Handing in my notice for my beloved teaching career in exchange for the unknown, was by far the most unnerving element of the emigration process.
I had the perfect position teaching in a year 1 classroom at a quaint, village school located within the rolling hills of the English countryside and had developed life-long friendships with my amazing colleagues. I was no where near ready to hand in my notice and walk away from my 30 little ‘Elephants’ in exchange for the slight possibly of gaining a teaching position in the USA. Yet, the immense desire for adventure and challenge combined by the deep yearning for my fiance, neglected any pondering regrets and kept my spirits high.
At times I would think, If only I could have both.
As everything during this VISA process, finding information regarding ‘How a British teacher can continue their teaching career in America?‘ became a mundane task of trial and error. Many trials and many errors. I found myself posting message after message in TES forums, Facebook groups and even emailing on a whim to Teach for America and Philadelphia Education Services in hope that just once I may not be faced by a dead-end response. I was riding a hopeless quest into a fairy tale.
I therefore prepared myself for change. I knew that I would return to teaching at some point during my new life in the USA however I led myself to believe that it would be impossible especially within the first couple of years of emigrating.
I was willing to try new things. Be spontaneous, live sporadically. I actually attended several interviews; Store Assistant at LuLuLemon, Customer Relations Manager at Philadelphia Zoo and even bar work to try to keep my teacher brain stimulated, whilst trying to meet new people and earn some cash. I was clearly the wrong candidate for the positions and in comparison to others, probably lacked the relevant experience.
So as anxiety, loneliness and a sense of purposeless from unemployed life grew and days strolling my new city passed, I felt the urge to persist with my teaching research in the hope that it may be easier now being in the USA. I made myself comfortable next to my MacBook and phone and spent the day contacting all Philadelphia/Teaching related results from the Google search bar. I was in line for help at the School District of Philadelphia on both my MacBook and phone, mindlessly combatting the repetitive drawl as I was reminded every minute of my place in the line; ‘you are now number 31 in the line’. Eventually my fairy tale quest became reality and I was graced by the vocal presence of a lady from the School District of Philadelphia.
Honestly, it felt like I had been saved by an angel.
Before responding to my request there was a rather awkward pause insinuating bewilderment and perhaps confusion on her behalf towards the complexity of my situation:
‘UK teacher with 2:1 BA Education Degree, Post Graduate Masters Level Certificate in Education, three years teaching experience, emigrated to the USA on a K1 fiance VISA awaiting EAD but looking for information of how to continue teaching career in Philadelphia…’
My angel asked if I had a pen and paper and I found myself scribing away as she listed the stages that I would need to take in order to get into teaching in Philadelphia/New Jersey. Twenty minuets later I expressed my gratitude for her time, perhaps a little too much and we hung up the call. I glanced down at my list. Hope.
How a UK Qualified Teacher can become a Teacher in the
United States of America:
- WES (World Education Services) Credential Evaluation
As you have International Education Credentials from your BA Degree or Post Graduate Courses you will need to get a WES Credential Evaluation in order to translate your higher Education into the United States of America equivalent.
Fill in the required information and create your account.
A Course-by-Course WES Credential Evaluation costs $249.
Click here for World Education Services Link
- Contact your University
You will need to email your University to let them know that you have requested a WES Credential Evaluation.
Fee for University Transcripts required by WES usually cost around £15.
- Complete Online Application for your State Teacher Certification
You must have a Teacher Certification for the State that you live/wish to teach in.
I actually live in Philadelphia however I wish to teach in New Jersey so I applied for my New Jersey Teaching Certificate.
The Teaching Certificate Application in New Jersey costs $190.
Click here for New Jersey Teaching Certification Online ApplicationClick here for Philadelphia Teaching Certification Online Application
- Complete Praxis Tests
As in the UK you will need to complete several Basic Skills Tests. These will most likely be in Reading, Writing and Math.
Each Praxis Test will cost you $90 and $120.
Click here for State Requirements
- Phone Interview (Some States)
Upon a successful phone interview you will be accepted into the Pool of Teaching jobs where you can apply for specific Public School postings of which you may or may not be invited to interview…
- Send all required documentation
Documentation may vary so ensure that you review the checklist for your State and mail the correct documentation.
- Private Schools operate independently from State and it is therefore their discretion as to whether or not they require Teaching Certification from their teachers. Most do however some don’t.
- Always apply for Teaching Certification regardless as licensure adds to your list of credentials and makes you a better candidate if you wish to teach in Public schools later in your career.
- The average full-time salary of a Public School Elementary Teacher is around $50,000 whereas an average full-time salary of a Private School Elementary Teacher is around $36,000.
- School years are extremely different:
UK 4 -5 Years Full-Time Compulsory Reception
USA 4-5 Years Optional Pre KindergartenUK 5-6 Years Full-Time Compulsory Year 1
USA 5-6 Years Full OR ½ Day Compulsory Kindergarten
UK 6-7 Years Full-Time Compulsory Year 2
USA 6-7 Years Full-Time Compulsory First Grade
and so on…
- If you are looking to teach in Private Schools you must apply directly to their Website. From experience, Private Schools are very likely to respond to a letter as well as an email regardless as to whether or not they have a job listing on their website and they will often offer a Sub Position.
- Hand delivered letters are, at times, very influential towards gaining yourself a position!
I wish you the best of luck in your transition from the UK to the USA in both your personal life and teaching career and I am more than happy to help you with any questions that you may have.
Please click on the Need help or advise? tab if you require my help or alternatively find me on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter and send me a message:
***This information is only applicable to those of you who are in the process of applying for a VISA or those who already have a VISA for the United States of America.
You are required to have an ‘Employment Authorisation Card’ in order to work in the United States of America which you can only gain upon completion of your VISA.***