5 Job Ideas - After Teaching Abroad
Going home after teaching English abroad can be pretty intimidating, especially the job part of it. If you don’t want to teach ESL in your home country, what exactly can you do for work? In order to see what people were actually doing, I surveyed 55 old friends and random Internet strangers to find out all the details for you (and myself as well!). I hope this article will give you a few ideas of your own if you’re thinking about going back home and are weary of the English teaching.
Public Schools in your Home Country
Many former ESL teachers are now working in education in their home countries. Some of the people had already obtained their teacher certification before going abroad and had even worked in public schools in their home countries in some cases. Others jumped through all the hoops while abroad and finally some returned home and went back to school for 1-2 years. It seems like having a teacher certification opens up a lot of doors and every single person who took the survey was using it in some way-either full-time work or temporary work such as substitute teaching.
If you want to go this route, it pays to do your research. I have lots of old friends that I went to university with in Canada who struggled to find full-time teaching work and have been on the sub list for years or are doing temporary contracts. Researching which subjects and which age groups are experiencing shortages of teachers in the states/provinces you want to move to would be time well spent. Also, be sure to check out transfer agreements between states and provinces to make sure that a certification you do in one part of the country will be valid in the rest of it. Or, that it can be upgraded with minimal hassle and stress. People who had spent countless hours doing research about these small, but important details before returning home experienced the greatest success.
Working with International Students
I’ve had lots of old friends from Korea find employment in universities working with international students. This is one of the few positions that you could find in your home country where someone without overseas experience likely wouldn't be hired. If you've taught in a university in a foreign country, this experience can directly relate to this job. All these people who got these jobs however, worked at universities abroad and not teaching children so if you're in this situation, this doesn't seem like a great option for you to consider.
These positions can be potentially quite low-paying because they are often considered entry-level. However, getting administrative experience in a university can be an excellent stepping stone into higher paid positions at a later point, both within universities and in other fields plus you'll have those all-important local, reputable references from this job. Live frugally for a couple of years until you can get something better.
Entry-Level Business or Customer Service Positions
Working in business or customer service is another popular choice. Many teachers who’ve returned home have mentioned the need for humility and to realize that you will be starting in entry-level positions and that your experience teaching overseas doesn't really qualify you for much. However, the good news is that a little hard-work will go a long way towards getting promotions and pay raises, whatever industry you find yourself in. Always be keeping your eyes open for jobs in another company, or your current company that could advance your career and be ready to make a move.
“Look for opportunities to get ahead - work the extra hours, build relationships, make connections.”
Short-Term, Practical Educational Programs
If you want to go back to school, it's probably better to do something that leads to a well-defined job path. Things to consider would be health care, accounting (or similar), or working with computers. There is a demand in most of our home countries for people to do these jobs and in most cases, you can get a certificate or diploma to qualify you for them in 1-2 years. However, you need to do your research about the specific program you plan to do in your specific location. Another thing to consider would be a trade of some kind. In this case, you often go to school for only a few months and then do a paid apprenticeship ranging from 1 year to 5 years. These trade jobs are often extremely well-paid and there is high-demand for them, as least in Canada.
A big problem for those who've been living abroad for a significant amount of time is a lack of local references. Many employers in our home countries are scared of making a phone call, or even sending an email to someone in the country we taught in. A way to overcome this is to try and get some work through a temp agency to have some local, verifiable references, at least for your character—that you show up every day, on time, are a capable person and put in a reasonable effort.
A temp agency can be a decent way to get some money coming in while looking for something that is more suitable and long-term. Working 20 hours a week at $12-15 per hour can make your pool of money last far, far longer than it otherwise would. In addition, by finding work through a temp agency, you will be able to meet a wide variety of people and work for different companies which may lead into a full-time position of some kind. Be open to possibilities and never forget to mention that you're looking for something permanent and full-time, especially to those who hold positions of power within the companies you are working at.
“A big mistake I made was not starting to make money ASAP.”
If you want to return home after teaching abroad, it really is possible! Plenty of others have gone before you and done it successfully. It seems like the key is doing your research about job opportunities and having a detailed plan, so get organized while you’re still abroad and take some significant steps towards whatever you want to do when you go back.
(Editor's Note - Applying to work at a recruiting company that specializes in placing teachers abroad is not a bad option. In my other job at Footprints Recruiting, we have hired several former teachers to work in our head office. This is one of the few jobs where your experience is directly applicable to a new career)
Photo Credit - the Conmunity: https://www.flickr.com/photos/popculturegeek/
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