This website uses cookies. A cookie is a small piece of code that gives your computer a unique identity, but it does not contain any information that allows us to identify you personally. For more information on how TESOL International Association uses cookies, please read our privacy policy. Most browsers automatically accept cookies, but if you prefer, you can opt out by changing your browser settings.


Teaching Opportunities Outside the United States

The profession of teaching English to speakers of other languages varies considerably from one country to another and from one job to another, as do employment rates and salary levels. As with most other professions, compensation varies according to the candidate's level of education and relevant experience; however, because there is no single degree, certificate, or license that authorizes or entitles an individual to teach ESL/EFL in all fields or in all parts of the world, even academic background and experience is insufficient to make a generalization about the profession.

While employment conditions vary greatly throughout the field, this general overview of the ESL job market outside the United States (which has unique employment conditions) may help you get started. 


Many countries have restrictive employment and visa policies. For example, if you are interested in teaching in Western Europe, you may have difficulty finding a job if you do not have a European passport. Member countries of the European Union (EU), the European common market, must hire European citizens first for position openings, making it very difficult for non-EU passport holders to obtain teaching positions legally. As a job seeker, you need to research the residency and employment laws that apply to citizens of your country of origin in the country in which you wish to work.

If You Have Little or No Experience

Although the EFL job market is strong, those with no experience and/or training will find it difficult to find teaching positions. Schools look for well-trained and qualified teachers and prefer to hire from the great number of trained professionals in the market. The minimum requirement is usually a Bachelor's degree and TEFL certificate.

Pay scales tend to be low for those without training. If you are untrained and plan to search for a job, you will most likely find a position with low pay, no benefits, and many work hours. It is usually easiest to obtain these entry-level positions by applying for jobs on-site. Highly proficient speakers of English can sometimes obtain tutoring and freelance positions in countries where English is not the first language; however, it can be difficult to earn a living with this approach.

If You Have Experience

Experienced, trained teachers are increasingly in demand worldwide. Those with some training (CELTA, Trinity, or independent TEFL certificate) may be considered for classroom teaching positions, particularly if they have classroom experience. Those with a master's degree in TESOL or a related field are more competitive in the job market and, in addition to teaching positions, are often considered for posts in teacher training, curriculum and materials development, and program administration. Salaries tend to be higher and may include benefits such as travel support for candidates with a master's degree. Those with a PhD in TESOL or a related field may be considered for more administrative positions.