The 10 Best Countries to Be a Teacher
While teachers may be educating the future leaders of the world and molding young minds, they often don’t get the respect they deserve for doing a hard, time-consuming and sometimes frustrating job. Education may not be a glamorous profession in the strictest sense, but it does garner more respect — and often more benefits — in certain parts of the world than others. Though this list by no means discusses every country where it’s good to be a teacher, it does point out some of the places where they receive the most respect, professional treatment, benefits, pay and opportunities for advancement. If you’re a college student who’s planning an education career, it could make you suddenly start feeling a whole lot more worldly in your professional ambitions.
Want to make the big bucks as a teacher? Travel to Luxembourg. The average teacher salary after 15 years is almost $70,000 annually — that’s more than anywhere else in the world. Of course, high taxes and costs of living in the tiny nation may make that number shrink a bit, but you still won’t be bad off. In addition to beautiful pastoral scenery, teachers in Luxembourg can expect to spend a great deal of time collaborating on lesson plans with coworkers and less interference from government bodies in how the school is run day-to-day. Oh…and add to that a substantial benefits package that can (and usually does) include paid professional development and a hefty pension plan.
Finland has seen a lot of media coverage for its educational system in recent months — and for good reason. It is both effective and highly beneficial for teachers. The Scandinavian nation’s schools consistently perform at the top of international tests, often taking first place, and a lot of it has to do with the way they treat their instructors. Education is one of the most highly esteemed professions, and teachers have to be highly trained, with most holding a Master’s degree or higher. While salaries aren’t out of this world (comparable to the U.S., but with better benefits), teachers get complete control over their classroom, choosing the texts and lesson plans students will use (which rarely, if ever, involve homework or standardized tests). Professional development is required, but almost always subsidized by the government. If that doesn’t get you raring to sign up for a Finnish class, nothing will.
Starting a teaching job in Japan? Unlike many places around the world, you won’t simply be thrown to the wolves. Japan mandates introductory programs that give teachers a more regulated introduction to full-time positions and hooks them up with a mentor they can work with during their formative years. This idea of working together is something that helps make the country one of the best places for teachers to work. Educators spend a large portion of their time each week collaborating on lesson plans that will achieve their goals, often providing valuable feedback and insights for their coworkers. Compensation is above average, benefits are substantial and teachers are a highly respected bunch, both socially and politically.
Like its neighbor Finland, Sweden has a highly respected educational system that offers a wide range of benefits to teachers of all experience levels. Its schools are consistently high-performing in international tests and, again, it might have a thing or two to do with their teachers. They are encouraged to collaborate, have time built into their work weeks for professional development (beneficial, since they have to complete 100 hours of it every year). In fact, professional development is so important to Sweden’s educational system, the government created a large grant program called “Lifting the Teachers” to help them go back to school — even paying for university courses and 80% of participants’ salaries while they only work in the classroom 20% of the time. While pay is less than the average in the U.S., the benefits and respect afforded to Swedish teachers make it one of the world’s best places to work in education. With a large number of vacancies in teaching positions (due to retirement and spiking birth rates), learning a bit of Swedish could help you do a lot more than navigate an IKEA.
England has an incredibly high-achieving educational system, and part of what makes it so successful is how they treat teachers. They are given time and support to study and evaluate their own educational strategies and asked to share their findings with colleagues. This is intended to help improve the approaches and effectiveness of all teachers working in a school or school system. Additionally, the government has established a national training program to help teachers learn best-practice training techniques and provide them with resources to implement national curriculum frameworks. Often, educators are placed in groups to learn these skills from one another, and the results have been incredibly effective. Like many of the other nations on this list, teachers in England are asked to take on leadership positions and play a pivotal role in education system developments. Pay for English teachers is some of the best in the world, and the benefits and respect from the administration can’t be beat.
Australia has a lot of respect for its teachers, and it shows. Teachers are compensated quite well for their work, and the government has established a number of programs to help them continually improve and grow on the job. One of the best is the Quality Teacher Programme, which provides instructors with funding to take courses, continue professional development or take part in educational conferences. Like other countries that made this list, teachers often work collaboratively, and interaction with contemporaries and continual feedback is an essential component. Teachers who choose to work in Australia’s remote Outback will enjoy even more benefits, including free laptops, airfare and personal allowances.
South Korea knows how to treat its teachers well. With respect to costs of living, educators here are some of the best paid in the world, and teaching is by and large a highly respected profession. That respect comes from the level of training and expertise they must attain to work here. After their fourth year of teaching, South Korean teachers are required to take 90 hours of professional development courses every three years. After three years on the job, they are also eligible to enroll in a five-week professional development program to obtain an advanced certificate, which provides an increased salary and eligibility for promotion. Unlike the U.S., only about 35% of teachers’ working time is spent interacting with pupils. Instead, they mostly work in a shared office space collaborating on lesson plans and formulating effective educational solutions. Something must be working right, as high school is not compulsory in the country, but 97% of young adults still finish it — higher than any other country in the world.
Teachers working in Denmark can expect good pay and benefits, aside from living amidst charming cities and countryside. The educational culture at Danish schools encourages collaborative work between teachers, and many have informal sit-downs to get feedback throughout the school year. Instructors are also encouraged to do their own research on education and curriculum effectiveness, and share their results with colleagues and other professionals. Classrooms have very low teacher-pupil ratios, so educators can focus more on individuals and are not overwhelmed by management. Overall, Denmark is one of the best places for a teacher, whether starting or coming to the end of a career, to work.
Singapore has one of the most talked-about educational systems in the world, and how they treat and support teachers could be a model for other nations. Being an instructor here takes a lot of training, not only up front, but every year. Teachers are required to complete 100 hours of professional development annually. They aren’t without support, though, and the nation’s Teacher’s Network serves as a place for professionals to share, collaborate and reflect on what works and what doesn’t. This organization also provides access to learning circles, teacher-led workshops, conferences and a well-being program, as well as a website and publications series. Newbies are especially given on-the-job support, as a master is appointed to lead the coaching and development of the teachers in each school. Even better? The government offers incentives for heading back to grad school, pay is fair (and teachers can get bonuses) and retirement plans are impressive.
In the Swiss educational system, teachers are very well paid for their work and receive a great deal of respect and encouragement — which starts from the very first year of their careers. Novice educators are required to meet in reflective practice groups twice a month, accompanied by an experienced teacher who helps them discuss common problems and refine their strategies. Additionally, the Swiss government has decentralized much of its educational decision-making, allowing teachers and their schools to play a much greater role in deciding what is best for students. Like the other nations on this list, Switzerland places a premium on professional development and helps instructors get additional training throughout their careers.
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