Frequently Asked Questions​

Registering with Search Associates gives you access to our extensive database showcasing over 700 International schools worldwide. Contact details, hiring policies, visa information, salary and benefits, enrolment, breakdown of teachers and students via nationality, curriculum, important dates and holidays, teacher contact days and school accreditation are all available.

Schools also have the capacity to access your profile and may contact you directly if you are a good match. You will also receive Daily Email Updates of the latest job postings and you can apply directly to schools by clicking on a simple link. If you are offered a position and are unsure of the contract or the school – we can usually answer any questions and provide some advice. Among all of the Search Associates, we have worked in many international schools, or know of people who have, or know the administrators, or have visited the school or know of their reputation. Most importantly, you have the association with the Search Associates name, which gives credibility to your applications.

Our purpose is to connect candidates and international schools through our online database, job fairs and the collective and individual contacts of our Senior Associates. Your Associate (me) will be here to assist you in any way possible throughout your job search to include advice about your job search, information about a school, questions about a job offer, screening your “profile” to make sure you are applying for positions that relate to your experience/education, and to make sure your profile is as competitive as possible (we know what recruiters are looking for). There is really no question you cannot ask so you can contact us when you have questions.

Jobs are not guaranteed. Much of your success will depend on how pro-active you are in your job search, your willingness to teach at any one of many possible locations, your subject area, and the strength of your profile. About 75% of registered candidates will secure positions by using the database and connecting with schools, over the three years their profile is active; approximately 25% are hired through job fairs.

As a candidate you are completely in control of which schools you apply to. Interviews and offers may come from schools in unexpected countries, and you may not get interviews in your country of choice. We always encourage candidates to be open to all areas of the world in order to increase your chances of getting at least one good job offer.

Once your profile is active, it is your responsibility to search the database for openings and contact schools directly. You will receive daily emails informing you of openings when schools post them. You are the best person to know if a school might be of interest to you, so research the position well. Similarly, recruiters will be searching the database to look for candidates that fit their hiring needs and may contact you directly to ask if you are interested.

Search Associates does NOT assign candidates to schools. Our purpose is to connect candidates and international schools through our online database and job fairs. As a candidate, your profile will be available to schools searching to fill a position(s), and similarly you as a candidate will be able to view a school profile, search for vacancies and contact schools. Candidates and recruiters also connect at our job fairs. However, all job offers depend on the strength of your profile, your confidential references, your ability to interview, and your flexibility as to the type of school and location you find attractive.

If you are targeting one school, one city, or one country (with very few schools), you might try your luck in contacting them directly before applying with Search Associates. However, a benefit of registering with us is that you won’t have to ask your referees to submit letters of reference to more than one school (as they will be on your profile), and you will probably save yourself time as well. Also, if the school is a member of Search Associates, your file is likely to rise to the top of hundreds of random emails the school receives from candidates because your file will be readily accessible through Search Associates and we are well respected in the international education community. That being said, it will be extremely difficult to find a position with such a narrow search. Unless there are truly compelling reasons for a self-imposed geographic restriction, we may discourage your application.

While over 100 schools in Europe are registered with us, they represent only 15% of our total member schools. Many teachers considering working abroad think first of Europe, so the positions are very competitive. There is also a strong preference for European schools to seek candidates with EU passports (thus bypassing the expensive process of applying for EU work permits). Also, many European International Schools look for candidates with IB experience. Therefore, we encourage you to be open to other areas of the world in order to increase your chances of securing a position abroad.


The typical contract for international teachers is two years. The school’s investment in bringing a teacher overseas is high, both in financial expense and effort, plus the settling-in time to a new culture and role and the lead-in time for recruitment. These are the reasons this practice exists. An educator would be only a couple of months into their new role before they were preparing for job seeking again. A two-year commitment is reasonable and goes by quickly. If you are not prepared to commit to a two-year contract, we will discourage you from completing your application to Search. There are other agencies out there that do specialize in shorter contracts.

No. Recruitment fees are always paid by the school hiring you. Also, Search member schools do NOT deduct our placement fee from your salary (contrary to many myths that often circulate on social media)!

International schools generally prefer to hire couples, as they can spread their relocation costs over 2 employees. Both members of the teaching couple need to complete separate accounts with Search Associates. Teaching couples are only Activated as a couple, when both files are completed. One half of a teaching couple is not Activated until the other half of the couple has also completed his or her file. Both profiles will be electronically “linked” together by our system so that recruiters will know you are recruiting as a teaching couple. Note: some factors such as number of dependent children, teaching preferences and flexibility may affect a teaching couples’ ability to be competitive.

Teachers in specialist fields have the best chances of success due to a smaller teacher supply in relation to the number of jobs. Specialist areas include: music, art, library, early childhood, science and mathematics, and advanced level teachers (such as IB Diploma, AP, GCE A-Level). Specialists do have an advantage over English, ESOL, Humanities and Elementary teachers, fields in which the supply is large, but schools are always looking for outstanding teachers in all areas.

In addition to copies of your criminal background check (see question about criminal background checks below), you need to upload copies of your government issued teaching credentials/certificate as well as copies of your college/university degrees (diplomas, not transcripts). These documents will help recruiters quickly assess that you have successfully completed the degree, you have the relevant educational background for the position, and the correct paperwork to qualify for a work permit/visa in their host country.

Securing a criminal background check is becoming an increasingly important part of the recruitment process for international schools for the improvement of child protection and safety standards. Schools require these checks because it is a recommendation from the International Task Force on Child Protection which is now being incorporated into international school accreditation agencies’ standards and indicators. Host governments increasingly require these checks to issue visas and work permits to any foreign professional wishing to work in their country.

Although Search Associates does not require candidates to upload a background check to their profile to be considered for membership, we strongly recommend obtaining background checks so you can be more attractive to school recruiters and competitive in your job search.

October to March is peak recruiting season. Vacancies are posted throughout the year, and it is possible to secure a position at any time. However, to take advantage of the full recruiting cycle and to have the best opportunity to apply for the greatest number of positions that are suitable for you, you should try to follow this schedule:

August: Complete your application and be accepted for registration a full year before you would begin employment at most international schools. For example, if you are looking for a position for the 2023 – 2024 school year, you should start the registration process roughly in August 2022.

September: Use the Search website to familiarize yourself with the database and to start receiving email notifications as jobs become available. Request an invitation to one of our job fairs.

October: Start applying for jobs! Continue researching schools.

November: Keep contacting schools of interest. Prepare to attend one of our job fairs that is appropriate for you. Continue to communicate with schools, follow up on applications.

December to March: Attend one or more job fairs. Keep applying for suitable positions. Think of the job search as a process that will probably take months, not as a single event, like a fair or interview. Perseverance and flexibility will lead to a position that is right for you. International school recruiting has been described as a marathon, not a sprint!

International schools vary in their requirements, and the country in which a school is located may have specific requirements to establish eligibility for a work-visa and approval by the relevant government ministry. It is essential for a candidate to have at least a B.Ed. degree, and a government issued teaching certificate.

Degree qualifications and at least two years (sometimes more) of full-time teaching experience in a suitable ‘mainstream’ school (primary/elementary and/or secondary) are often quoted as minimum requirements. Some schools will accept newly qualified candidates as well as interns. A Master’s degree is valued for teachers and administrators, and some schools look favorably at doctorates for Head of School positions.

International school recruitment is highly competitive. Schools have their “pick” from a large candidate pool. Almost all schools will hire teaching couples and single teachers without dependents. However, international schools incur exceptional expenses, such as airfares, medical insurance, shipping, relocation and, in most cases, housing provisions, when hiring personnel from abroad; therefore, the more dependents a teacher has, the more expensive the teacher becomes.

Generally, teaching couples with more than two dependents will find significantly fewer options, and beyond that, the odds of success diminish rapidly. Single teachers with a dependent child will find that budget considerations may make it more difficult to obtain an offer from most schools. If you have a “non-teaching spouse” and one or more dependents, your job search will be very challenging, and you may find fewer options available to you.

The reality is that it is more challenging to secure a job with a non-teaching partner, and even more challenging if you have a non-teaching spouse and dependents. Of course, schools focus on quality, aiming foremost to get the best possible teacher.

Search Associates does not discriminate based on age, but candidates should be aware that schools may have age restrictions because of host country’s regulations governing work visas. We work with schools in almost 140 countries, and each country has its own laws and regulations concerning residence visas and work permits. Age limits might begin between 55 and 65 for some countries; however, many others impose no age limits at all. Once you have access to our database, you can easily see each school profile and determine whether or not schools have an age restriction based on the countries in which they are located.

In addition to copies of your criminal background check (see question about criminal background checks below), you need to upload copies of your government issued teaching credentials/certificate as well as copies of your college/university degrees (diplomas, not transcripts). These documents will help recruiters quickly assess that you have successfully completed the degree, you have the relevant educational background for the position, and the correct paperwork to qualify for a work permit/visa in their host country.

The Search registration fee is US$100 (or Canadian Dollar equivalent) and includes one fair attendance; if you wish to attend another fair there is a US$75 fee.

The registration fee is the last step of the activation/re-activation process. We will only send you the payment instructions once your profile is complete or fully updated – when all your tabs are blue, your CV and other required documents are uploaded and your references (minimum 4, at least 2 from your current school) have been submitted.

Payment Methods: For Canadians, we accept Interac/E-transfer in CDN Dollars. We also accept PayPal/Credit Card in US Dollars (a PayPal transaction fee will be added). Western Union is another option, but the transaction fees are much higher.

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