10 Unique Teach Abroad Jobs: How to Teach Abroad Without Teaching English

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Want to teach abroad but sick of teaching English? Here are 10 unique ways you can work abroad and live as an expat without teaching English! #teachabroad #expat #workabroad #china #travel #jobs

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A few years ago, I had a problem. I wanted to work abroad. I wanted to stay in Asia. I was happy to teach, but I was also sick and tired of teaching ENGLISH.

Finding a job abroad without any major work experience or a teaching certification was hard. It felt like the only job out there was teaching ESL to little kids or high schoolers.

I was sick of teaching kids at training centers, or going over basic vocabulary with high schoolers. I wanted to do something different, but I had no idea what options were out there. I was so frustrated, I even called it my quarter life crisis!

Free Guide: 10 Steps to Landing a High Paying Job in China

Unique Teach Abroad Jobs Exist!

While teaching abroad for a year or two is fantastic, and I’m so glad I did it, being an ESL teacher isn’t for everyone, especially not long-term.

If someone doesn’t love teaching ESL, usually it’s for one of two reasons. Either, you hate teaching classes and would rather work with students in small groups or one-on-one, OR you enjoy teaching, but hate teaching basic ESL.

If this sounds like you, well… you’re in luck! There are plenty of awesome education-related jobs abroad, and I’m here to help you find your perfect match!

By far the best place to look for jobs like this is Mainland China. These jobs may exist in other countries but are very commonly found in the PRC. 

college counselor China

Teach advanced reading and writing!

1. Advanced Critical Reading and Writing Teacher (CRW)

Tired of teaching basic phrases and vocabulary to students who barely speak English? Well, a job as an advanced critical reading and writing teacher might be for you. Yes, it is technically ESL, but you’ll be working with students who want to go to high school or university abroad!

In this job, you’ll work with small classes of students on very difficult reading and writing lessons to fully prepare them for life abroad. Many of the students already go to international schools or are at least great at English, so you can create incredible, advanced lesson plans, work with your favorite novels and short stories, and have the students do advanced scholarly and creative writing exercises!

CRW Teacher Benefits

The great thing about working as a CRW teacher is that you’ll be paid more than a typical ESL teacher. The going rate tends to be between 16,000-18,000 RMB/month with a hefty housing stipend!

You’ll also get a free flight, free visa, 10 vacation days, all public national holidays, great international health insurance, and more!

Who is Qualified as a CRW Teacher?

Typically these jobs look for someone with extensive ESL teaching experience, a degree in English, Literature, or Writing, or significant writing experience. Additionally, you must be from one of the 7 approved “native speaker countries” (USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand), have a Bachelor’s degree, and no criminal record.

Beijing high school debate

My students at an NSDA debate tournament

2. NSDA Debate Coach

Were you a debater at your university? Well, this might just be the perfect job for you! In recent years, China has become obsessed with NSDA forum debate tournaments, and they’re looking for qualified debate coaches to teach students how to debate and prepare them for competitions.

These jobs are looking for serious debaters, especially in cities like Beijing and Shanghai. You may end up working for a company with a debate course and club, or at an international school for their debate team.

The company I used to work for in Beijing took their NSDA Debate very seriously. Every year I was there we had a team from our Beijing office win the NSDA National Debate Tournament in China. These kids were IMPRESSIVE too. One ended up going to Oxford, while another went to Columbia.

Debate Coach Benefits

While I can’t speak for every job, at my old company coaches were paid very well: around 16,000-18,000 RMB/month, along with all of the other major benefits of a CRW teacher. 10 vacation days, free flights, paid national holidays, great health insurance, free visa, and more!

Debate Coach Requirements

The most important thing is that you have significant debate experience. The more experience and competition awards, the better! You don’t necessarily have to have teaching experience, or even NSDA debate experience (parliamentary debate experience is also okay), but you do need to be a great debater.

You should also have a Bachelor’s degree and a clean criminal background. No TEFL necessary. Yay!

Debate Coach Beijing

Speech and debate judges!

3. Public Speaking Coach

Are you an excellent public speaker? Have you competed in speech competitions? Working as a public speaking coach might be perfect for you!

Public speaking competitions are quickly gaining popularity in China, and many schools and centers are looking for a public speaking teacher and coach. You may be preparing kids one on one for a specific tournament, or you could be teaching a public speaking class to advanced students. Either way, it’s the perfect opportunity for a confident public speaker!

Public Speaking Teacher Benefits

At my old company, public speaking teachers had the same salary and benefits as both debate coaches and CRW teachers. This means 16,000-18,000 RMB/month, 10 vacation days, a free flight and visa, paid public national holidays and a hefty housing stipend!

Public Speaking Teacher Qualifications

Thankfully, there don’t seem to be many strict qualifications for this job just yet. Most schools will want to hire teachers from one of the 7 approved “native speaker countries” with a Bachelor’s degree and some sort of speech experience.

Whether you entered in speech competitions, participated in Model UN, took a course on speech writing, used to do business competitions… whatever it is, just play up your speech experience.

Gubeikou Great Wall

Chris hanging out on the Great Wall

4. TOEFL or IELTS Teacher

What the heck are TOEFL and IELTS?? Great question! The TOEFL is an English-language exam that international students will take to study in the US and Canada, while the IELTS is a different but similar exam that students will take to go to the UK, Ireland, Australia, etc.

There are definitely plenty of jobs all over China for people who want to help students prepare for one of these two exams. You may work at a training center (like my old company), or you could even work at a school specifically designed to help people study for the TOEFL or IELTS.

My fiance Chris actually worked at an IELTS prep school in Nanjing, helping Chinese students who didn’t do well on the Gaokao (the Chinese admissions test for university) prepare for the IELTS to study abroad. These students would study at his school for a year post-high school to prepare to go to university in the UK, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand!

I’ve noticed that the people who really love these positions are teachers who like working towards a goal, and enjoy seeing students achieve higher and higher scores. They like that their hard work (and the student’s progress) can be quantified with actual numbers and that they’re working towards something together. If that sounds like you, you’ll definitely want to apply to this kind of a position.

TOEFL and IELTS Teacher Benefits

This one really depends on the company. While TOEFL teachers at my training center were paid roughly 16,000 – 20,000 RMB/month depending on experience, Chris only made 8,000 RMB/month in Nanjing. However, at his school teachers only had to teach 20 hours a week with no office hours, so for him, the lower salary was more than worth all the free time he had.

Typically TOEFL and IELTS jobs will provide an apartment or housing stipend, fly you over for free, provide health insurance, and give you all of the paid national holidays. However, depending on the school you may or may not have vacation days, and you might have to pay for your own visa.

TOEFL and IELTS Teacher Qualifications

Typically, for a TOEFL or IELTS job, you’ll need the same qualifications as an ESL job. You’ll need to be from one of the 7 approved countries, have a Bachelor’s degree, clean criminal background, and a TEFL certification. Any teaching experience is obviously a bonus!

teach abroad China coworkers

With my Ningbo coworkers!

5. SAT or ACT Teacher or Tutor

Similarly to a TOEFL or IELTS job, you can also find a position working as an SAT or ACT teacher or tutor in China. You might teach a whole class of students, or you may score a tutoring position working one-on-one. Either way, this is a perfect job for Americans who have scored highly on either the SAT or ACT or have experience teaching or tutoring people for this test.

As an SAT or ACT teacher, you would be helping Chinese students with the English and Critical Reading portions of this test. You might also help students understand the vocabulary of the science portion of the ACT. Most likely, you will not help with the math section at all, unless a student is having trouble understanding English math vocabulary or word problems.

SAT and ACT Teacher Benefits

Overall, the benefits of this job really depend on the school you work for. Try to find a job making at least 10,000 RMB/month with a free apartment or hefty housing stipend. In addition, you should expect a free flight, health insurance, and paid national holidays.

Some companies may offer additional vacation days, a free visa, or any number of other benefits.

SAT and ACT Teacher Qualifications

Most companies specifically look for Americans who have already scored well on the ACT or SAT. If this is you, be sure to be upfront about your scores, and how you can help Chinese students achieve similar numbers.

If for some reason your overall score wasn’t that high, focus on the scores you attained from relevant sections. For example, I only scored a 30/36 on the ACT, but my English score was a 35.

In addition to being from the US, you’ll also need a TEFL, clean criminal background check, and a Bachelor’s Degree. If for some reason you don’t have amazing scores, just play up your teaching experience, or any other skills you might have!

Are you interested in working as an SAT or ACT Teacher? Look for jobs on Career China! 

Look For Jobs!

College counselor China

Work as a drama teacher!

6. Drama Teacher

Do you have a degree in theater or significant acting experience? Why not teach drama in English? There are plenty of drama teaching jobs in both China and South Korea, which is perfect for those who want to teach acting instead of ESL.

As a drama teacher, you may work for a school or a training center, and you’ll probably spend most of your time getting students to be confident with their English and acting abilities. At my center, the drama teacher used improv games, scriptwriting lessons and more to teach students, while also holding a play or musical once a semester.

Drama Teacher Benefits

Drama teachers who teach at training centers like mine will get similar benefits to that of CRW teachers, TOEFL teachers, debate coaches, etc. At my center, the average salary for a drama teacher was 16,000 – 18,000 RMB/month with a hefty housing stipend, free visa, 10 vacation days, great health insurance and all public holidays.

However, if you’re a qualified teacher with a teaching certification and get a job at an international school, you may be paid a bit more!

Drama Teacher Qualifications

Most jobs in both China and South Korea are looking for either qualified teachers with teaching certifications, those with theater degrees, or people with significant acting experience (if not all three).

You’ll also need to be from one of the approved 7 “native speaker countries”, have a bachelor’s degree, and a clean criminal record.

find a job teaching in China

An art class in the 798 Art District!

7. Art Teacher

I know of a few friends in China who have taught art in English at either private schools or in training centers. You don’t need to be an artist, as long as you’re comfortable leading art activities for kids.

Many progressive training centers and private schools with international curriculum programs have seen the value in leading fun activities while using the English language. Because of this, a few of my friends have taught art in addition to teaching ESL classes.

While I haven’t seen many full-time jobs for this, you can definitely teach art in English as a substitute for a full course load of ESL classes. If you’re a pretty good artist, you may convince a private school or ESL training center to let you teach only art classes in English!

Art Teacher Benefits

Most art teachers I know in China teach art in addition to ESL classes, meaning the benefits of an art teacher really depend on where you work. The going rate tends to be 8,000-12,000 RMB in smaller cities, and 10,000 – 15,000 RMB in Beijing and Shanghai, with free housing and a housing stipend.

You should also expect a free flight to and from China, along with health insurance, and national holidays off work. You may or may not get a free visa or paid vacation days.

Art Teacher Qualifications

Since most art teachers are actually ESL teachers too, you’ll need the same qualifications as a typical ESL teacher. You’ll need to be from one of the 7 approved “native speaker countries”, have a Bachelor’s degree, TEFL, and clean criminal background.

It also helps if you’re a talented artist or have some sort of art background and experience!

Are you interested in working as an Art Teacher? Look for jobs on Career China! 

Look For Jobs!

College counselor job China

My students and I with the GWU summer camp admissions rep

8. College Counselor

This was my job for two years in Beijing! I worked as a college admissions consultant helping Chinese students apply to US colleges and universities! I wrote an entire in-depth post on the experience of working as a college counselor in China, but I’ll give you the basics here too.

My job was to meet with Chinese high school students and help them prepare for college in the US. In their early years, we worked on English speaking, reading, and writing confidence, while also learning more about the US college application process. I helped students pick activities for their resume, and get started on the path to studying in the US.

In their last year of high school, I helped students draft incredible admissions application essays, and prepared them for admissions interviews.

You may also find a job working at a Chinese high school where you work with more students less intensively. You’ll lead small classes on the application process, write recommendations for students, and help them decide which schools to apply to, just like a typical US college counselor!

College Counselor Benefits

College counselors in China typically make between 16,000 – 20,000 RMB/month depending on experience, along with a housing stipend. You’ll also receive a free visa, free flight to China, great health insurance, 10 vacation days and more!

College Counselor Qualifications

Most companies and schools don’t like to publicize this, but it’s almost impossible to get a job as a college counselor in China if you didn’t go to a top 50 USDA ranked university or a top 30 liberal arts college in the US. Either that or you need to have worked as an admissions officer for a top US college or university.

In addition to a clean criminal background check, many college counseling jobs also look for some of the following additional qualifications: advanced degrees, significant writing experience, Chinese language fluency, teaching experience, or any sort of admissions experience (alumni interviewer, campus tour guide, etc).

Beijing Huanghuacheng

There’s plenty of jobs for everyone!

What About UK, Australian, and Canadian College Counselors?

I do know some people who have helped Chinese students prepare for UK college applications, but they were actually writing and oral English teachers at an advanced British training center for Chinese students who wanted to study in the UK. The spoken English teachers prepared students for their interviews, while the writing teachers helped students with their application essays.

I’m not 100% sure why there aren’t college counselors for countries other than the US, but I think this is mainly because the US is by far the most popular country for study abroad in China right now, and the application process is extremely complicated compared to the UK, Australia, and Canada and most students have issues understanding the whole “activities” component of the application process.

Many US-focused college counseling companies (mine included) have a few students that also apply to universities in the UK and Canada, so it’s typically these US counselors that are preparing students for these applications.

If you really want to work as a college counselor for UK schools, I suggest getting a job at an advanced British training center, where you’ll also work teaching IELTS, advanced speaking and writing, or A-Level exam prep.

Look for advanced jobs at British training centers on Career China! 

Look For Jobs!

Teach Abroad China

Dressing up for Halloween!

9. History Teacher

Some training centers and schools offer history courses focusing on the US, UK, Canada… you name it! If many of their students are going abroad to one of these countries, in particular, you can expect a course on that country’s history.

There tend to be two types of history jobs in China. One type is similar to art teachers, in that you’ll be teaching ESL with a few additional history classes. The other is a full-time job as a history teacher. For example, at my training center, we offered an AP US History course taught by an AP-certified teacher.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually have to be from the country whose history you’re teaching. For example, I had an American friend who was asked to teach a Canadian history course. Thankfully they gave him a good textbook!

History Teacher Benefits

Most history teachers I know in China teach history in addition to ESL classes, meaning the benefits of a history teacher really depend on where you work. The going rate tends to be 8,000-12,000 RMB in smaller cities, and 10,000 – 15,000 RMB in Beijing and Shanghai, with free housing and a housing stipend.

You should also expect a free flight to and from China, along with health insurance, and national holidays off work. You may or may not get a free visa or paid vacation days.

However, if you’re a certified history teacher with a teaching certification, you should expect at least 18,000 -20,000 RMB/month plus housing, if not more, especially if you’re working at an international school.

History Teacher Qualifications

Since most history teachers are actually ESL teachers too, you’ll need the same qualifications as a typical ESL teacher. You’ll need to be from one of the 7 approved “native speaker countries”, have a Bachelor’s degree, TEFL, and clean criminal background.

If you want a job only teaching history, your best bet is to become a certified teacher in your home country. With this, you can forgo the TEFL and teach history at an international school or training center full-time.

College counselor in Beijing

This could be your classroom!

10. International School Teacher

The best way to teach abroad without teaching English is to get your teaching certification and teach at an international school! This is especially true if you’re not from one of those approved “native speaker countries”.

Legally, you cannot teach English in China if you’re not from one of those 7 approved countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and South Africa), HOWEVER, if you have a teaching certification, you can teach a SUBJECT in English instead.

Teach math, physics, business, economics, music, drama… whatever you want to teach! It doesn’t matter where you’re from as long as you’re certified and have 2 years of teaching experience.

These jobs don’t just exist in Mainland China either. Get a job in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, the UAE, Saudi Arabia… wherever you want!

International School Benefits

The salary and benefits at international schools are great. You can expect anywhere from 20,000 – 30,000 RMB/month in China, and potentially even more in other countries. Fellow blogger Oneika made over $100,000 USD per year teaching Math and French at an international school in Hong Kong!

International schools also have great benefits. They’ll fly you over, provide housing, pay for your visa and health insurance, and your children can typically go there for free. If you’re looking for a real teach-abroad career that doesn’t involve teaching English, this is it.

International School Qualifications

To work at an international school you’ll need a teaching certification from your home country (or another country if you want), and a clean criminal background. You’ll also need 2+ years of teaching experience in your home country.


Come join me in China!

I’ll Help You Find a Unique Job in China!

If you’re looking for a recruiter who works for YOU and not the schools, you can always work with me! As part of my Teach Abroad Squad course and community, I offer job placement assistance.

In addition to the full online course and Facebook community, members of the Teach Abroad Squad get access to my curated Approved Jobs List, which is an awesome list of schools and recruiters that have been fully vetted by me. They all pay well and on time, offer great benefits, and have excellent reviews. I also specialize in unique high-paying jobs like the ones featured above!

Not only does Teach Abroad Squad help you narrow down your job search and ensure you don’t get scammed, but we also have multiple lessons on signing and negotiating contracts. In TAS I analyze three real-life contracts on the screen showing you what I like and don’t like about each of the positions. You even have a downloadable Good Job’s Checklist to make sure the position meets all your needs!

TAS will also teach you how to negotiate for an extra $3,500 USD per year with our contract negotiation lesson. Talk about getting your money’s worth!

If this sounds amazing to you, then you definitely want to join Teach Abroad Squad!

I open up TAS to new members every few months, so the best way to know about future course openings is to get on the Teach Abroad Squad Waitlist. Once you’re on the list you’ll be the first to know about any course openings, as well as awesome free training and opportunities for free 1-1 strategy calls with me!

Join the Teach Abroad Squad Waitlist!

Ameson Year in China

Working hard in China!

Grab My Free Teach Abroad 10 Steps Guide

If you’re at all interested in teaching abroad in China and want to learn more, I highly suggest grabbing my free guide: 10 Steps to Landing a High Paying Job in China (that’s not a scam).

This step by step system is designed to help you land a high paying job you LOVE and rock your first year in China! Trust me, if you want to teach abroad in China, you need this guide ASAP!

Grab Your Teach Abroad Guide!

teach abroad jobs

Big adventures to be found!

What Do You Think?

Do you have any questions about teaching abroad in China? Do you want to know more about jobs abroad that aren’t just teaching ESL? Be sure to leave me a comment below!

I’m always checking for new comments, so if you have any questions or concerns, be sure to get in touch by leaving a comment and I’ll get back to you ASAP!

Do you want to teach abroad but don't want to teach English? There are plenty of incredible expat jobs where you can work abroad without teaching esl. Let me show you how to do it! #teachabroad #expat #china #travel #teaching

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Some of these jobs abroad pay me a small commission at no cost to you if you end up taking a job with them in China. That said, I only recommend jobs and websites I trust (for example, the company I used to work for!). It’s extremely important to me that you all have a better first-year experience in China than I did (it was a disaster), so I’m extremely picky about who I recommend. 



About Richelle

Expat, traveler, and spicy food lover, I've spent the last few years living in China and traveling around Asia. In my spare time I enjoy salsa dancing, exploring night markets and stuffing my face with street food.

6 comments on “10 Unique Teach Abroad Jobs: How to Teach Abroad Without Teaching English

  1. This is really interesting. I am actually becoming a little weary teaching ESL. I think I would be interested in IELTS/TOEFL teaching. I heard that the students are more motivated.

    • That can definitely be true. I think it really depends on the school and the students. But a lot of TOEFL and IELTS teachers say that they love how goal-oriented this kind of teaching is. It’s much easier to feel like you’re working towards something or making progress when you can quantify it with a test and see real results. Overall, it’s up to you!

  2. When we choose to teach abroad, we know we’re entering into a completely different country with a vastly different culture. However, sometimes we forget that these cultural differences affect our jobs and the way that schools are run.

    • That’s definitely true. I had some major culture shock moments during my first year in China! From the constantly changing schedule to the fact that we started the Chinese New Year holiday break without an exact date that school was supposed to start again!

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