There are many factors that contribute to age limitations when teaching English abroad, and sometimes it’s a visa issue.
Teaching English abroad is a fantastic opportunity to travel to new places, impart valuable wisdom and make some money while you are doing it! But one nagging question that many would-be EFL teachers have is, am I too old (or too young) to teach English abroad?
The answer is: it depends. Each country where English teachers are in demand has different rules and customs surrounding age limits. Even within countries, some schools are eager to hire older teachers, while others will focus on recruiting younger teachers.
Some countries are not permitted to give visas to teachers above the age of 60 or 65 due to compulsory retirement ages in that nation. This applies to South Korea, Japan, China and Hong Kong. In some countries a teacher’s age can play a factor in the hiring process. More than half of the teaching positions available around the world are teaching adults and many schools may prefer a more mature teacher with professional work experience for such positions. However, certain teaching markets, especially for positions in Asia teaching English to children, look for younger teachers (21-35), and abide by certain age restrictions for hiring and qualifying for work visa sponsorship.
Age restrictions for teaching English in Asia
Officially, the maximum age you can teach English in most Asian countries is either 55 or 60, which is when the official retirement age usually kicks in. In practice, however, the rules surrounding age limits when teaching English in Asia are not that straightforward. In many countries, especially South Korea and Japan, private schools that cater to young children will heavily favour younger ESL teachers who are under 40. This is because sometimes schools are looking for energetic teachers to work 8 to 10 hours a day teaching young learners as young as 3 or 4 years old. Other countries such as Cambodia and possibly Thailand and Vietnam are known to hire teachers in their 40s and 50s. It’s important for mature teachers to fully understand the market they’re interested in and understand the specific age restrictions when considering teaching abroad in Asia.
Age restrictions for teaching English in the Middle East
Most Middle Eastern countries require new employees to be under 60 years old. However, schools in the Middle East also put a premium on experience and most will expect applicants to have a bachelor’s degree.
Age restrictions for teaching English in Europe
While the pay for teachers in Eastern Europe is not great, schools do place a lot of value on hiring candidates with experience. Obtaining English teaching jobs as a mature applicant is certainly possible in countries like Ukraine and Russia.
How old do you have to be to do a TEFL/TESOL course?
The minimum age requirements for TEFL and CELTA courses is usually 18 years old. A qualified candidate is always in with a chance. However, employers in many countries require their teachers to possess a university degree, which boosts the minimum age effectively to 21.