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I have seen people asking these questions on forums if teaching English abroad is good for your resume or not. I guess it depends on how you look at it.

I have a little bit of a different view on things probably due to my experience and personality - high in openness low in conscienciousness (according to Jordan Peterson's BIG 5 test). I spent longer than most teaching abroad.

It depends on you, what you want to do and maybe how long you want to teach abroad for.

Here's a look at some of the ways how teaching abroad can improve your resume.

Pros of teaching abroad on your resume

A person who has taught abroad probably has some of the following skills. How do you put teaching English abroad on a resume? Emphasize some of these traits (if you have them).

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Public speaking
  • Imagination
  • Organization
  • Compassion
  • Open-mindedness
  • Adventurous spirit
  • Patience
  • Creativity
  • Adaptability

Teaching English abroad is a unique opportunity. It's something that most people will never do. If you do it then you'll have experienced something most people don't. According to some research living abroad can make you smarter.

If you are going to do teaching related work then this experience will probably look good on your resume. It's a also a chance to try teaching out. Whether you are planning on teaching English, art, math or aerobics then teaching experience in general will help.

But what if you are not going to do teaching related work?

Cons of teaching abroad on your resume

If you spend time away from your home country doing something totally unrelated from the job you are applying to then you're going to have a gap in your resume. That's from your employer's perspective.

The more time you stay away then the bigger gap you'll have. You may become unqualified in the employer's eyes.

Why I wouldn't worry about it

Your resume is your chance to market and promote yourself. If say for example, you have 3 years of experience teaching English in Turkey and you are applying for an unrelated job then you just gotta look a little deeper and see the big picture. You can point out the qualities above that teaching abroad gave you.

I also wouldn't worry about this much because it's probably not a problem now. Yes, maybe you want to plan for your future, but don't think too far ahead and lose track of where you are now. If you want to teach abroad then do it and if you are not sure then maybe do some more research.

Will teaching English abroad help my career? Is it a good career?

Maybe or maybe not. 

First I'd say teaching abroad isn't a career for most. Most only do it for a year or two. They may start with the idea that it could become a career, but there are a lot of variables involved and living in a different country is challenging.

If what you do after teaching abroad is related then it may help your career and if it isn't then probably not. But if you are like most and only do it for a year or two then it's not going to make a big difference. 

My Experience...

I currently live in Japan, but previously spent 6 years teaching in Taiwan, Korea and China. That's longer than most people. In between Taiwan and Korea I returned home for about a year. When I did that I got a social work job working with teens. I was like a live-in mentor to these kids from troubled backgrounds.

After that I returned to Asia to teach in Korea and then later China.

Maybe almost 4 years passed since I had been home. When I returned home I got a job working in an after school program for kids in Vermont. At that time I had like a 4 year gap on my resume where I didn't work in the U.S. and I still got a job.


Well, probably because it was kinda related. Did I fail to get a job anywhere?

Yeah, around then I applied for jobs working as a server too. It was something I used to do part-time in my 20's. And I don't think the 7 or 8 year gap on my resume looked good to them. Or maybe it was my possible lack of enthusiasm for the work that didn't help.

Later I moved to San Fran where I am currently living getting by on this website that I started back in 2010 or so and doing some street performing which is more inline with what I originally studied - art.

You might find that teaching abroad changes you too.

I think it did me.

After teaching abroad your plans may change. What looks good on your "resume" now to you might not then.

For me I always wanted to be independent and do creative work. I didn't want a "job" so to speak. In college I wanted to make art and that's what I pursued for a few years after showing my work in galleries and even selling a bit, but I got a bit bored with it and wanted to travel.

And that's what eventually got me into teaching abroad. I definitely don't regret it and in fact I think living abroad is quite good and it's probably something I'll do again sooner than later.

You are not your resume

You are a lot more than that.

I wouldn't over focus on creating a "resume" however you think that should look like. I would focus on creating the life that you want to live versus trying to create one on paper.

If teaching abroad sounds like something that you would enjoy then I would try it out or at least look into it more.

Focusing more on intrinsic rewards like enjoying what you do will bring you more happiness than extrinsic rewards like a BMW, a big salary, or a nice looking resume.

If teaching abroad doesn't sound like a long term career for you then teaching for a year or two is probably not going to interfere much with your long term goals.