The Impact of Teaching English Abroad on Your Resume (Pros and Cons)

By Editorial Staff •  Updated: 06/05/23 •  Teach Abroad

Teaching English abroad is still one of the best experiences for any young person to participate in. Not only do you get to leave your country and immerse yourself in a new culture, you also learn soft skills that will come in handy for your future employment and expand your job prospects beyond the location where you grew up.

But, as we covered in in “is teaching abroad worth it” we don’t want to make it seem like there are no drawbacks to going abroad and being an ESL teacher. So, let’s get to the impact that teaching English has on your resume.

Pro: Stand out in a competitive job market

Teaching English abroad can be an excellent way to stand out in a competitive job market. Not only will you gain valuable international experience, but you’ll also gain insights into different cultures and teaching styles, all while developing your teaching and leadership skills.

In addition, this type of experience looks great on resumes and can help employers perceive you as someone who is able to handle complex situations. Even if it’s not related directly to the job you’re interested in, having global exposure and an understanding of other languages and cultures can help open doors for career advancement opportunities that wouldn’t have been available before.

Con: Financial implications of teaching English abroad

Most ESL teachers are paid a low salary unless you’re working at an international school. International schools are an option available to trained western teachers who obtain both a bachelors and masters in education or in some specific area of education like mathematics and so forth.

English abroad is a rewarding experience, but we do have to recognize that the pay is not competitive enough for most looking for a long term option. As such, we strongly suggest anyone who does decide to go abroad to do so for 1-3 years max and then have a specific plan after that.

Otherwise, you’ll find yourself abroad in a low paying teaching job which will start to hamper your financial situation like investments and saving for retirement.

Paid in the local currency

You’re also paid in the local currency. In a country like Thailand where 38,000 Baht is a decent salary for an English teacher, the reality is that is currently only a $1100 a month roughly. When you do interview for a position in your home country you may have an issue with salary negotiations.

Pro: Develop helpful soft skills fast

Teaching English abroad can shows that you possess various valuable skills such as adaptability, cross-cultural communication, and problem-solving. These skills are highly sought after by employers in today’s globalized job market.

Additionally, teaching English abroad demonstrates your ability to work independently, manage a classroom, and communicate effectively with people from diverse backgrounds. These soft skills can only be developed through the adventure that is going abroad to teach English.

Cons: You hurt your employment chances if you stay abroad too long

If you don’t have a background in education and instead have a degree in say, finance. You hurt your chances of getting rehired in a relevant industry the longer you stay abroad.

Don’t expect to teach English for 5 years in Vietnam, then expect to come back to the United States and work at a credit union simply because you have a degree in finance. 1-2 years is fine, you can spin it that you wanted travel and experience new things, but pushed out longer than that it will start to raise red flags.

In short, taking time off to teach English abroad may impact your career trajectory. Depending on the length of time you spend abroad, you may fall behind your peers in terms of career advancement or miss out on opportunities for professional development. This is something to consider if you have long-term career goals that require consistent work experience and advancement.

Taking time off to teach English abroad may be viewed as a gap in your resume by some employers. This could make it more difficult to find a job or advance in your career when you return home. Additionally, the skills and experience you gain while teaching English abroad may not be directly applicable to your desired career path.

Pro: Build an excellent network that can benefit you a lifetime

As an ESL teacher teaching abroad, you are uniquely positioned to build a strong network of professionals from a wide range of countries. After all, you’re living in a new country and creating relationships with people from different backgrounds.

You have a unique opportunity to make connections that can help further your career and enhance your experiences while working as a teacher abroad that would never be available to you if you decided to not go abroad and teach.

A professional network is something you’ll benefit from years down the road as the people you connect with grow and evolve themselves. Sure, some contacts will not materialize into anything, but it’s those handful of connects that become life changing are what make all the difference.

Con: Potentially limited networking opportunities

Depending on the country and region where you are teaching, there may be limited opportunities to network with professionals in your field or industry. If you decide to take a position where you’re in a smaller city or the country side you may find it difficult to find mentors, build relationships with potential employers, and develop your skills as a professional.

We suggest that if you do decide to teach abroad outside a major city do it for 1-2 years max. Otherwise you may find yourself settled in too much with limited options to make a profound change. Again, use an abroad ESL experience to grow as a person and figure out what you want. Not as a way to get a dead end job where you’re stuck abroad.

The impact of teaching ESL on your resume – Conclusion

If you’re a properly trained teacher, going abroad to teach ESL can be quite a rewarding, fun and interesting experience. Pay at international schools is quite good and you could make a career out of working in different countries for a few years at a wide variety of international schools.

There are also great, top tier ESL programs like the JET program in Japan or the EPIK program in South Korea. Both these programs pay well, set you up with housing, give you vacation time and are an overall great start to going abroad.

For everyone else, do ESL as a way to see the proverbial world, have a new experience and meet new people. But make sure you have a plan after 1 or 2 years as you don’t want an ESL experience to be viewed as a long term job gap.

Editorial Staff

I'm David Unwin and I head the editorial staff here at Teach and GO. I've taught as an ESL teacher in Thailand for 5+ years at all levels of education, from elementary to University. I was also one of the first 1000 VIPKID teachers. I and my team now share my extensive experience as a teacher here at Teach and GO. Learn more.