Is there job security when teaching English abroad?
People often ask me this question and my answer is usually, “Yes, and No.”
To a large extent it depends on your employer and the country in which you decide to work. The English teaching world is not really any different from working in your home country, there are excellent employers and there are shady characters you hope you never work for.
So, just like back home, take your time and select your employer carefully. See Checking your Employer’s Reputation on this blog.
It is up to you to create your “security”.
Easy enough answer, no?
There are many people in this business, and I am one of them, who will tell you that you should always consider yourself a “private contractor”. That you should always think of yourself as working for yourself. Don’t count on any one employer looking out for you or assuring your future. If you do, you will surely be disappointed.
Case in point: My best friend worked for a university in Korea for over ten years, only to find that they had decided to implement a policy which would limit foreigners to THREE years. At first, he was told that they would “grandfather” him into his position.
But the reality was that he had to leave. He had put down roots in the town where the school is and had made himself very comfortable in a good job. He did his best every year for the students and school. Yet, he found himself hustled out the door. Boooooo, bad school!
Year-to-year contracts are the norm in this industry and that should tell you something. Namely, that you should be prepared to hunt down a new job every year (but you won’t really have to). Some jobs, in some countries offer longer contracts. they are not rare but they are not really common either.
Though contracts for teaching English tend to be year to year, lots of people work for many years at all kinds of schools. If you do a decent job, you will usually be renewed.
It’s not all that bad
The good thing about all this is that, as noted in one of the subheadings, you will have to learn to create your own security. You will find a deep sense of satisfaction in building your own employment and financial world that is independent of your employer(s).
Don’t find yourself in the same boat as the people who worked for Enron or Worldcom, CitiBank, Bernand Madoff or even those who relied on defined benefit retirement plans from some of the largest corporations in the world. Take care of your future.
TED’s Tips™ #1: Learn to take care of yourself. It’s not a bad idea, it’s a GREAT idea.
If you intend to spend more than just a year or two abroad or if you surprise yourself and end up spending longer than you thought you would, get moving at educating yourself for long-term financial security.
I bought and paid off several rental properties to help provide for my old age (Yeah! You can do that while teaching English and seeing the world!) I am not rich but I don’t have to worry about my former employer(s) going bankrupt and failing to pay my living expenses.
TED’s Tips™ #2: Find out about medical plans independent of the minimal plans offered by your employers.
While you are young and healthy this may not be too much of an issue, but life can throw surprises and challenges at you at inconvenient times.
Because the cost of medical in many countries is much lower than in Western countries, you may find good quality insurance much less expensive than you had thought.
Carrying your own insurance usually makes it portable, so you are covered even while traveling outside the country in which you are working, which is rarely the case with employer provided insurance. That portability can also mean you are free to change employers and countries when and if you wish and still be covered – even between jobs.
Disclaimer: Sorry, but you know how the world is . . . so here I will say – don’t follow my advice, nothing is my fault if you create problems in your life and please read our legal disclaimer.