Are YOU Too Old to Teach Overseas?

Teachers regularly email ISR askng us: “How old is too old to land an overseas teaching position?”

In response, we send them to our comprehensive Work-Visa vs Age Chart.  Our informative Blog, with more than 600 entries from greying teachers, Overseas & Over 50, is another excellent source of vital information.

ISR Asks: How successful are aging teachers between 50-70 at landing overseas teaching positions?

If you’re 50 or older, take our short Survey to find out. Results are in real time.

Please select the ONE Answer that best applies to YOU:

click “Review Results” for up-to-the-minute Tally


Comments? Please scroll down

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59 thoughts on “Are YOU Too Old to Teach Overseas?

    1. Hi Grace,
      As a teacher/principal on the international circuit for 13 years and about to retire, I can tell you that your chances are very slim. Most international schools will not accept you. You could waste a lot of time applying. I am 68 and am doing cover teaching in Japan, where my younger partner is teaching. We both retire in June this year. Might you consider managing an international school boarding facility/dormitory, with cover teaching on the side?
      Kate

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    2. Hi Grace,
      I’ve got my last teaching position when I was 70! It ALL depends on how badly the school needs you. Your best bet are very late ads (May, June) – due to some unexpected emergencies – someone quit, got sick etc.
      There are always ways to circumvent the existing regulations. I’ve been teaching overseas without formal teacher certification and well above the age limit.
      Good luck – do not give up – even, as Ms. Holywell mentioned, your chances might be slim.

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    1. Give up the idea of teaching in China and look further afield. You will find something if you broaden your horizons.

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    2. Dear Emelda,
      I was hired in China in 2012, when I was 68. The school could not hire me as a teacher, but my in my contract I was described as “the consultant of unique qualifications”. Age limit did not matter. Find a school that wants you; they will know how to circumvent the official govermental regulations. In China everything is possible 😉
      Good luck!

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  1. As a Teacher Librarian who is 67 and has taught in South America and Asia I can confirm that there are enormous difficulties securing a job after your mid-60’s. Whereas I used to look at China as a great place to work, since the government started enforcing a post-60 ban on working there I now I have to consider it a closed shop. In the past two years I have had positive interviews with principals in Thailand, China and Burma, all of which ended when I was asked my age. And just today I received an email from someone who had hired me to work in Kuwait telling me that HR could not get me a visa in that country. (This despite their posting that said there were not age restrictions in that country) I feel that I am more qualified now that I was 10 years ago and it is terribly frustrating to have this seemingly artificial ban placed on my ability to work.

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    1. I’m 55 and just entering overseas teaching (hopefully!). I ahve taught in the States as teacher librarian and art teacher in elementary. I am optimist and realistic. Thank you all for sharing your experiences.

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  2. Steer clear of anyone stating during staff meetings, interviews and other that they have x number of years experience. What this boils down to is “You can’t teach me anything and I am not prepared to change my ways.” Education is changing fast, bragging about years experience is not always a good thing. There are teachers out there, close to 60, with an inflexible attitude and they are ruining it for us – the skilled, wise older educators who want to / need to work past 65. Let’s work the bad attitudes out of education. Let’s make this fun again – like it was in the good old days.

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    1. have met some teachers in their 30s who are very inflexible, thinking that their latest fad is the only way to go.
      As an over 65 yr old international school teacher, with a recent post grad qualification in Positive Psychology, I have a lot to share with teachers and students of all ages – older teachers who continue to upskill can be real assets in a school.
      My last job was principal of secondary – a balance of ages and skills works best imho.
      Your comment about “making it fun again” is suspicious.
      Kate

      Liked by 1 person

    2. “who are very inflexible, thinking that their latest fad is the only way to go”. Or simply undereducated, covering their ignorance with some dubious pseudo-teaching practices.
      However, having said all that, I must say, that most of my much younger colleagues, disregarding my Methusalem age, were very eager to talk to me, about improvement of their teaching skills.

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  3. I am not sure how much it is only fringe schools /countries that hire us over 60, or just places where first visas can still be obtained, or do we talk ourselves out of going for the top schools, perhaps dearly of wasting our time or loosing confidence at dealing with the demands (perhaps unfounded concerns).
    It would be interesting to write more but Internet is about to cut.

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  4. I’ve been teaching abroad for a long time and had no trouble receiving positions until I turned 60. I found a company, Atlantic Education International. I can teach with this company until I’m 65. I’m happy with my job in Guiyang, China. Health insurance is a big thing for those of us over 60. On has to be patient the jobs are there. One also has to be adaptable. My school isn’t the best. I’m very thankful to have a position and can continue doing what I love!

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  5. Got teaching jobs in Manila at 41, Norway at 53, Turkey at 56, Hong Kong at 58,61, and 66 and Germany at 67 although the director thought I was 57! “retired” now at 68 but still looking out of curiosity. Have had 3 Skype interviews so far but no luck (medical insurance seems to be the big problem). So its possible especially if director is around your age.

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  6. Starting to teach abroad at age 51. I was actively recruited through ISS for a position in China for which I would likely not have applied. I’m excited and will be challenged by that position. While some of the teachers getting hired by this particular school (startup) are younger and/or less experienced, it was actually my experience that attracted them to me. They are actually hiring a lot of experienced teachers. Perhaps a piece of the “youth factor” is that younger people tend to be more flexible and adaptable. I don’t necessarily equate this with malleable.

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    1. Come teach in Scotland. No age limits, a decent salary ( up to £40,000/ yr), beautiful locations and a teacher shortage in many areas e.g Aberdeen, Fife, Tayside,

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  7. I am 50 and taught overseas in China for a couple of years, but returned to the states. We’d like to go out again in a year, but are wondering which countries are open to people over 50. Has anyone ever compiled a list to give people an idea? Thanks!

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  8. I am just shy of this age bracket, but want to throw something else out there. I think some schools don’t hire older teachers because of where they fall on the salary scale. I think sometimes they opt for younger, moldable teachers because they can pay a lower salary. This is not true across the board, but you can bet it happens.

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    1. In my experience, many, if not most international schools have no real salary scale. They pay by the position, regardless of experience, or they give a small increase for 5+ years experience. Older teachers with 20+ years of experience would not get paid extra for all those years in any of the international schools where I have taught. An advanced degree may be a plus when being recruited, but seldom translates into an increase in salary. I seriously don’t think this is a factor in getting hired over 60. The inability to get work visas and ageism (where getting a work visa is not an issue) – this is what I have encountered most often.

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  9. I started my first position overseas when I was 53 in Indonesia. I then went to China at 56. I am now 60 and in Malaysia and am looking for another position and finding it hard due to my age. Had a positive interview this week so fingers crossed. I teach IB Math and am an Math SL Examiner. So far have applied for at least 50 positions and have only had 2 interviews. My wife is a qualified Primary teacher and I have 2 school aged children. I think this is also making it hard. We are hoping the next position we can stay so our children can finish their education. We are still positive that there is position for both of us out there.

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  10. I just turned 56 and could continue to teach where I am, in Western Europe, until retirement, but am returning home to teach at an international school. I ticked all the boxes, and then some, for my new school. I hope to be able to teach in my home country, until I reach my retirement age. If you’re already a retired teacher, either on the international circuit or just starting out, I think you may find yourself in less than desirable locations, in order to continue to work. I had already taught in Asia, in my twenty’s and thirty’s, so returning to China, for example, to live and work, is not a consideration. But, for those who are receiving a pension, and have continued enthusiasm for teaching, working internationally can offer immense satisfaction (just choose your school wisely!)

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  11. I got my first job teaching abroad in Qatar at the age of 57. I am now teaching in Oman and will soon be 62. I have no plans to leave anytime soon. I am experienced and enthusiastic, in excellent health, young at heart and can easily keep up with the energetic 6 year olds in my classroom! Some countries officially publish that they cannot issue a new employment visa after the age of 60, but many private institutions are able to find loopholes if they want you badly enough. A Canadian friend my age has been teaching in UAE and she has just accepted a position in Kuwait for the coming year, so my advice is to keep trying. My post retirement career teaching abroad has been (and continues to be) a blast!

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    1. I taught in Oman until 62 years but the new Elementary principal was looking for an excuse to get rid of me and said that my contract would not be renewed due to my age. I then secured a Principal’s position at an International school in China. Their loss and my gain

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You are fortunate to have got work in England. I returned there after working in the Middle East and could not get a permanent contract due to my age (55). I was only employed on maternity covers. They are extremely ageist in London, where i had previously taught for 20 years. This is because of the new ‘academies’.

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    2. Totally agree with the description of schools in London (and the UK generally) as ageist. Even ten years ago aged 54 I could not get a post back in Britain after 16 yrs overseas. Recent attempts to get short-term maternity leave contracts in the south-east of England ended without a single interview, even though recruiting agencies said some of the schools were desperate and had been considering applicants with no experience or training in the relevant subject. So I went back overseas to teach, although that required a 6-month search.

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    1. This is true. However, some over 60’s can be set in their ways. Not prepared to change and look down upon, or in worse case scenario’s refuse to respect younger teachers or heads of department. In our school this has been the problem on more than one occasion – Not skill or knowledge or ability rather an attitude of “you can’t tell me anything”. I have been an educator for 35 years etc etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Teaching is very demanding. You need physical and mental staying power to do it. In secondary teaching it is intellectually and emotionally challenging. Pay is disappointing and vocational satisfaction is important for stability in this line of work. It can be rewarding for realistic and hard headed people. Older people are often toughened by experience but age and health issues may limit how much onecan put into it. Classroom teaching beyond the age of sixty is not recommendrd on a full time basis and teachers shpuld plan for retirement before reaching sixty five.

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    1. YIKES! Age and health issues are not necessarily tied together. I am a 67-year old highly competitive athlete and international musician, and my work designing masters courses for a prestigious online university keeps me very well-informed and proficient with innovative pedagogy. I confess that I am probably somewhat hard-headed and I am definitely realistic – far more realistic, I feel, than your broad characterization of older teachers. I am not sure who decided that teaching beyond the age of 60 is “not recommended”, but that individual or institution ought to develop greater open-mindedness. If I were past my use-by date, I would retire. I am not, and I will not.

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    2. I am 60. I work with 2 SLT in their 40s. I dash and run around the school. They crawl and are constantly complaining they are tired. One of them has hypochondria and the other has kids who are constantly sick. I have never had a day off in 2 years – compared to their frequent absenteeism. You need to think again about your statements! They are very narrow and not based on fact.

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    3. At 50, I ran circles around my 25 year old assistant. I no longer have an assistant but I’m pretty sure, at age 54, I would still have more energy at the end of the day than any of my three former 20-something assistants. Also, I just finished a second master’s degree, and since turning 51 I have worked in Senegal, Rome, and soon I will work in Milan. Are there 60 year olds who should not be teaching? Of course. And there are a lot of 20-somethings also who should not be teaching. Shame on whoever made such statements. That’s the type of logical reasoning I discourage in my classrooms!

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    4. I think this depends on the individual. I started my last position at 66 and found I was more innovative re pedagogy, curriculum and technology than my younger (maybe less confident?) colleagues.

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    5. This is a totally biased view. Many teachers of 65 are fit and able to handle fulltime teaching. I am one. I have had no sick days in a tough West African school where younger teachers are falling like flies with malaria, dengue, stomach problems etc. People should be looked at on an individual basis rather than according to age. I look forward to my next job. In Japan.

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    6. How dare you! Just because you get to sixty does not mean your are over the hill. I can tell you I have more stamina that all the other younger staff at my school work long hours work weekends, don’t go sick for the slightest thing and have been working as confidently at 66 and as I was at 21. So please do not be so bigotted with your ideas that teachers should not work fulltime over sixty and should plan to retire at 65 . Wait until you get to this age I do so hope someone will want to hire you with your biased opinions about equality!

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    1. Some of the European countries are open-minded as well. It so often depends on the views of the leadership.

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  13. I was an international teacher last year at age 60 and was not able to be hired by many countries because the countries themselves have a struck age limit for hiring. I could have remained in my current position until I was 67, yet a new country was not able to hire me.

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  14. For five years, I was a Head of Department in Hong Kong. My Head of School told me that it was “time to pass the baton” to another (younger) individual. (She is now leaving after two years due to too much pressure). I didn’t want to stay there because I was being treated by many colleagues as fallen-from-grace, so I found another position for far less compensation and far poorer working conditions in a European city. I have been applying for new positions. Recently, I was interviewed by a school in Bermuda for over an hour – three interviewers and it went remarkably well. The current Head of Department emphasized that the position I was being interviewed for was his position. Then, in the last moments, the Head of School told me that the average age of teachers at the school was 40 and that they had mandatory retirement at 65, and since I was already past that, all they could offer me was supply work. I respectfully declined, saying that I could not justify an international move for that kind of work. Why they wasted an hour of my time (and their time), I cannot fathom. But this was a harsh experience and indicative of the restrictions I have been encountering.

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  15. I am 63 and still teaching in China, but the age limits in China have been lowered to 60. Perhaps this was due, in part, to some health problems experienced by older teachers in schools that did not offer good comprehensive international, or in-country, health insurance plans, and there was a dispute about payment of bills. (But I am not entirely sure that this precipitated lower age limits.)

    However…. many other countries and locales see no value in hiring those who are over 50 or 55, That is a pity, but it is their problem too, since older teachers have much to offer, and are up on the latest classroom technology, too, since we use it every day. We know our value, but the age bias worldwide is often subtle, and is widespread. It is now harder to get jobs abroad since age limits often stop at 55,

    Liked by 1 person

  16. For my last three positions I was technically (much) too old, yet, thanks to my experience, good rec letters etc., the schools wanted me quite badly. So, I was employed for teaching IB diploma Chemistry HL (and other Sciences) as – please do not laugh – a teacher’s helper, a consultant and a class administrator. If they want you, they will find a way to hire you!

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  17. In India, an extension may be given up to 70, after that the teacher is not given any support for visa renewal. Many countries “buy” your CV so they can open a new school or get accreditation. Once that is achieved, the position goes to a native for a lesser salary.

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  18. It is not just visa age limits. There is intense agism in teaching too. I found getting a job increasingly difficult after age 55 because schools want younger teachers. I am now 61 and had to leave China because of age. Got a job in UAE where the age limit is 65, though. The it was the only offer I got, and the school head is my age. Go figure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Age limits in China; what a joke! From the country that produced such great teachers and scholars who were very old and professed the importance of WISDOM!!!
      Bob Canulla
      Houston, Texas

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  19. After age 50 I was turned down for some schools due to visa restrictions. Interesting thing was that I was younger looking and far more healthy than the administrator that told me I was too old.

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  20. I think it really depends on the visa restrictions of the host country. My current country has no age restrictions and we’ve had a couple of teachers in their 70s who were fantastic!

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    1. Hi. I would love to know where you are. I cannot find anyone to even consider me, I am 61 and in good health. I want to teach internationally. I teach math. I will gladly leave the US to teach in a nation that will accept me. I can find none.

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    2. I am in Sudan. I think that there is likely less ageism in locations that are considered less desirable. I personally love it here, but it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea!

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  21. The phılosophy seems to that when one reaches a certaın ageö suddenly one ıs no longer useful I am 69 and KNOW that I have years left in me.

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