How to find a 'family-friendly' international school teaching job

What to look for which would best suit your family

Having taught at international schools in different countries for over twenty years, I thought that I'd share some of my knowledge with those of you debating on whether or not to make the big move from a state school in your home country, to becoming a teacher in an international school.

Different countries have different criteria for whom is eligible for obtaining work visas to work there. Some countries have age limits, others have restrictions on certain nationalities, and others have restrictions on qualifications. For some a teaching diploma is sufficient, others may require a degree and a teaching certificate, and yet others might be content with just a degree and no teacher certification. I have to say, the best international schools to work at usually require teacher certification and a degree. I can't stress enough how important it is to do your homework properly, before accepting a job at an international school. There are many schools out there that claim to be international, but aren't. You need to read reviews written by teachers who have worked at the schools you are interested in. Granted, some of the reviews might be biased and could have been written because the teacher has a personal grudge against the school management, however, if there's a pattern of bad reviews then it's best to stay away. A good site with these kinds of reviews is International Schools Review.

As a single mother, being an international school teacher was the best career choice for me. My children were all able to get really good international educations, for free. Don't ever think that your children might be too young or too old to adapt to life in a foreign country. It benefits them unbelievably, and you end up with children who are well-adjusted, social, independent, mature,well-traveled, blind to race and nationality, and are global citizens. However, there are certain things you have to consider before schlepping your family overseas, and this is really where you have to do your homework. Much of this information is available on the school's websites.

Housing - Is housing provided? Some schools help you to find housing, but then you have to pay for it out of your own pocket, and the huge salary you thought you were getting is reduced to next to nothing when a huge chunk is taken out for accommodation costs. There are many schools that provide free housing, and it's often best to go for those. Check to see if the housing is on the school campus, as then you are sometimes expected to take on boarding duties as well if there is a boarding school. Housing on a compound is usually safe and if you have young children, then there are often other children they can hang out with and play with. Find out the size of the housing provided. A cute cottage can easily turn into something so small you can't even swing a cat in it. Do a little research as well about the safety and security of the city If there are serious security issues and kidnappings of children, it might not be wise to move your family there. Also check to see whether or not the utilities are covered by the school. Sometimes, the utilities can be crippling when you have to pay them yourself.  Also check to see whether or not the school accommodation provided is furnished.

Social life - for you and your children is really important. If the area is unsafe and you have to remain locked up in your homes too scared to venture out, your family might end up hating each other. Find out what the nationality breakdown is at the school. Some schools say they are international, and when you get there you find that your child or children are the only expats/foreigners in the school. This often makes settling in and having friends really difficult. You don't want your child to be harassed or bullied just because they are different and come from a different culture. Do some research and find out what family activities you can do there. Also, if there is a Hash in the town/city, then you know that there will be some regular social interaction with other expats. If you go on Google Search and type in the name of the city you are thinking of going to and the word 'expat', you often come up with helpful blogs about the daily life for an expat in that city.

Health Insurance - Make doubly sure that your dependents are covered by your health insurance and that you don't have to pay any excess.  Some schools neglect to tell you these finer details.  If your child needs special meds, check to see whether or not they are freely available or if you'd need to bring a supply with you.  It might be an idea to check to see if there is an International SOS Clinic or Global Doctor Clinic near where you'll be living.  Another point to consider, is that many of the health insurance companies who cater for the international school teacher crowd DO NOT extend their cover to the USA and Canada when teachers are visiting there. 

Schooling -  As mentioned before, do your homework and make sure that your children's tuition is covered by the school and is one of your benefits.  Check also to see whether or not there are extra costs over and above school fees which you will be liable for, like exam fees or a laptop so that your child can be a part of the school's laptop program.  Find out a bit about the after school activities program, and if they offer activities that your children would be interested in.  What sports are offered and so on, so that you can bring necessary sporting equipment with you.

Home Leave Allowance -  Another thing to check out is whether or not you get a home leave allowance which will be enough to pay for annual return flights for you and your dependents.  If your school is in the middle of nowhere, your home leave allowance might not cover the flights, so be very careful about that.

Shipping - With children accompanying you, it's important for you to take some of their prized possessions with you to help them to settle in easier.  Make sure that the shipping is reasonable and you will be able to ship some of your possessions, and they have an allowance that you can ship your stuff back home at the end of your contract.  The chances are, that the shipping allowance will not cover all your shipping costs as shipping, especially airfreight, is astronomical.  Just make sure that the bulk of your costs will be covered.

Opportunities for travel - As you obviously love adventure, it's also a good idea to check out the opportunities for travel in neighboring countries.  This might seem like you are jumping the gun, but it costs nothing to check whether or not there are affordable holiday destinations close by.  You don't want to be stranded and spend every holiday in the city you work in!

Opportunities to save $$$ - Try to get in touch with existing teachers at the school.  Their email addresses are often on the school websites.  Ask them any questions you might have, but especially, find out how much money you can realistically save.  They will give you far more accurate information than the school management might give you.  After all, the school management wants you to apply for a teaching job, so they will give you a glowing account of life there and how much you can save.  Some schools offer a pension scheme as well.

While there are some schools who are not interested at all in hiring teachers with families, there are others who prefer to hire families as they tend to stay longer and give the school continuity.  There are many sites where you can find teaching jobs.  Just make sure that you do your homework first, to find out if they are a family friendly school.




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Comments 54 comments

Philipo profile image

Philipo 7 years ago from Nigeria

Very informative. Thanks.


ralwus 7 years ago

What an interesting life you have led. Nice hub for those seeking.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Philipo and CC, thanks for reading and commenting. I realise this is a niche audience and am trying to see if there is a demand for knowledge about international school jobs.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

Great info. Before I met you, I hadn't realized that international teaching was an option. That would have been interesting to get into.


ralwus 7 years ago

Yer a great lil spell checker too my cindy dear! LOL I had a brain fart there. good to know a teacher or two.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Well, if you have a teaching degree or certificate, Frieda, you can still do it!


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

Good info, Cindy. I taught in Mexico a couple of years. It was awesome.... learned the language, the politics, and met some wonderful hispanic people. I worked for the University of San Diego and they did provide housing, either with local families in Guadalahara or in long stay hotels. It's a very worthwhile experience and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to see how the rest of the world lives.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

I think it's the best childhood we can give our children, Alekhouse, to live as expats and learn different cultures.


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

Hey CIndy I don't mean to have been quiet, have a lot on my plate last week grrr, plus trying to write a hub using all this adsense nig nog advice to see if it works lol. I haven't been to my email or anything, and plus trying to catch up on my comments here, boy that is a forever task lol. I haven't seen you on Skype either lately are u ok. What have you been up to I figured you are probably resting as I haven't seen u either lol. Still blooming trying to find your lookalike grrrrrr.. (hugs)


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Hey BP you up so late? I need to sleep now, been playing world scrabble on Facebook. Catchya tomorrow


Ivan the Terrible profile image

Ivan the Terrible 7 years ago from Madrid

We have a number of teachers from England working here, and most Spaniards do not think American English is worth learning. Somehow they believe that British accent sets them apart and seems to them more or less better English. Of course I tell them that even the British do not speak like that most of the time. Most people in England have thick accents and use a lot of slang words.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

It would be exciting, but with a family of six tagging along, would this be doable monetarily?


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Ivan, although some of the British techers we have have great accents and are easy to understand.

Frieda, we have quite a few teachers with a spouse and 3 kids. That means a total family of 5. It's worth looking into, some schools might go for it.


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

Gee Cindy yet another notch on your belt, with a job well done, I did a more serious one trying out B.C's adsense knowledge he just learnt. I was up all last night, my god I have not slept good for ages. WOw I hear you are moving soon. Are you excited??


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Yeah, I wondered why you were still up in the middle of the night! Can't wait to go!


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Does Cabin Girl want to teach or does she want to get taught?


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Thanks BC, I'm not sure if there are international schools specialising in the kind of education she wants.....maybe in Japan?


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

Very informative. A friend's daughter went teaching in the Phillipines when she was young. Great way to stretch your horizons


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Yeah, great for you as a teacher, but even better if you have children and expose them to this kind of life.


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago

cindy - there's many english speakers here that teach english in the private and state run schools. From what I can pick up - there can be rather good money in it. Most require you have a qualification relating only to teaching english as a foreign language.

It's do-able then. From what you've written I'd say it definitely is. Currently I'm considering hiring myself out as a personal tour guide. The amount of folk that get hopelessly lost in Lisbon is staggering.

Great article Cindy, rated up.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Froggy, there is a definite difference between being an English teacher and being an international school teacher. Many people confuse the two. Some English teachers are well paid. You work after school hours and over the weekends, but many are ripped off as well. These jobs are in the English Language schools dotted around the world in places where the locals are keen to learn English. International schools are regular schools either following the International Baccalaureate, American or British school curriculum, which are in foreign countries and cater for the expat children living in that community, or wealthy locals who can afford the high fees.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States

Excellent guide for those interested in teaching internationally, Cindy. There is quite a lot of homework to do, but well worth doing as you have shown.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Definitely worth it Tom, I've been doing it for 23 years now. But, I can only reiterate how important it is for people to do their homework so that they can make an informed decision if they get oiffered a job.


Am I dead, yet? 7 years ago

Sweet hub, Cindy. International teaching sounds wicked! For those brilliant hubbers on here with children who has never considered teaching abroad would find this hub extremely informative and very helpful. ^.^


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

AIDY, and of course when you mention the three months paid holidays!


Ivan the Terrible profile image

Ivan the Terrible 7 years ago from Madrid

One of the problems American teachers have is the use of slang and it's tough getting used to a more strict teaching regimin than is currently used in the U.S. Students and parents here demand some strict guidelines and want to see progress, but many American teachers are more used to a everybody wins type of teaching. Parents in Spain want their children to compete and win and don't like the feel-good approach some American teachers use.

But I have seen some really good American teachers as well, as you say, easy to understand and quite adept at teaching. But here British teachers are more common and the tradition goes back a long, long way, whereas American teachers working here have only been somewhat common for the past three or four decades. Most American teachers are music and science teachers, though, while most language arts teachers are English.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Ivan, we have a mix of American Canadian, British, Australian, New Zealand, South African and a Colombian thrown in for good measure!


dianacharles profile image

dianacharles 7 years ago from India

A very informative hub cindy. I found that ISR link quite an eye-opener.Wanted to read up more on Indian schools there, but there wasn't much.

Hope you have settled down in your new school well.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Hey Diana, there is quite a bit written about the international schools in India! Some of the info though, you have to be a member to be able to read it and access it.


oscillationatend profile image

oscillationatend 6 years ago from a recovering narcissist.

Thanks for the information. Before I became intertwined in love, I often thought about getting back to school if only to engage in international teaching. It seems like an exciting opportunity--but difficult with family.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Oscilla, it's not difficult with family at all, there are many families moving round on the international school teaching circuit.


Tanya 6 years ago

I'm considering a move with my six year old daughter. I'd love to teach in an international school. I'm Irish but British trained in primary education with 4 years experience. Anyone recommend a particular place? There seems to be so many options!


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Tanya, check out the Times Education Supplement online, that give heaps of great jobs!


opismedia profile image

opismedia 6 years ago

Interesting hub, although i ain't into education it was interesting to read your text and part of the comments. Thanks for taking time to write this.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Thanks Opis, pass it on to any friends involved in education


Benjamin Barnett 6 years ago

Just saw this - I'm an international teacher and you are right on...the insurance part bit me this time.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Ben, sometimes they make promises at the job fairs and when you get there, it is quite different. I must say, I am very happy at International School Moshi, |I just love the life here and my daughter is having a ball.


alainadabbs 6 years ago

Thank you, Cindy! This was an awesome article. I am very motivated to go back to international teaching. I taught in Costa Rica back in the 90's and since have acquired two kids and a husband (who is not a teacher). We want to move back to Costa Rica, but I am concerned about the kids, and paying for it! I am going to start doing my homework. Do you have any other suggestions for websites that may be useful? I went through ISS before, and I am not sure if I will do that again or do this completely on my own. Best, Alaina


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Alaina, you can look at Search, TIE or Times Education Supplement online. There are many schools who offer free education for teacher's kids!


Singlemom 5 years ago

Just looking into the teaching abroad... came across this site. Any suggestions on where to start?? I have two children 7 & 4, have been wanting to do this for some time... I think now is the time!


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 5 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Singlemom, it depends on what subjects you offer or what grades you teach. You need to get your resume looking sharp and polished and go online and look at the Times Education Supplement and start applying. I've been very lucky, I always applied directly to the schools and never bothered with the job fairs which are all on at the moment.


Tess 5 years ago

Hi, this post has been soooo informative! I'm still not finished with school, but will be in the next couple years. I'd then teach for a couple years and then hopefully on to international teaching. At that point, my little guy will be pre-school age with, perhaps, another toddler (if we have another).

So, do you think it would be far more difficult with kids who aren't in school yet (I'd bring along my husband, who would also be my dependent, so he'd be able to take care of the kids while I'm working)? Also, is it terribly difficult to get visas for non-working spouses? And, lastly, its so hard to find consistent salary info on the internet and I know these things vary from program to program, but in general, are international teaching salaries more or less comparable to teaching salaries in the US? (With or without the living stipend?)

Thank you so much for reading!


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 5 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Tess, it all depends on what country you go for. It's not so much the country but the school. Each school has different rules about dependents. It's usually okay to get visas for dependents and going overseas with young kids is not generally a problem. The salaries are comparable if not better to those in the US. The benefits and health insurance are good. Once again, it depends on where you go, if you have to pay tax etc. Good luck!


Tess 5 years ago

Thank you!


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 5 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Pleasure Tess!


karin 4 years ago

Hi Cindy,

I've got a B Ed Degree with 12 years experience.(Foundation Phase) I am married with 3 primary school children.Is family-friendly schools possible?

According to you, which countries offers the best packages?(housing,medical,travelling,$$$ etc)I am 40years old.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Family-friendly schools are definitely possible, we have a family with 4 kids working at our school! There are some who put a cap on two dependents. But there are others out there who actively look for families. You get great packages in China, try Nanjing International School. However, as most schools start in August, they will have already done their recruiting. You can look at the Times Education Supplement online though.


karin 4 years ago

Thanks! Where exactly are you teaching? Are you from South Africa?


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Hi Karin in teach in Tanzania and yes am from South Africa.


India 4 years ago

Hi Cindy!

My name is India. I just started college(so it'll be at least another 7 years before I am able to teach internationally) and plan on majoring in English. Just wondering if English is in demand? Or if it would be best for me to teach another subject, as far as making myself more marketable?

Also, when I am able to teach internationally, I will be bringing my husband with me, along with our 2 children. I would love to live in The Neatherlands (Amsterdam), Africa, Switzerland, New Zealand, Thailand, and some other places in Europe throughout my teaching career with my family. Have you experienced any family friendly schools in any of these locations? Is it possible that you can list some schools in these locations that you've worked at/or know of that would be great family friendly schools? Thank you!

Als


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Hi India I'm not sure there are any international schools in New Zealand. Switzerland, Amsterdam and Thailand I think they generally limit the amount of dependents you can bring with you. United Nations School in Hanoi Vietnam is a good one, as is Nanjing International School in China and International School Moshi in Tanzania.


Kerstin 3 years ago

I'm trying to talk my husband into taking the plunge in the bead future. He's nervous about planning for retirement and paying for our kids' college educations. Are there many scholarship oportunities for students who've lived this life and done international school?

I lived in Vietnam for a year when I was single, so I wouldn't be going totally blind, but I understand his reservations. I think he would be happy if we made the leap, but it is a "risk" when you've got a good pension to look forward to stateside.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 3 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

There are definitely scholarships available, especially the US and Canada.


Helen 19 months ago

We are a teaching couple looking for a school that will be open to hiring us with our 4 children. I am looking for suggestions, if anyone can help direct us. Thank you!

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