In the past most countries in Asia would welcome teachers with just a degree, tennis class Singapore and no previous teaching experience. This has changed in recent years, where in order to work, a teacher may need a degree, teaching experience and a TEFL or CELTA. In more sought out countries like Japan, and Taiwan- prospective teachers may also need additional business experience or have a qualification that allows them to teach children.
Working hours and conditions vary from country to country. The traditional Monday to Friday schedule still is common in some countries like Japan, and Korea, but in Vietnam, and Singapore you may have to forfeit part of your weekend. Some teachers also may have to work split shifts like early mornings, and late evenings, particularly in Cambodia, and Vietnam. You need to be flexible about your working hours.
In some countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, teachers used to be able to work part-time without a work visa. This has now changed with the need for a work permit, and a contract with a school- rather than a business visa,. Check if you are eligible for a work visa before you apply to work as a teacher in any Asian country.
If you qualify and can work legally with a work visa, your contract may be for one year to two years. This sounds great if you are in need for a job, but remember once you settle into the country, you have to spend the time stipulated in your contract there. One or two years is a longtime if you decide you dislike the area you live in,-so check out the location, company or country- before you commit yourself to any contract.
Most schools that hire expatriates are privately run, and the private educational sector runs on differing values to state education. Salaries tend to be higher, facilities often better, smoke-island and the students usually come from professional families or backgrounds. Teachers who want to ‘help’ less fortunate people, may not fit into a private school. If you feel this is not the right type of school for you, then check out working for an NGO or local charity.
Along with a work permit, you may need to pay local income taxes. Most Asian governments do tax foreign nationals, and this includes countries like Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Ensure your own Country does not have a dual tax system, as you could be paying double taxation.
Unlike many western Countries, working in an Asian country does not automatically give you any residential rights. Property ownership, permanent residency and other ownership rights are usually unheard of for expatriates living in most Asian countries.
Only very few Asian countries allow foreigners to own property, and obtain long-term visas even if you are married to a national of that country. Even if you work, you may not be able to get a local credit card or stay in the area after your job has finished.
Although most Asian cities have similar facilities as you may have back “home,” like shopping malls, movie theatres, bars and clubs, and similar sports facilities like golf, and tennis courts- they are primarily for wealthy local people. The cost of using these facilities, may be prohibitive as you could earn a much lower salary than at home.
One School in Indonesia recently claimed you “earn much more than a local worker.” This sounds enticing, but in reality the majority of qualified local employees earn more than the stipulated teaching salary. Salary gaps can be wide in Asia, and this shows in the cost of living, and lifestyles people choose. A local worker in some countries may not be able to visit a shopping mall, rent more than a room or eat out in a basic cafe. Compare your salary to a local professional, and you get a real idea on what your salary covers.
Most jobs in Asia are in cities, and urban areas can be huge. In China for instance, a smaller city can be classed as over 3 million people, whilst Beijing, Bangkok, Jakarta and Tokyo are mega cities in their own right. Most Asian cities tend to be big, crowded and polluted, and huge in size. Adjusting to a lifestyle in a mega city, means you usually spend more time traveling, and may have to live sometimes hours away from the city center.
Teaching is a rewarding profession, but, one which you may need to have a work permit, the right qualifications and a willingness to be flexible.
You need to commit yourself to working for one company for a set period of time. If you really wish to remain in the country after your initial contract – expect that you may have to downsize your lifestyle, and forget thinking about becoming a permanent resident of the country you work in.