If you are a native speaker of English there is no reason for you to ever go broke when traveling in non-Anglo countries — ever. If you are prepared with a few essential tools you can pick up a job teaching your native tongue in almost any sizable city. Sometimes the pay is good and will keep you afloat for an extended stretch of travel, sometimes it is only enough to keep a roof over your head, food in your stomach, and a ticket on to the next town — but it is a reliable way to generate some kind of revenue on the road in a wide array of countries.
If you have nothing else in your travel skills portfolio be sure it’s English teaching credentials.
Teaching English is not my profession, but it is one that I keep in my back pocket just in case I have to whip it out on some dark day when the coffers run completely dry. It is one of a few backup plans that I have which enable me to run the blogging/ book writing/ projects of passion down to their bare ends, as I know that if I needed to I could stroll into some English training center, drop off an application, and receive a paycheck in a matter of weeks. Having an employable skill like this is a traveler’s financial security plan.
There is also perhaps no more accessible way for a traveler looking to directly interact with the people of the country they’re in and make decent money at the same time. In the words of Tom Carter: “Honestly, I can think of no other career path that places you so directly in the heart of Chinese culture and society like teaching does, or gives you a better ground view of the future of this country.”
The ideal creds for teaching abroad are a bachelors degree, TEFL certification, and being a native English speaker. In reality, this full trio can often be bent. Though the more credentials you have the easier it will be to find work, the more options you will have, and the higher you will get paid — of course.
Getting TEFL certification is an essential tool in the traveler’s work kit. Like most tools, you may never need to use it, but on the occasion that you do you’re going to be glad you have it. The certification never expires. You get it once and that’s it. Then on that fateful day when you wash up on some foreign shore low on cash or when you want to interact more deeply with the culture you’re traveling through, having that cert will make finding a job a little easier. In some countries it’s essential to get a work visa. Especially if you lack a bachelors degree, get TEFL certified.
It can also get you paid more. My wife makes an additional $100 every month because of the $250 TEFL course that she took in 2008. The certification has literally paid for itself many times over.
That said, for a certification course that can actually help you get a job, they also come pretty cheap. Online certification will cost around $200 – $300. In my experience working as a recruiter, while certainly a full blown CELTA course looks better on a resume, online certification is not looked down upon, and it’s acknowledged as a genuine cert just so it comes from a reputable training institute.
So if you are aiming to become a career traveler, prepare yourself with as many applicable work skills as possible. If you want to keep traveling you are eventually going to run out of money, you’re eventually going to have to make a living on the road. This is the point that separates the perpetual traveler from someone on an extended vacation. Learn a few trades that you can ply internationally, start up a couple independent travel businesses, and collect as many skills as you can that can keep the financial tanks full. One of the easiest and most accessible ways for a traveler to find employment abroad is through teaching, so getting qualified to do so is one of the standard tools in any traveler’s skill set.
Get your English teaching credentials now!
I’ve recently partnered with Star TEFL to offer their 140 hour online TEFL certification course for just $199 — a big discount, as it sells for $425 on their site. This certification course offers 140 hours of user-friendly material, tutors to help you through the process, email, chat, and phone support, feedback on your performance, and you can complete the course at your own pace. Upon completion of the course, you will receive an internationally recognized TEFL/ ESL/ TESOL certification. You can take advantage of this 53% discount by ordering this course directly from Vagabond Journey. Contact me at vagabondsong [at] gmail.com to find out how.
After you have your teaching certification send me an email and I can help you find a good job in China!