Teach English Abroad in United States

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A Guide to Teaching Abroad in the United States

From the skyline of New York City to the rippled coasts of California, the United States has long been a destination eyed by many travelers. Ranked 13th in the world in terms of retention and time spent in school, the U.S. continuously pours money into education, seeking to improve test scores, literacy levels, and specifically, graduation rates in inner-city areas. There is a blossoming movement of adults heading to the United States in hopes of learning the English language, and therefore, the demand for English teachers has grown. Whether teaching the next generation or the prior, teaching jobs in the United States will grant you access to thousands of miles worth exploring.


In a country as massive and diverse as the United States, your choices of where to teach abroad are bountiful. Whether you’re interested in teaching underserved populations in public schools located in large cities or supporting small, under-resourced schools in rural areas, there is a clear, high demand for passionate teachers in the U.S. Almost anyone can find a teaching job in the United States that is just the right fit! 

Tourists from all over the world flock to New York City, attracted by the big city sites of Times Square and the Statue of Liberty; within the city, however, residents attend large public schools where each child’s needs are not always met due to understaffing and overcrowding. If you decide to teach abroad in New York City, you may have the opportunity to shape the path of many students who might otherwise slip through the cracks of public education. 

From bustling Boston to smaller rural communities on the outskirts of the state, Massachusetts' schools attract international volunteers, as the state advertises competitive teaching salaries and a guaranteed teaching job for up to three years within the state.

Due to immigration policies within the U.S., Arizona language schools and private institutions report a need for English teachers for adult learners hoping to be naturalized as American citizens. Additionally, neighboring California offers a variety of job opportunities, from Los Angeles to San Francisco, where individuals can earn TEFL certification and begin teaching English in the United States. Depending on the needs of each specific school, teachers may also find themselves teaching science and math courses in California.

Teaching Jobs in the United States

Teaching positions run the gamut within the United States. Depending on the population you want to work with (children, teenagers, or adults), there are plenty of teaching jobs in the United States to meet your goals or subject expertise.

Public Schools. The U.S. is not always the easiest place to secure a teaching job abroad. Mostly because, to teach at a public school or government-funded institution, a university degree and a teaching license is required. Elementary school teachers instruct all types of subjects, from math to history to art, while middle and high school teachers tend to specialize in different subjects. Keep these differences in mind when searching for a teaching job in the United States.

Private schools in the United States do not always require teachers to have a teaching license; instead, private schools have stricter academic curriculums so teachers typically must meet more extensive requirements. A master’s degree or a resume filled with teaching experience will most definitely help you secure a teaching job in the United States at a private school. Finally, private schools tend to offer more foreign language courses, art classes, and various types of physical education lessons, so for those with a specialty in mind or skills in a specific area, private schools may be the best option.

Adult Education. Although English is the national and predominantly spoken language in the United States, there is still demand for teachers to teach English as a Second Language (ESL), due mostly to large populations of immigrants. Completing a TEFL or TESOL certification in the United States will allow you to teach English abroad in a variety of settings. English language courses for adults are usually organized through local community colleges and tend to be a very popular draw for international teachers to teach in the United States.

School Year. The U.S. American school year begins in late August or September, following a three-month long summer vacation. The first semester of school lasts until mid-December, when a two week winter vacation takes place. The school year rounds out with a second semester beginning in January and ending in May or June. Therefore, hiring for teaching jobs in the United States typically occurs in early May, though last-minute hires are often been added during the summer months.

Salaries & Costs

Teachers in the United States are notoriously underpaid, and ESL teachers are unfortunately not the exception to this rule. The national average salary for a public school teacher with a college degree is $40,000 a year, or roughly $3,000 monthly. With a master’s degree in education, or any related subject, it is possible to make significantly more, as the national average for teachers with master’s degrees is as high as $48,000 a year.

Depending on whether you’re interested in living in a large city like Chicago or rural areas in other states, the cost of living will vary significantly. Large U.S. cities consistently rank amongst the world’s most expensive cities to live in, so on a teacher’s budget don’t expect to save money teaching in large cities; rent can account for nearly 80% of your monthly salary in large cities.

There are some programs, sponsored by the U.S. government, that exist in order to recruit teachers to teach in the United States in rural areas. In these locations, the cost of living is significantly lower and teachers will have access to larger housing options, more opportunities to build a savings, and cheaper utilities and food costs. However, some rural teaching jobs in the United States will be volunteer-based, in which case housing and food costs will be reimbursed, but a monthly salary will be not offered.

Accommodations & Visas

It is notoriously difficult to secure a visa to teach abroad in the United States, or travel to the U.S. for any purpose. Obtaining a work visa should be at the forefront of your preparation checklist, because it often takes months for an application to be approved or denied. The visa process is lengthy and requires each applicant to have a sponsor in the U.S., meaning you will have to have a job offer from a particular institution before you apply for a work visa.

For residents of some nations, temporary travel visas can be issued to visit the United States for up to ninety days, if you also have proof that you have sufficient funds to cover your necessary expenses in the U.S. It is possible to travel to the U.S., seek employment, and then have your employer sponsor you for a longer term visa, but this is not recommended as things get complicated when it comes to transferring your tourist visa to a work visa in-country. 

Accommodations are very rarely offered to those who decide to teach abroad in the United States. Although, employers will often have recommendations of specific areas where it is best to look for housing, schools will not reimburse teachers for rent costs or provide group housing arrangements. The only exception to this are volunteer teaching programs in the U.S., in which accommodations may be offered as a replacement for a monthly salary.

GoAbroad Insider Tips

Without a doubt, teaching in the United States is going to be a challenge, in terms of both finding a job and fulfilling a job offer, especially if you’re just beginning your teaching career. However, teaching abroad in the U.S. can truly be one of the most impactful experiences of your life, especially if you are open to teaching unique subjects or traveling to unheard-of cities.

Wide Open Spaces. One appeal of teaching jobs in the United States is the thousands of miles of land, encompassing natural sights, cultural destinations, and even the world’s biggest ball of yarn that teachers will have at their fingertips. Those who teach abroad in the United States will have the chance to take advantage of their summer vacation, spring break, or Christmas holiday to embark on a road trip across the country and explore the expansive, awe-inspiring sites.

Improving Education. The U.S. is constantly aiming to improve their education system, meaning that, as a teacher, you’ll be exposed to a variety of new teaching strategies, techniques, methods, and resources. Those who decide to teach abroad in the United States will be able to help improve the foundation and future of education in the U.S., while improving their own teaching skills at the same time.

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A Guide To
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