It is on all international school teachers’ minds. How am I helping to contribute to my future now (for when I retire/stop working) as a current teacher in the international school community?
Not that everything is all worry-free if you just stayed teaching and earning money in your home country, but living and teaching abroad can sound pretty risky to some people (maybe even many people).
If you are working at an international school that has an amazingly high salary with equally amazing benefits, then that is one story. Even if this type of school doesn’t actually offer a nice retirement plan benefit, you still have the opportunity to save a lot of money.
But if you are working at an international school and receiving a salary that helps you ‘just get by’ along with very average benefits (for example, there is not a retirement plan benefit that is on offer to you), then international school educators need to consider if the experience working at this type of international school is a good fit for their future plans.
Does an international school that doesn’t offer a retirement or pension plan benefit immediately equate to being a bad decision for your future? Not necessarily. If you are only planning on staying there for one to two years, then it shouldn’t make that big of a difference. If you receiving a high salary along with paid housing, not having an established pension plan benefit shouldn’t make that big of a difference because your savings potential is high. Hopefully, you have a laser-focused investment plan for all of that money saved.
But for those of us that are not so smart with money and don’t have the expertise to manage our own savings/retirement plan, it can definitely not bit a good fit to accept a teaching job at a school that doesn’t offer retirement plan benefits.
We did a keyword search on our Comment Search feature and found a number of comments related to international schools that don’t offer a retirement or pension plan benefit.
Amman Baccalaureate School (16) Total comments
“No retirement plan right now is on offer as a benefit.”
Canadian International School (Tokyo) (93) Total comments
“No retirement plan for teachers.”
International School Ho Chi Minh City (93) Total comments
“Unfortunately there is no retirement plan.”
Zhuhai International School (121) Total comments
“There are no pension plans from the school (included in the contract) although if you wished to establish one the office staff would be able to assist you in establishing one.”
Varee Chiang Mai International School (117) Total comments
“There is no pension provision, but an end-of-contract gratuity is awarded in lieu.”
Stamford American International School (307) Total comments
“There is no pension, but this means you can invest your money as you see fit. There is a 15% allowance that is paid monthly with your salary. This is “in lieu of CPF” which is paid for Singaporeans and PR.”
On the more positive side, we had a quick search for this key phrase “matching” (30 comments) hoping to find comments related to international schools that match the pension plan contribution of the teachers.
Here are a few of those comments:
American International School Vienna (81) Total comments
“Under the newest contract, teachers now have 10% matching for retirement fund commencing at first year. Certainly better if you’re there short-term, though perhaps not if you’d plan to stay 30 years.”
Hong Kong International School (151) Total comments
“I spend a lot of money here because I love to do eat out a lot, travel, and there are many things to do in the city. With that being said, I save about 1,300 USD a month, not counting the school severance/matching scheme which is another 1,300 USD.”
Cairo American College (196) Total comments
“The pay continues to be good. There is now a higher matching for retirement. The cost of living is still very inexpensive in Egypt.”
Around the world, there are cities that have more than one international school. Many times there is an American school, a British School, and an international school that uses an international curriculum.
Some cities, though, have MANY international schools! When that is the case, how do the comments about each school compare to each other?
This blog series looks at comparing some of these comments, all coming from international schools in the same city.
Currently, we have 31 schools listed in Hong Kong on International School Community.
22 schools have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few that have the most submitted comments:
American International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 24 Comments
Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 79 Comments
Chinese International School (Hong Kong, China) – 9 Comments
Creative Secondary School (Hong Kong, China) – 39 Comments
Discovery College (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 17 Comments
German Swiss International School (Hong Kong, China) – 13 Comments
Hong Kong Academy (Hong Kong, China) – 54 Comments
Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China) – 110 Comments
International Christian School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 19 Comments
Yew Chung International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 18 Comments
“I was a local hire, so I didn’t get anything, but I don’t know if they have added this as a benefit.” – American International School (Hong Kong)
“You get an annual flight allowance of $1500 (around 11 644 HKD), but it is paid in 12 monthly installments.” – Creative Secondary School
“There are not many benefits, so it generally takes quite a bit of money initially to move here – paying apartment deposits, flights, etc. There is a small settling-in allowance, but it does not cover your expenses. The school offers a high salary, but not much in the way of benefits.” – Canadian International School (Hong Kong)
“It depends on who you ask at our school. There is a lot of work that you need to do. You are required to stay until 16h every day.” – Hong Kong International School
“Teachers normally teach 5 out of 8 blocks, plus an advisory lesson each week (and a 10 minute Homebase each morning).
There are a few after school/evening events during the year (back to school night, Graduation, PTCs etc), but nothing onerous.
ASAs are run by outside agencies, or usually receive some sort of stipend…. and are purely voluntary anyway.” – Hong Kong Academy
“They are reasonable. Teachers are expected to sponsor one club, but you can make up virtually anything. I had a “Culture Club” one year and took students on a monthly trip to explore one culture through theatre, arts, and cuisine.” – American International School (Hong Kong)
“The world is rather easy. You can show at 8 and complete at 3:30.” – Creative Secondary School
“Hong Kong has Mandatory Provident Fund. Teacher pays $1500/month direct deposit into account, directs where money goes (type of investment), and receives accrued money when leaving Hong Kong.” – Canadian International School (Hong Kong)
“Pension plan is a matching 3% on your salary.” – Hong Kong Academy
“You have to put money into a Provident fund, either 6% or 12% of your salary and the school matches the 6% or 12%. If you leave you have to take it out.” – Hong Kong International School
“There is a national plan…” – American International School (Hong Kong)
Demeanor of Students
“The students are from middle-class families which do not like local schools, but too poor to send their children to international schools.” – Creative Secondary School
“The majority of students are polite, well-behaved, and serious about their studies. Teachers are sometimes concerned that students are too serious about grades, at the expense of creativity and balanced life outside academics.” – Canadian International School (Hong Kong)
“The students are pleasant enough, and as an inclusive school with a wide international catchment area are certainly a varied bunch which keeps things interesting. Serious behaviour issues are rare.” – Hong Kong Academy
“The kids I have taught are very motivated and engaged in my lessons.” – Hong Kong International School
(These are just 4 of the 65 different comments topics that on each school profile page on our website.)
If you work at an international school in Hong Kong, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited premium membership!continue reading
The journey to work is indeed an important one. The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been. So let’s share what we know!
One of our members, who works at the Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China) described her way to work as follows:
Leaving my apartment (which is very downtown near to the Causeway Bay MTR stop), I need to take an elevator down to the ground floor. Many people live above the 20th floor in the apartment buildings here. They are so tall! Luckily, in my building, there is an express elevator that skips a lot of the lower-numbered floors so I can get to the ground level faster.
I get on the MTR Island line and go to the end of the line which is Chai Wan. The journey can take around 15 minutes or so. There are definitely may other people on the metro, all with heads down, of course, looking at their smart phones.
Once I get to Chai Wan, then I hop on a small bus. From there it is a quick transfer down the escalator to Bus 16. It is on its way to Stanley, but makes a stop at Tai Tam Reservoir Road which is right by Hong Kong International School. It is a windy ride, so everyone on the bus has to hold on to the handle of the chair in front of us. This part of the journey takes around 10 minutes.
From there I just walk down the hill to the front gate of HKIS. These pictures show me looking back though towards the bus stop, which is going UP the hill (the journey back to my apartment, after school is over-with for the day, definitely gets your heart pumping a bit…though it’s not that steep). On this road down to the school entrance, you can also see the apartments of many staff members. They can just walk to work in a minute! At the end of the road, you see the school…the huge school campus. But first, you need to scan yourself in through the security gates.
The campus is super cool with many nice views to be had. On a nice day, the trees, the mountains and the sea all look so beautiful!
Currently, we have 31 international schools listed in Hong Kong on our website. 20 of them have had comments submitted on them by our members. Check out which ones here by using our school search feature and ticking the box ‘schools with comments’. Hong Kong International School is a popular school profile page on our website. It has 83 total comments on it. It also has eight members that either currently work there now or have worked there in the past.
So what is your journey to the international school you work at? Earn six free months of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’. Email us here if you are interested.continue reading
Only on International School Community will you be able to search for the perfect international school for you. You get the possibility to search (using our unique search engine) for international schools based on the type of school that best fits your criteria. There are many different kinds of international schools: ones that are small in student numbers to ones that have more than 1200 students, ones that are for-profit to ones that are non-profit, ones that are in very large cities to ones that are in towns of only 1000 people, etc. Each international school teacher has their own type of a school that best fits their needs as a teacher and as a professional. Your personal life is also very important when you are trying to find the right match. Most of us know what it is like to be working at an international school that doesn’t fit your needs, so it’s best to find one that does!
Utilizing the School Profile Search feature on International School Community, you can search our 1474 schools (updated from 1445 on 20 June 2013) for the perfect school using up to 8 different criteria. The 8 criteria are: Region of the world, Curriculum, School Nature, Number of Students, Country, Year Founded, Kinds of Students and Size of City. You can do a school profile search in three different locations on our website: the homepage, the Schools List page and on the side of every school profile page. Check out our past school profile search results here.
Search Result #12
Schools Found: 8
The eight international schools that met the criteria were found in two countries:
Why not start your own searches now and then start finding information about the schools that best fit your needs? Additionally, all premium members are able to access the 9000 comments and information (updated from 8470 on 20 June 2013) that have been submitted on the hundreds of international school profiles on our website.
Join International School Community today and you will automatically get the ability to make unlimited searches to find the international schools that fit your criteria (with a free 7-day trail of premium membership).continue reading
Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?
Our 32nd blog that we would like to highlight is called “Expat Teacher Man” Check out the blog entries of this veteran international school educator who currently works at (53 Total Comments on our website) in Hong Kong. He also has worked at in Kobe, Japan and at
A few entries that we would like to highlight:
“Find friends not associated with your school. International school teaching is incredibly demanding. Find friends outside your realm that will not remind you of work.
Accept yourself and your current situation. My dad told me often that I am going to have to learn to appreciate being alone if I am to survive overseas. He was so very right. I remember him specifically telling me to quit feeling sorry for myself and that if you are experiencing culture shock in Singapore….”Try moving to Mississippi!”
You are a professional, act like one. Do not personalize decisions made from your administrators. Move on…”
It is a great idea to make friends that don’t also work at your school. Making other friends can depend on: whether or not you can speak the local language at a highly proficient level, how many other expats that live in your new host country/city, and your personality.
It is also good to come to terms with your current situation with your new living and working spaces as quickly as possible; there does need to be some time to adjust though.
The drama at international schools can sometimes be very high, but many schools in your home country also have drama as well. Always great advice though; to make sure that you are being the most professional when working at your international school.
“I now teach at a prestigious school in Hong Kong. I have taught at Singapore American School and the Canadian Academy in Kobe, Japan. The following is a body of thought on what to expect if you are fortunate to interview for an overseas teaching position. Most of my thinking comes from successfully securing jobs at three separate recruitment fairs. I am also sharing my learning from the Principals’ Training Center for International Educators. I hope it helps.
International School Services, Search Associates and the Council of International Schools are three of the top recruitment agencies that connect teachers with international schools. Each has recruitment fairs all over the world.Each is pretty similar in their approach and I recommend that you choose the one that is right for you. I have had a lot of luck with International School Services.
Currently there are over 6,000 international schools in over 230 countries. I am one of nearly 300,000 staff members that make a living at an international school. If you have three or more years experience as a certified teacher and you have proper references, I imagine you are likely to get a teaching position somewhere overseas.
However, the most sought after positions are highly competitive. My Hong Kong interview process spanned three consecutive days. I spoke with my current supervisor a total of seven times before finally signing my contract…”
It is interesting that this blogger hasn’t mentioned getting hired by Skype as that seems to be getting more and more common these days. There are good reasons to decide to attend a big recruitment fair, but sometimes that isn’t possible for everyone. At one of the big fairs you can: interview with many different international schools from all over the world, network with many international school teachers and administration, and hopefully sign a contract then and there!
Want to work for an international school in Hong Kong like this blogger? Currently, we have 26 international schools listed in the Hong Kong on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:
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