International teaching for US and Canadian teachers

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What you need to know about teaching jobs abroad for Certified US and Canadian teachers

North American teachers have lots of reasons for teaching internationally. They save more money than at home thanks to comprehensive employment packages that include housing, medical insurance, higher take home pay and lower cost of living.  They get to see more of the world and experience new cultures, broadening themselves personally. They work alongside teachers from all over the world and learn new teaching skills and new curricula.  There are more reasons than we can count.


There are currently over 12,000 international schools around the world, however most US and Canadian Elementary, Middle and High School teachers start their international teaching careers in either the Middle East, Southeast Asia or the Far East. Why? Because these regions have the largest concentration of international schools, and they are used to welcoming foreign teachers. Most US and Canadian teachers teach for 2-3 years in these regions to get the critical experience and professional development they need, getting their foot on the first rung of the International School ladder. Then the sky is the limit.

Note that some countries require a minimum number of years of experience to get a visa, and some have a maximum or minimum age. Many European schools require an EU passport which is something most North Americans don’t have. Some schools require that you have experience teaching their curricula and some are more flexible. Finally, an increasing number of countries have requirements in terms of the education and teacher training you must have. The Edvectus team keeps up to date on all of these changing goalposts and is here to help guide you towards the right countries and schools that can and will hire you.

See all of our international teaching jobs and apply here


Over half of international schools use the national curriculum of England and Wales. About a quarter use the International Baccalaureate, and about twenty percent use the US curriculum. There are a few Canadian and Australian curriculum schools as well, but they are more rare.  Regardless of the curriculum used, a growing percentage of international schools are also bilingual, combining the host country language and parts of their curricula too.  There is a huge spectrum of combinations, which is what we think makes it so unique and exciting.  US teachers usually get their start in US curriculum schools, whereas Canadian teachers get hired by US as well as UK schools because the Canadian curriculum has elements of both.


The three things any international teacher will need to consider are:

  1. What is the after-tax salary I will earn?
  2. What benefits are included in the package, and what will I need to pay for out of my salary?
  3. What is the cost of living?

At home you are used to getting a salary and you know what the taxes will be. You know the cost of your housing, food, internet, utilities and more.  When you go abroad, you need to redo those calculations because everything changes.

Every school has a different salary scale and benefits – some of which can make a huge difference- and every country and city has a different cost of living. A country with a lower cost of living means each dollar you earn buys more, so you spend less and save more.  Let’s take some typical examples from schools that will hire teachers with 2-3 years of experience. You will note that the salary abroad seems lower but the tax (or lack of) and comprehensive package makes the difference to your wallet.

We’ll use US teachers as an example:

In the US

  • Annual Salary $60,000
  • After tax Salary: $45,000
  • Rent and medical insurance premium: $1400 per month
  • Money left for food, utilities, savings, per month: $2350

In the UAE

  • Annual Salary (no tax): 144,000 AED ($39,000)
  • Rent and Medical: 0 (provided for free by school)
  • Money left for food, utilities, savings per month: $3250
  • Adjusted for cost of living (15% lower in the UAE) it will feel like: $3730

In China

  • Annual Salary: 360,000 CNY ($50,000)
  • After tax salary (Beijing): 272, 000 CNY ($37,800)
  • Rent and Medical: 0 (provided by school for free)
  • Money left over for food, utilities, savings per month: $3150
  • Adjusted for the cost of living (48% lower in China) it will feel like: $4660

In Thailand

  • Annual Salary: 1,008,000 ThB ($27,800)
  • After tax salary (Bangkok): 912,000 ThB ($25,000)
  • Rent and Medical: 0 (provided by school for free)
  • Money left over for food, utilities, savings per month: $2083
  • Adjusted for the cost of living (47% lower in Thailand) it will feel like: $3062


You can see how tax rates, employment packages and the cost-of-living variation affects your take home pay and standard of living and how the top line salary is not the only thing to consider. In all cases you should be able to save more by working internationally. And remember our examples don’t include benefits like bonuses which are common in international school packages so you might do even better!


Every country has different requirement, and every school has different preferences (which is why we are here to help!), but some basic requirements for international schools are:

  • Bachelor’s degree, ideally relating to your teaching subject
  • Teacher training such as a Bachelor or Master of Education
  • Teacher certification
  • Clear Child Protection checks including references and barred list checks
  • A clear criminal record check (FBI/RCMP) is required in many countries

There are also some restrictions on age in several countries making it harder for those over 55. We don’t recommend you try to bring a pet abroad (more here ), and those with a partner and/or dependent children should read about some of the challenges here. 


Registering with Edvectus is free, and all you need is a resume (also called a CV) so we can see your education and experience. Don’t worry about having the perfect resume at this stage- we can help guide you along the way with tips and advice. Simply register and our consultants (who are internationally experienced ex-teachers themselves) will contact you to find out more about you and explain what kinds of opportunities we have. Most of our jobs are online here but we can help point you to the best jobs for your experience, educational background, personal situation and goals. Matching teachers to job is what we do.

US and Canadian Teachers – register with a click on the link below.

Your international career awaits. 

5 minute Registration form: