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Paid Work Abroad: J-1 Visa, Teach, Au Pair, Work and Travel Programs

By Sarah Vandenberg
Director of Partnerships
paid work abroad programs

Did you know there are lots of different ways to explore the world and earn some income while you’re at it? From teaching abroad, to au pair programs, to working abroad and beyond, there are plenty of opportunities to visit a new destination without tapping into your savings. Plus, these programs will let you build your resume and make a difference on your adventure abroad. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common paid travel opportunities.

Paid Teach Abroad Programs

There are many different opportunities to earn money while teaching abroad, especially if you are certified to Teach English as a Foreign Language: you can visit some of the most beautiful countries in the world and teach in cities or even in remote locations where teachers are limited and schools are overcrowded. Many teach abroad programs have placements open to students on a gap year or just a summer break, graduates on a career break or extended vacation, and anyone else that’s interested in spending time abroad helping to educate others. Your break could become a working holiday. English teaching abroad is the most common program you’ll find, though any opportunity you take will allow you to help create cultural connections, whether you’re workingin another country with children or adults. For example, Global Vision International is offering a paid teaching placement in Thailand where participants can earn upto $1,000 USD per month while also receiving free room & board.

Au Pair Programs

Au pair – French for “on par” or equal – programs are designed for travelers who’d like to stay with a host family and help care for the children and the house. Au pairs are given a weekly paycheck, and live as part of the family, usually taking on a variety of household responsibilities in addition to caring for children. When applying to become an Au pair, you can fill out a description of yourself showcasing your experience, the number of children you’re willing to work with, and the ages you’d like to work with. Au pairs do not have to be certified or have a degree, but are given extensive training before being placed with a family.

Work Travel Programs

From farming to teaching, there are many different programs to chose from when it comes to work travel. As you may expect, most of the popular ways to work and travel are teaching English to local schools and to businesses whose employees increasingly need to learn the language to interact with clients, vendors, and customers worldwide. However, there are lots of other ways to have a working holiday and earn some income while traveling, including farming and agriculture, seasonal tourism, hotel work, office jobs, and lots more.

J-1 Visa Programs

The J-1 Visa exchange program offers approximately 300,000 participants from more than 200 countries and territories to visit the United States every year with over 1,400 designated U.S. sponsors involved in the program. Participants can teach, study, conduct research, share specialized skills, and/or receive on-the-job training for anywhere between a few weeks to several years. J-1 Visas most commonly include a large cultural component, so participants can become more engaged with U.S. citizens while simultaneously sharing their culture. There are many different companies and organizations that participate in the J-1 Visa program – to learn more about these opportunities, visit http://j1visa.state.gov.

Cultural Homestays

Cultural homestays give you the chance to stay with a family in a country other than your own. As you participate in a work abroad program or paid teach abroad experience, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in a new culture while completing your project or program. Similar to the experience of an exchange program, through a cultural homestay, you’ll become a member of the family as you help around the house, learn the family’s way of life, and even teach your host family and friends all about the culture of your own country through your actions and stories. This is a phenomenal way to get the most out of your experience in a new country!

Ready for an adventure abroad? Read on to learn all about some amazing organizations that will pay you to travel and make a difference!

Intern Abroad HQ

paid internships abroad

Want to explore the world and get excellent career experience while you’re at it? Intern Abroad HQ, the sister organization of International Volunteer HQ, offers global internships where you can travel, learn new skills, and build your resume. These affordable internship programs all include weekly reflection tasks designed to build your cultural intelligence and professional portfolio. There are many ways to explore diverse career paths while traveling, and Intern Abroad HQ will work with you to provide guidance and point you in the right direction to pursue your passions.

Intern Abroad HQ provides experiential learning internships worldwide that are specifically designed for personal and professional development. To ensure that you can walk away from your international internship with something tangible, you’ll complete a personal and professional development course (an approach that often can help students to obtain university credit through their academic institution). Upon completion of your program, you’ll receive a portfolio as documentation of your experience, including a certificate of internship completion, a summary of your internship goals, skill development, highlights, and a compilation of your reflection work. Right now, internships are available in Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Looking to improve your chances of finding paid work abroad? Intern Abroad HQ offers a specialized, user-friendly, online TEFL certification course. This 100-hour course can be taken at your own pace and doesn’t require any previous experience or training. The discounted rate of $399 is offered via Intern Abroad HQ CCELT Online, a worldwide leader in TEFL training. Upon completion of your training, you’ll have earned experience in planning, designing, and adapting diverse language activities and materials that will help you work in different teaching and learning environments, no matter where your career takes you around the world. And when you’re ready to take the next step, check out Intern Abroad HQ’s affordable internships around the world that are offered in education!

Maximo Nivel

teach English abroad with Maximo Nivel

Founded in 2003, Maximo Nivel provides volunteer abroad, intern abroad, study abroad, and teach abroad placements in Latin America. So far, 25,000 volunteers, interns, and teachers have signed up with Maximo Nivel, which partners with local organizations in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru to provide high-quality, engaging placements where you can learn, explore, and make a positive impact. There are many choices if you’re thinking of working abroad. If you want to teach English abroad, Maximo Nivel is a great choice: with 3,500 graduates, lifetime job placement assistance, and international accreditation, you will receive excellent training to confidently teach English worldwide.

If you want to earn your TEFL certification abroad while immersing yourself in a culture different from your own, check out Maximo Nivel’s four-week, 150-hour course in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru. Modules include Approaches to Learning and Teaching, Critical ESL Techniques, Class Management, Lesson Planning, English Grammar, Teaching Vocabulary, Assessing Learners, and more. This TEFL certification course incorporates 100 hours of in-class instruction, 35 hours of required reading and written assignments, and 15 hours of observation and practical teaching. You also will have the chance to teach hour-long lessons for five days to an actual English class as part of your certification. Click here to learn more and to sign up!

On Maximo Nivel’s English teaching volunteer program in Latin America, you will immerse yourself in the culture of Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru while helping local students develop and improve their English language skills. For two to four hours each day, you will teach grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, speaking, writing, and listening skills to primary, middle, and high school students. Your specific tasks will vary depending on project needs, but can include creating lesson plans, teaching classes, helping with tutoring, and organizing educational games and activities. Learn more and sign up here!

International TEFL Academy (ITA)

earn your TEFL certificate and teach English abroad

Another opportunity to check out if you’d like to get paid to teach abroad is International TEFL Academy (ITA), which has provided online and in-person TEFL training and certification classes since 2010. To start, ITA offers extensive pre-enrollment guidance from expert advisors to match you with the best program for your interests. After that, you’ll be enrolled in an internationally accredited and high-quality TEFL course, which will open you up to paid English teaching jobs all over the world – and with lifetime job search guidance plus an array of other valuable resources for students and alumni, ITA’s community is here to support you long after you’ve completed your TEFL training.

International TEFL Academy’s 170-hour online course is a great way to earn TEFL certification before traveling abroad. This experience includes 150 hours of online lessons plus 20 hours of live teaching practice with ESL learners over 11 weeks, with about 10 to 12 hours of training per week. You can also choose specific tracks to focus on, including Young Learner and Business English, depending on the type of English teaching placement you’d like to pursue abroad later. Once you’ve completed this class, you will be qualified to become a full-time, paid English teacher abroad – learn more here!

Want to travel while earning your TEFL certification? Check out ITA’s four-week, full-time course in Costa Rica, where you will learn to teach English in Central America and beyond. Through this program, you’ll travel to the historic town of Heredia, Costa Rica and take classes each weekday from 8:30am to 5:30pm. This class covers:

  1. Basic principles of teaching
  2. Grammar
  3. Classroom management
  4. Error correction
  5. Lesson planning
  6. Use of visual and audio aids
  7. Teaching group classes: beginner, pre-intermediate, intermediate, advanced
  8. Conversational English
  9. Teaching grammar, reading, writing, listening, speaking, pronunciation
  10. Language awareness
  11. Private tutoring
  12. Teaching business English

You also will have the chance to practice live teaching with local ESL students. During your stay in Heredia, you’ll have the chance to take a coffee tour, visit the Barva Volcano or La Paz Waterfall Gardens, relax on Jaco Beach, and much more. Learn more here!


Over the past 20 years, i-to-i TEFL has trained and supported more than 155,000 teachers in TEFL. Through courses, internships, and job placements to teach English abroad, i-to-i offers a comprehensive package for travelers wishing to teach and explore the world. All of i-to-i’s TEFL internships include a stipend, end-of-contract bonus, and room and board. For those who complete TEFL training, i-to-i offers a job board for travelers who’d like to live and work abroad.

Right now, i-to-i has a new opportunity to learn to teach business English to adult learners. With this program, businessmen and women from all over the world can gain the skills they need to communicate in English with customers, vendors, and other workers. English has become a primary business language worldwide, and with reliance on large-scale businesses for the market, many business English opportunities are found in strong economies such as China and South Korea. i-to-i’s Teaching Business English TEFL Certificate covers the following topics as well as many others: business English needs analysis, open questions in a business situation, vocabulary, intonation, cross-cultural communication, and language for specific contexts. The course costs $40, and you will have the opportunity to teach Business English around the world after completion.

Once you’ve become certified to teach English abroad, check out i-to-i’s job board, which helps you narrow down the perfect opportunity for your skills and interests, so you can continue working abroad. A few popular programs include teaching English in China, South Korea, and the Philippines. You also may want to try out i-to-i’s TEFL Internships abroad such as their paid teaching program in Vietnam, where you’ll earn a stipend, end-of-contract bonus, and room and board.

For more information about i-to-i, please visit http://i-to-i.com/.


teach English overseas

Paid work abroad programs are a great way to visit new countries and experience life overseas. There are lots of programs available, which is good news but can make the research process time-consuming. Streamline your search for the right J-1 visa, teaching, au pair, overseas work, or travel program by using Abroadly, a booking platform created by Volunteer Forever.

All programs and organizations listed on Abroadly have been vetted for safety, quality, and ethical commitment. Once you find a project you like, apply. If you don’t get accepted, you’ll get all the application fee back.

Applying through Abroadly also gives you the chance to win a $500 scholarship and free use of Volunteer Forever’s crowdfunding platform (which can help fund your journey!). Begin your search for paid work abroad today!

Paid English Teaching TEFL/TESOL Internship in Thailand

Run by Camp Thailand, this program, which is accredited under the Thai Ministry of Education, guarantees you a paid teaching position for three, five, or 12 months (or even longer if you wish). You can choose from teaching opportunities in Bangkok, Phuket, or Buriram after orientation and interview week. During your stay, you’ll earn money as you get to immerse yourself in the local culture and have fun living in Thailand.

To qualify, you must get your TEFL/TESOL certification at home or online before arrival. You must be a native English speaker with at least a bachelor’s degree (any subject). If you’re a non-native speaker, you must be fluent in English with at least a bachelor’s degree (any subject). The orientation and interview period costs $495 for one week, but once completed, you’ll have a paid teaching position with a salary of at least 25,000-30,000 Thai Baht per month. Interested? Apply here!

TEFL Certification and Paid English Teaching in Thailand

Head to Phuket, Buriram, or Bangkok with Camp Thailand, and gain your TEFL/TESOL certification online or at location. Accredited by the Thailand Ministry of Education, you’ll get a paid teaching position at a local school once you completed the TEFL course and orientation. Work assignments last three, five, or 12 months, or even longer if you want to stay and continue to teach.

You must be a native English speaker or be fluent in English if you aren’t a native speaker. You also must have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree (any subject is fine). The TEFL course, program orientation, and interview process cost $1,495 altogether. Once completed, you’ll have a teaching position that pays at least 25,000-30,000 Thai Baht per month. Sound like the overseas job for you? Apply here!


paid teaching positions abroad with GeoVisions

Founded in 2001, Geovisions helps travelers develop global skills that will help them to succeed by leading to greater cooperation and understanding among nations. The organization ensures that every participant is treated with respect, and they devote their energies to help their travelers and hosts meet their collective and individual goals. Geovisions offers a variety of paid teaching abroad opportunities. Whether you’re a recent graduate trying to find a job, a teacher on sabbatical, or just someone who’s interested in teaching overseas, they will help find the right fit for you.

This summer, Geovisions is looking for someone that would like to teach in Thailand for two months, with a promise of being back to your home country before the next school year begins. You can spend either June and July or July and August enhancing your teaching experience by working abraod in Thailand for your summer vacation. Geovisions’ Thailand program began in 2006, and since then the organization has sent more than 2,000 teachers to participate. There also are a limited number of programs for teachers in the United States, Canada, or the UK who only have the summer to spend teaching. However, if you can arrive in May or October, Geovisions will find an opportunity for you to teach an entire semester abroad.

A few of the other countries that offer paid teaching programs are China, Myanmar, South Korea, and Vietnam. Through all of these experiences, you will be able to not only enrich the lives of your students, but if you are a current teacher in your home country, you can bring what you learn back to your students and give them a more cultural education as you share your experience.

Each program is a little different, with varying costs as well. The Myanmar program lasts one year and costs $1,999 if you do not take Geovisions’ TESOL course, or $2,429 when you take the TESOL course while in Myanmar. The average salary range for any starting teacher with Geovisions is $800 to $1,200, but if you are extremely qualified then you can earn up to $1,800 per month. Everyone starts out earning $800 for the first two months, but that number will increase depending on your ability and credentials. While working abroad, your host schools also will help find the most comfortable accommodations for you, and along with your salary, there are many generous benefits.

If you are interested in learning more, please visit http://geovisions.org/.

What Volunteers Say

Geovisions does an excellent job with constant support!


Center for International Career Development (CICD)

J-1 visa to work in the USA

The Center for International Career Development is headquartered in Seattle, WA and has been providing a wide variety of paid travel opportunities since 1997. CICD’s mission is to promote the exchange of culture, ideas, and relevant experience worldwide through quality training, internship, work-abroad, and volunteer programs for qualified and diverse international interns, trainees, work and travel students, volunteers, and great host companies.

CICD has multiple opportunities for J-1 Visa programs for students to come to the United States, including a 12-month program for those students from Australia and New Zealand. Students can build their resumes, make many new friends, share their own culture, gain work experience, learn more about the United States, and earn money to help finance their trip. At the conclusion of this program, you’ll be able to spend 30 days exploring the United States at your own pace.

CICD’s J-1 work and travel sponsorship includes the following: home country interview, orientation, support, useful program and cultural information, J-1 Visa application tips, monitoring and support of your program from start to end, coordination of your work and travel program health insurance, 24-hour emergency phone number and support, and the DS-2019 form required to apply for your J-1 Work and Travel Visa. Participants are paid a salary commensurate with those offered to their American counterparts, and compensation varies depending on the employer and job type.

If you would like more information, check out CICD’s website at http://www.cicdgo.com/work-and-travel-usa/.

American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS)

The American Institute for Foreign Study (Australia) has multiple paid travel opportunities, including au pair placements in the U.S. and Australia, plus work and travel programs in Australia. Since 1999, AFIS has provided high-quality educational and cultural exchange programs that enrich the lives of people throughout the world, provide excellent support for their participants, and promote employee initiative and professional development. AIFS encourages travelers to embrace new cultures and understand cross-cultural similarities while respecting differences.

One such opportunity to enrich yourself while traveling is to become an au pair in Australia. Being an au pair is a wonderful experience not only for you, but also for the Australian family that gets to learn about your culture while you’ll help care for the family and the household. Your responsibilities as an au pair can include caring for children (dressing, playing, bathing, and so on), preparing meals, looking after the children’s belongings, making beds, doing laundry, straightening rooms, cleaning up the kitchen after the children’s meals, and driving them to and from school, appointments, or outings. AIFS trains all of their employees so you can find the best fit for your skills and interests, and for the family you’ll be working with.

AIFS also offers a program for travelers all over the world to stay with a host family in the United States, caring for their children and getting to live the American life for a 12-month placement. All au pairs are given a four-day orientation where you are told the basics of living in the U.S. plus training for your placement. While in America, au pairs are given $500 toward studying at a local college while you’re working – you’ll also have many opportunities to travel during your placement. During your stay, you’ll receive visa sponsorship, 12 months’ insurance, meals and accommodation, weekly spending money, two weeks’ vacation, regular social events with other au pairs in your area, three hours’ study per week in which you get to pick the course, one month of traveling after you complete your placement, six- to 12-month extension option at no charge, and lots more.

If you’d like to become an au pair in the U.S. or Australia, visit http://www.aifs.com.au/.


Since 1991, Visitoz has been training and preparing young men and women to work in rural Australia. Travelers are paid for their work, which is guaranteed for all who complete Visitoz’s five-day training session. With nearly 2,000 employees, the connections are amazing: opportunities range from small family farms to million-acre homes, and tasks cover anything that supports farmers and their families – such as working with horses, beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats, tractors and machinery, maintenance, gardening, inside-outside work, cooking, teaching and tutoring, child care, and a range of hospitality jobs. While working with Visitoz, you will be sure to get a unique experience: working conditions are often tough, hot, dry, and dusty, and all of their employers are fair, but expect you to be hardworking.

Right now, Visitoz has four different work abroad options for you to choose from. The first option is a 365-day package, including help with travel arrangements, insurance packages, and visa applications; nine days of training where you’ll receive an introduction to the program; all meals; shopping for work clothes and small items at the Springbrook shop; an Aussie Allrounder hat; a Visitoz water bottle and t-shirt; and many other items for a total of $2,399.

The next three options include a 90-day package with booking form within Australia for $1,299, a special offer for a last-minute promotional price, and a special offer for a “train now pay later” opportunity. These three options include a five-day integration program, an Aussie hat, Visitoz water bottle and t-shirt, help and advice throughout your stay, and several other items. All options offer a basic wage for working abroad participants.

For more information and to sign up, visit http://www.visitoz.org/.

International TEFL Academy

International TEFL Academy invites travelers to take TEFL classes and teach English in over 80 countries around the world. With a growing demand for English speakers in schools and workplaces, hundreds of millions of students worldwide take English language courses every year – this also means that there’s a higher demand for English instructors. By getting a TEFL or TESOL certification, you can be qualified to teach English professionally in thousands of schools and language institutes.

Based in Chicago, the International TEFL Academy trains more than 3,500 new teachers annually. With a belief that everyone should be able to teach abroad and live in another country for a period of time, the organization has a state-of-the-art curriculum for their online certification program along with their 25 locations throughout the world. Classes run from 9am to 6pm, five days per week, with 10 to 12 students per class. You must complete a minimum of 100 hours of academic coursework along with at least six hours of observed student teaching, most of which is completed in the evenings.

In North America, there are certification courses located in Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, New York City, and Seattle. Along with those locations, the International TEFL Academy has courses in Europe, Central and South America, and in Asia.

Once the certification is completed, you will be able to teach English anywhere in the world. The teaching opportunities vary widely in that you can teach young learners or adults, whichever suits you the best. Although it is helpful and will open up new opportunities, a college degree is not a requirement to become TEFL certified.

Learn more and get started at http://www.internationalteflacademy.com/.

ALT Center Russia

ALT Center Russia has sent about 200 students and young professionals abroad each year since 2005, and in 2012 became the first program in Russia to launch a high-standard language homestay placement in 2012. Through this program, working abroad is possible for travelers from the US, UK, and Europe can experience Russian life and culture while teaching languages to local families and language schools. ALT currently offers three programs: Language Homestay, Culture Homestay, and Teach English in Russia.

With the Teach English in Russia program, you’ll travel on a budget, learn about Russian culture, experience life with a host family, and gain experience as a tutor. You can choose between being a teacher or a teacher’s assistant – if you come as a teacher, be prepared to create a plan and bring teaching materials. The lessons generally need to be conversational, but you should be sure to include grammar as well. To be a teacher’s assistant, however, you will learn how to work with the existing teacher’s program and your duties may include helping with activities at the school, organizing the debate team, and helping with students’ work.

If you are young, active, a recent college graduate, sociable and open-minded, and have no teaching experience, than being a teacher’s assistant is for you. On the other side, if you have teaching experience, a bachelor’s degree in this field or TEFL certification, and are a native speaker who can plan a lesson and knows how to lead and communicate to a group of students, than being a teacher is for you!

To learn more about this program and others, please visit http://alt-center.ru.

Global Vision International

teach English in Thailand with GVI

Right now, Global Vision International (GVI) is offering you a wonderful opportunity to teach in Thailand. Once you complete GVI’s comprehensive orientation weekend or its 120-hour TEFL course, you can embark on this life-changing experience. In Thailand, teachers are extremely well-respected because it is a necessity for children to learn English. By learning English, these children can secure a good education and future job, and you can play a part of their achieving that success. Through this program, you not only get a wonderful cultural experience, but you also can save money for future traveling endeavors. You will earn between 25,000 to 35,000 Baht (approximately $700 to $1000 USD) per month.

The program itself costs $1,000 but includes the following: comprehensive pre-departure support, airport pickup for orientation and training in Chiang Mai, placement matching service, shared accommodation, welcome dinner, deals during orientation weekend, assistance with paperwork, local SIM with Thai phone number, GVI t-shirt, and several other accommodations.

If you’re wondering how to work abroad, this is a good program to look into. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a recent graduate, on a gap year, taking a break in your education, or simply looking to have a one-of-a-kind experience abroad: this is an amazing opportunity that will stand out on your resume. You’ll gain greater independence, leadership skills, and responsibility, and have the opportunity to meet and work with people from all over the world.

To learn more about this program, please visit http://www.gviusa.com/paid-teaching/paid-teaching-in-thailand/.

What Volunteers Say

I have volunteered twice with GVI and in both cases the experiences are still very much with me. I had a fantastic time, got to meet some amazing people and see some really beautiful parts of the world. I felt entirely safe and looked after, right up from the moment that I booked to the point where GVI put me (sadly) on the plane to come back to the UK. I would recommend GVI as a voluntary organisation to anyone and everyone – just make sure you don’t book for too short a while because once you get out there you won’t want to come back.


International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT)

take a TEFL course and teach English abroad

Since 1993, International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT) has been one of the world’s leading TEFL and TESOL course providers. ITTT offers high-quality training through an online coursein-class courses in 27 different countries, and a combined course, with more than 100,000 graduates to date. With worldwide accreditation, ITTT offers lifetime job support for all students who successfully complete their programs, including job leads, employer databases, CV and resume review, and much more. Online courses start at $249, in-class courses start from $1,490 for four weeks, and combined courses start from $1,195.

ITTT’s internationally accredited online TEFL courses open up opportunities for working in another country. Plus, they’re open to students of all learning styles, allowing you to earn TEFL certification from home, at your own pace, and with or without tutor support. Courses range from 60-hour introductory programs, to 50-hour specialized ones, to 250-hour TESOL diploma classes. If you’d rather earn your TEFL or TESOL certification abroad, check out ITTT’s in-class courses, which take place in more than 25 different locations across Australia, Greece, India, Japan, and beyond. These four-week classes provide an intensive and immersive experience, and are an excellent gateway to finding a job teaching English in the country of your choice. For example, ITTT’s TEFL training center in Sydney is a wonderful option for you to gain experience teaching in Australia, and then go on to teach in Asia (or anywhere else in the world).

And finally, if you want to combine online training with an in-class experience, ITTT offers that option as well: you’ll start with a 120-hour online education program, followed by one to two weeks of onsite training. For the online segment, you’ll learn about language awareness, teaching theory, and general methodology, and after that, you can take a 5-day in-classroom course in one of more than a dozen locations in the US or Canada, or an 8- to 10-day program in Spain, Thailand, Italy, France, or the US. You’ll receive full TEFL certification after successfully completing both portions of ITTT’s combined course.

If you’re inspired to travel abroad and build your skill sets, there are plenty of amazing opportunities to choose from, and lots of high-quality organizations that will help you find the right program and earn some income.

Want to know more about building your resume while traveling? Check out these articles:

Teach English Overseas, TEFL Certification, and Paid Teach Abroad Programs

Summer Volunteer Work Abroad Programs & Opportunities

4 Reasons Why You Should Intern Abroad After Graduation

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