Teaching Abroad Series Part Four | Looking for a job in Southeast Asia
Teaching opportunities will vary depending on the location, employer, your previous experience, current qualifications and your willingness to secure a job and work hard in a new destination.
According to the International TEFL Academy, it is estimated that there are over 250,000 native English speakers working in over 40,000 schools around the world and this market continues to grow with the demand.
Travel For Change has gathered information from those who are featured in the Teaching Abroad Series to offer some advice and tips for finding a job and teaching in Southeast Asia.
Looking for work:
There is currently a large market for teacher of the English language in destinations around the world, with many schools offering an attractive employment opportunity to those willing to relocate for work in Southeast Asia.
If you are unsure if teaching is for you, don't give up just yet, you have many options. This largely depends on your location, the type of school you are seeking to work for, and the time of year you apply.
If you are searching for a teaching job, here are a few suggestions for starting your search.
- Search reputable job search engines online for upcoming offers. You can start by searching for schools online and visiting their website directly - check the 'career' section for available positions.
- Apply for jobs that suit your credentials and level of experience. Do you have a Bachelor Degree in the field of Education? Do you have any additional certifications that support the education role? Consider your previous work experience and references that you have when applying for a job.
- If you receive a response and are out of the country, the faculty should then offer a virtual interview via phone or Skype to talk to you and discuss the role and communicate their expected start date. Note: It is commonly said that finding a job is easier done when you have already arrived though I think all things are possible with research.
- If successful, a contract should be emailed out for you to consider the position with a time frame for commencement, salary, working hours and expectations.
- If you are willing to accept the contract, return it to the faculty and make arrangements to commence your new teaching job!
- Do your background research on the school and the location including the cost of living, transport etc and make sure you are comfortable to relocate to this area before you sign a contract. If the contract states that visa fee's are covered be sure to read the fine print - as many schools will request this payment be refunded if you exit the contract prior to the end date.
- If you are already in the location you would like to work in, you can ask around for reputable schools or start to apply for places directly via their website or email. Most major cities have a well known English tutorial school or International School which is popular.
- If you have travelled and fallen in love with a particular location, then directly applying for schools should yield results given you have the credential and ability to obtain a visa and do the job. Many schools will offer a trial period or probationary period for the job. You can also check out if they hold a Summer Camp or English Camp where you can see if it is a good match prior to accepting a full-time position.
- Talk to other travellers and join online social groups for teaching jobs abroad or meet up with other expats in the area. There are many online groups on Facebook for Teachers and English Teachers.
- Many schools respond to emails, however, directly calling the faculty may see faster results.
- Apply to complete a TEFL course online or in-country and allow the company to assist you with job opportunities once you are certified.
- TESOL, TEFL, CELTA courses are often available in-country and provide you with confidence, skills and training. This will help you when you need to do a demonstration lessons, plan lessons and manage a classroom. Preparation and time management are crucial for teaching no matter what age level. Courses can equip you with vital skills for your classroom.
- The expected standard salary for teachers will depend on the school and the curriculum. A Bachelor Degree in any field, as well as English being your native language, will provide a wide range of teaching opportunities and often a higher salary. Being a passionate and hardworking individual will also open doors to working abroad.
- Remember, you can always change the direction you take and with teaching, you can learn to adapt to your new environment until you find what works best for you. Students need to be the priority so don't accept a job in a panic, take your time.
Things to know and consider:
Relocating to a brand new destination is exciting but it can also be overwhelming. Check out some of the following key points to prepare for.
Cost of Living
- Monthly rent
- Monthly bills (water & electricity)
- Home furnishings (Not all contracts include furniture)
- Monthly transport expenses (taxi or hiring a scooter)
- Monthly WiFi
- Food & Drinks (Dining out)
- Monthly phone data
- Laundry (weekly)
- Visa fees (Visa + Transport)
- Health expenses including gym membership, insurance, medication
- Travel within the country or returning/visiting home country
- Salary is commonly paid monthly (usually at the end of the month) so budgeting local costs per month will be the easiest way to keep track of spending and help you to plan ahead so you don't end up running out of money.
- If you are signing a rental contract then you will commonly need a deposit and an upfront payment to secure the contract (4 weeks bond & 2 weeks in advance) most accommodation will come furnished but this is not always the case.
- Health Insurance of your own as the insurance provided by the school may not cover all costs of medical evacuation expenses if in an emergency situation or if you rent a motorbike/have an accident. Travel Insurance is often required to be purchased in your home country prior to departure though depends on your policy.
- Research the visa situation (will you be required to pay for the visa?) and check the cost of transferring from a tourist to a work visa such as the flights and accommodation needed to travel out of the country to process the visa in a neighbouring country. For example, I held a tourist visa for Thailand and had to pay the costs of travel out from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, the hotel for 2 nights all expenses and return flight, however, my company paid the fee for the work permit for 1 year.
- It is good to budget extra allowances for food, even though it is considered to be cheap. This is because after a short time you might want to purchase your food and cook at home which can actually cost you more than eating on the street (the cost of stocking up on kitchen basics, baking ingredients, spices etc). Health food, vegan food, gluten-free food and fresh produce will often come at a higher price especially if it is important from outside the country.
- The changing weather seasons means you might have added expenses for clothing and shoes when in destinations that experience a monsoon rain season or perhaps you are visiting the mountain areas or somewhere that is cold (not often in Asia) and you need to purchase winter clothing; this is usually expensive. Consider the cost of a work uniform, shoes, bag etc and find out if you are provided with a uniform. It may be easier to purchase clothing (business attire etc) in your home country prior to departure.
- Research the cost of international banking fee's and transactions, ask the faculty if you will be paid in cash or if they will set up a local bank account for you (having your monthly income go into a bank account is usually the safest and cheapest option as you won't pay withdrawal fees).
- Updating electronics and the basic cost of any repairs or maintenance (laptop, chargers, camera, phone). Travel insurance may cover stolen or damaged electronics depending on your policy.
- Southeast Asia is considered a great place to live and work plus you can enjoy the low cost of living and save a good part of your annual salary. Certain job offers will provide housing, return flight allowance and second year signing bonus so it is worthwhile doing your research and finding what will best suit your needs and lifestyle.
In Country Information
- Do you have at least one year remaining on your passport? If not, you may want to renew or add pages at the embassy to reduce costs or problems associated with an expired passport mid-contract (many visas will not be accepted if you have less than a year remaining on your current passport.
- Spend time investing in learning the local language and check out some of the language schools in your area (most schools have evening classes to take after work).
- Make the most of the paid holidays and travel around the country or to nearby countries (book flights ahead for the peak holiday season and check the dates for local holidays such as the New Year).
- To maintain your work contract it will be important to arrange a way to commute to and from work on time (trial the different forms of transport to compare the time frame and the costs involved).
- Find out what it is on offer in your area prior to signing a rental contract so that you can be sure you are happy with the location (check for a local market, mall, gym, restaurants/cafes, train/bus station, health clinic, pharmacy etc).
- Consider the working hours and what you think you can manage, for example, full-time hours at one school is the most common choice (you will usually have a 2-year contract with visa and paid holidays) however, locations such as Vietnam also offer part-time and casual contract where you can tutor across multiple schools and even work weekends (if you want more freelance or travel time this might work better for you).
- Volunteer work in the community can provide you with valuable insight into what type of work you might want to do if you are new to the concept of teaching so check out community platforms such as WorkAway for opportunities.
In summary, teaching will be an incredible life experience which is really rewarding.
When it comes to finding a job, have a reasonable timeline and be open-minded.
Try to research as much as you can about the destination of your choice and consider if you prefer to work for one school on a fixed contract or if you prefer to tutor and work across multiple language centres. Either way, you will need to have the appropriate papers in order and have some cash aside for the initial in-country costs.
Once you have your job, immerse yourself in the role, meet other travellers who are just as passionate about education as you are and make some really awesome memories!
It may seem overwhelming at first to relocate to another country for work, but one thing is certain, you will find a great and supportive community of individuals who have also taken the journey to teach abroad!
Have you worked as a teacher?
We would love to hear about your experience!
For further reading on Thailand click here.
For further reading on Cambodia click here.
For further reading on South Korea click here.
More destinations coming soon.