There’s something to be said for teaching. The skills you pick up from lion-taming -- I mean, educating children -- in the classroom are those that can set you up for a lifetime of success. Which is ideal if you fancy swapping the dull and drizzly landscapes of Blighty for warmer, brighter shores.
Attitudes in Britain towards spending longer periods abroad have changed dramatically in the last decade. What was once the preserve of the “gap-yah” student has become a real possibility for even broader segments of society. The chance to live, work and travel abroad is now a compelling reason for more and more of us to call time on our steady teaching careers and venture out into the unknown.
Whether you’re seeking a complete career overhaul or just a couple of years sabbatical from the grueling day-to-day grind of the British education system, there’s plenty to discover beyond the shores of our little island. Here are six of our favorites.
1. Teach in an International School
The most obvious alternative to teaching in a British school is, er, teaching in an international school.
First off, the similarities are pretty comforting. Most, if not all, are what we would consider private schools. They serve a varied range of international families, many involved in foreign service or just other expats seeking an English-language education for their children, based on the British or American curriculum. Because of this, if you’re well-versed in the British curriculum in any subject, you’ve got a great chance of being a successful applicant. What’s more, if you have experience teaching the International Baccalaureate, which is often taught in lieu of A-Levels, then even better. Additionally, as classes are delivered in English, you’re not required to have further qualifications; your QTS from the UK will suffice.
The differences between the two couldn’t be more pronounced, however. Plenty of teachers who’ve upped sticks and moved abroad have reported how their work-life balance improved enormously. This is mostly due to the fact that, while you’re teaching subject matter with which you’re familiar, you’re not required to complete the bureaucracy that underpins the British system: primarily preparing for Ofsted inspections.
What’s more, salaries for teachers across the globe vary, but can often be equal to if not better to those in the UK, with some even tax-free, particularly in schools in the Middle East. Tasty benefit packages, including accommodation, health, and flight allowances are often included, too.
How to apply: Various companies specialize in recruiting British teachers to fill teaching positions in these types of schools. The Go Overseas Teaching Job Board is a great place to start your search. International Schools Review has a list of user-generated school reviews to help you make an informed decision before you apply and also run recruitment fairs in different countries around the world each year.
2. Become a TEFL Teacher
Second on the duh, well obviously list of popular jobs abroad for British teachers is teaching English as a foreign language. Unlike teaching at an international school, teaching English abroad does typically require you to pick up an additional qualification, this time a TEFL certificate.
If you’ve already got the pedagogy skills acquired from teaching in the British classroom, this should be a walk in the park. What’s more, you can either study online or in-person (check out the key things to look at before picking a TEFL course) and, if you’re raring to go, you could pick up your TEFL qualification in the country where you plan to teach abroad (such as Thailand). This allows you some time to settle in and get your bearings before you secure yourself a new position.
Wages for TEFL/ESL teachers can be very lucrative and we’ve covered the destinations where teaching English abroad can help you make bank, although you can expect your salary to be lower than if you were working in an international school.
However, you can expect to only be in charge of one element of a class’ education and therefore your general level of responsibilities will be significantly lower than they would back in your classroom in the UK, meaning you can expect a much easier day-to-day job and a more rewarding work-life balance.
And, if you hope to travel as you work, then it’s also possible to teach remotely via Skype.
How to apply: You’ll need to first apply for a TEFL program or get inside by our article about the countries in the world to study for a CELTA certificate and then trawl through our huge list of TEFL jobs abroad.
3. Spend Time as an Au Pair
Keeping on the kids theme, another popular job to segue into abroad if you’re a teacher is an au pair. Obviously, this does mean you have to really enjoy spending time and educating children -- there’s no handing them back at the end of the school day in this career -- but it can be a hugely rewarding and educational experience -- for all concerned.
Former teachers will find their experience of working and disciplining children invaluable in this role, which requires just as much patience and diplomacy as any stint in the classroom.
Au pairing typical requires you to be a native speaker, as your role is both nanny and sometimes tutor of the children of your host family. This is often in English, as parents are looking for people to assist with their children’s English-language acquisition, although a typical day as an au-pair can look very different depending on the needs of your employers.
As part of the deal, your host family provide you with food and board and generally a stipend for your work. Beyond this, you need to be curious and comfortable around new people, as you’ll generally quickly become part of the family -- making it an ideal opportunity to learn a new language and jump headfirst into a new culture.
4. Transform into a Tour Guide
If you have a head for facts and history or have a real love of geography and the world, getting a job abroad as a tour guide is an excellent way to combine some seriously hot presentation skills with global travel. Expect to be the envy of your friends and former work colleagues as you snap photos of you and your clients on location.
You can either get a job with a large tour operator and lead their trips through countries or find your way onto the books of a company based out of one location, where you’ll take clients around your local area. While it might look to the rest of the world like the job of a tour guide is being on a permanent holiday, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and the reality is a tough and competitive job -- albeit one that’s hugely rewarding.
This is a great job for charismatic and solutions-oriented people as you’re the face of the company to your clients, and any issue that comes us is one that you alone have to solve. Patience for the inevitable moment that you feel like you’ve answered the same question one hundred times and also being able to do so with unbridled enthusiasm is also essential.
How to apply: It’s a hugely competitive field, and many jobs will require you to basically audition for a role -- unpaid -- for a number of months before deciding if you’ll get the position. A better way to be guaranteed a job is to have traveled extensively in the region you’re applying for and know the language. Look out for job adverts on the websites of your favorite tour operators; these are generally published at least nine months in advance of the summer season (around September for the Northern Hemisphere and July for the Southern Hemisphere).
5. Take a Working Holiday Abroad
Fancy a year “down under”? Like the thought of a year-long sabbatical rather than quitting your job for good? A working holiday visa might be right up your alley, particularly as a multitude of countries (not just Australia!) offer these to British citizens.
Different countries have their own requirements for who can and can’t apply. You can get your hands on a 12-month visa for Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea, a 12-month visa (that you can extend to 24 months) for Australia and a 23-month visa if you’re aged between 18 and 30 for New Zealand, and, if you’re aged between 18 and 35, you can apply for a Canadian visa for two years.
For most destinations, once you’ve secured the visa, you’re eligible to apply for jobs across the country, which can run the full gamut from hospitality to office jobs, all depending on your skillset.
6. Join the Remote Work Revolution
A final option -- and an increasingly popular one -- is to work remotely. There’s a growing trend of digital nomadism, aka remote work that allows you to travel and move around the globe at will. This is perfect for those whose itchy feet just can’t be soothed.
However, while it might sound like the dream job, remote work can be poorly paid and difficult to find. It can also take a good few months (or even a few years) to really establish yourself in this field, so a comfortable safety net of savings before you throw yourself in is sensible.
That said, there are opportunities across the different types of work, so you can truly pursue any of your passions.
Many teachers start by teaching English online to students, often in China or other parts of Asia, during which they set up a side hustle that gradually becomes their main stream of income.
The world -- and the job market -- truly are your oyster when it comes to remote work, so whether you’re a keen photographer, fancy dipping your toe into journalism or copywriting, want to throw your hat into the ring with software development or fancy founding your own online start-up, there really are options for each and every passion you might have.
How to apply: Decide what career path you like the look of and get applying! There are plenty of job websites such as AngelList (who specialize in jobs in start-ups), Pangian (with a large community remote workers) and Remote.co (who have guides to companies that employ remote workers) where opportunities range of full-time to part-time and freelance.
With teaching leading to enhanced skills of diplomacy, leadership, independence, and capacity to win around new people, there’s no reason why you can’t easily find a fascinating and rewarding job abroad. The difficult part will be persuading yourself to come back home!