Based on the answers to the quiz I have several items you should consider:
Do you have a college degree if so what is the highest level you have completed?
- Much like in the United States the more education you have, the better you employment opportunities; however that is not to say a high school diploma is not enough. Often government contracts working on military installations or in active combat zones are seeking construction workers, barbers, mechanics and other tradespeople. These jobs are often well paid and include accommodation and transport, from your hometown to the location. On average, you will make 1.5-3 times as much as you would doing the same job in the USA and you will be taxed as an American citizen.
- For those with college degrees, there are options based on the amount of experience you have in your field. If you are wishing to continue working as say, an executive assistant, there are many opportunities in the Middle East for qualified personal assistants and C-Suite assistants to British, American or locals. These jobs do not require you speak another language but will require a strong recommendation from your current or former employer. With a college degree, despite your major, you also may consider taking the TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language). This is a program that certifies you to teach English as a foreign language. Although you may seek employment at one of the many American, Canadian, or British schools located around the world, having the TOFEL in addition to your local teaching certificate dramatically increases your chances of gaining employment. The U.S. Department of State also offers a program for cultural ambassadors who only require an undergraduate degree. Applicants go through a training program sponsored by the State Department in the country, before being placed as an English teacher in courses that are strategic to the goals of the local embassy. This could include teaching accountants, doctors or other professionals.
- If you have a Master’s degree or higher, and several years of experience, you can avail of any of the numerous head-hunting agencies or websites dedicated to seeking Western talent in specialized roles. Be aware of the head-hunting agency and be sure to have a lawyer or trusted adviser review your contract before you sign. There are numerous tales of people going to teach at university level in South Korea and Saudi Arabia who are locked into three-year contracts. If the contract is breached, they are then liable to repay the full flight costs, accommodations and other miscellaneous costs which can amount to over $50,000.
- Doctors, Certified IT Specialists, Business Development, Investment bankers and other skilled labor are in demand in the Middle East, Kenya, Japan, South Africa and other emerging markets.
So far I have only spoken about the commercial side of being an expat. Nonprofit, or NGOs as the rest of the world refer to them, are always seeking specialists. The best paid and most secure contracts are issued by the UN, USAID, EUAID and UKAID. These postings often come with a hardship bonus, completely or partially paid housing, a car and an allowance for school fees. For example the base UN salary in Nairobi right now is approximately $6500/mo.
- You may also consider going through the US government for example the State Department. You will be required to pass a test then you will be placed in intensive language courses. While you may request an area, much like the PeaceCorps, it is ultimately up to the government where they send you. If you have strong beliefs about US foreign policy I do not recommend this route as your work mandate will change with the policies dictated by the White House and Congress.
What is your age range
- If you look at a site such as Idealist, a clearing house for volunteer, consultancies and full-time job working with NGOs you will often see 0-3 years experience. If you have the means and are looking to change careers or embark on a new adventure do not discount these positions. In many small scale/ grass roots NGOs the expat staff wear many hats and you will be afforded the opportunity to work on a myriad of projects while increasing your developing world working skills.
- In some countries in the Gulf, it is hard for women under the age of 30 to aquaria working permits despite their degrees, achievements or experience. However , these same women will have minimal problems obtaining a relatively high paying job in Haiti or Kenya.
- Sadly, much like the USA getting your foot in the door after age 55 may be difficult. This is where you will want to work you linked in network and try to find a direct introduction to a poison instead of applying from a generic call for applications.
Do you have any dependents (husband, children, aged parents)
- I am not going to lie to you. If you are single and don’t have children (or have grown children) you are in a better position to get out. That is not to say it is impossible to leave if you are not. In the case of a spouse the term is trailing spouse. Is your husband/partner willing to pack up and move? Are you looking at a long distance relationship? Are you considering a country where same sex marriage is not only illegal but homophobia is whitely accepted and carries serious repercussions?
- In terms of children you must consider home schooling versus international schools. One benefit of expat life is hiring a nanny and housekeeper is typically a luxury expats can easily afford. However school fees for the American or other international school can be on par with those in the States therefore you will want to negates some form of stipend with your employer for your school aged children.
- From speaking with children who did a semester abroad in high school or lived in foreign countries with their parents growing up I can tell you few have regrets. These children are often polyglots and have a cultural understanding that will help them as the economy continues to become more of a global marketplace.
Do you speak a foreign language
- The American dilemma. Fortunately, this will not hold you back from many jobs. However, it may preclude you from some of the more exotic place one could live. If a company or NGO wants you they will place you in intensive language classes wither stateside or as an immersion program upon arrival on site.
- If you are a real go getter, you may chose to start classes with tutor from craigslists, take advantage of the offerings on eventbrite, or even spend a vacation volunteering in central America to learn basic Spanish.
Do you live in the same town/city in which you grew up?
- Change a thing we can yearn for and fear equally at the same time.
Have you ever been self-employed?
Do you have non African-American friends?
- A friend of mine’s mom used to say there are only 10 black people in the world and only 3 of us can read. Well, she meant read and travel. That is why once you become an expat you will realize you know people who are friends with your people.
Have you traveled abroad?
How many years experience do you have in your field?
Do you own your house/condo?
Do you have any serious health problems?