Are You Too Old To Teach Overseas?
..Experience is a valuable tool and the wisdom one gains can often be shared with others. So what happens to experienced people in the international world as they age? Is the wise one valued? Considered desirable? Or, is upkeep too expensive? This Gray One set out to get some answers and I'll share them with you, country-by-country, in the chart below.

..In response to my request for information, which I published in various ISR newsletters, I received a some responses from teachers in Europe and the Americas. By far the greatest response was from the Middle East and Asia where there are age policies “clearly” in place. From the information I received, I came to understand that in some countries, age policies are flexible, while in others, there is very little “wiggle room” on the issue. Apparently, many areas have no formal age restrictions since there were few reports. by The Gray One

Work VISA Vs. AGE
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Note: We've dated the most recent entries to make them easily identifiable
All information in the following table was submitted by ISR readers based on their experiencec
Country
School / Industry
Age Limit
Comments
       
Australia      
New Zealand    
Africa      
Egypt, Cairo  
No apparent limits?
Man teaching until age 77 in math, computer, ESL areas. Another teacher reports being hired at 70
Ghana, Tema Hermann Gmeiner Int'l College
60 mandatory
Almost positive not eligible after 60
Kenya  
(6/18//2011) The situation here depends a bit on who you are and who you know
Morocco Al Akhawayn University (3/27//2012)
Nigeria, Lagos  
60-65
Depends on the school. One reported no work permit after 60
Tanzania  
Uganda  
No age limit
We had two teachers nearly 70
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Asia  
 
Bangladesh, Dhaka AISD
No age limits
 
Brunei CfBT
(12/10/2012) You must enter country at 54 years and 6 months but you may remain working until at least 60.
Bhutan Kuendrup Higher Secondary School, Gelephu  
(10/20/2012) I am 62+ presently working in Privately managed HSS in Bhutan. I have worked in an ICSE school as Vice Principal for 3 years.
Cambodia   
65
(2/12/2012) I'm nearly 65 and was offered every job I applied for
China See Peoples Republic of China
Hong Kong     (2/24/2014)Some universities (U of Hong Kong, Chinese U) have retirement age of 60. Others have retirement age of 65, eg., City U of Hong Kong, Shue Yan College. Lots of part-time work available if you're already a permanent resident.
  Canadian Int'l School
60
Can stay longer but w/ loss of benefits. Cannot register after 70. Must be "permitted" after 60-HK Ed & Manpower Bureau
  Government work
60
India Nursing Educator, In Service Education Dept, Sagar Hospitals, Bangalore (7/3/2011) Currently I am 67 yrears old and working in India.
Indonesia Jakarta Int'l School

60, but not legal requirement

Can be issued. Employer must write letter w/ facts why your skills are desired. Can finish school year
  Australian International Schools
I taught at this school and had to retire at the end of the year I turned 60".
Japan  
  Canadian Academy, Kobe
65
Changed, by contract was 70
  Seisen Int'l School, Tokyo
School's discretion after 60
  St. Mary's Int'l School, Tokyo
At age 60 benefits are lost -

(1/4/2013) No visa age limits, but school will no longer renew contract past 65th birthday. I am having this experience this very year.
  Private universities
Preference is under 40
  Public universities
35, usually
Due to pay scales
       
Malaysia  
60
Do not like over age 50 (60) unless school wants to keep you
Pakistan
 
Over 60
Teacher reports many on staff in Islamabad are over 60 & some hired at over 60
Peoples Rep. of China  
  Hua Zhong  
(1/29/2014) I'm 62 teaching in China. If you're over 60 you can get a 'Certificate of Expertise", usually through a university that's associated with the school. It basically means 'only you can do the job'. They even give you a passport-looking Certificate of Expertise. As this is the first year I've done this, I don't know about the renewal process, but seeing how things work here, I assume one could be 'grandfathered' on.
      (11/06/2013) I was 65 when hired by a university in China. There are people here in their 70s.
  United International College  
(8/016/2013) I'm 62 and just received another foreign expert certificate. I've been here since 59. Age limit was 60 when I arrived. If they like you & you do well at the job it can be extended. I was told I can stay until 65. I told them I need to be here until 66 in order to collect Social Security back in the US.
   
60 - 65
(7/26/2013) Special Economic Zones generally allow 65-year-olds, while a majority of other city governments limit the age at 60.
  Anhui University of Finance & Economics
Limit is 70
(5/7/2013) I didn't even come to China to teach until age 63.
 
Dulwich College
Limit is 65
(4/14/2013) A number of staff moved on at 65, the upper limit for visa issue to teach at an IS. I met a teacher with expert status who was able to negotiate a couple of extra years to 67 but she seems to be the exception and that in Shanghai the limit is 65.
   
55/men 60/women
(2/15/2013) 2013: lowered age limit for work visas to 55 for women & 60 for men. Business visa will now be issued once with a restriction of renewing only twice. It will be good for 3 months instead of 6 months.
  Taizhou Teacher's College Jiangsu / Nanjing Normal University.
69
(10/30/2012)There have been teachers here up to 69 years of age and I suspect once here if you are good they will keep you beyond this age.
  Fooyin University, Kaohsiung
65 - 70
(10/9/2011) Mandatory age 65 retirement for university professors, but special year-by-year permission at lower status/ pay may sometimes be possible until 70
  Beijing School
60
No to 60 year-old but new law says 70 age max.
  Dipont International School
I've heard rumors
60 is a limit.
(6/30/2011) I was hired at age 55 and turned 56 while in China. No mention was made of any age problems.
  Singapore American School
60, unofficial
No to 60 year-old. New law says 70 age max.
Poland     (11/06/2013) I got hired to teach at an international school 63 (turned 64 a week later)
South Korea  
Sri Lanka  
No interviews after 60
Taiwan Kaohsiung American School
Teacher reports being hired at 64
  American school in Taichung   (8/28/2011) Does not seem to be any age limit. I will be 67 in 2012. I was hirred at 62
  PAS and HIS
(6/17/2011) I was hired by both schools at 58 & continue to teach over age 60. I'm the oldest teacher, the other school had several teachers around/well over 60
  Taipei American School
(6/17/2011) Age doesn't seem to be a factor. Person reported being hired at 64
Thailand NISF
55
Need not apply after 55
  Thai Chinese School, Bangkok
60
No interviews after 60. Max. 55 yrs unless already there is the reality
  Ruamrudee Int'l School
60 / 62 reported
Can stay longer, but lose benefits & up to 75% pay
Uzbekistan   (6/21/2011)
Vietnam RMIT Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam doesn't have upper age limit for work visas. "I got a job at age 63"
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Europe  
 
Czech Republic  
Employs over-60s. We have a 68 yr-old on staff.
England, London   Many teachers reported schools not interested once 55-60
Hungary International School Budapest
Teacher reports that many on staff are over 60. One near 70
Morocco Al Akhawayn University
60
 
Netherlands   Low age cut-off due to social services
 
American School of the Hague
(6/17/2011) This school has a visa age limit of 65 and a mandatory retirement of age 65
Portugal  
60
CAISL employed a 65 year-old
Russia   Teacher reports being hired in Moscow at 63. Her director says no age limit.
     
(3/7/2014) I went to Moscow privately at age 71 (but younger appearance and fairly fit) and found private job teaching young child and then worked for language schools who arranged visa quite easily up till 74 with no visa problems and could have worked longer.
Turkey  
65
65 is retirement age - in 2009 rumor has it the age will be increased. No change yet. Private schools in Turkey seem to employ teachers well over 60
   
55
(3/13/2013) I have had several offers from Turkey and each time they ask my age, I'm told that 55 is the limit.
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Middle East  
 
Bahrain  
60
 
Kuwait  
60, by law
Can continue if already employed at 60 at schools' discretion. 61 year-old hired because headmaster wanted person
  UAS
Man hired at 61. Director said "I hire who I want." WASTA
Lebanon  
Currently no limits in place
Oman  

(4/14/2012) 60+ reported

  Hawthorn Center
55

(4/5/2014) 55
Qatar American School of Doha
60
Policy, but currently ok at 60 due to shortage
Saudi Arabia  

60 click for more info

  Aramco
59?
Will not offer a contract if you would turn 60 during it. One person hired at 60+ by special arrangements w/ gov't, highly skilled in sciences include research, hs, & univ teacher
United Arab Emirates  
Government mandatory cut-off age is 55+ - a problem usually. After 60 annual work visa is expensive.
  Abu Dhabi Education Council
65/60
The age limit was raised to 65 but as of March 2014 has been changed back to 60.
  a Dubai school
60
Unless school wants to keep you
a
North America  
 
Mexico  
None
Candidates 64 and over have problems w/ medical insurance, according to American School Foundation
United States    
A
Pacific Islands  
 
Marshall Islands Kwajalein
No age problems reported here
Philippines Int'l School of Manila
60
Forced retirement at 60, but can finish the school year
A
South America
 
 
Colombia  
Hires 60+
 
Ecuador  
(6/17/2011) No limits
Peru Colegio Franklin D. Roosevelt
(6/26/2011) 65
 
Uruguay  
No age problems reported
     

Brunei:
(12/10//2012)You must enter the country at 54 years and 6 months but you may remain working until at least 60. Over 60 is possible on a case by case basis. CfBT, which is the largest employer of ex-pat teachers in Brunei, can only accept Primary teachers younger than 52 and secondary up to 54 and 6 months. This is a Department of Labour NOT a Ministry of Education requirement.

..Kenya
(6/18//2011) State teachers retire at 55 . Beyond that date work permits get more difficult .However I have 3 former colleagues each with 30++ years teaching experience in Kenya working in the same international school . 2 are still teaching at 70+ , although one took out Kenyan nationality to get round the work permit problem ( not such a problem since Kenya has allowed dual nationality since August 2010 ) .The youngest of the trio ( 60s ) got forced into semi-retirement because he couldn't get Kenyan citizenship in time to beat the work permit problem . Now work out the logic in that, if you can !( Unless the 2 oldies were taken sympathy on , or maybe had former students in the right office ??? )

..Morocco
(3/27//2012)
I was short-listed for two jobs here. When Al Akhawayn offered a position, I accepted. Then the second, a well-known language center, contacted me to set up an interview. In their note they asked if I would clarify my age, "since we cannot hire foreign nationals over the age of 60." I had a friend check on the rules in Morocco, and over 60 is right, but there are exceptions granted to those in high-level professions, such as professors in universities. Hence, the university's ability to get a special dispensation. However, the university cannot hire if you are over 65 and they cannot insure you if you are over 70.

..Tanzania
(2/12//2012) I was asked and told at the job fair last January that if one is 60 then you may not be hired in Tanzania. One of the first things I was asked by the previous principle was, "Are you 60?" Now that I think about that one, it was very discriminatory- as well I do not look like I am 60, I am 54!

New Zealand
It's not just International schools who discriminate on the basis of age. After 6 years on the International circuit I returned to New Zealand, aged 57. Twenty three applications and only three interviews later I am back working in Europe. Yes, schools in the Far East were reluctant to employ me but I was surprised that as a counselor with 22 years experience, plus ten years as a teacher, I could not even get past square 1 at home - I do know my competition back home and those obtaining the positions did not have my experience or qualifications. The only thing they did have was a younger age score. Most of the positions advertised for a counselor to work with International students, and with 5 university qualifications and the experience I believed I would at least get to the interview stage. So it's not just International schools who don't like gray hair!

China
(4/1/2004)I am an Australian primary teacher with 38 years' experience. At the age of 62 I applied to several schools and agencies in mid-2013 to teach in various cities in China, but I was mostly interested in the Guangdong province at that time. I got the same response from most of the places where I applied - they would love to employ me but the age limit was 60. Finally I got a job working in Zhengzhou. I came here initially on a 3 month business visa and appropriate paperwork, then went to Hong Kong and got my z-visa for 12 months. My school is confident they can renew that for another year at least.

(2/26/13)
Yesterday I just found out that if one holds an expert certificate (some esl teachers) that they are ok to age 62. Still much lower than before, but worth a note.

(2/18/13) I recently finished a year in China. I am 71 and there is restrictions on age in China.Men must retire at 60 unless you are in the government and women 50-55. Now I lucked out and taught for a year on a business visa.It was provided by the school. That is rare though. At 69 I taught on a foreign expert visa. I see all the age limits and I think what a waste. The young go without degrees and party all the time. Sometime life is just not fair.

(6/6/09) The latest update on age and work visas for expat teachers is as follows (verbatim): "By Chinese regulations, local national man should retires at age of 60 no matter it is for educated man or not educated man. Woman retires at 50 if she is not educated (no BA degree) and educated woman retires at 55. For foreign experts, the age limit is 60 to 62 for teachers and 62 to 65 for senior managers."

In 2005 I was hired by a college in North Eastern China on a year's contract to teach ESL. I was 65 at the time. A similar school near to the one I taught at had several "senior" teachers, including a husband and wife team, over 70. I was never aware of any official age limit in China; hiring policy simply appeared to be at the discretion of each school's hiring bodies! (Another teacher reports "age limits apply only to Chinese and not to expat experts/professionals. This concurs with info from Chinese embassies as well..."

In China, Z visas are no longer issued to teachers 65 years or older. Some teachers get around this by applying for an F visa, but strictly speaking, it is illegal to teach with an F visa. F visas are also expensive and very inconvenient to get, so I don't know why anyone would even bother with this kind of visa.

I am 64 and worked as a subject teacher in China. I was told by the Chinese Consulate in Chicago that Z visas aren't being issued to people over 60. This confirms what I have heard from friends and potential employers. Several schools wanted to hire me but said they couldn't for that reason. I can get an F (business) visa but it's illegal to teach on that. I think the only way around it is to pay a bribe. But I think that's much more difficult now.

I am 60 years of age, in excellent health, have a wealth of teaching experience with continuing high motivation and was recently in touch with an International School in China. My response from the Principal is as follows: "Presently I am in discussions with the foreign expert's bureau in Shanghai with regard to the maximum permissible age for initial employment in China. The ruling is that no work permits are given to those 60+ unless there are extenuating circumstances." Even with a 'rich reservoir of experience' the age of 60 appears to be the cut-off point. I am unsure what the 'extenuating circumstances' could be.

(6/18/2011) The situation varies from city to city and between state and private schools . State school teachers retire at 60 ( in most places ) and teaching in a state school you would expect the same .Private schools can get work permits for a few years more , particularly for senior teachers. In Special Economic Zones ( eg. Shanghai ) the work permit rules are different again and there shouldn't be any problem going on to 65 if both you and the school want you to .

(9/5/2011) Although I am not a teacher, but electronic engineer, I got Z-visum with 63 years last year. (2010) This year, the 60 years retirement law was applied to me for not obtaining the Z-visum again. The z-visum is the official visum allowing to work in china, connected to a temporary residence permit.

(10/1/2011) The 60 age limit in China is an advisory, not a law or regulation. Some provinces follow it, some don't. I know 2 teachers over 65 here.

(7/9/2012) Over 60 is difficult for large towns or cities. However, teachers are most needed in out of the way regions and places like Inner Mongolia and so have no age limits.

(9/6/2012) I have worked in China from age 66 to 69. This year my school was not able to get me another Z visa as the new retirement age for foreign teachers has been set at 70. i understand that Kazhkstan has not age limitations.

(2/1/2013) I taught for a year (2011-2012) in Chengdu,China,age 70-71 on a business visa. Before that I taught in Yuyao China (2010) at age 69 with a foreign expert certificate. I think it is who the owner knows.


India

(4/1/2014) I was hired to teach at the American International School of Chennai when I was 67. Before going, and Indian friend told me that I was past the mandatory retirement age and that all of her teaching relatives in India had had to retire. I contacted the school, but they weren't worried. I taught there for two years, leaving at age 69 1/2.

Currently I am 67 yrs old. I worked abroad for 33 years with various positions in the field of Mental Health Nursing. Now I am working in India. I am a pure vegetarian, quite hale and health, I am looking for a senior post in the middle east or far east country. Government Age Limit is 58 yrs. Differs between public and private sectors.
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South Korea
I am age 56. I currently teach English conversation in a public high school in Korea. I have heard that retirement is mandatory at age 60. It is assumed that the children will take care of the parents at that age. The reason I came to Korea was that I could not get a teaching job in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was only after being turned down many times and forced to substitute teach that I found out few teachers in Bay Area public schools are over 40. I was told that older teachers with lots of experience have been forced out and Oakland School District has been sued for age discrimination This is not limited to SF. My uncle is a retired principal in IL and he said not to try IL. They don't hire older people.

Official retirement age for public schools is 60. Private schools may allow you to work longer. My school has mandatory retirement at age 62 After school academies can keep you as long as they choose, I've met some foreigners in their 70s. But in this case the pay is low and you only get one or two weeks vacation per year.

In Korea, the official retirement age for university instructors, foreign and domestic is 65. If you'll be 65 during the contracted semester, you will be allowed to finish that semester only (even if on an annual contract) under normal circumstances. The reality, though, is that once you hit fifty, it gets tighter; fifty-five, tight; sixty, much more difficult. On the other hand, I got a special contract (excluding pension, but with monthly retirement payments) for over sixty-five. Such contracts are rare for Koreans and I know of no other foreigner who has gotten one. I think they only occur with already-employed instructors.

Uzbekistan
(6/21/2011) In Uzbekistan age is associated with wisdom. Schools here greatly value Western teachers and actively recruit British 50+ early retirees who they view as valued and experienced pedagogues.

Vietnam
(6/17/2011) I applied to a school in Vietnam which was interested in my qualifications UNTIL I told them my age (60). Then the Director told me that Vietnam has strict age limits for teachers. This contradicts information about this country previously posted.

England
This year (2009), April/May, I applied to teach at lots of summer schools in UK. There are hundreds of jobs and English friends tell me schools go into pubs to find anyone who's a native speaker! No offers - ageism clearly operating.

Netherlands
(6/17/2011) I got my first international school job in the Netherlands at aged 50 because I had a "Sarah" party soon after I arrived. Could have stayed as long as I liked - but I didnt like. Lots on our staff in their 50's and early 60's. The retirement age is 65

Russia
No limit. People here age 70+

Oman

(4/5/2014) I attended an international convention recently in the United States. A recruiter at the convention, who was from Muscat and an employee of the Hawthorn Center (billed as "Oman's largest EFL recruiter" at its web site) told me, "The Ministry of Education" has a law that prohibits a foreign worker over 55 being issued a visa. This statement was made after the recruiter reviewed my application for employment with Hawthorn. The application requested the applicant's date of birth.

(4/14/2012)
I am at present teaching EFL at a university in Oman and was employed a few months ago at age 63. These is an age limit of 60 according to regulation, but they can't get enough young teachers to teach, so the Ministry of Education has become quite flexible regarding age.

Saudi Arabia
I am currently finishing my 2nd year at ISG Saudi Arabia. There are 4 of us who are 62 plus, two are over 65. Once you reach 65, you will only be issued a one-year contract. Up to age 64, you can sign a one-, two- or three-year contract. At age 65, the principal must request dispensation for you from the Superintendent. As a general rule, it is approved. The school must tell the Minister of Education in Saudi Arabia that your job is critical to the school.

(6/18/2011) I was hired at the age of 65 to teach preparatory English at a private university.

(6/17/2011) I understand that they will even extend the age limit for some positions. We have oil industry guys who are definitely over 65, but for teachers?

United Arab Emirates
(8/26/2011) The Labour Court in The United Arab Emirates has changed enormously in the last 2 years. They changed the age limit to 65 at least 1 year ago but then some of the private schools decided to lower their age to 55. Previously they quoted the Labour Court as the source who would not take employees over 60 then when they raised it they responded by lowering their age limit.

If a school wants a particular person in the middle east then they do have influence to hire staff who are over 60. I have been employed in several locations, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Kuwait and I was 58 years iof age when I started here. The Abu Dhabi and their providers last year employed hundreds of teachers who were over 60 years of age and now that the providers have just about gone they are still employing those that fit their needs. They do not have to comply with the Labour Law as they are a government department in their own right.

(10/1/2011) I interviewed for a job in one of the Emirates. I was told(whispered in my ear) that the Emir doesn't like people working there that are older than 55. This is because he did not want people becoming seriously ill and becoming a burden on the national health program.

United States
I am experiencing many of the same "age issues" at home in the United States as well. Either my "rich background and teaching portfolio" (perhaps means age and experience which = cost) or simply my age receives comments like, "we just thought another candidate would fit in better with our staff." Does that mean younger? Cheaper? or of a minority ethnicity? My international teaching experience does not seem to be relevant either as the country is more insular than ever.

Also Visit The ISR Overseas & Over-50 Blog / See Dr. Spilchuk's March 2011 Column on this topic
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