Should I pay for a job placement teaching English abroad?

When looking for jobs teaching English abroad you will inevitably come across various agencies offering guaranteed job placements for a fee. On the surface this could look like a convenient way to start your new career as it removes the need to send job applications and to attend interviews. However, there are several things to consider before you hand over your hard earned cash for a service that you might not need.

How strong is the demand for English language teachers across the globe?

The market for English language teachers across the world is simply huge. According to some estimates there are as many as 1.5 billion people learning English worldwide. In China alone there are thought to be up to 300 million people currently learning the language. With such an incredible number of students, it is no surprise that there are hundreds of thousands of teaching positions available every year. In fact, the number of vacancies far outweighs the number of teachers in some areas. Due to this strong demand, you should have little trouble finding a suitable position without having to go through an agency that charges a fee.

What are the down sides of a TEFL job placement?

By paying for a job placement you can seriously limit the choices available to you. Not only will you have a limited say as to the country, town, and neighborhood where you end up living and working, you will also have to accept the salary provided and the hours you are expected to work. You could potentially find yourself with insufficient hours or salary to live comfortably, or be overworked and paid significantly less than your colleagues. Whether you plan to live overseas for just a few months, or see it as a long-term plan, working in an environment that isn't right for you could quickly turn your dream into a nightmare.

What kind of school do you want to teach English in?

Another serious point to consider is do you want to work in a school that is happy to hire teachers without meeting them or even speaking to them first? If you would prefer to work in a school that only hires teachers of a professional standard, then you need to be able to choose which jobs you apply for. Applying for multiple positions in the area where you want to live will allow you the freedom to pick the specific position that is right for you. If you decide to pay for a placement you lose this freedom of choice.