Working and Teaching Abroad

Working and teaching abroad can be a good opportunity to gain international experience without the tuition costs associated with study abroad. A few months or years working overseas can provide you with a valuable perspective on your profession, and can also make your resume stand out when you are applying for your next job.

In addition to the resources listed below, Mount Mercy’s Office of Career Services can offer advice and support for your job search, including help with resumes, cover letters, interview skills, etc. 

A few important things to note:

  1. Thoroughly research any agency offering international placements and carefully consider your needs and priorities. Do not sign a contract, buy airline tickets, pay a fee, or otherwise commit until you have thoroughly checked out the agency. At the very least, you should check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints, look at evaluations or speak to past participants, and search sites online. The Office of International Programs can assist you, but the main responsibility for researching programs is yours. 
  2. Find out exactly what support and assistance an agency is providing. Some only provide a work permit, while others assist with finding an actual job placement, locating housing, etc. Also find out precisely what fees may be charged.
  3. Do not expect to make much money teaching or working abroad. Most positions are entry-level jobs that pay enough to cover modest living expenses, but probably will not allow you to travel extensively or save very much money to take home. Make sure that you have some funds available for emergencies.Do not consider entering the country without the proper visa and do not consider working without the necessary work permits. Obtaining a work permit can be an expensive and time-consuming process in some countries, but working “under the table” leaves you vulnerable to exploitation by your employer and can lead to serious consequences including arrest or deportation.
  4. Carefully research your health insurance needs. You may not be covered by your parents’ insurance once you have graduated. Some programs may provide some coverage through private insurance or from the host country’s national insurance plan. At the very least, you will want medical evacuation and repatriation insurance, and you may need to purchase private insurance to supplement that provided.

Teaching Abroad

The following are programs sponsored by U.S. or foreign governments that do not charge an agency fee, although some may charge fees for work permits or other paperwork.  Remember that you will still need to research these programs, including the conditions stipulated and services provided. While teaching experience is generally not required, those with some teaching background or previous work with children may have a better chance of being selected for the programs. Most programs do not require fluency in a foreign language, but any attempt to learn your host country’s language will help make your experience more enjoyable.  In addition to these programs, a number of private agencies can be found in the websites listed at the bottom of this document.

  • The U.S. government-funded Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program offers programs for graduating seniors and recent graduates to teach in schools or higher education institutions throughout the world. 
  • Chile's Ministry of Education accepts undergraduates for a summer teaching program run in connection with the United Nations Development Program.  There is no program fee to participate.  Participants will receive free room and board in the form of a home-stay with a Chilean family and receive a monthly stipend of $150 a month.  Undergraduates may also have the option to participate in this program for academic credit.
  • The Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports offers opportunities for recent graduates to teach English in the Czech Republic. Teachers receive a salary similar to that paid to Czech teachers. Most placements are in smaller towns and cities and applicants with teaching experience are preferred. 
  • The American-Scandinavian Foundation offers opportunities to teach English in Finland.
  • Through the French Teaching Assistantship program, students can spend six-nine months teaching English in France. Teachers receive a stipend adequate to cover the cost of living. 
  • The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program is a prestigious program offering college graduates and graduating seniors the opportunity to work as language teaching assistants in Japanese schools.  Teachers receive a stipend, and, if they complete their contract, will have travel expenses paid.  No prior knowledge of Japanese is required, but applicants are encouraged to study it after being accepted to the program.  This site also has a useful job bank with listings from all over the world.  
  • The U.S. Embassy in Seoul offers this handbook on teaching English in Korea. The English Program in Korea is a Korean-government sponsored program and there are numerous private programs as well:   
  • Spain's Ministry of Education sponsors the Cultural Ambassador program, which provides positions teaching English and American culture in Spanish public K-12 schools.  Teachers receive a modest monthly stipend.

For Certified Teachers Only

Working abroad

  • Sponsored by the U.S. government, The Peace Corps offers exciting opportunities to work directly with a local community for two years. Peace Corps Volunteers receive a living stipend, health insurance, and student loan deferments during their service and $6000 at the end of their program.
  • BUNAC can assist with placement overseas as a camp counselor, English teacher, or in the hospitality industry.
  • The Hemingway Institute can provide placements in au pair, volunteer, or work positions in Europe or Australia:

Additional information

The websites listed below provide good information on important considerations for working or teaching abroad. Students seriously interested in opportunities abroad should read the detailed advice and tips provided in the sites below.