What Are the Differences Between Joining the Peace Corps & Teaching English Abroad?

What Are the Differences Between Joining the Peace Corps & Teaching English Abroad?

If you’re a U.S. citizen over the age of 18 looking for a meaningful way to make an impact overseas, teaching English abroad and joining the Peace Corps are probably at the top of your list. There are many benefits to both opportunities, so as you’re comparing options it’s important to first understand the differences and similarities:

Teaching English Abroad

  • Timeline: You could be teaching abroad 3-6 months from starting your TEFL certification course

  • Location: You can choose where you want to teach English abroad and which specific job you want to take (in most cases) -- there are more than 50 countries with thriving ESL markets

  • Commitment: Typical contract lengths range from country to country, anywhere from 3 to 12 month commitments. If you want to renew a contract, the school will likely want you to and there are also many countries where you can work as a private tutor and/or teach English online, which gives you even more flexibility regarding how long you stay in a certain locale

  • Benefits: Paid teaching job, you’re working in another country. Some countries will provide housing, airfare, and insurance in addition to a salary

  • Community: In most cases, you’ll have a large community of expats and other English teachers around you

  • Requirements: There are more than a dozen markets that do not require a 4-year degree to teach English as long as you have a TEFL certification

  • Training: Online TEFL course is 11 weeks or an In-Person intensive course is 4 weeks

  • Experience: Comfortable living conditions, sometimes paid for by employers

  • Finances: Many locations allow opportunities to save a lot of money, while others are break even and you live a comfortable lifestyle working and traveling abroad

  • Alumni: More than 15,000 ITA alumni and a large community to connect with before heading abroad

comparing teaching English abroad with joining the Peace Corps

Peace Corps

  • Timeline: Lengthy nomination and application process (9-12 months)

  • Location: Placement based program in developing countries--you do not get to choose where you are placed, though you can indicate preferences

  • Commitment: Two year time commitment in most cases

  • Benefits: Volunteer based, but housing, transportation, living stipend, and health care provided, as well as a completion bonus at the end of service

  • Community: You will likely be the only one or one of few expats in your community, with a larger PCV community in the country you’re placed

Why you should get a TEFL Certification if you want to join the peace corps

  • Requirements: Most opportunities require a 4-year degree

  • Training: Training is 3 months

  • Experience: Rougher, grittier conditions in 3rd world countries. Sometimes very rural.

  • Finances: It’s called a volunteer program for a reason. The stipend provides enough to live in that developing country, but you won’t come back with any savings.

  • Alumni: More than 220,000 Americans have served as Peace Corps Volunteers

With both opportunities, you’re improving the lives of others and having a truly immersive experience living abroad!

Related Resources:

Posted In: TEFL Certification, Peace Corps

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