, Kuwait, Japan, and South Korea.

Furthermore, to be completely transparent, teaching in an international school setting can be very intense.  Many international schools are elite institutions where expectations from senior administrators and parents are high.

With that said, when done in the right place the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages!  Teaching overseas has allowed me a financial liberation like no other.  Because of the money I was able to save from my teaching jobs, I had the courage to quit and transition into my current gig as a freelance travel journalist, blogger, and influencer.  Had I not had such a solid financial cushion, I still might be in the classroom today.

Have you ever taught overseas?  Would you ever consider it?

Pin and share this post with all your friends!

How I Made Over $100K Teaching Overseas

Interested in more information about this awesome profession? Be sure to check out the following resources:

How I Afford to Travel: a blog post I wrote which details how I funded my travels through over 100 countries; there’s a section that speaks specifically about how I got into teaching

– Teachers Can Save A Small Fortune At These Schools Abroad: Article about the best paying international schools in the world (one of my old schools in Hong Kong gets a mention!)

International Schools Review: Read reviews about different international schools– subscription based but the forums are free

International School Teachers: Facebook group with job postings and information about various schools

– Search Associates, Council of International Schools, and International Schools Services : recruiting agencies that help qualified elementary/secondary teachers find teaching jobs overseas

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  • Reply
    Marissa | Marissa's Teachable Moments
    October 30, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I’m a (former) teacher who loves to travel, so this would be perfect.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    My first teaching job was at an international school in Mexico City. I had the great fortune to student teach there (through my college in Michigan) and was offers a job when I finished. I lived there for three years and it was a great experience. The pay was not high at all, but I did tutor and that helped me make extra money. Housing was not provided but apartment rent was not high. I did an amazing amount of travel as well. I also consider my experience there as the best preparation for teaching in general.I couldn’t Just run to a teacher store to get teaching idea books, and since this was before the Internet, I had to rely on my own creativity as a teacher.

    One thing I think you should mention is that teaching, when done well, is hard work. It is a great job (my passion), but it isn’t something you do between 8:00 and 4:00. There are plans to make and grading to do which take place after work hours. As you mention, there can be extracurricular requirements as well. So while I highly recommend teaching at an international school, I also think people need to go into the experience knowing that they will be doing more than just working from 8:00 to 4:00.

    • Reply
      October 31, 2017 at 6:20 pm

      Awesome, which city were you in? Absolutely agree with you, there is lots of prep beyond your teaching hours.

  • Reply
    October 31, 2017 at 12:11 am

    This is inspiring. What do you recomme d for a Social Worker seeing employment? Which international school did you teach in Mexico?

    • Reply
      October 31, 2017 at 6:18 pm

      If you’re a social worker you’ll usually require some sort of Ed Psych or Guidance counselling credential– an MSW usually isn’t enough to teach in most schools. I taught at Colegio Ingles in Mexico.

  • Reply
    October 31, 2017 at 1:03 am

    I am interested to know the same thing as Ava. Are there any management/supervisory positions that an individual can apply directly to and potentially acquire?

    • Reply
      October 31, 2017 at 6:17 pm

      Sure, you can always look on the individual schools’ websites for postings. In my experience, usually admin are recruited via agencies and/or word of mouth. Also, unless positions are in finance, recruitment, or guidance, supervisory roles typically require teaching experience.

  • Reply
    October 31, 2017 at 1:56 am

    Great information and thoroughly enjoyed reading it! Lots to consider for an avid traveler and person with an interest in teaching!

    • Reply
      October 31, 2017 at 6:08 pm

      Thanks so much Andre!

  • Reply
    Lisa N.
    October 31, 2017 at 2:23 am

    Thanks for the transparency. I know how allusive and secretive most people get when it comes to talking about money and salaries. I appreciate you being upfront, honest, and explaining both the pros and cons for ESL and international teaching.

    Too many bloggers preach I can travel and work and you can to but don’t give any advice or resources. I’ve passed this on to friends in education.

    I can’t recall if you’ve taught at the university level, but a post or information on that would be helpful as well.

    Thanks again for sharing as always.

    • Reply
      October 31, 2017 at 6:08 pm

      Thanks Lisa! Glad you found it helpful! I’ve never taught at the university level so unfortunately cannot speak to that experience.

  • Reply
    Robin Tillotson
    October 31, 2017 at 3:32 am

    A wonderful article!! Can you share who I would contact (organization, business) to teach ESL? I am also a Social Social Worker, as well.

    • Reply
      October 31, 2017 at 6:07 pm

      There are loads of websites and agencies, just google ESL schools and they should all come up. 🙂

  • Reply
    Patricia Smith
    October 31, 2017 at 5:34 am

    I have not taught abroad, but my daughter is currently teaching at one of the international schools in Beijing, China. She is thoroughly enjoying the experience, and the generous benefit package affords her money and time to travel. She is a single mom with 2 children and one of the benefits that was not mentioned, is that her children can go to the exclusive, private school, for free. It would be difficult for her to afford to education her children at a school in the states, whose tuition is $35,000 per year. She taught for 3 years at an international school on Discovery Bay, in Hong Kong. That was also very enjoyable

    • Reply
      October 31, 2017 at 6:07 pm

      I know your daughter and met your granddaughter! Truth is lovely!

  • Reply
    October 31, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Great Article! I teach at an international school in France as an English teacher and it’s such a great community of people. (Although France’s salaries are notoriously low.)

    • Reply
      October 31, 2017 at 6:06 pm

      Thank you! Yes, salaries at international schools in Western Europe are notoriously low, but I would imagine that that’s primarily because so many people want to live there at any cost. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 31, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Would you mind sharing which school in Hong Kong was paying you $80K/year? I think that a salary like that is extremely hard to come by. I’m afraid you’re giving people unreasonable expectations.

    • Reply
      October 31, 2017 at 6:05 pm

      Hi Brett, I only write about what I know…. I taught at the Canadian International School of Hong Kong from 2009-2011. My starting salary there was about 80K, and that was with two years of experience and including my gratuity. Salaries have gone up over the years, a starting salary is well above 90K USD. I just pulled the following from their website http://cdnis.edu.hk/how-apply:

      “A 2-year initial employment contract.
      An annual basic compensation ranging from HK$541,222 to HK$789,654.
      A gratuity payment equal to 20% of the basic compensation at the end of each contract period.
      A cash allowance of HK$8,000 is paid monthly as an additional allowance. This allowance is not included in the calculation of gratuity payment.
      Group medical insurance for teachers and their families. The school pays 100% of the premiums.
      Group life insurance for teachers. The school pays 100% of the premiums.
      80% tuition fee subsidy for up to two children belonging to the teacher’s immediate family.
      An one-off relocation allowance for overseas hired teachers.”

      542K HKD is approx 70K USD base salary plus a 20% gratuity payment, which bumps pay up to 83K USD. Then there is an additional monthly 8K HKD gratuity which brings annual pay to 96K USD. This information is all from the website.

      • Reply
        November 15, 2017 at 8:30 am

        Oneika, you fell for the trap, he was just using sikes to get you to divulge the info so he wouldn’t have to search for it..lol

        Wonderful article, I will pass it on to my sister, she took the toefesl course at York, but may find value in the information about international schools. She has two young girls and she would love for them to go to private school, so it may be a win/win for her to look into the international school route and take the steps necessary to become fully qualified for those institutions. Thanks so much for doing this post.

  • Reply
    Tyler Hughes
    November 1, 2017 at 12:07 am

    Hi, I just found your blog after this post listed on my Google newsfeed. Thank you so much for all this information! I’m a third year TESOL major at Ohio State University, and I really want to teach English abroad right out of college, but probably only for a year or two since I don’t want my license in the to expire. I really want to be a Fulbright ETA, but I’m also interested in international schools too. Do you think I’d have any opportunities with international schools with just a Bachelor’s degree and license, without any professional experience besides student teaching?

    • Reply
      November 1, 2017 at 7:12 pm

      Yes, you will, but you will not have as much choice in terms of schools. Top tier schools are usually looking for people with experience… With that said, if you pay your dues at a lower tier school, you will be able to accrue valuable experience which will make you attractive to top schools a few years down the road!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2017 at 12:17 am

    THANK YOU for this transparency, and giving cold hard dollar figures. So very helpful!

    • Reply
      November 1, 2017 at 7:11 pm

      No problem! Glad it was helpful!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2017 at 12:19 am

    I’m an international teacher working in Indonesia. I think your blog post is spot on, and I so appreciate your honesty. Teaching abroad was one of the best decisions I made in my adult life. After 10 years of teaching (5 overseas), I’ll be quitting my job so I can write full time too. I’ll be working on a novel and traveling. I love your blog and your openness about how you were able to become successful in a new field. International teaching is definitely a launching pad!

    • Reply
      November 1, 2017 at 7:11 pm

      Thank you so much Kelley! Really appreciate your comment! Very cool that you’re teaching in Indonesia– I have friends teaching at international schools in Bandung and Canggu!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2017 at 1:45 am

    Great article! I am a SLP working in Singapore and I am finding that I am able to save more and travel more living here. Even though Singapore is crazy expensive, the perks balance it out and travel is cheap in this region. It was definitely a great decision to move to Asia! I love it!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2017 at 5:09 am

    I do agree that teaching overseas is rewarding but some of your information is misleading and outdated. Admin can expect to make six figures per annum but not the *average* teacher. Your school was absolutely an anomaly among the fray.

    Also, the money is no where near as good as it used to be in the Middle East.

    • Reply
      November 1, 2017 at 7:08 pm

      Hi Jeri, nowhere in the article did I say that the “average” teacher could expect to make six figures. Instead, I outlined MY personal experience and shared some destinations in which making six figures is possible. In Hong Kong, my school is absolutely not an anomaly, and there are a number of international schools in the Asia Pacific region where 100K salaries (with the right combo of experience plus positions of responsibility) are common. I clearly state this in the article.

  • Reply
    Victoria @TheBritishBerliner
    November 1, 2017 at 6:52 am

    Have you ever taught overseas? Sure!

    I used to be a Recruitment Manager for Australian / New Zealand / European teachers, to teach in UK schools, so by the time I arrived in Berlin, I continued at senior management, and ended up being Head Teacher / Manager of not one, but two, private corporate language schools!

    In Germany, regulations are strict re-qualifications and paperwork, and our company was one of the very few private language schools that employed people permanently, with many staying on for an average of 10 years!

    I’ve been in Educational Management for more than 17 years. I prefer to work with international / corporate schools, and it really was the making of me lol!

    ‘Nice article Oneika!

    • Reply
      November 1, 2017 at 7:05 pm

      Very cool, Victoria! Before making the leap into full time travel writing/ digital content producing I thought about moving into recruitment!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2017 at 9:19 am

    Thank you so much for the article. I am currently working in China in a Chinese international school and I am looking to make the move to an international school in Beijing. Your article gave me a well deserved push in believing that I can do it, after all I am a qualified teacher with 5 years of teaching under my belt.

    • Reply
      November 1, 2017 at 7:05 pm

      You should totally do it if you have an interest in education and a desire to stay in it in the long term!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    Hi Oneika
    My daughter is a certified Montessori Teacher and would love to work oversees. Do you know anything about the opportunities?

  • Reply
    November 2, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    Hey Oneika,
    I’m currently an undergrad university student studying in BSc studying Psychology in Canada. I’m having trouble deciding what I want to do with once I graduate. I love the idea of travelling, blogging, and teaching overseas – it seems like you are having so much fun doing what you love! After discovering your blog, I’m thinking about switching over to a BEd degree to pursue teaching at international schools once I graduate. If i wanted to teach languages such as Japanese or Korean, would I need to major or obtain a degree in that field to be qualified? What about for teaching multiple subjects? And are either of those languages in demand for teaching, especially in Asia?

  • Reply
    November 2, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    Amazing blog Oneika. Many black and brown people are unaware of these type of opportunity around the world, so I love that you’re bringing awareness and being a thought leader within the industry. Check out my page Vacationshunter.com, it helps young enthusiastic travelers find affordable flights and hotels in every country.

  • Reply
    November 3, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Hello Oneika, great article! Writing about your experiences in such detail enables many of us to begin our research with a very good idea of how to embark on this dream lifestyle, so thank you for that. Hubby and I have two children and I will be in my early 40s when our youngest turns 18. I’m a military retiree and my highest level of education is a master’s degree, however, not in education. Although it would be possible to earn an education degree between now and when my son leaves home, I would imagine that a new teaching career at 43 yrs is not what employers are seeking. Oh, what I would give to be young again! Congrats on everything that you have accomplished!

  • Reply
    November 3, 2017 at 9:29 am

    Oneika, thanks for this wonderful article. I follow you regularly and always appreciate your writing style and candor. I’m planning to leave the States in 2020. It’s been my dream to live abroad. My background is in Human Resources and I have an MBA. In your opinion, are there jobs in administration that I might qualify for at an international school? I’m thinking the ESL schools might be my best option, but would much rather go into an international school setting.

  • Reply
    November 4, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    I love this how detailed this is, though I am really not into teaching, my sister has been looking for some inspiration, shared this one with her. You are amazing Oneika!

  • Reply
    Anna Sofia
    November 4, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    This is packed with great information! My sister wants to teach overseas after she graduates college, so I sent this along to her. I really appreciate the attention to detail you offer. I think too many people think of teaching abroad as just TESL or TEFL but don’t realize they could definitely pursue more teaching in international schools. Not that one experience is better than the other, but I know personally I didn’t realize international schools were an option. Thanks for breaking this all down!

    • Reply
      November 8, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      Yay!! Glad it’s helpful!

  • Reply
    A Nomad on the Loose
    November 5, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Wow, that’s crazy! I think most people do think of being English teachers when they think of teaching abroad, but teaching at international schools is a great and apparently lucrative idea for teachers who love to travel. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      November 8, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      Totally!! Glad to shed some light on this arena!

  • Reply
    November 5, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    This post is eye opening for me. I’m an administrator for a school in the states and don’t make that much! I need to expand my horizons. Thank you so much for being transparent and sharing your experience.

    • Reply
      November 8, 2017 at 3:30 pm

      Administrators can make even more money! So definitely something to think about if you’re interested in living abroad!

  • Reply
    Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate
    November 6, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Not looking to make a career change (I’ve worked as a journalist for 15 years), but I absolutely love reading insight to other careers! I found this fascinating. Did you have a specific teaching gig/locale that you loved more than all the others?

    • Reply
      November 8, 2017 at 3:30 pm

      Thanks Kristin, I love getting insight into other career paths as well! I enjoyed my teaching gigs in Hong Kong the most– it’s why I spent 5 years there!

  • Reply
    November 6, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    Great post! My only worry was about the pictures of the students you posted. I hope you had their parents permission to put their pics online!

    • Reply
      November 8, 2017 at 3:29 pm

      Thanks for the concern– it’s merited! One of the pictures is from the school blog and the other is over 10 years old, so the students are adults now. I always get cagey when it comes to putting pictures up of people, especially minors, so thanks for the reminder!

  • Reply
    November 8, 2017 at 1:20 am

    Hi Oneika. Thanks so much for this post!! I truly appreciated your honesty and all of the info you provided. I worked as an English language teaching assistant in France a few years ago. The job wasn’t well paid, but it afforded me the opportunity to continue my love-hate relationship with France and to travel the region. I’m currently wrapping up a job in Dakar, Senegal and considering my next career (international) move, so the resources you provided were especially useful for me. ❤

    • Reply
      November 8, 2017 at 12:19 pm

      Glad you enjoyed! I also did the TAPIF program back in 2005– it was my first real introduction to teaching and inspired me to get my B.Ed and M.Ed! I definitely think that it’s worth it to get your teaching certification to work in international schools. Where were you a teaching assistant? J’étais assistante d’anglais dans un lycée professionel à Nice et c’était la plus belle année de ma vie!

  • Reply
    November 8, 2017 at 1:23 am

    Hello Oneika,

    I’m a qualified teacher (BA, BEd & TESL) , and I’m curious. What are your thoughts on classroom management in international schools. In particular, I was wondering about student behaviour. Have you heard anything good or bad about how students abroad behave vs in North America (Canada)?

    • Reply
      November 8, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      It really depends on the school, country, and student body I think. The students I’ve had in the past were all generally very good, though the students I taught in London were definitely a lot more sassy and street smart LOL. Parents at all of my schools are VERY involved, however, so whenever there were behavioural issues a quick phone call to mom and dad usually nipped things in the bud… lol

  • Reply
    Valarie L Smith
    November 9, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Thank You Oneika for sharing your story. I’ve been seriously thinking of teaching English as a second language, but I’ve been struggling with what program is best to obtain the certification from. I currently hold a Master’s degree in Public Administration, and I’m currently looking for a way to combine my love for travel, photography & writing in some way that would generate income.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2017 at 10:04 am

    wow.. this is amazing information..
    My distant cousin taught in China and it was an amazing experience for her.
    ive always wanted to teach in another country but I really don’t know how to go about it and I also have this fear that being African will not work to my Advantage.
    How did you start?
    where can someone get more information?


  • Reply
    November 11, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Hello. I currently teach abroad in the middle east. Which agency did you use to find your job in Hong Kong. I’ve been thinking for a while that that is my next location. Which school were you at?

  • Reply
    November 15, 2017 at 5:26 am

    What practical advice can you give to teachers to avoid burnout while working overseas? The International School system sounds like a very intense, cut throat working environment depending where in the world you work despite the lucrative incentives and pay you receive and the amount of holidays you get that you can use towards travel. How did you and your colleagues cope under such conditions when they got the best of you? I think that is something your readers should take into account before they decide if teaching overseas is right for them.

  • Reply
    November 18, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Wow Oneika! I loved this article. I was just contemplating about writing a similar article myself. There are so many #naysayers, that I assumed no one would believe me or look into it, so I decided against it. I even noticed that a few people called you out, stating that “you’re an exception, and giving people false hope.” I love that when people aren’t naturally go-getters or hustlers, they assume that people who have reached a certain level of monetary success just “got lucky” 😂 . It cracks me up!

    I am currently enjoying a six figure salary teaching English abroad. The opportunities are out there. The raw truth is people are much too lazy, and dare I say “skeptical” to ever take advantage of them. My mentor always said, “You can’t be sketical about something that’s already being done. ” Kudos for writing such a transparent post, and kudos for answering questions for people who could have gotten their answers with a simple Google search. You’re the real MVP.

  • Reply
    December 6, 2017 at 2:27 am

    This is the most helpful article that I have read about teaching overseas! Thank you

    • Reply
      December 10, 2017 at 9:12 pm

      glad you enjoyed it!

  • Reply
    Dana Marie
    December 15, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    So glad I came across your name from an email subscription. Love the blog! This is great info. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Much love and respect!

    • Reply
      December 20, 2017 at 3:27 pm

      Thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    December 31, 2017 at 7:20 am

    This article was super helpful. I’m graduating college soon and have already applied to some places to teach abroad. Do you know if it matters where you get your teaching certification in the states and did you have more versatility with your master’s degree?

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