What do I need to teach English abroad?

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Have you always wanted to travel…and get paid for it? Dreamt of living overseas, immersing yourself in a new culture? Trying to find the best career for yourself that offers adventure–as well as the ability to make a difference?

If so, you’ve probably been considering one of the best ways to live overseas–by teaching English abroad (known as ESL, TEFL, or TESOL). It might seem like an enormous topic to learn about (which it is!), but is eminently doable. Dig in. Soon, you’ll be on your way to living, teaching, and learning abroad. 

What do I need to teach English abroad?

Here’s what you need to teach English abroad:

Fluency in the language

Of course! To teach any subject, you must be both fluent in the language, and knowledgeable about the field. You do not need to be a native English speaker to teach English, but you must be fluent.

TEFL Training

Although in some cases it is not required, for most teaching abroad jobs, you will need TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) training and, of course, a certificate of completion. Our recommendation for the best program to prepare to teach English abroad? Founded and run by TEFL teachers, TEFL Org has now trained over 120,000 students to teach English as a foreign language through their flexible classroom and online TEFL courses. TEFL Org course graduates have gone on to teach English in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Central and South America, and even online.

Higher Education

For most teaching abroad jobs, applicants should have, at the minimum, a bachelor’s degree. You don’t need to have a degree in education or English, although if you do, it will be a plus. Why is it important to start this career with a degree in hand? For most countries, it is required for your work visa!


Of course! While you are doing your TEFL training, if you don’t have one, or haven’t already applied for your passport, do so now. You’ll need it, to get to your new job.

Background Information

Some teaching abroad jobs require a background check, as well as a medical workup. Why? Hiring you is an investment that a school makes; as with any company, they want to be sure before they commit.

Knowledge of Yourself

Do you love little kids? Do you prefer to interact with adults? Are you passionate about working with teens?

Where do you want to explore? What foods do you love most? Are you interested in any parts of the globe, in particular?

Knowing yourself will be extremely useful while you are searching for jobs, after getting your qualifications in order. That way, you’ll find the opportunity that is right for you–as well making sure you are a good fit, for your students. 

What do I need to teach English abroad?

A Sense of Adventure

Moving to a different country can be many things: a challenge, opportunity, full of both joys and misunderstandings, new food, new friends, and so much more. 

To do this well? 

You need a sense of adventure. You’ll be exploring the world, learning a whole new culture, a new language, and meeting a slew of interesting people–including your students. It will change your life!

What do I need to teach English abroad?


Click for #teachabroadbecause stories here on Wandering Educators–all first-hand stories from people who have taught abroad!

#TeachAbroadBecause...it’s the best of all lifestyles!

#TeachAbroadBecause...Every day will be a richer experience

#TeachAbroadBecause…Your life begins when you find your passion

#TeachAbroadBecause…you get to live, travel, and work in another country!

#TeachAbroadBecause you get to share your culture while immersing yourself in another

#TeachAbroadBecause…Life’s too short to stay in one place

#TeachAbroadBecause... it’s a way to become a global soul!


Buckle up, because your own adventure is about to start!