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International School Teaching Questions
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nampa1234 Offline
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International School Teaching Questions
When considering teaching overseas, I had these questions a few years ago. I thought it would be good for people to answer them and give guys an idea of the industry. (From my understanding, English teaching is only a way to pay for travel for a few years...)



Dear teachers,


I have an interest in international middle-secondary school chemistry/biology and history teaching (former ESL instructor). I love the teacher lifestyle but worry about it as a career. It's difficult to garner information on the subject. Several questions that I am contemplating are:

A. How much of a deficiency is it to seek employment at schools with the baggage of a non-teaching dependent?

C. What salary range is likely for an advanced healthcare doctorate, a social science B.A. and an MS in 7-12 education with certifications in biology and chemistry?

D. When does age discrimination, and what form, commence? How does it become more acute as one gets older?

E. How hard is it to transition to administration—and does this circumvent the age discrimination?

F. Would a career in international teaching be worthwhile in regards to these matters?

G. What are, specifically, the best ways to find work as an international teacher for a new graduate?
10-01-2019 08:40 PM
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66Scorpio Offline
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RE: International School Teaching Questions
(10-01-2019 08:40 PM)nampa1234 Wrote:  When considering teaching overseas, I had these questions a few years ago. I thought it would be good for people to answer them and give guys an idea of the industry. (From my understanding, English teaching is only a way to pay for travel for a few years...)



Dear teachers,


I have an interest in international middle-secondary school chemistry/biology and history teaching (former ESL instructor). I love the teacher lifestyle but worry about it as a career. It's difficult to garner information on the subject. Several questions that I am contemplating are:

A. How much of a deficiency is it to seek employment at schools with the baggage of a non-teaching dependent?

C. What salary range is likely for an advanced healthcare doctorate, a social science B.A. and an MS in 7-12 education with certifications in biology and chemistry?

D. When does age discrimination, and what form, commence? How does it become more acute as one gets older?

E. How hard is it to transition to administration—and does this circumvent the age discrimination?

F. Would a career in international teaching be worthwhile in regards to these matters?

G. What are, specifically, the best ways to find work as an international teacher for a new graduate?

Speaking from China:

A: If the school provides you with accommodation, particularly on-campus, then they might have issues with having your wife and/or kid staying with you. If an apartment is not part of your benefits or they simply give a housing allowance/subsidy, then there should be no issue from the school's point of view.

In either case you can apply for an S-class visa for a family member to "visit" you while you are working. Your own work visa / residence permit with normally be processed annually and then you use that to apply for the S-visa to match the timeline of yours. Having said that, you need the school's cooperation to provide you documents about your job and employment; if they are doing anything shady they won't want to draw attention to themselves from the authorities, so they might be difficult.

C: To throw out a number, 20K RMB per month. At current exchange rates, that is slightly more than USD34k a year. A lot can depend on your benefits package such as accommodation, vacation time, travel allowance, and even teaching/office/working hours. Salaries for a highly experienced teacher at a good school top out at 30K RMB per month.

There are a few things to keep in mind. The exchange rates are in flux and at a historical low due to the US trade war. This is sort of perverse because what the US wants is for China to bring its exchange rate up, but the tariffs are having the opposite effect. For the last several years the exchange rate has been about 10% higher, and the US policy goal is to push it another 15% or so higher than that. If you are trying to save or service debt you are taking a hit now. The flip side is that the cost of living is half to a quarter of what it would be in a major US city. So you can live rather well on what would otherwise seem to be a modest salary, especially if you have room and board covered and don't absolutely need to buy western brand names and lots of steak and cheese (for example).

D: Different schools have different rules and requirements. Some set the limit at 50 or less but I think the immigration policy is that once you hit 60 you are SOL. The only way around it at that point is to have a business class visa but then you have to "exit" every 60 days.

E: AFAIK, being in administration doesn't get around the hard cap of 60 years unless you do the business visa. If the organization as a whole has affiliates in Hong Kong or wherever and your job is to travel around then that can still work. I would suspect that as a practical matter, they would be looking to hire older people for administration and management positions. I am in my 50s and was sort of on track to do that but ended up jumping ship because they couldn't get their act together and I need stability over potential advancement for the next few years.

There are jobs that specifically hire adm/mgt as opposed to trying to get a promotion from within. The best I saw was a VP job at an international high school in Qingdao. It paid $60k US a year, but I am not sure of the other benefits. The schools I have worked in were Chinese operations so the only way to get your way into adm/mgt is to be fluent and literate in Mandarin. If you are a part of an organization that is expanding then positions open up. I have taught high school economics but I have only been teaching ESL in China. I don't know about biology or chemistry and how that would put you on track.

F: This is my 8th year teaching in China. I will be here at least another 2 years and maybe another 7 years, so that is a run of 10 to 15 years in total. One can certainly make a go at it if you come in without debt and build or have a resume. A lot of places want 2 years of teaching experience before they will hire you, and the better jobs tend to want experience actually teaching in China or at least to Chinese students. Your first year or two will be at rather low wages.

The trickiest part is having an exit strategy to return stateside, move to another country, or retire depending on your age.

G: Get your CELTA certification. Get teaching experience: SAT/ACT test prep is a good route, or TA-ing if you are in grad school. Get ESL experience, which could be working for language centre or even volunteering/interning/co-oping with a private or government program for new immigrants. I started at a private high school that catered to Chinese students. Local regulations allowed them to hire a certain percentage of their teachers who didn't have a BEd or government certification. I went from teaching economics to various business studies, to ESL and then teaching ESL in China. Before that I was a TA, a test prep instructor and even a military instructor.

A lot of this should be done before graduation because it takes time and money that you might not have available at a later time. At a bare minimum, CELTA is a month full-time that you can do on the summer and costs about $1500. It can also be done part-time over several months. The hiring cycle starts as early as February but really steps up by about May and by July it becomes a sort of last minute thing. Occasionally I have seen job postings at Christmas for a February start. Language training centres, as opposed to k-12 schools or universities, typically hire all year but have crappy working hours and never provide accommodation.
10-01-2019 11:10 PM
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airelibre Offline
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Post: #3
RE: International School Teaching Questions
I'll start with your questions, then give some general information.

A - Depends on the school, and this will be true regardless of country. Big, prestigious ("tier 1") schools have the money to pay for dependent visas and will often give you a bigger housing allowance. Smaller, less-prestigious schools will be looking to save money here. The difficulty is, the top schools want (and will get) top teachers with lots of experience. Lower-tier schools are more what you'll be looking at as far as employment options if you are a recent grad and do not have any public/private K-12 teaching experience.

B - Again, depends on the school. An example at the top end: Taipei American School would give you a base salary of $67,532/ year, plus a livelihood supplement of $22,192/year, and a 1-time settling-in allowance of $2323. You would also get 10% of your base salary put into a retirement fund. This is with only 0-1 year experience (step 1 on the MA+40 or Ph.D/Ed.D scale) and 1 dependent. I would say that the salary quoted by 66Scorpio is about mid-range, and well there are some pretty awful schools that pay awful salaries at the low end (avoid at all costs). In Vietnam, I would say you are looking at around $2500-$4000/month, depending on experience/qualifications. Korea would be a bit higher - maybe 3000-4500/month.

C - Age discrimination firstly depends on the local immigration laws. Some countries won't issue working visas for people 60 or older (again, the specific age depends on the country). At the school level, good schools will see older teachers as still having something to offer in terms of life & professional experience; crap schools will want young white people to burnish the school's "international image." Sadly there is racial/ethnic discrimination in hiring, especially in Asia, and whites have an advantage here at the lesser schools. Better schools will not care about race - they want good teachers.

D - Moving into Admin would require a Masters or PhD/EdD especially at top schools, and possibly also an admin credential. You also need a school willing to give you a junior admin position and this is more likely at bigger, better-funded international schools which have various levels of admin. You are correct that switching to admin is what most career teachers try to do once they start getting older.

E - I recommend international teaching as a career if you are a serious, professional teacher. I do not recommend it as a way to "see the world" as your primary goal - that's what ESL/language center teaching is for.

F - The big recruiters are 1. Search Associates and 2. ISS/Schrole. They both have job databases, run recruiting fairs, and keep your application materials & confidential references on file for 3 years for a one-time fee of $250. The biggest and best schools do still use these recruiters, but more and more schools are also hiring directly as it saves them money; when you are hired via SA or ISS/Schrole, the school pays them a recruiting fee of around $2000. So, also google international schools in your target city/region and see who's hiring and for what, and apply directly. You do not need to use a recruiter, but once you have significant experience and good qualifications (sounds like you have the latter already) then they can give you more of a "bespoke" service since you will be easy to hire and thus an easy payday for the recruiter.

Last, I want to clarify some information given by 66Scorpio. A CELTA is not the basic qualification needed for a job at a decent international school; rather, it would be a state/provincial/national teaching credential from your home country (ideally one of these, in no particular order: USA/CAN/UK/AUS/NZ/SA/Ireland). A CELTA would only get you jobs as 1. an ESL teacher (as this is what the qualification is for), or 2. a job at a real horrorshow "international school." You said you already have a MS in secondary education and teaching certifications for biology and chemistry - you are good to go if that's true. No further qualifications necessary. Instead, it will be your experience, or lack thereof, that will determine your hiring chances. 66Scorpio is right that you could work your way up via ESL teaching, and a CELTA would help somewhat, but this is the difficult option and you'll likely be working at some not very good schools in the meantime - I know, because I took this route and my first few schools were not great. A better alternative would be 2 years' public/private, K-12, full-time teaching experience in your home country; 2 years seems to be the magic number to get good schools to take you seriously.

You do have one of the most in-demand teaching certifications (chemistry) so that works in your favor and you will find that good schools will be willing to give you a shot if they need a chemistry teacher. Especially look for jobs posted in the spring or summer, as these will be urgent hires for the following school year and schools will be scrambling to get their teaching staff set. The usual hiring season is from October/November until February, so any jobs posted outside this timeframe tend to be situations where schools didn't get their first choice hire, or somebody is pregnant and they need a teacher for maternity cover, or the school had unusually high enrollments and is expanding - all of these situations would boost your hiring chances.

Last, check out internationalschoolsreview.com. The forum is free and has lots of good info. The paid side has real reviews of schools written by past teachers - I have used it to research potential new employers and you should too.
10-02-2019 07:56 PM
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jcrew247 Offline
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Post: #4
RE: International School Teaching Questions
Is VIPKid a good company to work for?
10-02-2019 08:57 PM
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66Scorpio Offline
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RE: International School Teaching Questions
Quote:I want to clarify some information given by 66Scorpio.

All spot-on points. I was speaking of a recent bachelors graduate without a BEd and/or teaching certificate, but yes, the best schools require that ticket, especially for non-ESL positions.

Quote:A better alternative would be 2 years' public/private, K-12, full-time teaching experience in your home country. . .

If you are young and have your heart set on teaching overseas then that is true. However, in Ontario where I am from, if you can actually get that sort of experience in the public system, you are already set for life. You are in what is probably the most powerful union in the country, will be a millionaire as soon as your pension vests, will be making close to six-figures by your mid-thirties, and can retire with something like 2/3rds of your highest salary, for life, before age 60. That's a hell of a lot to give up.

At the private school that really launched me into teaching overseas there was only one other teacher without his ticket: an immigrant with multiple PhDs. He ended up lecturing at one of the city colleges. After I left all the rest were certified teachers who could not find work in the public system. The school ends up with a lot of turnover as teachers get hired by local boards. Even two days a week as a substitute teacher at a public school, with a path into the union, is a better deal than full-time at most private schools. The private schools that offer anything close to what you get in the public system are top-tier elite schools who poach top teachers from the public system, or headhunt absolutely outstanding graduates.
10-02-2019 10:01 PM
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