Teach Abroad - General FAQs

Topics on This Page

Application Process | Job Placement | Living and Working | Travel and Arrival

Learn the answers to questions like "how can I get started?" to "where can I be placed?". If you don't find the answers you need here, check out our blog Teaching Abroad 101: Beginner's Guide.  

Application Process

The answer depends on where you’re going.

Our Teach Abroad programs in China and South Korea both include CIEE’s 150 hour online TEFL course as a built-in feature, to meet employer and visa requirements. There’s no extra fee, and no need to start a separate TEFL application – you will complete the training in the months leading up to your departure date.

For our other locations, including Spain and Thailand, the course is an optional add-on for an additional fee. Many of our teachers still elect to include the course, to get some training before they go, to better serve their students, and to add a valuable credential to their resume. Learn more about CIEE TEFL.

While global demand for English teachers is strong, we have many applicants, and some programs do fill up quickly. The best way to secure a position in those locations is to apply early. Applications are considered on a rolling basis in the order they were received.

Our programs have a very high acceptance rate, as long as you meet the basic eligibility requirements, which you can see on each of our program pages. We want to help as many people teach abroad as possible.

For most programs, teaching experience is not a big factor in selection and hiring. That makes a CIEE Teach Abroad program a great way to gain some initial experience in the field. You will need enthusiasm, a desire to make a difference in students’ lives, and openness to new experiences and cultural exchange.

If you’re feeling anxious about taking on the responsibilities of teaching without prior experience, you should consider adding CIEE’s online certification course in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). It’s a high quality training program with videoconferencing and small class sizes, designed to make you a stronger applicant and a confident teacher. The certificate is recognized around the world and valid for life. Learn more about CIEE TEFL.


Our approach is to offer a high level of preparation and support at every step of your journey toward teaching abroad. It’s different than what some of our competitors do, but based on participant feedback, we think it’s really valuable!

Before you go, we’ll guide you through the visa process and share lots of useful logistical tips and advice from former teachers. Our US-based staff is here to respond to questions by phone and email. You will receive an in-depth orientation to prepare you for living and teaching in a new country, and have opportunities to network with other teachers. Our in-country staff and representatives are there to support you during your experience, including 24/7 availability for emergency situations, and all participants receive international travel and emergency medical insurance.

Your program fee covers the costs of those services and the staff and facilities that make them possible. It’s not enough for us to just match someone up with a job and call it a day – our goal is to give them the support and preparation they need to have a successful and rewarding experience!

A $50 application fee is due at the time of application submission, to let us devote our effort and attention to serious applicants. Once CIEE accepts your application, a $500 commitment deposit ($1,000 if TEFL is included) is due within 10 calendar days. The remaining balance of the program fee is due after you receive a job placement, which in most cases happens 1-3 months after you make the deposit.

Each of our programs has a different total program fee, based on the features included. To see these, please visit one of our programs.

Yes! You’ll need a bachelor’s degree to go on our Teach Abroad programs, but we welcome applications from graduating seniors. You should ask your academic advisor for a letter confirming your expected date of graduation, and you can upload that to your online application in place of your actual degree. Check with your school to confirm when your diploma will be delivered to you, and email a scan to your coordinator at that time.

Yes! Our Teach Abroad programs do not have language requirements. It might seem intimidating to go to a country where you don’t speak the language, but it’s probably easier than you think. You’ll pick up basic phrases quickly by living there, and if you get stuck, you can always try to use a translation app to help out.

As for your students, many schools prefer that you teach English without relying on the local language. You’ll use repetition, pictures, circumlocution and lots of acting to get your point across. It works, trust us!

You shouldn’t apply to more than one CIEE Teach Abroad program at a time. It means extra work for you and doesn’t give you an advantage, since most of our programs have a very high acceptance rate, and even if you’re not accepted, we will offer to transfer your application to a second-choice program. We advise people to focus on completing one application for their top choice. If you’re not sure which one to choose, give us a call and we can advise you.

Job Placement

The answer for this question depends on where you’re going, since each of our countries is set up differently. In some countries, there is a video interview, while in others, schools will hire you based on your PDF application alone. In every case, we ask for your input and preferences and do our best to match people up with a placement that’s a good fit.

For most programs, we are able to collect preferences on the application and use them to help match participants with schools. However, it's important to remember that these are requests, not guarantees. Keep in mind that it’s usually much harder to be placed in a “touristy” area like the beach regions of Thailand or the center of Madrid. Be sure to consult the “Destination” sections of our program pages for more information on where most people are placed. Even if you don't get your top choice location, keep an open mind and a flexible attitude, and you'll be on track for an amazing experience!

We get this question a lot: Can couples teach abroad together? Can friends teach abroad together? The answer is, yes. Depending on the country, we can either place you together at the same schools, or at schools located close to each other. Make sure to mention each other’s names somewhere on your CIEE application, either in the placement preferences or in your personal statement.

For most of our programs, the answer is no. The one exception is in Thailand, where there is some demand for instructors to teach chemistry, physics, biology, and computer science. Those jobs are still a lot less common than English teaching positions, so we generally tell people that they should only apply to our program if they feel comfortable being assigned to teach English, even if their top preference is another subject.

For most of our countries, it’s not possible to bring an animal with you while teaching abroad, and you’ll need to find someone back home for your pet to live with.

It can be done in Chile or Spain, where participants arrange their own housing and can negotiate with landlords about keeping pets. CIEE does not offer advising or support for the process of importing an animal into a foreign country. You will need to research the requirements, paperwork, and quarantine on your own and be fully responsible for the costs. Keep in mind that you’ll likely need to repeat the process to come back into the USA. All told, it’s usually quite expensive. 

Living and Working

Teaching abroad is… thrilling. Challenging. Rewarding. Difficult. Surprising. Unforgettable. It builds character, and changes lives.

Your role as an instructor will depend on which program you apply to. In Europe, you’ll be an assistant teacher. Elsewhere, you’ll be a lead teacher, with responsibility for lesson planning and grading. You can find details about this in the “Job Description” sections of our program pages.

If you’d like to get a firsthand perspective on what it’s like to teach abroad, be sure to visit our Teacher Blogs.

Temporary housing is provided on all of our programs, so you don’t have to worry about your first few days.

In South Korea, Thailand, China, and our Volunteer in Spain program, rent-free housing will be arranged for you, so you don’t have to budget for that expense.

On our Madrid programs, you will need to locate and rent an apartment for the duration of your contract. Be prepared to pay a security deposit and 1-2 months of rent before you get your first paycheck. CIEE will give you plenty of advice and resources to accomplish this, both before you go and at the in-country orientation.

On most of our programs, your income from teaching will be just enough for you to live comfortably, but not luxuriously. In Asia, there are opportunities to save money or finance regional travel since pay tends to be higher and rent-free housing is normally included. Participants on our Volunteer programs receive room and board but no monetary compensation.

There are a few other expenses you can expect beyond the CIEE program fee. For most programs, you will need to pay for a visa fee and visa-related documents like background checks and medical forms. Jobs in South Korea offer airfare reimbursement as part of the compensation package, but in all other places, you’ll need to buy your plane tickets yourself. If housing is not included in your program, you’ll need to budget for the cost of rent as well. Teachers in all locations pay for their own food, phone service, internet, and local transportation.

It’s also important to remember that your first paycheck won’t arrive until 4-6 weeks after you arrive and start working, so you will need to have some savings to cover expenses until you start receiving your wages.

These factors vary widely from country. For more specific information you’ll need to visit the FAQs for a particular location.

On CIEE Teach Abroad programs you’ll receive 24/7 emergency support from local partners or CIEE staff.  All participants are enrolled in iNext international insurance, which includes emergency assistance.  During the on-site orientation you’ll also receive advice for how to stay healthy and safe. If you’re looking for peace-of-mind and emergency support while teaching abroad, then our program is the one for you!

In some cases, it might. You’ll need to check with the company that holds or services your loan and ask about conditions for deferment or forbearance. If they say yes, CIEE can provide a letter confirming your acceptance and your plans.

Travel and Arrival

This is an area where our program really shines. We put a lot of effort into helping people get ready and making sure they are well-informed and know what to expect.

CIEE will provide pre-departure guides with cultural tips, advice from former teachers, and information on logistical topics like phones, internet, and banking.

CIEE will give you detailed instructions for the documents and/or visas necessary for the program you select.

CIEE’s Participant Blogs are a great way to get a first-hand perspective on what it’s actually like to work and live abroad on our program!

Finally, before they go, we ask all our participants to review health, travel and safety information from the US Centers for Disease Control and the US Department of State, and sign up for regular updates from the STEP program.

The only programs where employers cover your airfare are Teach in South Korea. Schools there will either buy a one-way flight for you, or provide reimbursement. For our other programs, you will need to purchase your own flight once your coordinator confirms the arrival and orientation instructions.

On a related note, some jobs in Thailand include an end-of-contract bonus designed to help offset the cost of airfare.

All CIEE Teach Abroad participants will receive International Travel and Emergency Medical Insurance from the program. It's designed to cover unforeseen and unexpected accidents, illnesses, and flare-ups. It does not cover preventative care or routine maintenance medications. We usually recommend that participants keep US-based primary insurance to cover those exclusions. Exact insurance arrangements vary between programs - review details on our specific program pages.

More Information

For eligibility, pay, and program fees, visit our Program Pages

More Questions? Email us or schedule a call!

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CIEE Teach Abroad Program Regulations (PDF)