Is Certification Required by International Schools?

A question very often posed by experienced teachers seeking an international assignment, is whether international schools require “certification” by a state agency (in the USA), or their home country’s educational authority.

The short answer is “Maybe!”

Some of the more American-based international schools do still require certification before they will hire a teacher. But a growing number of international schools, many with an American orientation, do not require certification for a teaching position. For sure, not being certified should not prevent any experienced teacher from applying for and securing an outstanding international posting.

Successful teaching experience is, in fact, the major criterion on which most of the best international schools base their hiring decisions. Thus, for example, an outstanding teacher with only private school experience and no state certification will have many excellent opportunities to join the ranks of international school teachers, with their excellent benefits, salaries and savings opportunities.

Moreover, even those schools that have certification requirements (notably in Central and South America) do so to satisfy accreditation agency restrictions. But there are also ways in which certification status can be secured, or even waived in some cases, when one of these schools wants to hire an uncertified teacher.

In my 18 years as a headmaster of three (3) international schools, I hired at least 500 teachers after interviewing several thousand candidates. Frankly, the lack of certification never affected my hiring decisions, which were based on perceived competence, personality and demonstrated impact on students and their learning. And whenever we hired someone who wasn’t certified, we always found a way to work with our US accrediting agency, which did insist on teacher certification.

Accordingly, no teacher with at least one (and preferably two) years of successful teaching experience should ever be deterred from seeking an international school assignment. And even at this late date, there are new vacancy listings every day at