In Oregon, we have teaching licenses. It means that the State of Oregon has seen your Praxis test scores and your content area test scores and deemed you worthy. Generally, in Oregon at least, people complete a Master’s degree in Teaching or Education before they can get licensed. In some places, you can get a teaching license with a 4 year Bachelor of Arts in Education, which brings me to my next point.
Some of the newer schools or hard to staff schools will take teachers who don’t have Master’s degrees, but most schools want teachers who have a Master’s degree. The parents at international schools are paying a lot of money for their student to attend school and they want to feel like they are paying for the best. Even if you are a great teacher who has been teaching for a while you might not get the best jobs unless you have a Master’s degree.
Of course, if you are a great interviewee, you know the right people, or you can prove just how amazing you are, you can still get the job. Also, like I said before, you can always go to a hard to staff area (like where I am currently teaching in a small dangerous spot in Venezuela) you can get hired without a Master’s degree if you promise to get enrolled in a Master’s course. The school might even pay for your Master’s degree!
Two Years of Teaching Experience
Most reputable schools will all say that they only want to hire teachers who have two years of full-time teaching experience. A practicum that you take while in school and substitute teaching don’t count.
So how do you get that first international teaching job?!
You have a few options for getting around the two-year rule: 1) take a job that pays poorly; 2) Take a job that pays well but is in an undesirable location; 3) work at a new school or school that isn’t really an international school; or 4) teach ESL full time to get teaching experience and just know that it won’t count for a bump up on most pay scales.
Even if you have all of these things, some schools can be hesitant to hire you if you don’t have some kind of international experience. What if you don’t handle culture shock well? What if it turns out that you can’t handle being away from your family for a long time? What if you get stressed not speaking a language different from yours? These are all valid questions, and I have seen teachers leave after only working for a month or two.
Go participate in a volunteer project. Teach at a summer camp abroad (I loved Camp Adventure Youth Services). Travel around the world during a gap year. Go on lots of family vacations out of the US. Ride your bike across the country or the continent. GO SOMEWHERE new, uncomfortable, challenging, different and just… BREATHE.
Sometimes you can get jobs with a good dose of luck and by being in the right place at the right time!