Visa provisions & employment stipulations

What qualifications do you need?

Only the work visa prerequisites are essential. Everything else is negotiable.

The actual requirements will differ from country to country and school to school. However, at least a BA degree is always necessary.

Some countries will not issue a work permit unless the candidate has a teaching license (certificate) and a proven record of classroom experience. In addition, many schools require a background check (police record) and a health check.

Everything else is extra and optional, depending on the supply and demand situation at the given location.

Obviously, the schools in trendy and fashionable places receive many applications. Their expectations may exceed the visa requirements substantially.

For example, The American School of Barcelona requires an MA for every teaching position, regardless of age level and subject area. Less popular schools will be more accommodating.

Note that some countries have age limits when it comes to employment. The typical list of professional qualifications is below.

Your checklist

visa / age buttonA four-year Bachelor's Degree

Most countries will not issue a work visa unless the candidate is degreed. Your degree does not have to be in education as long as you have a teaching credential.


visa / age buttonTeaching (administrative) credential from your state / country

Countries have various teacher registration and licensing systems. Some are national (UK) and some are state-based (USA). There are also countries that do not require a specific teaching credential as long as the candidate has a relevant degree. This requirement may be waived, provided you have sufficient work experience.

Note that TEFL certificates are meant for language schools and academies. A TEFL certificate alone will not be sufficient for international schools.


visa / age buttonTwo years of full-time classroom experience

A typical stipulation but it depends. A brand new teacher is often recruited instead of an experienced candidate when one's personal circumstances interfere (visa age limits, dependents, health, background checks and so on.)


visa / age buttonProfessional references

Directors, principals, heads of departments and other supervisors. (Not applicable to new teachers and recent graduates.)

Changing Careers, How to Become a Teacher

If you have a degree you are in luck. US candidates, please contact your state's Department of Education and Professional Certification. UK candidates please visit UCAS Teacher Training

Most ubiquitous vacancies:

checkmark Elementary / Primary Classroom educators, as well as English teachers at various age levels. These jobs are abundant all over the world.

Most in demand:

checkmark Guidance and career counselors

checkmarkSecondary (A-Level / AP / IB DP ) Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math, Computers, Music and Library Science. The certification requirement may be waived for these teachers.

checkmarkIB-qualified teachers, PYP, MYP, DP. If you are not familiar with the IB, visit the IBO site.

Leadership: Principals and Head Teachers

MA is required.

You must have substantial experience (more than 5 years) and excellent references.

Oftentimes, knowledge of a foreign language is expected.

International experience is desired.

The competition for administrative jobs is substantial. The schools prefer administrators with overseas experience and full certification.

The school boards look for experienced international leaders who are familiar with the accreditation process, the IB curriculum, international recruitment, fundraising, cross-cultural networking and who can operate in a foreign environment.

You have to be prepared for a global search and tough competition. You are not in the position to be picky if you want to stand a chance. ("I want a job in Italy only for no less than US$90,000.")

Couples and Dependents

Generally, a non-teaching spouse is considered a dependent. The rule of thumb is one dependent per one full-time teaching contract. Kids are usually enrolled in the same school, and the 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. 

Non-teaching spouses

You can usually find work as a substitute teacher. Substitute teachers are in high demand everywhere you do.

In many countries private tutoring is a big money making opportunity that does not require any work permits and tax reporting.

Schools also look for sports coaches, school nurses, music tutors, and administrative assistants.

There are opportunities outside the school environment as well.

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