Digital Nomad Jobs: ”He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.”*
*Just a joke, not even my joke, although, come to think of it I have completed a TEFL course myself.
(Joke borrowed from George Bernard Shaw. Maxims for Revolutionists. 1903)
Digital Nomad Jobs – Become an EFL Teacher/ESL Teacher
If you talk it, you can teach it. That is, of course, a famous saying that I made up about 3 minutes ago. I can do that you see, pass on wisdom to you, because as you might have noticed above, I’m technically qualified as an EFL teacher.
Firstly, one of the key qualities you’ll need as an aspiring EFL/ESL teacher is an interest in teaching and helping other people. If that’s not really your cup of tea it’s probably best to consider something else, maybe go and have a look at photography or something in a similar vein. This job requires a pretty huge amount of patience and understanding, which is probably why I never did actually pursue it. Other skills and qualities you’ll need, and which prevented me from progressing include, an engaging personality, confidence, brilliant communication, effective discipline skills (there’s always one), wonderful time management and great motivation, for yourself and your students. Wait, there’s more – an excellent understanding of the English language (I probably should have put that first really), determination, empathy, high expectations of your students (but don’t bully anyone), adaptability, imagination and almost definitely a sense of humour.
Alas, teaching, I’m told, is a very rewarding profession and can be a great way to see that world in extended periods whilst getting paid, like I said before, if you’re interested in teaching and helping people, it’s a good career choice.
If you’ve decided you’ve got what it takes to teach, terrific. If you already possess the relevant qualifications, what are you doing here? You’re a teacher, you should know what you’re doing, what do they pay you for? Not really, just skip the rest of this paragraph. Unfortunately, to get a decent job as an EFL teacher you’ll need some certifications. You don’t always but it’s advisable to get one, the more qualified you are the better your chances of getting a decent job. Fortunately, to get these certifications you don’t have to spend years and years at university slogging away for a degree in teaching. It is possible to enrol on these courses without a degree although many jobs will require you to have one, research the course thoroughly before you commit. It would be awful to enrol, spend your money only to find yourself unemployable. You need to find a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA course, be wary, these aren’t always the cheapest things to get and there are lots to choose from. It can be a bit of a minefield to be honest, obviously, I won’t go through all of the options, you can do that yourself but I can point you in a few directions which I will link to at the end of this section. TEFL courses usually last 120 hours* and there are courses that you can do from home, or abroad. Often the courses that run abroad, whilst expensive, will come with a guaranteed job offer on completion. If I were to decide I really, really wanted to be an EFL teacher and I didn’t already have a qualification (did I mention that?) I would go for a physical course. I imagine it would be a great way to not only get practical experience but to meet other people in the same position. As always, do your research, if it looks to good to be true, it probably is. Don’t part with your money until you are sure it’s what you want to do. A few useful websites you may like to look at include tefl.com, ITTO, Cactus and CELTA.
*They can be longer. CELTA courses are usually longer.
Once you have decided on your course, completed it, and hopefully not found your zest for teaching destroyed, you can look for a job. If you decided on a course which guaranteed employment, good for you, I hope it’s everything you dreamed it would be. Also, skip the rest of this paragraph. There are two ways that I know of that you can make this EFL teaching gig work, you can work for someone or you can work for yourself. Both have their pros and cons, if it were me, with my qualification (have I mentioned that yet?) I would look to work for someone else. You get a set salary, often accommodation is included, occasionally so are flights, you’ll get visa help if required, and job security. If you are also that way inclined you can either start your travels and look for jobs wherever you land or start browsing the TEFL job boards at the sites listed in the paragraph above, which I may have already told you to skip, sorry. Other places you can look for work include teflsearch, teachinghouse and the TEFL Jobs Board.
Alternatively, you can go it alone and become a freelance EFL teacher. To do this you’ll need to be pretty great at self-promotion. I’m not convinced this is a great idea if you are constantly changing countries, fair enough if you are planning on staying in one place for 3 months or so, you might have a chance I guess. It’s very unlikely that you’ll find people who want just 3 lessons, but perhaps some would be willing to take up Skype lessons with you. On the flip side, you are independent, going where you want when you want.
Ultimately, whichever path you choose, being an EFL teacher can be a fantastic job, at least that’s what I thought when I got my certification, I’ve mentioned that yeah? If you are interested in learning more about becoming an EFL/ESL teacher use the links above or have a look at INTESOL, this site is pretty complete.
What do I need skills wise?
As listed above, if you’ve forgotten already, this might not be the job for you, but I’ll succinctly recap:
Like teaching, like people, English skills, sense of humour, communication, passion, motivation, will to succeed, degree or equivalent (probably), TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, a passport, a job.
What do I need hardware wise?
If you are classroom-based, not a lot really, a couple of pens, access to a printer, I’d assume the school would be providing all of the necessary. Depending on where you are and what age range you’re teaching maybe a hip flask?
If you’re flying solo as a teacher you’ll need a decent computer, access to a good internet connection, a camera and microphone, I guess all computers have them now though yeah?
Where do I find work?
All of the sites listed above have job boards for you to peruse at your leisure, if you don’t fancy scrolling back up the list you can look at esljobfeed, eslcafe, esljobsworld and eslemployment. They all look a bit ‘craigslist’ to me personally, but that’s not to say they’re bad.
Failing that you can search for schools online and look at their job listings or if you have a particular place in mind just google it. ”EFL teach in South Korea”
If you want to freelance as an English teacher you might have to go looking for your own work, set up the usual social media pages offering your services, post ads online or in local cafes, bookshops if they are still a thing, supermarkets and the rest. You might want to chance your language arm on the freelance websites, you might get some luck I guess.
Like I mentioned earlier, be vigilant of scams, TEFL teaching job posts can be hard to navigate have a look at the link below to learn what to look out for in a scam posting.
How much can I earn?
This depends on the job, where it is and what experience you have. It’s unlikely that the wages won’t blow you away but when you take into account that you often get benefits and incentives from your employer it usually levels out. Hopefully, you will find work which includes accommodation, flight reimbursement, health insurance, holiday pay and more. That won’t be included in every job of course but you get my meaning. Be sure to research the cost of living in whichever country you choose to make sure you can afford it before you go. You can do that here.
The freelance EFL teacher makes sets their own wages but has a harder job finding work, it might be a case of taking what you can get to start with, maybe consider combining teaching with another job at first to help your income.
How well does it suit the Digital Nomad lifestyle?
If you want to be a digital nomad the immerses themselves in a different culture for a while, it’s great, you get a job, a place to live and are immediately introduced to people you have at least one thing in common with. You’ll have up to 6 months a contract to explore and decide what you want to do next.
If you want to travel every few days it may not be so amazing, you might struggle to find lasting work and the time to teach anyone if you do. It can be done, but it won’t be easy for you.