In recent weeks, I’ve had several people leave comments on my articles about teaching in Thailand asking if there is an age limit when it comes to teaching English overseas. That’s because many people nowadays are taking early retirement but still want to work, or they’ve been unemployed for so long they are starting to look at other options besides the normal jobs they once had.
Luckily for them, and for anyone else who is in their 50s, 60s and even 70s, it is absolutely possible to teach English in many countries around the world. No matter how old you are. Here is how you can.
You’re as old as you look – The most important thing in many Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam and China isn’t necessarily how old you are but how old you look. That’s because appearance is everything. So, if you’re a youthful looking 65 year old with a lot of energy and one who dresses well, you are much more likely to be hired than a 45 year old who looks 20 years older due to his excessive partying lifestyle or general attitude.
If you are interested in teaching English overseas, and you’re in your 50s, 60s or 70s, your best bet is to go to a language school or a public or private school in person in the country you want to teach in, and drop off your resume. Once seen, you have a very good chance of being hired.
I know several teachers currently in Thailand and two in China who are in their late 50s and early 60s and one man even who has just turned 70. All are still teaching and frequently change jobs to start work at a new school, with none saying they’ve had any major difficulties being hired. They all make very good salaries as well.
Corporate teaching overseas – Don’t forget, many of the teaching positions abroad nowadays are for corporate teachers as businesses go truly global and need to be sure their staff is able to converse with English-speaking clients. That means, if you have any type of corporate experience, whether in management, sales or even something like accounting, you could be in high demand in some countries.
In Thailand, I worked for a major international accounting firm for several years teaching corporate English to more than 200 of their employees. I was one of several foreign teachers who worked at the company, and two were in their late 50s. We all had an extensive corporate backgrounds in something other than teaching, however, which was part of the attraction for the company we were told.
After all, if a company can get a teacher that not only teaches English but can also teach business skills, business management and even sales techniques, they’ll often jump at the chance of hiring you, no matter if you’re 45 or 65.
Consider freelance, part-time or two jobs – I know a couple of older English teachers, one in Thailand and one in Mexico and both in their early 60s, who decided to go into part-time and freelance work instead of the usual steady job. That’s because they could work for a language school on a part-time basis while making a decent amount per hour, then supplement their income with freelance private students. Even with two jobs, they were still only working the same hours as with one but making more money and with more freedom.
The last time I spoke to one of them, he was making so much money from teaching private students as he was in high demand, he was considering quitting the language school and teaching private students freelance full-time.
If you do decide to do this, make sure you check the laws in the country you are interested in, as some countries will allow you to have a work permit for one job and freelance at another, while other countries may not.
In Thailand, for instance, it’s technically against the law to work at any job but the one your work permit is for, but thousands of English teachers do teach private students on a freelance basis and the government seems to turn a blind eye.
Talk to other teachers online before leaving – If you’re an older person who would like to teach, or a teacher with experience who wants to teach abroad, it’s well worth your while speaking to teachers in forums online that are already in the countries you are interested in teaching in. That’s because they can tell you honestly about the situation for older teachers in the country they are in, and give you tips about how to get a job. You may even end up with some interview leads.
Remember too, if the situation in one particular country is dire for older teachers, it’s better to find out from someone online who understands the current situation than to waste your time traveling to a country only to realize it will be almost impossible to get a job.
Finally, if you want to teach abroad and are worried about an age limit, remember most countries in Asia and Latin America have far more respect for more mature adults than do most western countries and that can carry over to employment as well.
In Thailand, for instance, anyone who is a teacher will automatically be given a lot of respect by students and their parents. Anyone who is an older teacher will receive even more. That alone can make teaching in a country like that so very nice.