Shook has written a nice look at how he found a
job in sunny Aruba. If you\'ve ever thought of getting out
of North America, see how he did it, and maybe you can
\"On March 3 I signed a contract to be the
Librarian at the International School of Aruba. On my
school librarians‚ listserv (lm_net) over 30 librarians
asked me questions and then I was asked to jot a few
notes about the experience of finding an international
school job. Here, I\'ll try to address these requests.
Over the previous 15 months I\'d watched the
international job market through newspaper & online
subscriptions and email contacts. Vacancies had been
posted from the following countries (please note that
most of these jobs are now filled and the postings
gone, while some were left over from a school year
ago): Argentina, Aruba, Bahrain, Brazil, Colombia,
Ecuador, Germany, Greece 2, Cote d‚Ivoire, Japan 2,
Korea 2, Kuwait 2, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Marshall
Islands 2, Mexico 3, Nepal, Curacao, Saipan?, Oman,
Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Spain, Taiwan,
Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey 2 or 3, Venezuela 3.
Job fairs seem to be the best way for interviews and
they‚re held from February-July, with Feb-April being the
big months. Some schools attend only one and others
more of these fairs ˆand they don‚t always publish in
their ads which ones they‚ll be attending. The big ones
are sponsored by UNI (where I obtained my job,) ISS,
SA, and ECIS. Registration for these fairs may be
open/required before New Years. Registration fees
and services offered vary greatly. Contact information
given at end of this article.
I read a lot while making the decision to pursue an
international career. I started with books from my local
public library, including „Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands,‰
which I found very interesting and informative. A visit to
the local chain bookstore (I used Barnes & Noble)
elicited others and I also noted suggestions in the
literature I was reading.
I wrote to every agency and group listed and received
great help˜even from my U.S. Representative‚s local
office. The Department of Defense/Dependents‚
Schools and the Department of State/Affiliated Schools
both have packets. Every contact is worthwhile. Many
of them provide some general information on
international working and living, too, which is quite
I subscribed to the ISS newspaper and bought their
annual Directory of Overseas Schools ($34.95, August)
twice, which I found very helpful. I subscribed to both
the print and online editions of The International
Educator˜tieonline is very helpful for current job ads. All
of these sources have general articles and information
Contact with schools and jobs can be made in a
variety of ways. I chose to email letters of inquiry
starting in December (now I would start a little earlier)
to those schools/countries I was interested in and
letters of interest to those job postings that caught my
eye. My general letters of inquiry elicited a response
less than 1/3 of the time and then usually negative.
One school in Italy responded with a form email that
said they receive over 3,000 such letters annually!
Then again, a school in Spain mailed a hand-written
reply, adding two beautiful stamps to my collection.
The International School of Aruba did not have a job
opening listed, so my email of inquiry to them was what
ultimately led to my job there. Next time, and I plan that
there will be a next time, I‚d have my resume packets
ready a month earlier and have them mailed to the
several schools I had contact with before the end of
January, rather than in February. (Mid-February is when
the job fairs start here and recruiters may have left their
Gearing up for this included updating my resume,
transcripts, letters of reference, resume photo (I felt like
I was getting my senior pictures taken again.) I wrote a
variety of letters and stored them on disk so I could
address almost any situation quickly. I had the usual
letters of reference from my Principal and Department
Head and added letters from teachers I‚d worked
closely with and, because of my catholic school
library/teaching experience, a letter from my Pastor.
Update your passport!
I\'m a librarian and I did a great deal of research and
built quite a file of materials, including information on
every country in the world˜noting likes and dislikes, age
& religion restrictions, weather, Department of State
comments (I subscribed to their free and very helpful
travel warnings & public announcements & consular
information sheets listserv,) etc.
Yes, you may run into age restrictions in contracts,
work permits, or other governmental regulations. I was
turned down by a school in Japan because of my
age˜their teachers retire by contract at 60 and I‚ve just
turned 59. I met that Head of School at the UNI Job Fair
and we spoke more than once over the weekend. In
fact, the recruiters at UNI seemed to be just as friendly
after they‚d been turned down as previously. One
asked me to keep his school in mind if I was ready to
move in two years.
Schools and salaries and benefits are all over the
place just as here in the States. The variety of schools
and systems shouldn‚t surprise you when you can see
the same thing so easily close at home. I think they‚re
mostly college prep and the percentage of American
can range from zip to all. From what I‚ve seen and
gathered, the facilities have a wide range also. The
same applies to living situations and conditions. I think
new/young teachers may more often have to share
housing, which is often apartments. If there‚s a
housing allowance offered instead of housing ˆor as an
option˜it may cover up to 50% with a cap on it. Housing
may be on campus or a drive away.
Salaries and benefits are as varied as here at home.
I‚ve seen salaries posted from the teens to the 40s
depending on education, experience, responsibilities,
difficulty in recruiting teachers, cost of living, etc.
Generally, I think up to $70,000. earned while living
10-11 months annually outside the United States is not
subject to Federal Income Tax. That, and Social
Security (either U.S. or local,) depends on each
contract. Benefits generally seem to include some
medical insurance, some transportation, some
shipping and/or settling allowance, some professional
development, perhaps even some meals provided on
campus! Local taxes may be withheld. It‚s important to
know if and how much of your salary will be paid in
$US, the stability of the local currency, and how your
salary will be paid.
Information about these schools can be found on
school websites, the ISS Directory, ECIS website,
Peterson‚s print and online sources, DOS website, job
ads, and, I know this about UNI only, job fair materials.
(At the UNI fair some schools had „Orientation
Sessions,‰ some of which included videos,
powerpoints, or brochures about their schools, cities,
countries.) It‚s best to know as much as possible
about each school as you search. I built a packet on
each school with an announced job opening, so I was
prepared. It‚s all a blur after a while, but at least it‚s
there to reference. (At UNI, I was able to share an
opening in Germany that was not at the UNI Fair which
another librarian didn‚t know about.)
Choosing a school and country to go for can be a
struggle. The literature suggests you start with two
geographic areas, meaning two continents. I tried to be
very open and grew more so as my search progressed.
My current school here has an exchange with a school
in Lyon, France, and this idea of international teaching
was strengthened by my getting to know those
chaperones and exchange students and their families
and visiting that school. I‚d have loved to be in or near
France. The number of job openings in Western
Europe is small ˆand everyone wants to go there.
Schools there may get hundreds of applications for
open positions. Read. Read. Read. And be open to
many possibilities. Even after I defined the areas I
preferred, I tried to stay open to other possibilities. It‚s
a good thing, as South & Central America and the
Caribbean were not my first choices.
1. SA / Search Associates: job fair, website:
2a.ISS / International Schools Services: job fair,
website, newspaper, directory: http://www.iss.edu
2b. International School Services Directory of Overseas
Schools, annual, ISS, paperbound, $34.95?
3.ECIS / European Council of International Schools:
job fair, website, postings: http://www.ecis.org
4. UNI / University of Northern Iowa: job fair, website,
5. DOD / Department of Defense / Dependents‚
Schools: website, materials, postings:
6a. DOS /Department of State / Affiliated Schools:
website, materials, directory:
6b. DOS / Department of State / Country Background
Notes, Travel Warnings, US Citizens Abroad:
7.TIE / The International Educator: website,
newspaper, postings: http://www.tieonline.com
8. Roger Jones: Teaching abroad: How and where to
find world-wide opportunities and contacts (How to
books: Jobs & careers), 3rd edition, c1998, United
Kingdom: How to books, 222 pages, paperbound,
$19.95, isbn 1-85703-276-4, (British).
9. L. Robert Kohls: Survival kit for overseas living: For
Americans planning to live and work abroad, 3rd
edition, c1996, Intercultural Press, 165 pages,
paperbound, isbn 1-877864-38-2.
10. Terri Morrison et al: Kiss, bow, or shake hands:
How to do business in sixty countries, 1994, Adams,
438 pages, paperbound?