Although teaching abroad can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life, not everyone aspires to be a lifelong ESL teacher—and that’s okay! Teaching contracts are often short-term, so what career options are available after it’s time to say adios?
No matter how short the period, teaching English abroad will be one of the most memorable experiences in anyone’s life. Undoubtedly, a quirky role-playing game with 5th graders one sunny afternoon will form a much more vivid memory than months on end of typing away at a cubicle in an office job. Every moment, from the day you get notified of your employment as a teacher abroad to when you receive fan mail from past students years later, impacts you in a special way that only teaching abroad can.
However, teaching abroad jobs typically come with an end date in the form of a six month, year-long, or two-year contract. Working on a visa means that foreign national teachers must face a decision on whether to renew their employment or seek other opportunities. No matter the end decision, teaching abroad influences more than just your personal development.
Teaching abroad can catapult your career into the education field or serve as a bridge into several other exciting career options that you may not have even realized existed. Whether you’re wrapping up a teaching contract, just got back home, or are exploring how teaching abroad will benefit your career, there’s no singular path to take. Here are a few ideas of where your teaching abroad experience can take you!
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1. Elevate Your Education with a Master’s Degree
After completing a contract teaching abroad, you’re given the option to have a fresh start and begin a new chapter. Depending on your educational background and work experience before teaching English abroad, there may be job opportunities in industries unrelated to teaching that you wish to get back into. However, if you are looking to take your newly gained international insights and cultural awareness back into an old, familiar industry, it’s possible you may need to regain a competitive edge.
Enrolling in a Master’s program after a teaching abroad job is a great way to ensure you have the up-to-date skills employers are looking for when you return home. You can take current coursework and participate in internships to break into the industry.
If you’re not ready to walk away from the education industry and want to up your game, there are several other roles within the education field to branch into. Dedicated teachers can benefit from a Master’s in Education to be eligible to teach at a higher education level and increase salary potential. Having a great understanding of cultural differences, for example, is also a great asset for careers in school counseling to guide students in personal, social, and academic growth.
2. Teach Back Home
You had an incredibly rewarding teaching experience abroad, so why stop teaching now? It may go without saying that your international work experience is a direct bridge into a teaching career.
Whether you taught in early childhood education, elementary, secondary, or private language schools abroad, you can find the same opportunities to teach English as a foreign language at home. For example, bilingual immersion programs, ESL classes at public schools, and teaching adults in language schools are all possibilities with a teaching background.
Additionally, depending on the demand in your home city, leading private tutoring sessions for professionals looking to brush up on their English is a great option. Depending on your home country and education level, you may need additional credentials to teach in certain settings, but there’s no doubt teaching abroad will take you far!
3. Start a Career in International Education
Have you ever loved an experience so much that you want others to have the same opportunity? International education covers a wide range of job options in the administrative side of study abroad, teach abroad, and international volunteer organizations.
Having worked on the ground as an English teacher gives you an inside look at how a program organization works, the participant experience, and how the teaching component plays out. If you want to help facilitate cultural exchange and teaching opportunities for other curious expats, look into a career in international education.
4. Work at a Multinational Non-Profit
After gaining language proficiency teaching abroad, you may want to get involved in philanthropy using those skills in the same country or at home. There are countless international non-profits around the world that work for a diverse set of causes that may interest you. Organizations around the globe always need talented individuals who are also familiar with local customs and issues.
After teaching abroad, you may find your new home in a non-profit educating local population on financial management, leading women’s health workshops, or securing funding for educational initiatives. If you want to settle down back home, you can look into refugee resettlement or immigration services that still have an international focus. Working at a non-profit is a great transition into a government position.
5. Break Into the Tourism Industry
What other field has an international flare to appreciate your expat skills? Tourism! Tourism is often referred to as the biggest industry in the world thanks to its diverse segments. Cultural awareness, flexibility, and excellent communication skills are all sought-after skills in the hospitality industry that anyone who has taught abroad can probably tell you comes with the job.
Apart from interacting with international guests in hotels, you can work in travel administration and tour guide writing or freelancing.
6. Keep Teaching Abroad!
Who said you have to stop teaching abroad? If teaching in a foreign land is your calling, then continue living your best life and enriching the lives of students. If a specific school or location isn’t working as well as you’d like, you always have the option to find employment as an English teacher elsewhere, even in a new country.
There are always countless stories of those who intended to take a year of discovery as an English teacher but find themselves 10 years later teaching in the same city and loving every minute of it. These veteran teachers go on to start their own language schools, work for the host country’s educational organizations, or continue to do what they love most in the classroom.
The World is Your Oyster
While many see teaching abroad as a temporary gap year or an opportunity to leave monotony behind to travel, it can be an excellent springboard into a career as a professional educator or several other industries. Regardless of what comes after teaching English abroad, if you know how to identify your gained strengths and skills, there are a number of perfectly suited opportunities to choose from!