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January 24, 2023
17 min read

Step by Step Process to Land a Teaching Job in the United States

Step by Step Process to Land a Teaching Job in the United States
Written By
Simran Agarwal

Simran Agarwal

Simran is a writer here at Suraasa and has formerly worked as a Teacher. She is passionate about learning and making a difference through her words.

If you are thinking about applying for a teaching job in the United States, you are in for a treat! Here is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process of applying for a teaching job in the United States. So, grab your red pen and let's get started!

Step 1: Ensure you meet the necessary qualifications for the listed positions/programmes.

The first step in the process for a teaching job in the United States is to ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements of the J1-cultural exchange visa teacher sponsorship program, which include the following:

  • A degree/diploma in education (E.g., Diploma in Teaching, PgCTL, PGCE, B.Ed., M.Ed, etc.)
  • A teaching licence or certification (In many countries, your teaching degree is a license, but for more info, read here: What is a Teaching License?)
  • Teaching experience (Minimum 2 Years in a school, and experience or recommendation letter might be required)
  • Subject-specific knowledge, preferably a degree/diploma in the subject area you plan to teach
  • Proficiency in English (TOEFL or other exam as prescribed by the sponsor)
  • Valid passport
  • Background check and criminal record

Note some positions may have additional specific requirements. Remember to do your own research and be prepared to meet any such additional requirements for the programme you are applying for. 

Step 2: Gather your documentation to support your eligibility.

Let’s look at some of the most commonly required documents:

  1. Professional Resume: A professional resume is a document that outlines your education, experience, and skills. Do tailor it to the specific teaching position you are applying for, and should highlight your relevant experience and qualifications, as per the keywords mentioned in the job description.

    Pro-tip: Want to improve your chances of getting hired? Keep your Suraasa profile updated and easily download your professional resume tailored for international teaching positions and programmes. Click here to access your Profile.
  2. Transcripts: Transcripts are official records of your academic achievements, including your grades and degree. You will need to provide transcripts from all the educational institutions you have attended, including your undergraduate and graduate programmes.

    Pro-tip: It is also important to ensure that all these documents are in English, or translated by a certified translator, as this is usually a requirement.
    Additionally, you should also verify if the position or programme you are applying for requires certain documents to be notarised or stamped by any other official authorities.
  3. Recommendation letters: Recommendation letters are letters of support written by people who can speak of your work experience, skills, performance, and qualifications as a teacher. These include letters from former supervisors, principals, mentors or colleagues at work. 
  4. Teaching portfolio: A teaching portfolio is a collection of documentation demonstrating your teaching skills and experience. It may include lesson plans, student work, and other examples of your teaching practices.

    Pro-tip:
    If you’re a PgCTL learner, you can directly provide the link to your e-portfolio from your Suraasa dashboard and submit it along with your application.
  5. Teaching Licence: You may need to submit a teaching licence or certification to provide proof of your eligibility. In some countries like India, a license might simply be a copy of your education degree/diploma. While in countries like UK or UAE, you have a specific teaching license awarded to you post-assessment. 
  6. Passport: Your passport will be used to verify your identity and citizenship status. Make sure that your passport is valid and will not expire before you are scheduled to start the teaching position or programme.
  7. Language proficiency test scores: You may need to provide proof of your language skills. This may include test scores from a language proficiency exam, such as the TOEFL or IELTS. Ensure you understand the specific language requirements for the sponsorship programme you are applying for, and take any necessary exams to meet those requirements.
  8. Background checks and clearance documents: This may include a criminal background check and a check of your employment history. You may need to get this from a local police station, embassy, or other authorities. 

    Pro-tip: Ensure the scans of your documents are in colour and are legible.

Step 3: Research Sponsor Programmes and Recruiters

The next step is to research each J1-visa sponsor programme thoroughly. Check if they have job listings with employers in specific states or cities where you want to teach.

Begin by visiting their websites and reading through their FAQs to gain a general understanding of the programmes they offer. Pay attention to the fees associated with each programme and its application process. Make sure to understand what documents are required and the timeline for the application process, from submitting your application to arriving in the US. 

You can also try to reach out to these organisations through email and their support helplines. This can give you insight into their reach and connections within various school districts or states. You can ask any questions you may have about the application process, the timeline, and the requirements. This can help you better prepare for the application process and increase your chances of being accepted into a program.

Step 4: Applying to Multiple Programs and Job Opportunities

After researching and finalising your selection of sponsors, the next step is to apply.  

We recommend applying to multiple programs to increase your chances of being accepted into a program. It is also good to note that there is no cost to apply to these programs, which allows you to apply to multiple programs without incurring additional expenses. 

Once you have submitted your application and any required documents, you may receive an email or notification from the sponsor or host company requesting additional information or documentation. Respond promptly to these emails and ensure that your application is complete.

Be proactive throughout the application process and keep track of the different deadlines, requirements, and next steps for each program or job opportunity you apply to.

Step 5: Appear in the Screening Interview

If your application is successful, you will be invited for a screening interview by the J1-visa sponsor company. The screening interviews generally happen between late January to June. Be on the lookout for any communication from the sponsor or potential employer regarding scheduling an interview.

The interview is typically conducted by the sponsor or host company. In this interview, they will screen you and determine your fit to be sent to different school districts within the company's network.

A good screening interview can greatly increase your chances of being accepted into a program and starting your teaching journey in the United States.

To increase your chances of clearing the screening round, just be yourself. Dress professionally. Be well-researched about your teaching experiences and stories of impact. 

Pro-tip: It is also recommended to complete the Employability Boosting module as part of your PgCTL program and sharpen your interviewing skills with the help of mock interviews.

During the interview, it is important to be well-informed about the sponsor or host company's program and be ready to ask any questions you may have regarding the possible work locations, employer types, and any other detail of the cultural exchange program, such as your fees, insurance, support regarding housing, family visa sponsorship, etc. This will demonstrate your interest and preparedness for the program.

Step 6: Appear for District School Interview

If you clear the screening round, the visa sponsor company will forward your CV to various schools and districts within their network. These schools and districts will decide if they want to invite you for a district interview.

Want to increase your chances of being invited for district interviews? Follow the tip we gave earlier. Apply to more programs and have multiple screening interviews.

The interview will be held virtually, and the interviewer would want to learn more about you, your personality, teaching skills and experience. 

You may be asked a variety of questions about your education, experience, and teaching philosophy, as well as your knowledge of the subject area you will be teaching. Here are some potential questions you might encounter during your interview:

  • Why are you interested in this specific teaching position or programme?
  • What do you think sets you apart from other candidates?
  • What is your teaching philosophy?
  • How do you work with diverse student populations and adapt to different teaching environments?
  • How do you incorporate technology and other resources into your teaching?
  • What are your long-term career goals in education?

During the district interview, ensure you appear professional and be prepared with any questions you may have about the school, district, or teaching position. This can include inquiring about the school's mission, vision, academic programs, extracurricular activities, and support for teachers. It is also a good idea to research the school district and its demographics to be able to answer any questions about diversity, equity and inclusion.

Note that the school may not have full information about the J1 visa sponsorship.  Be sure to be well-prepared for the district interview, as it is an important step in the process of securing a teaching job in the United States.

Step 7: Appearing for a Virtual Demonstration (Optional)

After successfully clearing the district interview, some schools and districts may require you to appear for a virtual demonstration lesson as part of the hiring process.

The demonstration is usually a pre-planned lesson that aligns with the school's curriculum. Be well-prepared for this lesson and its objectives. Make the demonstration engaging and interactive. You may be given a short notice or a few days' notice period before the demo class. 

During the demonstration lesson, the school or district may ask you questions about your teaching methods and how you plan to support student learning. Answer any questions confidently and effectively and demonstrate your ability to create an inclusive and equitable classroom. Take this as an opportunity to showcase your teaching skills and your ability to adapt to the school culture and community.

Step 8: The Offer Letter

The next step is to wait for the offer letter from the school or district. This letter will outline the details of the job offer, including the salary package, school location, and other benefits.

It's important to research the school, neighbourhood, and demographics thoroughly before accepting the job offer. This will help you make an informed decision about whether the school and community align with your preferences and teaching philosophy.

If you are fortunate enough, you may even receive multiple job offers. It's important to carefully compare the salary packages and benefits and choose the best option for you. In some cases, you may even be able to negotiate the terms of the job offer to find the best package for you.

Once you have decided on the best job offer and accepted it, congratulations! You have successfully navigated the process of applying for a teaching job in the United States and are on your way to starting your teaching journey.

Step 9: Confirm Necessary Details with Your Sponsor

After accepting a job offer, the next step is to confirm the details with your sponsor or host company. This includes reviewing the terms of the job offer, the salary package, and any other benefits. It is important to have any questions ready for the sponsor and to get in touch with both the school and the sponsor to ensure that all details are accurate and in order. Go through every step to ensure you have a genuine offer letter.

It's important to verify that the sponsor company is registered with the Department of State and that they are able to provide you with the necessary support, including assistance with obtaining a visa, arranging for housing and transportation, and providing information about cultural exchange programs.

This will help you to be prepared for any challenges you may face and will also help you to avoid any potential scams.

Overall, you should take all the necessary caution and ensure that you have a smooth transition to your new teaching role in the United States.

Step 10: Know Your Finances

Last but not least, managing your finances is an important step in preparing for your teaching journey in the United States. While there will be gains in the medium to long run, there are several startup expenses that you will need to budget for in the short term, including:

  • Fees: These can range from $2,000-$4,000 and may include program fees, visa fees, documentation fees, and insurance fees.
  • First month expenses: These can range from $3000-$4000 and may include the cost of your flight ($1000-$1500), first month's rent ($800), local transportation ($300), and food ($600).

It's important to note that these are just estimates, and your actual expenses may vary depending on your location, the school and district you choose, the type of housing you choose, and your lifestyle.

You may want to start saving a few months in advance to ensure you have enough funds to cover your expenses during the first month in the USA.

Disclaimer: Any resource listed in this section has been gathered via publicly available information. Different companies may have their own placement processes and fees for visas, insurance, program, etc. (to be paid directly to them upon final selection), for which the candidate will be solely responsible and must do their own due diligence. Suraasa will not be responsible or liable for any fees or outcomes.

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Written By
Simran Agarwal

Simran Agarwal

Simran is a writer here at Suraasa and has formerly worked as a Teacher. She is passionate about learning and making a difference through her words.

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