Reduce Your Debt Fast While Seeing the World - As Easy As Yi, Er, San

Graduation is right around the corner, or you rounded that corner a few years ago and things sort of hit a brick wall. You have a degree and a mountain of debt. What do you do next? What job will you be able to get? Will there be any jobs for you?

It is no secret things are tough out there in the job market. As any recent graduate knows, the skills of fresh graduates with little to no experience are not highly sought after. Most job postings you see are rather discouraging with requirements far beyond that which most recent graduates possess.

What do you do? Do not fret. There are places where jobs literally come looking for you. If you are willing to get an extra certificate and travel far from home, you will be just fine.

Unlike the cowboys of old riding into the sunset after conquering a daring adventure, new and recent graduates may find comfort in the rising sun to the east after they realize their daring adventure has only just begun. Get your passport and pack your bags. Asia may have just what you are looking for.

I am referring to teaching English as a second language in China, Korea, Thailand and many other countries. Many expatriates, including myself, have found teaching abroad to be an attractive alternative to slogging through continuous rejection or underemployment in our own countries. And, it is not as hard as you may think.

In fact, it is pretty easy and only gets easier once you arrive at your destination.

What do you need to get a job teaching English abroad?

To begin, you will need a TEFL or CELTA certificate in addition to your bachelor’s degree. For Americans, a TEFL certificate will be the best option as CELTA is a British qualification and is often not offered by American institutions. Check with your university for TEFL courses. If TEFL is offered by your university, you can easily get certified while still studying. If courses are not offered by your university, there are a multitude of online offerings for TEFL certification.

There are a few things you must consider when choosing a TEFL certificate program.

First, you need to ensure you get a 120 hour certificate with observed teaching practice. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in any field, a 120 hour certificate is a common minimum requirement for a work visa in many countries. Make sure your certificate will reflect that the course was indeed 120 hours! Moreover, observed teaching practice is not always required, but, if you are searching for your first teaching job, it can be the difference between you and the next best candidate.

Second, not all TEFL certificates are created equal. TEFL certification has become a sort of money printing business for some seedy online “institutes”. It is important to research the school before paying for a course. You do not want to go through all the trouble of paying and studying just to have your qualifications questioned at every turn.

How do you find the job?

Once you have TEFL, you are set to begin your job search. You can go through an agency or contact a school directly. There are many ESL job boards on the internet with thousands of jobs. ESL cafe and ESL Teacher’s Board are among the most popular job boards for ESL teachers. Note that many jobs will ask for two years of work experience in any field to meet visa requirements. However, if you invest the time in your search, you can find schools willing to put in the effort to get you legal paperwork despite lacking some arbitrary requirements. In addition, requirements are often loosened in rural areas and areas outside the most popular cities. For example, in China, it is illegal for schools to hire non-native speakers in Beijing and other tier 1 cities, but regions outside of these cities are allowed to hire non-native speakers (Or, no one checks up on it in these out-of-the-way cities.).
What should you look for in a job?

There are different types of jobs and each has its pros and cons. There are public schools, private schools, training centers, and universities. My personal opinion is that public schools and universities are best. You will earn less money, but will have a less stressful work environment and more paid time off. At universities you will earn half as much as in public primary schools and a third as much as in private high schools, but you will have the greatest freedom at work as well as the most paid holidays. In private schools you will earn more money, but be constantly under the scrutiny of owners and parents. Finally, training centers are the most stressful with the least time off and greatest potential for dishonest business dealings, but the greatest earning potential. Training centers pay by the hour and rates can reach as high as $50/hour depending on the clientele. In addition, I must note that the highest paying private high schools will require a teaching degree from your home country or a master’s degree in an education related field in order to be qualified. Once you find a job and sign a contract, the school or agent will walk you through the visa process and you will be on your way in no time.

If you are among the millions of young Americans burdened with a mountain of student loan debt and are worried about working after graduation, teaching English in countries such as China may be exactly what you are looking for.

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