Article – Are You Too Old To Teach Overseas? Michelle @ ISR
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. byThe Gray One
Work VISA Vs. AGE
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 personal experience
(12/7/2015) “Thank you very much for letting us know about your interest in our school. Regretfully, the immigration regulation of Tanzania will not permit educational organisations to recruit new overseas hires above the age of 55.”
(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
65 Updated from
60 on (6/5/2015)
Can stay longer but w/ loss of benefits. Cannot register after 70. Must be “permitted” after 60-HK Ed & Manpower Bureau
Nursing Educator, In Service Education Dept, Sagar Hospitals, Bangalore
(7/3/2011) Currently I am 67 yrears old and working in India.
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″.
(8/4/2014 ) I recently applied to teach at English First. My application was not considered. I was told the government restricted applications to those under 50. I am 57.
(9/21/2015) There used to be ways around this regulation but now it is enforced, and there is no way to get a work permit if you are over 60.
American International School Japan
(6/13/2015) I got an update from ASIJ’s business manager: In Japan most international schools had a mandatory retirement age of 60, but ASIJ changed to 65. Japanese law is shifting & now prohibits mandatory retirement at 60 & is moving in stages to prohibit mandatory retirement at less than 65.
Nagoya International School
(6/13/2015) Based on my recent discussions with 2 headmasters in Japan, the Nagoya International School mandatory retirement is soon changing from 60to 65.
Canadian Academy, Kobe
Changed, by contract was 70
Seisen Int’l School, Tokyo
School’s discretion after 60
St. Mary’s Int’l School, Tokyo
(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. At 60 benefits are lost
Preference is under 40
Due to pay scales
Do not like over age 50 (60) unless school wants to keep you
(1/28/2015) I’m teaching in an international school in Sarawak, Malaysia – employed after turning 60, am now 62 and next year’s contract extension has been approved.
Teacher reports many on staff in Islamabad are over 60 & some hired at over 60
(6/12/2015) Taught here for three years and in Changchun for two. I was over the official age limit from day one. Suddenly, when it came time to renew my visa this time (2015) i was accused. See Dalian Polytechnic University. below. for complete entry.
(6/5/2015) On Tuesday I was offered a Directors job in Beijing. On Thursday the offer was declined due to my age 64.
Guangxi Normal University
(6/1/2015) I worked in Guangxi for more than 4 years aged 61 – 65. (I finished in Jan 2015). In my last 18 months the PSB told me I was too old to renew, and when I pulled strings to get around that (the university liked me), my wife was declined visa renewal. I understand that since Xi Jinping took over, bureaucrats all around China are moving many older teachers out of China.
Beijing National Day School
55 women / 60 men
(7/15/2014) I am 57 & female. School arranged my visa. I know DuPont teachers at the school 64+. Older men are loved & respected while older women are treated opposite…..even if teaching and exam results are better than the men.
(4/20//2014) I was hired in 2013-14 at age 6.The college had to provide a written statement to some office somewhere that the college would accept full financial responsibility should I require medical services.
(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.
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.
(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.
(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
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
No to 60 year-old. New law says 70 age max.
Singapore American School
(8/23/2014) Contract changed to read 65. It’s not a government rule, but a school policy.
Singapore American School
(11/06/2013) I got hired to teach at an international school in Singapore at 63 (turned 64 a week later)
(6/5/2015) I was hired at 68 and assured could stay until 70+. (6/5/2015 ) I was hired when I was 65. No one said anything about my age
Overseas School Colombo
No interviews after 60 – country law
(12/7/2015) “Our retirement age at the school is 55.
at The Overseas School of Colombo”
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
Need not apply after 55
Thai Chinese School, Bangkok
No interviews after 60. Max. 55 yrs unless already there is the reality
Ruamrudee Int’l School
60 / 62
Can stay longer, but lose benefits & up to 75% pay
St Francis Xavier School
(12/5/2014) I am 63, working with teachers my age & older. School uses agencies & hires direct. I’ve done lots of private work, worked with government agency (Navy Nurses college) & with language schools. You get the job they get the visa. Age not a problem for me.
Bunyawat Witthayalai, Lampang
(5/7/2016)I lost my job when I turned 61. I was told it is a rule in all government schools y that no teacher can be employed past the age of 60.
Vietnam doesn’t have upper age limit for work visas. “I got a job at age 63”
(6/17/2011) I applied to a school in Vietnam which was interested in me UNTIL I told them my age (60). The Director told me Vietnam has strict age limits for teachers. This contradicts the previous post
(8/4/2014) The Vietnamese Embassy in London confirmed by email that there is no legislation relating to working age in Vietnam. Age restrictions are up to individual employers. I am not a teacher but a lawyer.
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.
(7/15/2014) No age limits for language schools and private universities. Age limits on K-12 schools if hired legally. Limit is legally said to be 40. In some private schools there are probably no limits for K-12 International Schools for non-Turkish youngsters. Under 60 strongly preferred by many employers.
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
(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.
(1/15/2017) If already in country can teach to age 65 & receive insurance. It’s then up to employer to decide whether or not to keep them on staff.
Man hired at 61. Director said “I hire who I want.” WASTA
NO legal age limit and to discriminate can land an employer in court
No age problems reported here
Int’l School of Manila
Forced retirement at 60, but can finish the school year
(6/17/2011) No limits
Colegio Franklin D. Roosevelt
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 ??? )
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 (6/12/2015)Dalian Polytechnic University: Taught at Dalian Polytechnic University for three years and in Changchun for two. I was over the official age limit from day one. Suddenly, when it came time to renew my visa this time (2015) i was accused of falsifying my data and the visa will not be renewed. I have a perfect employment record. Never sick one day–healthy and happy to be a teacher here. My students voted me best teacher ever three years running. Now–thanks to this silly rule–I’m out. I’ve seen the 25 year old kids come to China to teach. Right. Party every night and chasing Chinese girls. Go for it Chariman Xi–good luck with it (2/12/2015) I have been researching this as I am 63 & have been offered 4 jobs in different provinces for the coming semester. I have taught 6 years in China & have never had a problem until now in my province. Some schools say the limit with the local provincial govt. is 60, some 62, some 65. However one can teach until 70 if there is a great need. It also depeends on if the school is a state run, private or language school.
(9/21/2014) China’s age limit varies from province to province; most provinces set 60 as the maximum age at which one may be issued a Foreign Expert visa, but some go up to 65. I am 62, soon to be 63, and employed full time in Zhejiang province. I was originally to teach in Szechuan, but the provincial authority changed the maximum limit from 65 to 60. An even bigger issue now is that foreigners working in China can work and live here for five years, but then must leave for one year to be granted another work visa. I have been told that this edict may be repealed, but for now it is in place. But that, like everything else here, is the rule until it isn’t. (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 (6/5/2015) We have a friend working in Bangalore who was HIRED at age 71! She is doing great things with elementary kids; her energy seems limitless!
(6/5/2015) 70yrs. old None if labelled a ‘consultant’
(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.
(7/3/2011 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. d 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.
(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.
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
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 (6/29/2016) ADEC or Abu Dhabi Education Council employ a large number of expat English teachers in the Abu Dhabi government schools( EMTs). In the past teachers with good performance appraisals were retained until 64 and more but this year the situation changed without prior advice to employees in the 60+ age group. It is believed that low oil prices internationally have resulted in budget and staff cuts in many government departments and private companies. ADEC is a government agency.The staffing ratio for English teachers changed and there was a surplus, then the over 60s were sent non-renewal of contract letters. I was told it was a decree from the Executive Council. In addition, many new hires, who were offered contracts, have had their offers rescinded and will not be coming to begin the 2016/17 school year.
(6/5/2015) I am 64 and was just given another two year contract. very much depends on the school if they need you or not.
(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.
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.