Only a few years ago it was still normal for people to go from school to university and then into a job that they stayed in until retirement. Thankfully things have changed significantly and it is now common for people to have multiple jobs during their working life and these can often be in completely different fields. Many people reach a stage in their careers where they really need to make a change and teaching English online or overseas offers a perfect way to shake things up and find a new path in life.
Gaining the qualifications required to be an ESL teacher can be done relatively quickly and the jobs available at the end of the training are both widespread and open to almost anyone. All you need is a good standard of English and the drive to make the change. And the best thing is that age is almost irrelevant. As long as you are over 18 there is nothing stopping you becoming an English language teacher in the location of your choice. So, to answer the original question: No, 30 is certainly not too old to teach English abroad.
Also read: Are there any age limits for TESOL teaching?
What’s the typical age of an ESL teacher?
As teaching ESL is open to all English speakers at any stage of their lives there is not really a typical age for teachers across the world. In most cases you need to be over 18 to have a realistic chance of employment, but other than that there are few restrictions on age in the classroom except national retirement laws which vary from one country to the next. Even in countries where the retirement age is set at a certain number, many schools will happily keep you on longer if you have proved to be a strong asset.
At the younger end of the scale many people get into teaching English during a gap year between high school and university. Others take their gap year between finishing their education and moving into their chosen careers. In these cases the age of students can range from 18 into their early twenties. Even more people find after a few years of their chosen career that it is not exactly as they hoped it would be and so look for a new path. TESOL is one option that allows you to take a break and rethink what you want to do with your life and for many people teaching proves to be just that.
Later on in life it is common for people to lose the passion they once had for their career or a major life change such as divorce, illness, or the loss of a loved one can be the catalyst to seeking a fresh start. This scenario can cover any age group, particularly those from their mid-twenties through to 50 or over. Finally, there are a significant number of people in their 50s and 60s who are nearing retirement and decide the time is right to see a bit more of the world and to search out new experiences.
Rather than there being a typical age for teaching ESL, it is a job that can be taken by any English speaker of any age group for any number of personal reasons.
Are there any advantages of being an older teacher
Absolutely, there are a range of benefits to being an older ESL teacher. The most obvious is life experience which people over 30 certainly have way more of than those in their teens and early twenties. Life experience can make a big difference in the classroom by making your lessons more interesting and making it easier to build rapport with your students. With age also comes maturity which can make a big difference when moving overseas to live and work. Maturity typically brings an increased confidence in your own abilities and the ability to adapt better to new and unfamiliar surroundings, something that can be vital when teaching ESL.
One other potential advantage is that many people who choose to teach ESL at an older age are in a better financial position than younger teachers who might just be starting out in the workplace. Moving abroad will require some amount of outlay for flights, accommodation and general living expenses until you receive your pay at the end of your first month of work.
Are there any disadvantages of being an older teacher
The only real disadvantage of being an older teacher is that you will probably have built a life for yourself at home which could include a family, property, pets, etc. If you then choose to head overseas these will need to be taken care of one way or another. However, for most people the compromises necessary are far outweighed by the benefits of travel and life experience that teaching English abroad has to offer.
Hopefully this brief overview has set your mind at ease about being an ESL teacher over 30 years of age. The truth is that if you are 20, 30, 40, 50, or any other age, teaching English abroad is a viable option that simply requires a TESOL certification and the drive to make it happen!