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Frequently Asked Questions about TEFL Certification and Teaching English Abroad

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Are there age limits or restrictions to teach English abroad?


Are there age limits or restrictions to teach English abroad?

age restrictions for teaching English abroad

Generally speaking, there are no rigid age limits to teach English abroad, but every country or school has different requirements and/or restrictions.  A common misconception is teaching English abroad is only for somebody 21 years old and more or less an extension of a study abroad program.   While a large number of teachers abroad are in their early 20s as they are more mobile in their life after college, teaching jobs are professional positions and many schools are looking for a level of maturity and both life and professional experience  (even if it's not necessarily in teaching) when they hire English teachers.  Also, bear in mind that as many as 50% or more of English classes held around the world each year are classes for adults, often in the business and corporate realm.

Although some schools abroad prefer new English teachers to be in their 20s and 30s (especially when working with children), people have found jobs teaching English abroad well into their 60s and even 70s. Many schools will even prefer more mature and experienced teachers.

Younger teachers:

On the other end of the spectrum, most English schools want their teachers to be at least 21 years old, but in some countries, especially in Latin America, qualified teachers that are 18, 19, and 20 have been able to successfully find employment. If younger teachers want to be taken seriously, they must be prepared to behave in a professional and mature manner both when interviewing for positions to teach English abroad, and when they actually begin their job.

Factors in Ageism:

There are many factors that contribute to age limitations when teaching English abroad, and sometimes it is a visa issue. Some countries are not permitted to give visas to teachers above the age of 60 or 65 due to compulsory retirement ages in that nation. In other instances potential employers may hold fears that older teachers may not be up to the job physically or that they may not be able to adjust to living in a new country and culture.  In some cases, it's just a matter of school administration deciding that a staff of younger teachers in their 20s and 30s is more marketable.

Here is a useful website that outlines country specific age limits for destinations around the globe. There are also personal accounts from a variety of mature teachers.


Tips for More Mature Teachers Looking to Teach English Abroad

  1. Be flexible, open-minded, and patient when considering destinatons. Some countries, like South Korea for example, tend to prefer teachers in their 20s and 30s in the private sector, the public schools will hire into the mid 50s.  Teachers older than 50 find it much more difficult to find jobs. If you are interested in going to South Korea, consider other Asian countries like China, Thailand, Cambodia, or Vietnam. Also, do not become discouraged if some schools overlook you. Be patient. There are well over 100,000 English teaching jobs that need to be filled every year, and the demand far outweighs the supply. If you are patient and flexible, a job will open up.

  2. Be prepared to interview in person. Schools in countries where more mature English teachers can count on success typically requteaching english in Japan kyoto historicire teachers to interview on location.  More than half of the world’s English teaching jobs require in-person interviews for all candidates regardless of age or citizenship.  One reason why schools may be reluctant to hire older teachers is that they don’t have as much confidence in their physical health/abilities. Whether you are teaching in the United States, Thailand, or Ecuador, teaching any subject can be physically and mentally demanding.  Interviewing in person and showing that you are in good health is important in many cases.

  3. Plan on breaking even financially. More mature English teachers abroad should not count on saving any significant amount of money. Although, there certainly are many teachers abroad in their 50s and 60s earning and saving substantial amounts of money, if you go into teaching English overseas with the assumption that you are going to be saving a great deal of your pay check, you will be in for a lot of let-downs. Also, don’t depend on supporting other family members financially while teaching English abroad. This is particularly the case if you have do not have a professional background in education.

  4. Consider different regions: There are always exceptions with teaching English abroad, and there are people well into their sixties teaching English in most non-native English speaking countries throughout the world. That said, some regions that more mature English teachers should consider are Latin America (Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico, Panama, Chile, etc.), Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam), and the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Oman, etc.)  Bottom line, you need to go where the jobs are.

  5. Health insurance: In some countries your school or the government will provide health insurance and/or health care (deducted from your paycheck). However, in many cases, health insurance is not provided for teachers so it is important to investigate international health care options while you plan your move abroad. The good news is that international health care and health insurance is usually much less than it is here in the United States.

  6. Expect a challenge but it’s not impossible. Unfortunately, going abroad to teach English in your 50s, 60s, and 70s is not as easy or accommodating for a variety of reasons. However, if you have an open mind and are flexible to the countries that appreciate veteran teachers you will have many different options.  Younger teachers are willing to go to many countries and interview face to face and work split shift hours for a livable but modest salary and you will need to be realistic with  yourself to do the same.   More mature teachers with a positive attitudeage restriction teaching english abroad, an open-mind, and a will to succeed are usually very successful teaching English abroad. Whether you are 25 or 65, teaching English abroad is almost always an extremely rewarding and life-changing experience. However, as an older English teacher abroad you will need to be up for the challenges and not take hiring preferences personally and go where the hiring culture and job market appreciate the experience and talents you will bring to the job.

    7. Those with previous professional teaching experience and other advanced credentials will have an easier time finding opportunities than those who don't and will also be able to find more lucrative opportunities as well.


It is very important that you speak with an advisor at International TEFL Academy about recommened country options and the best TEFL Certification classfor your situation. 

Simply fill out a contact form for free brochure or call our office at 773-634-9900 at our world headquarters in Chicago.




well i became hopeful when i have read least i still have a chance to teach english abroad since im now in my late forties....tanx
Posted @ Tuesday, August 21, 2012 8:25 AM by laurence
Help me find a site to chat and make plans with a group of other older adults, who can guide me to my first ESL position. I am leaving my high stress teacher job to teach english overseas and retire I am a healthy 59 year old.
Posted @ Wednesday, December 12, 2012 3:00 PM by Russell Ganong
Russell, age can be factor when it comes to teaching opportunities around the world, but the demand for trained English teachers is very high, especially those like yourself with prior teaching experience. Please fill out a contact form on out site to be put in touch with trained advisor who will be happy to discuss your questions.
Posted @ Wednesday, December 12, 2012 3:51 PM by International TEFL Academy
I am an Englishman who will be 51 next birthday. I have a TEFL Diploma and 25 years experience of teaching English in Japan. I returned to the UK last summer but realise I would prefer to be in Japan. Do you think it is possible for me to return and find work? I have permanent residency up to 2019 and am in excellent health, slim, and look younger than my age. Your thoughts and advice please.
Posted @ Thursday, January 03, 2013 4:17 AM by Russell Watson
Hi Russell,  
You just worked in Japan for 25 years and are asking us if you can find work? You should know better than everyone, you were there. Call up you former employers and friends and ask for a job.
Posted @ Friday, January 04, 2013 4:35 PM by International TEFL Academy
Thanks for the vote of confidence. I was just wondering since I would be looking for new work at my age, but you are right. In fact, I did exactly what you said. A friend of mine is putting in a word for my at his school even as we speak...
Posted @ Friday, January 04, 2013 4:40 PM by Russell Watson
I have been thoroughly encouraged by this blog. I know that I'm certainly a youthful mid 50 year old who feels in the prime of life. I currently teach and find it terribly enriching. Now I want to immerse myself into facilitating others in foreign countries,the joy of learning English.
Posted @ Sunday, February 10, 2013 2:27 AM by Eric Birdine
Hi Eric, glad we can encourage you. Please fill out a contact form for information to speak to an advisor or call between 10 and 7 Central time to start the conversation.
Posted @ Sunday, February 10, 2013 9:32 AM by International TEFL Academy
Need a break Older healthy 59 year old..looking to retire in costa rica and teach english to support my myself...any help
Posted @ Sunday, February 10, 2013 8:01 PM by Russell Ganong
Hi Russell, 
Please fill out a contact form to request a brochure and for an advisor to contact you.
Posted @ Sunday, February 10, 2013 9:41 PM by International TEFL Academy
I am a young, healthy, vibrant 55 year old high school English teacher (special Ed, 10 years). I also hold aBA and MA. I hold teaching certificates in 3 U. S. states and am No Child Left. Behind Highly Qualified.  
I would like to teach in Central/South America and eventually retire there.  
Please call to discuss opportunities that are available to me.  
Thank you,
Posted @ Sunday, February 17, 2013 8:52 PM by Valerie Lyles
I need some advise, want to travel and teach, with no qualification. would it be worthwile completing an online tefl course, would I find a vacany at 47. Any advice would be appreciated,
Posted @ Monday, February 25, 2013 1:15 PM by Kogi
I am a nurse with a masters degree in nursing and a masters degree in Public Health. I am certified in nursing staff development (teaching). I want to spend part of my retirement time in France and would enjoy teaching English. Is that possible for a healthy retiree to do? Thanks
Posted @ Tuesday, March 12, 2013 10:14 AM by Lucy
I am a retired Teacher but would like to retire to a warmer climate than Ireland. I am prepared to teach to offset some of my living expenses. 
Michael Durkin
Posted @ Thursday, March 14, 2013 6:22 AM by Michael Durkin
As a twenty-year-old with no degree thusfar (though I plan to pursue at least a BA) would applications to positions in Eastern Europe and/or Russia (or at least the countries of that region where a BA is not a requirement) be a waste of time due to my age?
Posted @ Tuesday, April 09, 2013 10:56 PM by Cole
I am 46, have neither teaching experience nor degree. Have been in Banking industry last 16 years but have been pondering for some time on a major career and life change. Would teaching abroad be a realistic option for me?
Posted @ Wednesday, April 17, 2013 7:39 AM by Llindsay
Hi Lindsay, 
95% of the people who teach English abroad do not have a teaching degree. That is the entire point to go through a TEFL certification class. If you speak English and are TEFL certified you can teach around the world. 
2) Half of the places around the world will accept people without a 4 year degree. 
There are nearly 100,000 new English teachers a year, all are in your some situation, they are new to this.  
Your next step is to download a free brochure and speak with an admission advisor to discus your TEFL class and teaching abroad options. Fill out a contact form or call us directly in Chicago at 773-634-9900. 
Posted @ Wednesday, April 17, 2013 9:23 AM by International TEFL Academy
Please, help me. I am 60 and I've spent all my life teaching English for high and middle schools in the Gulf. Now I need a job as a teacher of English for adults, employees, trainees or children anywhere in the world; Asia, the Far East, Latin America or South America.
Posted @ Friday, May 10, 2013 11:56 AM by mahmoud
Please, I need your help. I am 69 years of age and have worked all my life in a bank. Do you think it will be worthwhile for me to do a course in teaching and get work overseas.
Posted @ Monday, May 13, 2013 9:14 AM by Myrna Jeanette Smuts
I plan on retiring from business next year and would like to teach English in Thailand. I can obtain a tesol /tefl 
this fall semester at the college in the US where my wife works as a professor. She will be going with me and two Thai Universities have asked her to apply.Can anyone suggest places to apply or even types of places that might hire  
someone like me. In one city the abbot at a major temple wants me to teach the monks and children who go to school there conversational English, part time, as well. That job is free labor but the friendships and connects are priceless. 
I do have a BA etc.
Posted @ Tuesday, July 16, 2013 10:28 AM by Walter
I'm a bit older even than the inquiries and I have been doing this for about 6 months now in Central America though. Any questions, feel free to email me at  
Also would recommend Intl TEFL Academy even though it s not the one I attended. :/
Posted @ Sunday, October 06, 2013 4:52 PM by Val
Hi! I'm from the Philippines. I read that some countries don't accept techers if they are not USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa citizens. Is there no chance for us Filipinos to teach anymore in these countries in asia and the middle east?
Posted @ Saturday, November 09, 2013 6:15 PM by Joseph
Joseph, yes that is correct, that is their current law for work visas. You can teach in Latin America if your verbal English skills are very good.
Posted @ Saturday, November 09, 2013 6:19 PM by International TEFL Academy
I am one of over 70 million American Baby Boomers. I am 65 years young, and I want to work. I am still playing with a full deck; I can still walk; I am healthier than you are; I take no medications; I am fun-loving; I am intelligent; I am creative. 
I want to take a course and teach English as a foreign language, but what 65-year-old wants to spend four weeks rubbing elbows with a bunch of 20-year-old’s? What 65-year-old wants to socialize with 20-year-old’s? (and vice-versa, of course) I mean, one drinks cocktails; the other drinks shots. It is two different worlds. 
Why not arrange some of your wonderful courses for seniors only? Advertise with AARP, and you will probably have more responses than you can handle. 
Through much tedious online research, I have learned that most countries in SE Asia, except Vietnam, have upper age limits for work permits, but this is a big secret to lure us into taking courses in an exotic country where we cannot work, and the countries in Europe require EU passports, so I suppose there is no point in offering us anything there, either. I want to take a course where I will have a chance for employment there immediately afterwards, where I will not be blackballed, because of my age. I do not want to have to return home, or go to another country. 
This is just an idea for you. Nobody is doing it yet, but somebody most certainly should. I only hope that it happens before I start creaking and the marbles start rolling out of head. I give myself about 20 years before that happens, so why isn't there anything out there for me? 
Have a nice day! 
Posted @ Tuesday, December 03, 2013 6:10 AM by Cheryl
Hi, I am graduating out of high school very soon. I was wondering, if I should take 4 years to get a degree, or should I take the TEFL program and start teaching. What are the chances that I would find employment? If knowing a second language help with my case? Also I heard that being Asian ( Chinese decent) is a disadvantage. Is that true? Thank you
Posted @ Tuesday, December 17, 2013 1:31 AM by Serena
Hey Serena, 
While you can find employment abroad without a 4-year degree if you have your TEFL certification, the real factor that will limit your opportunities will be your age. Your best bet would be Latin America. Your ethnicity will not be a factor.  
Posted @ Wednesday, December 18, 2013 2:30 PM by ITA
I would obviously appreciate the opportunity to teach English in a country that will pay me the highest salary possible. It appears to be that the UAE is that country. However, on the main page regarding that country and the range of income one may earn it shows $1500-$4000. The individual pages for each area listed, however, shows a range of only $1500-$3000. Why the $1000 less amount? Also, I am considering moving to Ecuador. I hold both baccalaureate and masters degrees. I am a speech-language pathologist, an accent reduction and corporate speech coach/trainer. Where, in your estimation, would my skills be most in demand / which country(ies)?
Posted @ Monday, March 03, 2014 7:40 PM by Lenora
Hi Lenora, 
There are varying salaries in the different cities within the UAE. If you are considering Ecuador it will be different than the UAE. Your skills and credentials are in demand in every job market for English teachers. The fun part is finding the one that excites you to get up and move abroad! 
Posted @ Tuesday, March 04, 2014 4:46 PM by Lindsay
I am 60 years old with a 2 year college diploma in Travel and Tourism Management. I am interested in taking a course. I want to know am I able to get a job teaching English? Am I wasting my time or should I go for it? 
? I would like to hear from people who have life experience in this area. 
Posted @ Tuesday, April 01, 2014 1:14 PM by Joan
Hey Joan, 
As the article mentions, some markets are better than others. To get the best understanding of your options, give us a call to speak with an advisor. (773) 634-9900.
Posted @ Tuesday, April 01, 2014 6:04 PM by Ian Davis
I am 53 years old, hold both a masters and Bachelors Degree, am an Academic Dean at a California College and have prior teaching experience at a college level. I am interested in the TEFL course in Florence and then living in Italy to teach English to adults. Is my age an issue or are there teaching opportunities for someone with my education and experience? I have been to Italy five times and did my Masters thesis research in Florence.
Posted @ Sunday, May 11, 2014 3:13 PM by Diane T.
I am a 65 year old retired US elementary school teacher with TESL experience from pre school through University level (prior to becoming an elementary teacher). I speak fair Vietnamese and Chinese Mandarin. What is the outlook of finding a job teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City?
Posted @ Saturday, May 17, 2014 4:02 AM by Martino
Schools will expect you to show up and interview face to face in Vietnam, and they will also look for you to have an internationally accredited TEFL certification. Your age may be a factor, so you may also try considering Latin America. Best of luck. 
Posted @ Tuesday, May 20, 2014 8:56 AM by Ian Davis
hi I am very interested in teaching in the southern part of china specifically Guangdong provience or hong kong. I am a certified special education teacher with 5 years experience in working with severely emotionally/psychologically disturbed students including autism. 
I also have experience in teaching a wide variety of immigrant foreign speaking students. I am 54 yrs old and extremely healthy. I am currently teaching in a special needs preschool and can run rings around the 20 yr olds. So who would I have to get in touch to get started? 
Are there any good recruiters for this area of the company. Thank you 
Posted @ Wednesday, May 21, 2014 12:35 AM by william gahen
Well, THIS 53 yr old was just about to sign up for a TEFL course. Obviously that would be a colossal waste of time and money. Too bad.
Posted @ Sunday, June 01, 2014 6:11 AM by JB
Hi JB, 
The article said if you are trying to go to Korea or Japan 53 would probably be too old but you have all the other countries in the world at 53. Are those the only 2 countries in the world you want to go? If you are open to the rest of the world, contact us and speak to an advisor about options.
Posted @ Sunday, June 01, 2014 10:53 PM by International TEFL Academy
At 61, I am just finishing up a MA in History, but am considering "retiring" to Uruguay. Would getting the TEFL be advantageous to finding a part time job teaching English. I will be 62-63 when I plan on moving.
Posted @ Saturday, July 05, 2014 11:12 PM by Jo
I would like to take a English course and teach English as a foreign language. My age 66yrs old. I speak English, German, French and Spanish. Do you have some english programmes for seniors anywhere.  
Thanks for your reply
Posted @ Tuesday, July 22, 2014 11:43 PM by Mey
Hi Mey, 
We have many senior students who go through the training and teach abroad. We offer one certification for all ages; as far teaching markets with a high demand for teachers and little or no age discrimination, feel free to get in touch with us and speak with an advisor about what some options would be.
Posted @ Wednesday, July 23, 2014 11:02 AM by Matt - ITA Admissions Advisor
I would like to do the TEFL coure and teach abroad in 2016 but I am already 55. I have a masters degree in Fine Art and majored in English. I have 22 years experience (SA and UK) but most of that experience was teaching Art (primary and secondary level). I have 2 years experience teaching English as well as 2 years lecturing Visual Culture to 1st, 2nd and 3rd years at university.Which countries will accept me?
Posted @ Monday, July 28, 2014 3:58 AM by jackie jones
Hi, I'm 58 years old and recently completed my TEFL / TESOL 120 hour Certificate. 
I do not have a BA degree, I did graduate in 2010 with a Medical Assisting Diploma,  
and I have a Bookkeeping and Accounting Certificate that I received in 2003. I have 
many years work experience in Customer Service, Administrative, Sales and Market and  
I would like to live and teach in an Asian country. My goal was to go to South Korea  
but I'm not able to get an E2 Visa because I don't have a BA degree. Is it possible  
with my background to find a job teaching?
Posted @ Monday, August 11, 2014 11:55 AM by Cheryl
Here's an article for you about teaching without a degree: 
Posted @ Monday, August 11, 2014 11:57 AM by International TEFL Academy
Thank you for sending me the article "No Degree No Problem". It made me feel a little better about not being able to teach in South Korea. 
There are other options:-)))
Posted @ Monday, August 11, 2014 7:48 PM by Cheryl
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