Over 55 and still teaching abroad?

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Who is currently teaching English overseas right now and if over the age of 55? We would love to hear from you, or add to this topic!

At our head office we get quite a few inquiries about teaching overseas and being older, as well as our graduates finding it difficult in the TESOL job market for those over 55 to secure jobs.

In China, some schools do hire older teachers, the only issue is that the salary for older teachers is usually lower and the insurance costs are high. It can be done on a case by case basis and the placement rate is about 5% for teachers as older staff. Commission for recruiters for older people is miniscule and resource intensive so they are not hired unless the teacher is a special person with certain skills that were requested. Other countries in Asia, like Japan or South Korea cap the age at 55, so you can't get a work visa to teach if you are older than 55. If you are finding yourself in this situation, our office staff recommends:

-writing on your resume or intro letter the candidates willingness to pay for their own health care insurance. For those that are over 55, insurance sky rockets, thus employers tend to avoid employing that over this age.

-stating your flexibility for teaching different age groups.

-attaching a few pictures of yourself traveling and looking young and fresh.

-choose a passport picture that makes you look young and vibrant.

-make a video of yourself teaching (during practicum or experience), put it on YouTube to put in as an attachment in your intro email. This will give them faith in your teaching abilities.

-network, network, network and see if you can find a job with your own contacts with people that believe in your abilities backing you up!

Many older graduates choose to retire or enjoy semi-retirement in places in Latin America where the cost of living is lower and they can enjoy a more laid back retirement. They will create job opportunities upon arrival, or tutoring on the side.

We do hope this helps give you a fresher look at how the ever changing job market is evolving and how you can try and adapt with it.

Please reply to this post with suggestions, your own personal teaching experiences, and advice for others!
Does not bode well for me as I am approaching that age.
? when you refer to 5% placement, is that of all looking for a job or much worse 5 out of 100 people of 55+
? why are commission lower for placing older teachers - how do commissions work - could you subsidize it to have them focus on finding you a job
Hi Robert!

This write up that I did was mainly focussed on China, basically those over 60 going to China have a harder time finding jobs. Those over 55 similar, but the Chinese government is starting to put more restrictions on age. South Korea also does the 55 cap.

This is not the case throughout Latin America.

Recruitment companies will help place teachers, as they get paid by the school that they are placing the teachers in. This is great for the teacher, and the recruiter works on a commission base. I'm not sure about subsidizing, I suppose you could. It has been explained to me that recruiters can still find jobs further out of the main cities in China, specifically. Do keep in mind this is China specific!!

The 5% was just a quote that came from a recruiter, so perhaps in their experience. I really feel it is partly how one portrays themselves. If you are over 55, have absolutely know experience teaching and need a lot of medication and are not healthy, I certainly wouldn't recommend going overseas to teach!

Thanks for your questions.
Hehehe... O... K.... so that's what happened... LOL...!!!

Was talking to a guy from Taian China... we exchanged at least one e-mail per day... various questions, etc...!!!

Then in the last e I got from him he did ask me my age... I'm 55 ++

Haven't heard from him since...!!!
Hello Everyone,

We taught in China for four years as seniors. My husband, Frank, was 61 and I was 50 years old when we arrived. We were celebrated in Yichang, Hubei province for being the oldest foreign couple in the city. We taught at Yichang No.1 High School.
Don't be discouraged or self-conscience about your age. Most reputable schools, both public and private, look for ESL instructors who have experience in life and will fulfill their responsibilities.
Heidi's advice is very wise when she says to 'look fresh'.
Go for it!

Susan Black

For those interested in this topic, check out this website:


There is a table presented as well. Here is a clip from the beginning:

How Old is Too Old To Teach Overseas?
by The Gray One

"Experience is a valuable tool and the wisdom one gains can often be shared with others. So what happens to experienced people in the international world as they age? Is the wise one valued? Considered desirable? Or, Is upkeep too expensive? This Gray One set out to get some answers and I'll share them with you, country-by-country, in the chart, below.
What I discovered was teachers interested in this topic were those whose age could prevent them from receiving a work visa in certain countries. In response to my request for information, which I published in various ISR newsletters, I received a few responses from teachers in Europe and the Americas. By far the greatest response was from the Middle East and Asia where there are age policies “clearly” in place.

From the information I received I came to understand that in some countries, age policies are flexible, while in others, there is very little “wiggle room” on the issue. Apparently, many areas have no formal age restrictions since there were few reports."

Check out the full article and the table they have of documented cases. Food for thought.
I have a buddy over here teaching who fits the bill of being over 55 and successful. In fact, he is now 70 and still going strong. As long as you are healthy enough to get a around and work with people, there are opportunities in China.

Whereas the local retirement age is well below 70 here, locals we are not. Therefore don't be afraid to try it in China. I know several folks older than 55 who are doing just fine.