Saturday, March 24, 2012

Teaching Overseas: Understanding Benefits And Compensation

This is a photo of a public space in the cente...Public space in the center of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)By Chris A. Harmen

Teaching overseas is always an adventure, particularly if you're going to travel to a country where the culture and lifestyle is different than what you're used to.

In nearly all cases, you'll also be working for a government, education system or private company that isn't based on the American dollar and doesn't offer the same kind of benefits and compensation you may be familiar with in the United States.

In order to prevent unfortunate misunderstandings and be properly prepared to teach abroad, be sure to ask plenty of questions once the employer has extended an offer for you to become a part of their educational team.

Understanding Salaries

At first glance, many salaries seem incredibly generous even for overseas teaching positions, but look at the offer and be sure you've converted it to U.S. dollars to get a real feel for what your take home pay will be like. Ask the employer if there will be taxes and other required deductions from your salary before you receive your paycheck.

Your pay schedule is also crucial. Will you be paid weekly, biweekly or monthly? If you don't get your first paycheck until you've taught for a month, you will need to arrive in your host country with enough money to live comfortably for a month or more, depending on the lag between teaching dates and when an employer processes and mails out salaries.

In some countries, you will also be offered either company or government owned housing or a housing allowance. If you get an allowance for a rental, ask about any furniture allowance that might come with it.

Do some online research to determine if you'll be able to find safe, secure housing and appropriate furniture with the stipend you're offered. If your housing will be fully provided, it's likely to be safe, secure and comfortable and is one less item to take care of while you soak up the culture and teach your students.

Benefits Of Teaching Overseas

Most foreign countries hiring educators from the United States offer very good health insurance coverage that is equal or superior to typical employee benefits at home. Don't be afraid to ask questions, particularly if you're going to be relocating your family. Does the health care coverage include spouses and children? Is there a cap on the coverage for life-changing illnesses or accidents?

Review Your Teaching Contract Carefully

If you've been planning to teach abroad for a while now, it's tempting to sign on the dotted line when offered a contract, but don't do it without first reading through the fine print. Does your employer have to give you any notice before terminating your position? Is there a probationary period? If so, what is it?

Also read through any information regarding sick days, vacation days and other benefits. You'll find some countries have very different, and often generous, sick day allowances, some with full or half pay. It's always best to ask questions if something is unclear so that you know and understand any restrictions.

When an opportunity to teach in a foreign country is presented to you, being prepared and asking plenty of questions will help ensure you're accepting a teaching position that is a great fit for you and your employer.

AIDC has been instrumental in broadening the horizons of teachers through overseas opportunities for twenty years. Educators can teach in Abu Dhabi with great benefits. For more information on teaching in Abu Dhabi, visit their website.

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