Article – Are You Too Old To Teach Overseas? 2018-06-18T10:44:29+00:00

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

All information in the following tables was submitted by ISR readers based on their personal experience

Middle East

  • (1/15/2017) 60
    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.
  • Universal American School
    Man hired at 61. Director said “I hire who I want.” WASTA
  • Currently no limits in place
  • (4/5/2014) 55
    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) 60…unless…
    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.
  • American School of Doha, 60
    Policy, but currently ok at 60 due to shortage
  • ISG Saudi Arabia, 65
    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
  • Dhahran High School, 60
  • 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
  •  Government mandatory cut-off age is 55+ – a problem usually. After 60 annual work visa is expensive.
  • (10/4/2017TeachAnywhere, Abu Dhabi, 57
    I’ve been told by an agency that ADEC will not employ teachers who were born before 1961 (2017-18 academic year).
  • (8/24/2017) Al Sadara Boy’s School, 60
    I worked for the Abu Dhabi Education Council for 8 years.  This year I was sent a non-renewal of contract letter.  Age….they have backed down to 60
  • (6/29/2016) Abu Dhabi Education Council, 60
    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. ADEC or Abu Dhabi Education Council employ a large number of expat English teachers in the Abu Dhabi government schools( EMTs).  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.
  • (3/1/2014Abu Dhabi Education Council, 65/60
    The age limit was raised to 65 but as of March 2014 has been changed back to 60.
  • (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.
  • (6/1/2014) Mohammed Ali Othman School, 60+
    Mohammed Ali Othman school in Taiz, Republic of Yemen has teachers over 60 and many near that age.

Asia

  • American International School Dhaka, No age limits
  • (2/23/2018) CfBT, 60
    While the age limit for starting a contract at CfBT may be 54 years and 6 months (I have read this myself elsewhere) at independent international schools the age limit is, I believe, 60. I am starting there this year age 55.
  • (12/10/2012) CfBT, 55
    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.
  • (10/20/2012) Kuendrup Higher Secondary School, Gelephu
    I am 62+ presently working in Privately managed HSS in Bhutan. I have worked in an ICSE school as Vice Principal for 3 years.
  • (2/12/2012) 65
    I’m nearly 65 and was offered every job I applied for
  • (3/10/2017) Dulwich Shanghai, 60
    China has begun to institute a new quite stringent regulation for expat teachers. It is based on points, one earns points for type of degree, at what university it came from, whether you can speak Chinese, and then age comes into play. The more points one has earned the better chance they have of staying in a contract and obtaining a work visa once they are 60.
  • (3/6/2017) 60
    March 2017, new visa rule, 60 years. As I understand, the new visa rules – you are not entitled to finish out your school year and must leave once turned 60.  Other international schools in Shanghai are reporting similar difficulties.
  • (6/12/2015) Dalian Polytechnic University, 60
    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
  • (6/5/2015) On Tuesday I was offered a Directors job in Beijing. On Thursday the offer was declined due to my age 64.
  • (6/1/2015) Guangxi Normal University
    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.
  • (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.
  • (7/15/2014) Beijing National Day School, 55 women / 60 men
    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 60. 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.
  • (4/1/2014) 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.
  • (1/29/2014) Hua Zhong
    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.
  • (8/16/2013) United International College
    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.
  • (7/26/2013) 60 – 65
    Special Economic Zones generally allow 65-year-olds, while a majority of other city governments limit the age at 60.
  • (5/7/2013) Anhui University of Finance & Economics, Limit is 70
    I didn’t even come to China to teach until age 63.
  • (4/14/2013) Dulwich College, Limit is 65
    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.
  • (2/26/13) 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.
  • (2/15/2013) 55/men 60/women
    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.
  • (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.
  • (10/30/2012) Taizhou Teacher’s College Jiangsu / Nanjing Normal University, 69
    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.
  • (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.
  • (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.
  • (10/9/2011) Fooyin University, Kaohsiung, 65 – 70
    Mandatory age 65 retirement for university professors, but special year-by-year permission at lower status/ pay may sometimes be possible until 70
  • (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.
  • Beijing School, 60
    No to 60 year-old but new law says 70 age max.
  • (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.
  • (6/30/2011) Dipont International School, I’ve heard rumors 60 is a limit.
    I was hired at age 55 and turned 56 while in China. No mention was made of any age problems.
  • (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.
  • (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.

  • Singapore American School, 60, unofficial
    No to 60 year-old. New law says 70 age max.
  • (8/23/2014) Singapore American School, 65
    Contract changed to read 65. It’s not a government rule, but a school policy.
  • (11/06/2013) Singapore American School
    I got hired to teach at an international school in Singapore at 63 (turned 64 a week later)
  • (1/26/2017) No age limit.
    At 60 lose national retirement and school’s matching contribution but if full time keep National “13th month” severance pay
  • (6/5/2015) I was hired at 68 and assured could stay until 70+.  I was hired when I was 65. No one said anything about my age
  • 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.

  • (12/7/2015) Overseas School Colombo, No interviews after 60 – country law
    “Our retirement age at the school is 55 at The Overseas School of Colombo”
  • Kaohsiung American School
    Teacher reports being hired at 64
  • (8/28/2011) American school in Taichung
    Does not seem to be any age limit. I will be 67 in 2012. I was hired at 62
  • (6/17/2011) Pacific American School and Hsinchu International School
    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
  • (6/17/2011) Taipei American School
    Age doesn’t seem to be a factor. Person reported being hired at 64
  • New International School Thailand, 55
    Need not apply after 55

Africa

  • No apparent limits? Man teaching until age 77 in math, computer, ESL areas. Another teacher reports being hired at 70
  • (9/8/2015) 60
    Although retirement age is 60, there are no restrictions for those in education or medicine
  • (2012) Hermann Gmeiner International College, 60 mandatory
    Almost positive not eligible after 60
  • (6/18/2011)
    The situation here depends a bit on who you are and who you know. 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???)
  • (3/27/2012) Al Akhawayn University, 60
    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.
  • 60-65, Depends on the school. One reported no work permit after 60
  • (12/7/2015) International School of Tanganyika, 55
    “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.”
  • (2/12/2012) 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!
  • No age limit, We had two teachers nearly 70

North America

  • (6/5/2015) At 62 I was offered another 2 year contract
  • American School Foundation, None
    Candidates 64 and over have problems w/ medical insurance, according to American School Foundation
  • NO legal age limit and to discriminate can land an employer in court
  • 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.

South America

  • Hires 60+
  • (6/17/2011) No limits
  • (6/26/2011) Colegio Franklin D. Roosevelt, 65
  • No age problems reported

Oceania

  • (12/7/2015) Age limit for working visa is 55
  • Kwajalein
    No age problems reported here
  • 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!
  • International School of Manila, 60
    Forced retirement at 60, but can finish the school year
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