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Working Abroad

Working AbroadThinking about working abroad? Get the lowdown on how to do it…

Why work abroad?

Working abroad could prove a real boost to both your professional and personal development.

You’ll gain a better understanding of how your sector works on a global scale, and what skills are required to improve inter-country relations. You’ll get to learn from new colleagues, even if you end up taking a similar role with the company you already work for.

If you end up learning another language, this could give you an edge over other job candidates, particularly if you work for an international company. Seeing as working abroad can be challenging, choosing to do so could suggest to employers that you’re resilient and not afraid of a challenge – desirable traits in any employee. In terms of personal development, you may thrive in another culture, experiencing a new way life as a local rather than a tourist. You may also gain confidence as you overcome hurdles you’d never have encountered in your home country.

What jobs could I do abroad?

You may be able to do the same job abroad that you do in the UK – try searching the job listings in the country you’d like to move to and see how many vacancies are available, and whether you fit the requirements. However, here are some other options you might want to consider for working abroad.

  • Work a ski season in the Alps as a chef, ski instructor, bartender, waiter or pot washer. Work from December to April.
  • Teach English in a foreign country. Work all year around, but work with children would usually be during academic terms - which vary from country to country.
  • Work with kids on a summer camp in the US. Work from July- August.
  • Au-pair for a family in Europe, Australia or America. Work periods vary.
  • Fruit-picking on a farm in New Zealand or Australia. Work seasons vary.
  • Work on the Mediterranean coast as a tour rep, bar tender, waiter, chamber maid, hotel receptionist or scuba diving instructor. Work from May to August.

Read more about different work you could do abroad.

Using a company

There may be agencies who can help you move abroad, depending on the job you want to do and the location you want to move to. For instance, if you want to work on a summer camp in America, an agency like Camp America will place you with a camp and help you obtain a visa. Trying to do this completely by yourself could be very daunting. Many agencies can offer expertise in helping you find a new workplace and accommodation abroad. However, using such agencies can be expensive, so it’s worth researching the costs and benefits of different agencies, and comparing them to see which offer you the best deal. Save the Student has an article comparing American summer camp agencies.

It’s important to find a reputable company with real testimonials, and to find out if work through the agency is guaranteed before you pay anything. Find out what sort of pay you can expect – in some situations, you’ll pay more for an agency to place you with an employer than the employer will pay you to work for them! Remember that what agencies may save you in time they may cost you in money, so consider whether you have the budget to use one. It’s also worth noting that some agencies can be restrictive – for instance, they may require you to book your flights through them, and won’t necessarily be flexible about the times and dates in which you can travel. Find out as much as you possibly can before you sign any paperwork.

Visas

You currently still have the right to work in any European Union (EU) country if you’re a UK citizen – so you don’t need a visa to work there. However, this is likely to change following the EU referendum, so make sure you follow the news to keep track of any changes. For other countries, however, sorting out the required paperwork is vital. In Australia, for instance, young people between the age of 18 and 30 can apply for a working holiday visa if they’d like to work in Australia for a year. To work over a longer period of time a different work visa would be required.

Contact the embassy of the country you’d like to work in and find out what their requirements are - some countries ask that your workplace sponsor you to work in that country. It’s also worth checking the lists of skilled occupations in demand in the country you’d like to work in. If you have a skill which is particularly in demand in that country, you may be able to work there without sponsorship. For instance, if you do three months specified work in Australia you can obtain a second working holiday visa and stay there a further twelve months.

Employability

Not every qualification is recognised outside of the country where it was awarded. Research whether your qualification is accepted by the country you’re going to, as this could affect your ability to find work there.

You should also consider potential language barriers in the areas you’d like to work in. America, Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand are popular countries for UK citizens to work in because English is their first language. Elsewhere, not speaking the local language might decrease your employability. Find out how easy it is to find work if you only speak English before you go. You may want to capitalize on your English-speaking ability by taking a TEFL course so you can teach English abroad! If you’re happy to learn the country’s language, consider the amount of time it would take you to achieve full fluency at work.

Tax

You’ll need to tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) before you move abroad to make sure you pay the right amount of tax in the UK. Some countries also require you to pay tax if you work there. Australia, for instance, requires those on working holiday visas to pay tax once they’ve exceeded a certain income.

Healthcare

It’s crucial that you investigate the healthcare system in the country you’d like to move to before you go there! NHS Choices has a comprehensive list of the costs of different healthcare systems. Consider whether accessing healthcare abroad is within your budget. Whilst you might be in good health now, that won’t necessarily always be the case, so it pays to be prepared.

If you’re planning on moving somewhere else in the European Union, you’ll need to apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to receive emergency treatment for free or at a reduced cost. The EHIC card only covers you for short term stays, so if you’re going to be working in another country for a significant period of time it’s worth trying to get into the local social insurance system. Consider taking out private health insurance - some countries require you to own private health insurance in order to get a visa. Both America and Australia, for instance, have expensive private healthcare systems - although Australia also offers some care to UK citizens under its Medicare programme.

Finances

Make sure you’ve got lots of savings and emergency money set aside before you move abroad. Some countries, like Australia, will require you to have a certain amount of money in your bank account before you can enter the country. This is to make sure you’ll be able to support yourself until you find a new job.

Do make sure you have internet banking before you leave! That way you can check your balance whenever you want and keep on top of budgeting. You should also open a bank account in the country you’re moving to, to save on transfer and withdrawal fees during day to day banking. You may need to transfer money between the UK and your new country often. If that’s the case, a foreign currency broker will probably charge less and provide better exchange rates than your UK bank. Opening an international bank account could also help with the transfer of money from overseas.

Investigate the average salary for the work you’d like to do abroad, and see how it rates against the pay in the UK. Consider how the pound rates against the currency of the country you’d like to work in – and remember that currency rates fluctuate, so there’s no guarantee it will stay that way.

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