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Employment Criteria & Visa Requirements

What Do You Need to Qualify?

Only the work visa prerequisites are essential. Everything else is negotiable. At the minimum, a Bachelor's degree is required by all schools.

The exact requirements vary depending on the country and school, but a bachelor's degree is usually the minimum requirement.

Some countries and schools may also require a teaching license, classroom experience, a background check, and a health check. The level of expectation may differ between schools, with schools in popular locations having higher standards.

For instance, the American School of Barcelona requires all teachers to hold an MA degree, regardless of their teaching subject or level. On the other hand, less popular schools may have more relaxed requirements.

It's important to note that some countries also have age restrictions for employment. To help you understand the requirements, here's a checklist of what you may need.

Your checklist

visa / age buttonA four-year Bachelor's Degree

Most countries require a degree to issue a work visa. Your degree does not have to be in education, but you need a teaching credential.


visa / age buttonTeaching / Administrative Credential

Each country has its own teacher registration and licensing system. Some countries require a specific teaching credential, while others may waive this requirement if you have sufficient work experience. Note that a TEFL certificate is only valid for language schools and academies and may not be enough for international schools.


visa / age buttonTwo years of classroom experience

This is a common requirement, but it may not be necessary in some cases, such as for new teachers or recent graduates.


visa / age buttonProfessional references

For experienced teachers, having references is a common requirement. Get those letters of recommendation from your supervisors, directors, principals, and heads of departments. This does not apply to new teachers or recent graduates

Changing Careers: Becoming a Teacher

If you hold a degree, you have a good starting point for pursuing a career in teaching For US candidates, contact your state's Department of Education and Professional Certification. UK candidates visit UCAS Teacher Training

checkmark Abundant vacancies:

Elementary/Primary Classroom educators and English teachers at various age levels are in high demand globally.

checkmark Highly sought after:

Secondary teachers in subjects such as Mathematics, Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, ICT/ Computers, Music, Library / Media, Counselors and Psychologists. IB-qualified teachers in PYP, MYP, and DP programs are always in demand. For those unfamiliar with the IB, visit the IBO site.

Leadership Positions: Principals and Head Teachers

A master's degree is typically required.

Additionally, you should have substantial experience (over 5 years) and excellent references.

International experience is highly valued in the selection process.

Fluency in a foreign language is to be expected.

Competition for administrative positions is high, as schools prefer candidates with overseas experience and full certification.

School boards look for experienced international leaders who are knowledgeable in the accreditation process, the IB curriculum, international recruitment, fundraising, cross-cultural networking, and are able to operate in a foreign environment.

Be prepared for a global search and tough competition, and keep in mind that pickiness may not be an option if you want to have a chance at securing a position. ("I want a job only in Italy for no less than US$150,000.")

Couples and Dependents

Typically, a non-teaching spouse is considered a dependent and schools usually allow for one dependent per full-time teaching contract. Children of teachers are often enrolled in the same school, and their tuition fees are waived.

While many schools welcome teachers with children, some schools do not accept any number of dependents.

Teaching couples are encouraged to apply.

For Non-teaching Spouses

Opportunities for work can usually be found as a substitute teacher. There is high demand for relieve teachers at every international school.

Private tutoring is another option that can be lucrative, as it does not require a work permit or tax reporting in many countries.

Schools may also be looking for additional staff such as sports coaches, school nurses, music tutors, and administrative assistants.

There are also opportunities outside of the school environment for non-teaching spouses.

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