Working abroad

Working abroad
Biochemistry student Arwen Barr worked as a research assistant at Aga Khan University Hospital in Kenya.

By taking a job abroad, you’ll gain incredible work experience you won’t find anywhere else—and experience a new country while you’re at it. 

TIP: Are you a co-op student? We offer many international co-op options!

Before you leave

Secure a work permit

You’ll need a work permit to work outside Canada.

Canada has mobility agreements with various countries to help students secure work permits.

  • You can apply for work permits online—just click on a country to be directed to the foreign consulate in Canada.
  • You can also go through SWAP, which can help you secure a work permit through these mobility agreements.

Working in the USA

To work in the USA, you’ll need a J-1 visa—see our J-1 visa fact sheet (pdf)To apply, contact CDS InternationalSWAP can also provide J-1 authorizations for work terms between May and October.

Working in Australia

To work in Australia, you’ll need an an occupational trainee visa. First, your employer must apply, get approval for sponsoring the visa, and send you the approval number. You'll use this to apply for your Australian visa.

Working in the United Kingdom

To work in the UK, you must apply for a work permit through the Youth Mobility Scheme.

Explore funding options

UVic Global Engagement at UVic provides a variety of funding options to support your international experience. Visit their funding page for details.

Student Awards and Financial Aid can help you look into funding options offered by UVic, including grants, prizes, scholarships and bursaries. They can also point you in the right direction to find external sources of financial aid.

International Student Services offers several funding opportunities, including:

  • Student International Activities Fund
  • One World Scholarships and Pacific Horizons Scholarships
  • Information on other grants is also available

Take an international orientation course

Before you leave, you should complete one of these international orientation courses:

Teach English abroad

Qualifications for teaching English

Qualifications for teaching English

You don’t need a certification to teach English abroad, but having one of the following will give you more options and higher pay.

  • TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) refers to teaching English where English is not regularly spoken, such as in a classroom in Korea or Taiwan.
  • TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) refers to teaching English in an environment where English is spoken outside the classroom, such as teaching English to new immigrants or international students in Canada.
  • TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) refers to teacher training programs for non-native speakers of English. It’s often used as a generic term to include all types of English language classes, including TESL and TEFL.

Where to get certification in Victoria:

  • UVic Linguistics offers an Applied Linguistics Diploma. This one-year program is for students who already have a bachelor's degree and want to specialize in teaching English or another language as a second language.
  • UVic Continuing Studies offers a 120-hour TEFL training course, TEFL for Native Speakers of English.
  • Private companies in Victoria may also offer local TESL training. Search "Victoria TESL/TEFL/TESOL" for alternatives.

Where you can work as an ESL teacher

You can secure an ESL teaching job before you go, or find one once you’re abroad. Both options have benefits and drawbacks. Do your research once you’ve chosen a country.

  • Europe:  Southern Europe, including Spain, Portugal, and Italy, needs qualified ESL instructors. Eastern Europe is also an ESL hotspot, especially in Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. Remember to factor in the cost of living—Europe can be expensive.
  • Asia: Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan are the most popular countries for ESL teachers, and offer the highest salaries (and higher living expenses).  Other in-demand regions are China, Hong Kong, Mongolia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Indonesia. 
  • South and Central America: Growing economies and more disposable income mean more teaching opportunities in South and Central American countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru. However, salaries in general are not high (although living expenses may be much lower!).
  • Africa: Many African countries appreciate volunteer ESL teachers, but paid positions are rare.  As a volunteer, your food and lodging will likely be covered but you’ll need to pay other costs yourself.
  • Middle East: Public institutions and private schools hire ESL teachers in places like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait and Lebanon. They offer higher wages if you have professional credentials.

Application tips for ESL positions

Your résumé for an ESL teaching position should be straightforward, without abbreviations or acronyms. Emphasize your teaching experience, education, knowledge of other languages, international experience and general people skills.

When you email your application to a potential employer, copy and paste your résumé into the message instead of submitting it as an attachment. In an interview, you’ll need to speak clear, standard English (no slang or jargon). You should also dress semiformal, as many countries have stricter dress and behaviour standards than Canada.

More options

Work as an au pair

As an au pair, you can experience a new country and gain practical household and childcare experience. Normally, you’ll live with a family and get free room and board and a small salary in exchange for your services.

The safest way to find an au pair position is to go through a reputable agency. This means that if your host family situation doesn't work out, they’ll help you make other arrangements. You can find many agencies through an online search, or meet with a career educator for advice.

Once you’ve settled on an agency, check its reputation through the Better Business Bureau or the consulate of the country you plan to work in.

Work in Australia after graduation (for engineering students)

UVic engineering graduates may qualify for a unique Australian visa program: the 476 Skilled Recognized Graduate Visa. This visa allows you (and your family) to stay in Australia for up to 18 months. While in Australia, you can travel, work, enrol in further professional studies or study to improve your English skills.

For most applicants, you must be outside Australia when you apply for this visa and when the visa is decided.

Visit the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Security to learn more about the 476 visa.

International job posting sites

All countries

Europe – Eastern, Balkans and Russia

Europe – Northern

Europe – Western

Asia

Asia – Southeast

Africa

Middle East

South America

Oceania