Discover the qualifications required to teach overseas, including degree requirements, teaching certificates, and work permit regulations. 

Teaching overseas offers an exciting opportunity to broaden your horizons and experience different cultures while living and working abroad. 

However, it’s crucial to understand the qualifications required to teach abroad. International schools have their own specific requirements, and each country has its own visa regulations for work permits. In this blog post, we will delve into the qualifications necessary for teaching overseas and shed light on the intricacies of international teaching careers.

International schools vary in their requirements, and compliance with the host country’s government and immigration laws is essential. 

​​When you are hired by a good international school, the school is responsible for procuring a valid work permit/visa, which allows you to work/live in that country legally. It is no different than the U.S. requiring a “Green Card” to work in the U.S., and you know how difficult those are to acquire!

Government visa regulations are strict, and given that teachers are hired by international schools as “foreign experts in education,” it is not unreasonable to expect that the host country immigration/visa requirements would require proof of “teaching expertise” of school-aged children.

Let’s explore the qualifications necessary to secure a teaching position overseas:

These qualifications demonstrate your academic expertise and professional competency in the field of education.

Bachelor of Education Degree and Teaching Certificate

Most countries require teachers to hold a minimum of a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) degree. Depending on the college/university, this could be a 4-year B.Ed program, or a 5-6 year concurrent degree with a B.A. or B.Sc., or a 1-year program taken after completing your B.A or B.Sc. There is usually a practicum component to your B.Ed.

You also need a valid government-issued teaching certificate to qualify for a work visa. A teaching license or teaching certificate is issued by a government body which says you are qualified to teach school-aged children in that province or state, or country. In Canada, The Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) certificate or any other provincial teaching certification is acceptable for a work permit in most countries. 

Note: A certificate from the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) or a TESOL or TEFL certificate are NOT recognized as government-issued certificates (they are issued by educational organizations). While some schools may accept these qualifications, many will not as they do not meet the strict requirements of their host country’s visa requirements. 

Master’s Degree

While a B.Ed degree and teaching certificate are the minimum requirements, having a Master’s degree can enhance your career prospects. Many international schools value teachers and administrators with advanced degrees, and higher qualifications often translate to a higher position on the pay scale. Consider pursuing a Master’s degree to strengthen your profile and increase your chances of securing desirable positions.

NOTE: not all Master of Education degrees lead to teacher certification. The reason for this is that some M.Eds are more theory-based and don’t include or require a practicum so if you are take undertaking your M.Ed either in Canada or the US or elsewhere, make sure that the that you also qualify for the teaching certificate.

Teaching Experience

In most cases, candidates are expected to have a minimum of two years of teaching experience. This requirement helps schools ensure their teachers possess the necessary skills and adaptability to thrive in an international teaching environment. Larger or more renowned schools may prioritize candidates with more experience i.e. minimum 5 years and/or previous international teaching experience, as it demonstrates familiarity with diverse educational systems and cultural contexts.

European Schools and EU Passports

European schools often prefer to hire candidates with EU passports to avoid the complexities and expenses associated with work visa applications. If you possess an EU passport, it can be advantageous when seeking teaching positions in European countries. However, keep in mind that this preference may vary depending on the school and the specific circumstances. Note: this is usually a school preference rather than a strict school or government requirement.

Opportunities for New Teachers and Interns

While some schools require experienced teachers, there are many international schools that welcome teachers with less than two years of experience or recent graduates. Additionally, internships can serve as valuable entry points (a foot in the door!) into the world of international teaching. If you’re a new teacher or a recent graduate, don’t be discouraged. There are opportunities available if you are flexible and open-minded, and gaining experience abroad can be a transformative start to your teaching career. 


Are teaching qualifications the same for all countries? 

No, teaching qualifications vary from country to country. Each host country has its own specific requirements for work permits, and international schools also have their own criteria for hiring teachers. Even within the same country, different schools may have different requirements or hiring preferences.

Can I teach overseas without a B.Ed degree? 

While a B.Ed degree is often a minimum requirement, some international schools may consider candidates with alternative teaching qualifications or relevant experience. However, having a B.Ed degree significantly increases your chances of securing a teaching position overseas.

Do I need to speak the local language of the host country? 

The language requirement may differ based on the school and country. Some schools may require proficiency in the local language, while others operate primarily in English. It’s essential to research the specific language requirements for the region you wish to teach in.

Teaching overseas is a rewarding and enriching experience.

If you’re a Canadiancertified teacher interested in exploring overseas opportunities, contact Gary MacPhie at to learn more about how you can register with Search Associates and view thousands of jobs at top international schools. 

Join us at our Toronto Search Fair, Feb 10-11th, 2024!

The Toronto Search Fair is open to all certified teachers in all subjects and grade levels, including specialists and administrators. Meet, connect and interview with International School Heads and Principals. 

Don’t miss this amazing professional opportunity – the best way to launch your international teaching career!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *