Not all of us are blessed with unlimited amounts of money, which means that if we want to travel, we need to find a way to fund it. Short trips are relatively easy: find a job, save, take time off to travel. Longer trips can also be funded this way, though it means more time at work before you actually get away. If you’re planning to travel for a year or more though, finding a job in one of the countries you plan to travel in will allow you to start your trip earlier as well as giving you a chance to immerse yourself in the culture of your destination.

There are plenty of jobs out there, but a great option for travellers from English-speaking countries is teaching English as a second language. You can get a qualification in your home country, abroad or online, then look for a job on one of the many ESOL websites out there.

Why teach English?

English is the modern lingua franca, the language of international business, travel and aviation among other things. Teaching English is a booming industry, as people of all ages have a vested interest in becoming fluent in the language. Schools in more and more countries are including it as a core subject in their curriculum, and adults study it at private language schools both in their home country and in English-speaking countries. Because there are about three times as many students of the language as there are native speakers, teachers from countries like the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are always in demand.

The work

One of the benefits of teaching English is that you work during the day, and not usually at weekends — so you still have time to explore your destination. You’ll have contact with locals, who can give you advice about what to do and what to see, and you’ll be giving people skills for the future. It can be exhausting work, but it’s satisfying.


There are many options for English-teaching qualifications. A CELTA certificate from Cambridge University is the most well-respected, closely followed by the Trinity TESOL certificate. Both qualifications are available from a variety of centres around the world and take four weeks to complete. They also include a practical component to give you a chance to get into the classroom.

If you’re only planning on doing a little bit of teaching, an online or shorter qualification will serve you well, though you’ll probably find it a little more difficult to find work and you’ll get paid less.

Finding a job

It’s pretty easy to find work, though most schools prefer you to sign a contract for a year or more. If you’re planning to do this, get in touch with some ex-teachers of the school to get an idea of what the school is like — just like anything, some of the offers you’ll find online really are too good to be true, and are actually scams.

Some schools will organise a visa for you, for others you’ll need to organise your own before you go. You’ll generally have to organise your own accommodation, so check out prices in the city you plan to visit, and compare this with your salary to work out if it’s going to be worth your while. Don’t take a job that pays just enough to live on — you want to be able to save for the next stage of your trip.

If you’re planning on working while you travel, choosing to teach English could be a good option. You’ll have a chance to save for the next stage of your trip, you’ll have contact with locals, and you’ll end up with a skill that will always be useful — both at home and abroad.

Your thoughts on "Why teaching English is the perfect job for travel addicts"

  • Another important thing about teaching English is you often bump into people and make new friends. This can often find work for you through the network of "friends of friends". In the same way of offering work to others. Its not something I am doing myself yet but is likely to become a possibility in the future. Although have many friends here in the Philippines, Thailand,China and Japan that are all teaching english to sponser their trips.

    on September 18, 2011 at 4:56 am Reply
  • Great post! Where did you teach? I'm looking for jobs in China. I see you're on the other side of the world, but I was just wondering!

    on September 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm Reply
  • If anyone is interested in teaching English in Thailand, check out my website: I can answer any questions you may have about teaching or living in Thailand.

    on October 21, 2012 at 1:19 am Reply
  • I taught in China, Korea and Taiwan. Most full time jobs will arrange the visa for you. To legally teach in these places and many others around the world you usually need to have a university degree and be a native speaker. Occasionally not, but usually. TEFL certificates can help you get a job and more importantly they should help you in the classroom. I took one though that was expensive and didn't help much. CELTA and TRINITY TESOL certificates are expensive and I would only recommend these if you are planning on doing it long term.

    on March 21, 2016 at 1:14 pm Reply
    • That's a good point -- if you're going just for the one job you might not need the CELTA or TESOL; but if you are considering teaching longer-term I'd say these qualifications are definitely worth it.

      on March 22, 2016 at 10:39 am Reply

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