teach in the usa

Teach in the USA

Expand your teaching expertise abroad! Spirit’s Teacher Program allows you to teach in the USA full-time at an accredited primary or secondary school while sharing your culture with American schoolchildren. Whether you teach Spanish in the USA or instruct high school students in advanced chemistry, Spirit’s J-1 Visa Teacher Program will surely have a lasting impact on your career and on the lives of many in your host community.

Program Details

Spirit Cultural Exchange J-1 Teacher VisaSpirit is designated by the United States Department of State as a J-1 visa teacher sponsor. Spirit places qualified international teachers in open teaching positions for one to three years in a variety of concentrations, including:

  • General Education (primary grades)
  • Foreign Languages (Spanish, German, French & Mandarin)
  • STEM
  • Special Education

In addition to your normal teaching responsibilities, an important part of your program will also be to share your culture with your students and host community. Virtual classroom exchanges between your host classroom and schoolchildren in your home country is just an example of the impact your program will have on the lives of others.

What is the J-1 Teacher Program?

The J-1 Teacher Program is a cultural exchange program created the U.S. Department of State to foster peace and diplomacy across nations. Exchange teachers gain professional education experience by teaching in the US as part of a cross-cultural exchange. As lead teachers in K-12 classrooms, J-1 Teacher participants offer a unique perspective to American students and schools

Placement Options

teach in USAll applicants have a choice on how to identify their Host School. You may choose to identify your own Host School placement or request Spirit’s assistance with finding available teaching jobs in the USA.

Are you looking for a teaching placement in the USA?

Spirit’s Premium Placement option helps international teachers seeking a teaching position in the USA. Spirit will assist with teacher placement at a cooperating Host School and provide sponsorship for the J-1 Teacher visa.


Do you already have a teaching position?

Spirit’s Independent Placement option is for you.  Our Independent Placement option is designed for international teachers who already have an offer from an accredited K-12 school and are just in need of a sponsor to help obtain the required J-1 visa for teachers.

Program Requirements

teach in US 3In order to teach in the United States on Spirit’s cultural exchange program, you must meet the following teaching in America requirements:

  • Be qualified for teaching in primary or secondary schools in your country of nationality or last legal residence
  • Be working as a teacher in your home country or country of legal residence at the time of application, or, if not working as a teacher (a) have recently (within 12 months of application) completed an advanced degree and (b) have two years of full-time teaching experience within the past eight years
  • Have a degree equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree in either Education or the academic subject field in which you intend to teach
  • Have a minimum of two years of teaching experience
  • Satisfy the standards of the U.S. state in which you will teach
  • Be of good reputation and character
  • Possess advanced proficiency in the English language as determined by Spirit’s screening process.

teach in the usaAs an exchange teacher in the USA, you will interact daily with your American colleagues and students at your Host School.  It is also important that you participate in a variety of cultural activities during your free time, so you can fully experience all that the USA has to offer! 

Cultural activities include the things that expose you to the diverse life and culture of the United States.  Examples of cultural activities include: 

  • Attending an “after-work” event with your fellow teachers 
  • Volunteering in the local community 
  • Visiting a museum or historic site 
  • Gathering with American friends for meals, games, or movies etc. 
  • Touring a US city or visiting a tourist site in your host community 
  • Visiting a national park 
  • Attending an American sporting event 

The opportunities are endless! 

Program Costs

Annual Program Fee: $1490 per year

Optional Premium Placement Fee: $1,500
(One-time fee for Host School Placement.  Fee is waived for participants who identify their own Host School without Spirit assistance)

Some Host Schools may cover some program and placement fees as part of their teacher compensation package.

Included in Spirit’s Premium Placement Option (Annual Program Fee + Premium Placement Fee):

(Placement as a temporary exchange teacher at a qualified Host School in the United States teaching a minimum of 32 hours a week during the academic school year for up to 3 years)

  • Regulatory compliant medical insurance for the first 90 days of the program and regulatory compliant repatriation and medical evacuation coverage from arrival to departure.
  • It is the participant’s responsibility to ensure that they are covered by regulatory compliant medical insurance from arrival in the USA to departure. Insurance plans offered by Host Schools vary in price and coverage. Contact your Host School directly to review available insurance plans. Spirit offers J-1 regulatory compliant medical insurance coverage to those participants who opt not to participate in Host School provided plans.
  • Development or review of Teacher Program Offer in cooperation with the Host School ensuring that it meets with program regulations
  • DS-2019 to support the application for a J-1 Teacher visa
  • 24-hour support from Spirit’s experienced staff
  • Program application processing, screening, and vetting to ensure regulatory compliance
  • Skype interviews to screen applicant for qualifications
  • Orientation materials on a variety of important topics
  • Assistance in identifying and arranging cultural activities
  • Monthly Check-Ins with Spirit to ensure successful program
  • Mentor assigned at Host School who will provide guidance on settling in, community, professional development support and cultural activities
  • Supervisor assigned at Host School who will provide general on-site monitoring
  • Travel validation after arrival for DS-2019 form

Included in Spirit’s Independent Placement Option:
(Annual Program Fee Only):

  • Includes all of the above EXCEPT Host School placement. The Host School offer provided to Spirit will be reviewed to ensure regulatory compliance.

Not included in either program option:

  • SEVIS or visa application fees, airport transfers, international airfare, domestic transportation in the US, daily public transportation to and from the Host School, housing fees & deposits, meals or spending money, or regulatory required medical insurance after 90 days.

If participants choose to work with a domestic placement agency or Spirit international recruiting partner, they should confirm directly about their additional fees, and what services each fee covers.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I qualify for the program?

To qualify, all teachers must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in Education, Teaching, or the subject intended to teach, a minimum of two years of teaching experience, must be qualified/certified to teach in your home country, and must be currently teaching. If not currently teaching, you must meet all the above requirements AND have an advanced degree.

Can I bring my family members?

Yes! Spirit offers J-2 visa program sponsorship for spouses and dependents under 21 years of age. It is recommended that your family joins you in the US approximately 4-6 weeks after beginning your program and identifying housing.

Can my spouse work?

Spouses can apply for work authorization through the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). The process to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) may take up to 2-3 months.

How long can I participate in the program?

Teachers can participate for 1-3 years. After 3 years, participants can apply for an extension for up to 2 additional years, but the extension is not guaranteed.

Can I change to a different visa during or after my program?

As the purpose of the J-1 Teacher Program is temporary cultural exchange, Spirit is not able to assist participants in changing visa statuses.

How do I get health insurance?

As part of the annual program fees, participants receive 90 days of medical insurance coverage  (first year only), and repatriation and medical evacuation coverage for the duration of their program. Participants are responsible for ensuring they are enrolled in a medical insurance plan after 90 days, such as their Host School plan. Spirit offers optional J-1 and J-2 insurance plans for participants who choose not to participate in their Host School plan.

What salary will I earn?

Teacher salaries vary by state and teacher qualifications. J-1 exchange teachers can generally expect to be paid anywhere from $35,000 – $50,000 per year as a starting salary.

How do I get certified in the US?

The first step in becoming certified in the US is to complete a foreign credential evaluation. Consult Spirit for the applicable foreign credential evaluation services in your school’s state.

What is a typical timeline for the J-1 Teacher Program application process?

Spirit accepts participant applications from January – May. A typical school year begins in August and ends in June. It is recommended that participants arrive at least two weeks prior to the start of the school year for orientations and securing housing.

Get Started on Your Teaching Adventure

Get Started

What our teachers say…

Being a teacher here in the U.S. is a dream come true to me, because I am touching the lives of my students, and that is my goal - to become an inspiration to them. I am enjoying my time with my kids, and I visited the best tourist spots here in Arizona.- Mitchel, Spirit Exchange Teacher, Arizona