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UK teacher moving to teach in the USA - is there another way to do it?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by greerrankin, Nov 21, 2018.

  1. greerrankin

    greerrankin New commenter

    Good evening!

    Long story short, I have recently went through the application and interview process for a company that places non-American teachers into North Carolina schools. This week I have found out I have been accepted into the more secured stages, and it's likely they will have a job for me for the 2019/20 school year. I was excited to spend a few years in the USA, develop new teaching skills and explore the country - the company I'm in talks with says everyone they've placed is loving it out there. Maybe that's the truth, maybe not.

    My worry is that after conducting a lot of research, I'm getting more and more concerned about the state of education in NC currently. Teachers are poorly paid but the demands are stressful and unrealistic. One teacher claims that she has been teaching for 10+ years and is barely getting by. As someone less experienced, I would be paid far less than her. Goodbye travelling during vacations. I'm not saying I'm turning down the opportunity, at least not yet, but I was hoping someone could help on one of two things:

    1) Is NC as bad as my research suggests? Scotland is no picnic either, but at least at home I know the curriculum/am more financially secure.
    2) I hear other states are less doom-and-gloom, but I'd probably have to source a job myself. Is it common for a US school to sponsor an application for a visa / J-1 visa? How could I go about finding a school open to this? I feel like most schools would find it easier hiring domestically than aiding a Brit like me, even if I were to foot the bill.
    3) Any suggestions/info/etc would be greatly appreciated.

    I have made myself 'findable' on some of your typical job seeking websites, but I just doubt potential schools would give a non-American resume the time of day if it meant dealing with visa stuff.

    Thanks in advance for any help!
     
  2. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    What's the appeal?
    Frankly, it doesn't look like much fun, or a great deal financially.
    There are much better options available for international teachers in other countries. Easier to get jobs, better packages. Unless the US holds some special allure for you, why concentrate on it to the exclusion of other options?
    No, it's not typical for schools to sponsor teachers for visas. That's just an extra cost and lots of extra work for them. The states that do this are in pretty bad binds related to teacher shortages, and guess why they have teacher shortages? Hard work, not enough support, low pay.
     
  3. Jessaki

    Jessaki Occasional commenter

    I cannot understand the appeal to wanting to teach in the US, especially in a state school. Not that I have anything against states schools, but most are poorly funded, excessive standardised testing, large class sizes, heavy workload and poor pay. Some States don't pay teachers through the summer, so you will only be paid from September to June. I know of many teachers who have to work second jobs to make ends meat and what about health insurance? I understand in other States, the work life balance and pay is better, but getting a visa to work in the US is extremely complex and costly, you have to ask yourself - why is NC employing an agency to recruit overseas teachers to come and teach in their schools? My guess would be a massive teacher shortage - that would ring alarm bells.

    If you are interested in spending longer in North America, there are other ways to do it, especially as a teacher. There are some teacher exchange programs or even some sort of summer School / summer camp work.
     
  4. Mr_Frosty

    Mr_Frosty Occasional commenter

    I have a very good friend whose mother worked in the NC school system her whole career and she said it can be a great job with a good lifestyle but there can also be many challenges. It was basically enough to put me off considering NC as a place to work - I guess the best way to summarise it would be 'If you work in a nice/good school, with motivated students then work will be great. But those schools are in places where the cost of living will be high so you'll be pretty broke. You can live and work in more rural places where the cost of living is lower but schools in those areas will generally be a lot more challenging environments to work in.'

    There was a lot more to it but that's about as much as I remember as it was a chat over dinner around 7-8 years ago now.
     
  5. little_miss_indigo

    little_miss_indigo New commenter

    I think I know the company you’re talking about. I worked in NC through them for the last 5 years. Yes, there were challenges but I also loved my school and I hated having to leave.

    Funding is an issue but I think it’s also worth considering that just because funding is low, doesn’t mean the school you’ll be placed in will have the ethos to match. I worked in Wake County (slightly higher pay than the other counties) in a Title I school. We had some very needy students who came from difficult backgrounds and a few who were middle class. Most counties don’t necessarily pull from the local population but rather ‘bus kids in’.

    I’m happy to answer any questions you may have to the best of my ability. Feel free to send me a private conversation.
     
    mymintpark and greerrankin like this.
  6. Treesa

    Treesa New commenter

    I currently work just outside of DC in a French school- they sponsor my J-1 visa. There are other ways of coming to the US if you really want to. There are British schools owned by Nord Anglia Education who also sponsor their teachers' visas. Research where you are going in terms of the cost of living though. I thought I had done my homework but life is here is far more expensive than I had anticipated.
     
  7. greerrankin

    greerrankin New commenter


    Hi! Sorry I don’t have the option of starting a private conversation - it may be I’m not active enough on the site - but I would really appreciate your knowledge from experience! I don’t know if the sharing of e mails are allowed, or if you can start a conversation with me?

    I suppose I’m just a bit concerned that it’s a big commitment promising 3 years (I do like to keep my promises!) and be stuck in a job that pays too low to allow actual enjoyment of being in a foreign country. Obviously, the travel part isn’t the main reason for considering the USA, but it definitely is a deciding factor. I’m currently not in a strapped-for-cash position and I don’t really like the idea of going back to counting pennies to afford trips at holiday times. The lack of school funding isn’t a big change - Scotland is atrocious, let me tell you! - but I think you’re right: the school can either make this ugly or completely life-changing. So...it’s a risk? I keep going back and forward, to hear your story would be so helpful!
     
    mymintpark likes this.
  8. greerrankin

    greerrankin New commenter

    Oddly enough I signed up for Nord Anglia Education job alerts just the other day, and last night I got one about an elementary role in DC - I’m looking into it this weekend! Are you there?

    If not, how did you go about asking a school to sponsor you? I guess I just feel there must be so many foreign teachers already in the country that it’s a long shot for a school to go through the effort. I’d love to be proven wrong! I researched an area in southern USA that had a great rep, contacted the only 3 schools in the area that potentially would hire abroad but none got back to me.

    Thank you for your help btw! I’ve seen threads of people asking similar questions but no real useful responses. I understand your point that accidentally going somewhere expensive can definitely have an impact! Right now, though, I’m faced with just NC as an option so I don’t know how picky I’m allowed to be. If you’re willing to chat etc please let me know or PM me!
     
  9. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    Even the NA jobs are poorly paid in comparison to the cost of living. I know someone who interviewed for DC but there was no way she could take the job as living costs would be so high compared to the wage. The problem with better paying private schools is that they're generally in more expensive areas and so you've a huge commute to contend with.

    Despite the romanticism associated with the USA, I'm not sure it's worth being poor for 3 years just to have to go back home because there's no chance of a permanent visa at the end.
     
  10. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    there is a school in Atlanta that has been chasing me for years. there last offer to me was a salary of $60 000, plus medical, plus a small housing allowance. i keep turning them down because this would be a significant reduction in what i earn. the school looks nice, and it has great facilities, but America is a very expensive place to be.

    if you are really dead set on going, then look for IB schools. the number has exploded in recent years in the US, and you might have more choice. just check out the IB's website for a list of their schools
     
    greerrankin likes this.
  11. kemevez

    kemevez Occasional commenter

    Get a job elsewhere in a half decent international school that pays half decent money. Visit North Carolina every summer. Much better option.
     
    gulfgolf likes this.
  12. kemevez

    kemevez Occasional commenter

    North Carolina is a pretty nice place though, so I guess it’s horses
    for courses and all that. If I were you I’d turn it down and leave the struggling to the local teachers who need to struggle for a living. I could be wrong but I believe there is still not an international school in the USA that pays ahead of the curve and by extension most school districts will pay as little as they can get away with.
     
    gulfgolf likes this.
  13. greerrankin

    greerrankin New commenter

    I don't have any great desire to go to North Carolina at all, perhaps a visit to a few of the nice looking places I've read about but not much more, and I wouldn't necessarily like to work in a school there if it's as bad education-wise as research suggests. I have enough of that in the UK! However, after having taught in international schools before in other countries, I would like my next experience to be in the US. My problem is I cannot see a non-international school aiding my getting my J-1 visa, and international schools in the states don't have many vacancies, the competition is intense because I think many international teachers are looking to do the same as me. I wouldn't be looking for a salary ahead of the curve, but I would be looking for a situation that allowed for putting money aside to put towards trips at school vacations. So I'm not married to the idea of NC, but it may be the only way to see the US as a temp resident.
     
  14. Treesa

    Treesa New commenter

    I didn't ask the school to sponsor me - the job was advertised, I applied and they knew I would need a visa. But as they employ French teachers from all over the world, sponsoring a visa was not an issue for them.

    As others have said below, money is an issue. If you go on a J-1 visa, then the first two years are tax free - that is what I have used as money for travelling. Without that, it would not have been possible.
     
  15. Pink63

    Pink63 New commenter

    Hi, have you thought about working in New Zealand? It’s beautiful and there is a teacher shortage. I want to go there next year. Another thing, make sure you decide where you want to work because when you get old, it could affect your pension. You need to work in the US for 20 years to get a pension and in the UK for 20 years to get the pension. The pensions are not means tested. You need to think about the future and how this job will affect you. In New Zealand you need to work for 10 years and five of them after you reach 50 years old to get the pension. The US,UK and NZ pensions are not means tested. You need to live in NZ to get the pension. If you want to work in Australia, you can if you are under 30 and get a visa. But the pension is means tested and it means that if you have assets and money then you won’t be getting it. I am looking into this as no one told me this when I was in my 20’s or 30’s. Seriously think about where you want to live and get a job there. Three years in a low paying job is miserable. You need to make sure you have enough money to travel.
     
  16. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    I think if avoiding struggling is a priority New Zealand is probably out of the question as much, if not more than the US. The top of the main pay scale in New Zealand is only £37k. Compare that to the cost of living and you're immediately ruling out living anywhere that isn't rural.

    Also, you need to be under 45 to get an Australian visa, not 30.

    Generally, I would say be cautious about anywhere that has a 'teacher shortage'. There's obviously a reason
     
    dumbbells66 likes this.
  17. pizza15

    pizza15 New commenter

    In short, your choices are

    a) Apply to the NAE schools although the pay is not great and the cost of living in all of the cities is high. The US is not as cheap as people think. This would be on an E2 visa. You would not be allowed supplementary employment on this visa. Your credit rating will also be 0 and in most states, you need to apply for a new driving licence. Not all insurance take your UK history into consideration too (all adds up).

    b) Marry an American and get a Green card.

    If you do get a school district to sponsor you then great. I would, however, say that some school districts may sponsor because they can't fill the positions. You need to ask yourself why that is. School budgets are slim, teachers buy own equipment, students can be challenging with little support in place for you.

    I've been here 5 years and was better off in the UK and much better off in Asia. I would go elsewhere and visit on a holiday living like a king.
     
    Treesa and T0nyGT like this.

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