While I’m by no means an expert or even experienced, I have conducted my own informal research project on working opportunities abroad. Scouring for ways to travel long-term and still generate an income has been my favorite procrastination method. It hasn’t all been in vain. I do plan to pursue teaching English abroad. But in order to put my hours clicking through possibilities to good use (and procrastinate in studying for finals), I will share my findings. Perhaps another irresponsible student with a case of wanderlust will be inspired.
Teach English – Teaching English abroad is a popular way to get overseas, and for good reason. A high demand for native English speakers to TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) means new positions are opening all the time. TEFL teachers don’t need a degree in education. A Bachelor’s degree in some discipline is usually necessary and most (but not all) language schools require a TEFL/TESOL certificate. Certification can be obtained online or in a classroom setting through a variety of programs, some of which occur abroad. Pay varies widely depending on region. While you can make enough to break even in Europe or South America, teachers can save as much as $1,000 a month in Eastern Asia, where demand is highest. Africa and Central Asia also offer opportunities, but usually on a volunteer basis.
WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) – As funny as the acronym sounds, WWOOFing provides serious hands-on experience on organic farms around the world. The volunteer technically aren’t paid, but WWOOF farmers provide food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles. WWOOF farms in the U.S. provide opportunities for those who wish to stay closer to home. However, there are also farms in over 30 countries with diverse environments. Volunteers can find farmers in need searching help in places as diverse as Switzerland, Sierra Leone, Argentina and Bangladesh. Volunteers will mix cultural immersion with sustainable development so both parties benefit.
Cruise Ships – Cruising is one of the fastest growing aspects of tourism, which is already the world’s largest industry. Giant cruise ships require giant work forces looking to live on the high seas. Beyond general hospitality positions, jobs are available in fitness centers, casinos, movie theatres and just about any other form of leisure you can think of. Working on board may not be as glamorous as cruising as a passenger, as hours are long and so are stints on the ship. However, money can be saved easily the provided room, board and transportation cuts costs. And of course, for adventurous spirits, waking up in new places and meeting new people everyday is ideal. Individual cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Disney Cruise Line constantly post job openings on their web sites.
Tour Guide – For those with big personalities and the ability to walk backwards, tour guide jobs are plentiful worldwide. Guides must be passionate and knowledgeable about a particular place. The familiarity required with a desired location can be limiting. However, it could be perfect if you wish to return to a city where you studied abroad or where you spent significant amounts of time for other reasons. While fluency in the local language is desirable, English-speaking tourists looking for English-speaking guides means it might not be required. Freelance jobs are possible through the internet, but you can also apply for a job with an established tour company. Hobbies that coincide with tours such as biking or hiking can be especially helpful, as themed and interest-driven tours grow increasingly popular.
Au Pair – Au pairing is perfect for those who would like to be immersed in a new culture, but in the context of a supportive family. Au pairs, unlike nannies, live in the home and act as a family member rather than an employee. Demand is high for this sort of live-in childcare in Europe, where the concept originated. While opportunities for young men are increasing, most au pairs are women in their late teens or twenties. According to Susan Griffith, author of Work Your Way Around the World, au pairs don’t have to work more than 25 hours a week except for one or two evenings of babysitting. Au pairs receive a separate room, meals and at least $70-$75 a week for pocket money in return. Interested au pairs should work through agencies, which conduct screening processes for both parties. The International Au Pair Association provides resources for interested families and au pairs.