When looking for English teaching jobs overseas you will find plenty of options at any time of the year. However, to give yourself the widest choice of opportunities it is important to be aware of any times of the year that are considered peak hiring seasons in the country that you are interested in. Wherever you dream of living and working it is best to start applying for jobs at least three months before your intended start date to give enough time to make all the necessary arrangements, such as sending in applications, interviewing, applying for entry visas and work permits, etc.
What are hiring seasons for teaching English abroad?
Hiring seasons are when a large number of teaching jobs become available at one particular time, due to the start of a new school year or semester. The exact timing of hiring seasons can vary from region to region and country to country, but the most common are in the fall (late August to early October) and the spring (January to March). Hiring seasons are particularly important in Europe and Latin America, where thousands of teachers leave their jobs to head home or move onto another opportunity, leaving a huge number of vacant positions to fill. In these regions it is important to time your arrival around any specific hiring seasons so you are ready to start applying for jobs at the very best time. Due to a strong demand in many countries, Asia typically has more job options year-round than other regions.
Peak hiring season in Europe
The peak hiring season across much of Europe is during the months of September to October. There is also a second window of hiring in many countries during January. In popular destinations such as France, Italy, and Spain as many as 50% of all foreign teachers leave their jobs at the end of the school year, leading to huge demand for new teachers to start the following school year in September or October. Some jobs can be secured in Europe before you leave home, but for many teachers the best approach is to arrive on the ground in your country of choice ready to start interviewing during the peak season.
If you are planning to apply for a government recruitment program such as the Cultural Ambassadors Program in Spain or the TAPIF Program in France, applications need to be filed by March for positions beginning in September. These programs are extremely popular as they take care of most of the paperwork for you and all the details can be sorted out before you get on a plane. Both of these programs attract a large number of applicants, so the best advice is to get your application in as early as possible.
Notable exceptions to the typical hiring seasons in Europe include Turkey, Russia and Georgia where jobs can easily be found at any time of the year. Summer English camps are also popular across Europe and these jobs are often advertised in advance during the previous winter and spring.
Peak hiring season in Latin America
In Central America the peak hiring season for foreign ESL teachers is during June and July, with a second window in the months of January and February. In South America the peak season is February and March, with a second window during July and August. In many countries across these regions only a small proportion of available jobs are advertised internationally, which means that it is often necessary to arrive at your destination in advance and then start your job search locally. While this might sound a little daunting, it is common practice in this part of the world and most teachers are able to secure a suitable position in a short time.
Notable exceptions to the typical hiring seasons in Latin America include Mexico where the demand is high enough in most areas to support year-round hiring. Costa Rica is another very popular destination that tends to do things a little differently. Here many schools start the interview process in December for jobs starting in January.
Peak hiring season in Asia
Across Asia a large percentage of ESL jobs are found in private language schools who generally hire whenever a vacancy arises, which can be at any time of the year. This applies to many of the most popular destinations in the region where demand for teachers is particularly high, such as China, Japan, and South Korea. Public school jobs are also a realistic option in some countries, particularly in South Korea where recruitment starts in the spring and early summer for start dates in August and September. There is also a secondary window in some public schools during the fall for start dates in January, February or March.
There are two big government-backed recruitment programs in this region that attract thousands of applicants every year: The EPIK Program in South Korea and the JET Program in Japan. The EPIK Program has two intakes each year, while the JET Program takes applications in December for start dates during the following autumn. We recommend you visit the program websites as soon as possible to ensure you are aware of the exact timings required when applying.
Taiwan and Thailand are two other destinations that are very popular in the Asia region. In Taiwan the main hiring season starts after the Chinese New Year and there is also a second window during July and August. In Thailand the main hiring season is between February and April, with a second window from August to October.
Peak hiring season in the Middle East
Due to high demand jobs can usually be found at any time of the year in many countries across the Middle East. However, in countries such as Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E and Qatar, schools, colleges and universities tend to do the bulk of their hiring during the spring for start dates in August and September. Another popular time for public schools to hire is in the fall for start dates between January and March. In countries with large markets for foreign teachers, it is common practice for all the arrangements to be made from within your home country. Countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Morocco, who have smaller markets, typically require an in-person interview.