The English language has spread like wildfire across the world and speaking it has become a paramount skill. As such, this creates an extremely fruitful market for ESL teachers, both new and experienced alike. However, some regions and, more specifically, countries have different criteria and expectations for teachers than others, and no two places are alike. A simple internet search can either lead potential teachers away from realizing their teach and travel dreams, as they feel that they are not qualified to do the job, or give them false hopes of working in a location that they aren’t yet qualified for. Well, fear not, newbies: there are plenty of amazing options for you! Additionally, the completion of a single contract in one area of the world can make you fully qualified to teach in another, just from experience alone. Of course, it never hurts to get a TESOL certification, as well, just to build your skills and strengthen your resume.

After deciding you want to go abroad to teach, you get to experience the incredibly exciting process of choosing where in the world to go. If money is not your main priority and you’re after the experience that will be most memorable and meaningful to you, you’re in luck: this is pretty easy. For people with different priorities, this can sometimes be a bit more challenging. For example, a huge portion of teachers that I’ve met or who’ve contacted me have high hopes of moving to South America, making loads in a cheaper country, and living the high life. Well, unfortunately, this isn’t normally how it works out. There are few jobs in few countries where you get high wages and cheap living, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

This is why it’s important to figure out what you think you’d like before committing to a job. You can find a guide for which TEFL or TESOl course is required in specific regions here. Some countries are more suited for first-year teachers, but the information below serves as a general starting point for how to know which jobs you are eligible for.


This is the most popular continent for teachers, especially first-years, to move to. Most of the countries have fairly basic requirements, such as a Bachelors degree (in anything) and oftentimes a TESOL or TEFL certificate. Here, teachers have the option to teach in the public school system or at private language academies. Typically, the public schools have stricter (but more stable) guidelines for employment, so using a recruitment agency to help you navigate it all is definitely a plus. Jobs in private academies are listed on various job forums throughout the internet-Dave’s ESL Cafe is my favorite- but here you will deal directly with the school, which commonly involves a slight language barrier/things being lost in translation.

Central and South America

Countries in this region are the typical dream for first-time teachers with no clue where to go. These countries also have less strict requirements for teachers. However, schools tend to fend for themselves in this region, so recruitment agencies won’t likely be able to assist you in getting a job here. You’ll have to search individual countries and schools for more specific information.

Middle East

The Middle East is considered to be one of the gold mines of the ESL teaching industry. However, it is not a mine that is open to the general public. Every country in the Middle East requires several years of experience along with higher level qualifications, such as a Masters in Education, a CELTA, or an Advanced TESOL. If these requirements are met, the employment offer will include an extremely gracious benefits package. Schools and universities in the Middle East use both recruiters and job forums if you think you’d like to apply.

To find out what specific countries or programs are recruiting now, visit a reliable recruiter to get your journey started.