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How do I decide if teaching at an international school is right for me?

Teacher lunch at school. Education concept. Eating in classroom. Study and learning

For many, teaching is a passion. This means that it’s not a matter if they should teach, but where they should teach. Most teachers will end up teaching at state schools within or nearby to their hometown. After all, many of us will not want to be too far away from our families. Others, however, are willing to spread their wings and look further afield, meaning international schools might be appealing to them. 

There are benefits of teaching in an international school. For example, there are opportunities to explore new countries and to see more of the world. In addition, international schools tend to pay fairly well, making it a financially rewarding job. 

However, this is not to say that international schools are for everyone. You will need to ask yourself whether or not you think you’re right for the role. This article will highlight the key factors that will help you decide whether or not teaching at an international school is for you.


If you are already living in the country you are considering working in, then homesickness should not be a problem for you. However, if you are not used to being away from home, then it is something you should take seriously. 

Homesickness can affect people in different ways. For some people, the symptoms of homesickness will only be mild. For others, it can be debilitating and may even affect their ability to do their job. If you are the kind of person who easily misses friends and family when you’re away from them, teaching at an international school in another country may not be for you.


Qualifications are a key factor in influencing your ability to work for an international school regardless of your personal preferences. International schools usually have high standards, and this means being well-qualified. Not only will you need to have the appropriate certification, but international schools will also often look for teachers who have solid experience and glowing references from previous roles. 

Working With Demanding Parents

International schools are not cheap, and parents expect to get good value for their money. As such, you can expect to find that parents at these schools may be more demanding overall than at state schools. You will need to be able to work with these types of parents in the right way. It can be very frustrating and difficult to react well when a parent continues to make demands despite you having already done your best. Nonetheless, this is something that a teacher at an international school should expect. 

Are You Broad Minded?

Given the nature of an international school, a global-mindset and open-minded way of thinking is crucial. Most likely, teachers working at international schools will have come from all over the world. As such, you can expect to find people from different backgrounds, with worldviews that may vastly differ to your own. For many, this is a benefit as it provides opportunities for them to broaden their minds. However, others may struggle with these vast differences.

If you are a person who enjoys exploring new ideas and encountering different cultures, then working at an international school could be the ideal environment for you. However, if you prefer to remain in a comfortable environment that you’ve already grown accustomed to, then such a role may not be for you.


Many international schools are located in cities that offer different landscapes, experiences, and sceneries from where you are from. For many, this is one of the biggest appeals of working in such a school as it presents the chance to see new and wonderful places and gain incredible experiences. However, you should also be aware that it will not always be a vacation – at times, it may be far from it.

International schools tend to pay quite well, which means hard work, sometimes with long hours and limited days off. For much of the time, you will find yourself in a classroom instead of seeing the sights or chilling on a beach.

That’s not to say you won’t get the free time to enjoy the local sceneries and sights. There will be occasions when you get time to do what you want to do, and you will still get to see more of the world than most other people do. 

Extra Training

International schools want the best-qualified teachers, so you may find yourself doing a lot of additional training courses. Such courses might have schedules that may eat into your own leisure time. 

Of course, there is an obvious upside to extra training: learning more and becoming even better qualified, ultimately benefitting you in the future. However, taking on extra training can also be mentally and physically draining, and some people might struggle with the workload.


Last but not least, you will need to take food into account. While you will usually find western-style food in most cities throughout the world, you will still eat the local cuisine the most often. The local cuisine will be wonderful in many cases, but it may take a bit of adjusting for some people. It’s not necessarily a big deal even if you do struggle with the local food, but it is something that people with a sensitive stomach and picky palate will need to consider. 


Working in an international school can be an incredible experience. In addition to making fond memories, such a role can also help further your career. Plus, of course, it can be financially rewarding. 

However, teaching in an international school can be hard work, so you shouldn’t expect a vacation. You will also need to be adaptable and able to work with people with very different backgrounds to your own. Other considerations include being away from friends and family, adapting to new cultures, and even adapting to new foods.

Teaching in an international school can be exciting and rewarding, but bear in mind that it may not be for everyone. Regardless, it is always advisable to do your research first, especially into the school and the location.