What Qualifications Do You Need To Teach Abroad?

What Qualifications Do You Need To Teach Abroad?

If you’re thinking of teaching overseas, it pays to know where your qualifications will get you. Check out our guide to see if you have the necessary credentials

To be eligible to work at the vast majority of schools abroad, you’ll need a teaching qualification or licence from a reputable Western university, such as England’s Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), Scotland’s Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE), the Irish BEd/MA in Education or a US state teaching licence.

Teachers who have trained in England and Wales should also have attained qualified teacher status (QTS). Moreover, it is advisable to have finished the statutory 12-month programme known as the “induction for newly qualified teachers” that comes after the successful completion of the teaching qualification.

Can I work abroad as an NQT?

In the past, few schools abroad would have taken on NQTs but, fortunately, this is changing. NQTs can now be employed at many British schools around the world, including the Middle East and Asia.

To accept NQTs for their induction, and that induction to be recognised as valid by the UK government, a British school abroad must be a member of British Schools of the Middle East  or the Council of British International Schools and have successfully completed a British Schools Overseas inspection.

The school then has to work with an “appropriate body” to carry out the NQT induction programme.

What will make my application stand out?

To have the best chance of securing a teaching job in the most prestigious schools abroad (especially the not-for-profit schools) with the more favourable contracts and higher pay, it is highly recommended that you have QTS status, with your NQT year completed, and have at least two years’ teaching experience in the curriculum you have trained in.

Some schools also prefer international school experience, but this tends to be a desirable requirement rather than an essential one.

Note that US, Canadian, and Australian curriculum schools abroad tend only to employ teachers who have trained and taught in their respective curriculums. The exceptions to this are specialist teachers in subjects such as design technology, music, art, and physical education, who may be trained in other curriculums.

Can I work abroad as an unqualified teacher?

As countries around the world now insist on employing fully qualified teachers, there are fewer jobs available for unqualified teachers. However, there are still some opportunities. Some language, primary and secondary schools in Asia and the Middle East employ native English speakers with a degree from a recognised Western university.

Moreover, some ministries of education, national education councils, and government schools overseas recruit teachers without a full teaching qualification, especially if the role involves teaching a trade or a vocational subject.  

Generally, the teaching package offered to unqualified teachers tends to be a lower salary and less favourable conditions; for example, shared accommodation instead of an apartment or rental allowance. Of course, there are exceptions, so research the school thoroughly before signing a contract.

Some country-specific notes regarding educational qualifications

  • At the time of writing, Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not accept any certificates obtained via distance learning or an online programme when applying for a working visa. However, it may overlook this if the words “distance learning” or “online” are not mentioned anywhere on the certificate, transcript or in your university letter.
  • Currently, only primary teachers with a Bachelor of Education, not a primary PGCE, are eligible to work in Abu Dhabi, but this may change in the future.
  • In order to be eligible to work in Turkey at present, your degree must be in the subject you teach.
  • The Graduate Teaching Programme is not accepted as a valid qualification to teach in Australia at present.


Sorcha Coyle

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