How can I avoid scams when looking for TEFL jobs?

Due to the anonymous nature of the internet there are always a few unscrupulous characters looking to make easy money, and the world of ESL job recruitment is no exception. Although the overall quality of schools and the contracts they offer varies greatly, the truth is that most advertised jobs both good and bad are totally genuine. To avoid the small percentage of positions that are not what they seem, it is recommended that you always follow these simple rules.

How can research help me avoid scams when looking for TEFL jobs?

The single best defense against job scams is to ensure you thoroughly research the teaching market in your chosen destination. If you are fully aware of the typical salary, expected benefits, working hours, and normal visa requirements, you should have little trouble spotting potential scams. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true then it most probably is. Once you have found an advertised job that catches your eye there are a couple of simple checks you can do online. An internet search of the school name might quickly identify any well known scams via blacklists, blogs, and ESL articles. Often scammers will use the name of a well known school in their advert so you should also check the email address provided against the one advertised on the genuine school's website. A common trick is to use a similar address with a different domain, such as instead of the genuine school's address -

Should I ever send upfront payments when applying for TEFL jobs?

Although there are some genuine programs that require an upfront fee, you should be wary about sending money to an employer before you leave home. Some of the most common scams involve bogus employers requesting money upfront for plane tickets, visa fees, security deposits etc. Some employers will expect you to pay for your own airfare and then reimburse the money once you start work, but no genuine employer should ask for flight money upfront. A bit of research regarding the cost of visas in your host country will also help you to avoid being overcharged in this area.

Should I be wary if an employer doesn't request an interview?

As the jobs you are applying for are most likely in a different country, a face-to-face interview might be difficult. However, thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices it is now possible to video chat in most situations. If a potential employer is not keen on a video interview or even a phone call it is wise to assume it is not a genuine job offer.

Should I ask to speak to a current employee?

Another effective strategy when applying for teaching jobs is to ask to speak to a foreign teacher who is currently working at the school. If they refuse it should raise a few concerns. As well as putting your mind at ease regarding scams, speaking to a current employee should also give you a good picture of the general working conditions at the school and what to expect if you decide to take the job.