Did you know that, whether you are in your 30s or not, it’s never too late to take a mid-career break, change careers, or teach abroad?
If there is one thing I wish I had known when I graduated high school, it’s that change is OK. Changing majors is OK. Graduating and then deciding your major isn’t for you is OK. I don’t think we’re told this enough.
This is a brief article that I originally posted on Medium in 2019. It is the FIRST piece of content I ever wrote and shared publicly on the interwebs.
Do you feel like you are stuck in a rut? Maybe the daily routine and long commute to work is wearing you down. Have you thought of taking a career break or teaching abroad, only to say “I would love to do that, but, I’m too old.” or “Nahhh, I’m too old.”
Perhaps, you think that taking a break from your job to teach English abroad will kill your career. Maybe you worry you will have no job prospects when you return to your home country. Perhaps, you think that there is no one over the age of 30 who is living abroad while teaching ESL (English as a Second Language). I’m here to tell you that the opposite is true.
When I left the United States to teach English in Daegu, South Korea, I was 30-years-old. I decided to leave the U.S. because I felt dissatisfied with the direction my life was heading in and I wanted to gain experience living and working overseas before returning home. I wanted to pursue a career in International Education and Meaningful Travel.
Whether you are in need of a break from your current job or want to change careers, teaching English abroad is an option for you. Every year, mid-career professionals leave their jobs in order to teach ESL overseas.
Let’s talk about a few reasons that you should teach English abroad if you are over 30.
Are you paying off your student loans or credit card debt? Teaching ESL abroad may be an option for you! In some Asian countries it is possible to save hundreds of $$$ each month. While I lived in South Korea I was able to pay off the remainder of my student loan AND most of my credit card debt. Of course, the amount that you are able to save depends on your lifestyle and location. After I finished my 3 years of teaching, I left Korea with a small nest egg that I used to volunteer in Mexico, backpack in Central America, and attend a professional conference after I returned to the U.S.
When we are in our 20s most of us are still discovering who we are. In your 30s, you have more life experience and understand how to be a professional on the job. These are skills you can bring to your new job as an ESL teacher. Because you have already started a career, you have proven that you are able to handle the professional and personal “highs and lows” of a life and job in a new country. This maturity and experience may prove invaluable to some English language institutes who are looking for someone that will take teaching seriously and show that they will value and respect the local customs of their new home.
Teaching abroad can strengthen your resume in many ways you may not expect. Moving overseas to a foreign land is not easy! You will become more adaptable to change, tolerant of different types of cultures and people, as well as gaining a greater understanding of the ways in how people communicate around the world. You will become mentally stronger and feel more prepared to handle sudden changes in your professional and personal life abroad when, and if, you decide to return to your home country.
Have you always wanted to learn Spanish? Well, teaching in Latin America may be for you! Intrigued by Chinese culture? Head to a cosmopolitan city like Beijing or Shanghai to teach and take Mandarin lessons on the side. Even though it may be not as easy for us thirty-somethings to retain a second language after our teenage years, it IS still possible. Wherever you decide to teach, I highly recommend learning at least a few basic phrases in the local language. Local residents will appreciate your effort to learn their native tongue and it will make your everyday life more rewarding.
Well, there you have it. A few reasons in favor of taking a mid-career break to teach abroad. Whether you are interested in paying off debt, learning another language, or simply want to explore, teaching abroad is possible for you! Don’t let anyone ever tell you that it is too late to teach English overseas. Whenever you return to your home country, your friends, family, and a job will still be there for you. It is okay not to follow a linear path (college > job > house > family) if you don’t feel like that is for you.
So get out there, friends. Take a career break. Start a new job overseas. Travel. Teach. Grow. There are limitless options out there if you are willing to step outside and take the leap. I believe in you.
With COVID-19 continuing to affect our daily lives, income, and ability to travel. I’d like to provide a few resources for you decide to start teaching English overseas or online. I have personally worked with GoGoKid (GGK) and taken courses with the International TEFL Academy in the past.
Please note that this post contains referral or affiliate links. If you click on one of these links, I may receive a commission at no expense to you.
Amanda is a virtual assistant and online ESL teacher. She has lived and worked overseas in Australia and South Korea. When she’s not helping entrepreneurs build their YouTube channels, she is running, on the hunt for a cookie, or cuddling with her Korean kitty, Jangmi.