By Thomas HollowellMany wouldn’t leave their home soil in an attempt to work abroad without first having a job in hand – especially if that place is Morocco! The financial burden of the plane ticket alone makes this risky business. Nonetheless, a decade ago, this is exactly what I did. I first started by teaching English. And now, I run a Morocco travel company called Journey Beyond Travel; we arrange private trips for couples, families, and small groups. Here, I’ll share some of my inside knowledge about surviving, working, and thriving in the Kingdom of Morocco.
Coming to Morocco with or without a job in hand is up to you. If you’ve got a healthy combination of time, money, patience, and something of an adventurous spirit, you may consider heading to Morocco to first explore your options. Although slightly more risky, it’s an option that I’ve recommended to a few acquaintances and it’s worked out well for them. This gives you (the new expat) a bit of buffer time to get your bearings before jumping into a position. Ideally, two weeks (minimum) to one month (about perfect) would be a recommended time to first explore the country, learn a bit about the people, see if you can enjoy it (and can hack it), and then begin settling down in perhaps a place of your choice. This month of travel can be done on as little as $800 in total for a budget traveler and closer to $2000 for someone wanting to stay in nicer accommodations while surveying the country. Bring an ATM card (banks are everywhere in Morocco), your passport with more than six months validity (no visa needed for Americans – upon entry mention tourism – not work as your reason of entry) and you are set to go.
In terms of qualifications, any reputable language center or private school is going to require you to have a bachelor’s degree. This degree does not need to be a BA in English. Many travel abroad and work in Morocco with degrees in philosophy, history, political science, or even mathematics. What’s also helpful and something will make you stand out above the crowd are certificates in TEFL, grammar, teaching theory, or even volunteer work that might apply. These certificates do not need to be year or two-year long programs. Well-respected websites offer courses online and in as little as one month or six weeks. You’ll become a grammar whiz soon explaining the subjunctive and future perfect tenses without a pause.
Those with Master’s Degrees might apply to a few universities in Morocco – teaching anything from the humanities to business to film. Specifically those with a Master’s Degree in English, TEFL, or even Education may be more suited to language and academic development centers. Those with teaching degrees and certificates (primary or high school) will benefit when applying to any of the American Schools outlined below.
The cities outlined here can be connected together to form an itinerary giving the traveler a circuitous route to the English-teaching hotspots in the country. Mentioned below is a quick snippet about the region and what schools, language centers, and even universities contract foreign hires. Traveling is best by train (Casablanca connecting to Rabat and Tangier; Casablanca connecting to Meknes, and Fez – an onward to Oujda). The train also connects Casablanca to Marrakesh with bus service continuing onward to Essaouira, Agadir, and farther south.
As a tip, when dialing to Morocco from abroad, dial 00212 (Morocco’s country code) and leave out the first (0). In country, do not dial the country code and dial the first (0). So, +212 (0) 5 28 82 15 89 is dialed 00212 528 82 15 89 outside of Morocco and in country, one would dial 0528 82 15 89.
ALC refers to each respective American Language Center below.
This is Morocco’s busiest, most bustling, and metropolitan, grimy, dirty, fast-paced, and modern city. Life here is more expensive than elsewhere and is much faster paced. For those looking for a big-city experience, malls, good restaurants, and don’t mind the noise and mayhem associated with it, this is your place!
Tel: +212 (0) 5220.127.116.11
Address: 1 Place de la Fraternité, Casablanca
Director: David Neuses
Address: 3, Boulevard Al Massira Al Khadra, Maarif
Phone Numbers: +212 (0) 522 25 93 93 OR +212 (0) 522 25 61 32 OR +212 (0) 522 25 61 58
American Academy of Casablanca
*Not to be confused with American School of Casablanca.
*Mostly hire UK / EU nationals.
Located near Casablanca, this beach town is a bit more laid back than the big city.
Tel: +212 (0) 523 32 68 70
Address: Complex Mont Joli, 15 Rue de Sebta 2ème Etage, Appt 15, Mohammedia
Assistant Director: Nadia Kébir
A superb town and capital city of Morocco. It is where most administration takes place and is much more laid back and calm when compared to Casablanca. The medina is worth exploring and there are a plethora of good restaurants, good weather, and sites to make living here quite nice.
Tel: +212 (0) 537 76 71 03
Address: 4 Zankat Tanja, 10000 Rabat
Director: Hal Ott
Address: 35, zanqat Oukaimeden, Agdal
Tel: +212 (0) 537 67 50 81 / 82 / 75
*Mostly hire UK / EU nationals.
L’Université Internationale de Rabat
*This school just opened and seems to be hiring teachers from abroad.
Located just 45 minutes north of Rabat, this town is a up and coming and has some nice surrounding beaches.
Tel: +212 (0) 537 37 66 03
Address: 2 Boulevard El Kadissia, 14000 Kenitra
Director: Gary Butzbach
Located just a few clicks south of Spain, this border city has some interesting sites to explore and an international feel to it. Lots of businesses are popping up and living here would be interesting.
Tel: +212 (0) 539 93 36 16
Address: 1 Rue Emsallah, Tangier
Director: Mark Holbrook
American School of Tangier
Hot in the summer and home to the famed Roman ruins of Volubilis, Meknes has a lot to offer without the tourist hustle and bustle of Fez. People are friendly and exploring the medina here is both easily done and rewarding.
One of the most happening tourist cities in Morocco, Fez has a magical and otherworldly feel to it. With an expansive UNESCO-protected old city, its medina dates back to the Middle Ages. Fez is an academic and holy hub in North Africa.
Tel: +212 (0) 535 62 48 50
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: 2 Rue Ahmed Hiba, B P 2136, 30000 Fes
Director: David Amster
American School Fes
Located right next to Algeria, this city has little appeal, but its environs are worth exploring. The train goes here so getting anywhere else in country isn’t that hard.
American Language Center
Located in the Middle Atlas Mountains, Ifrane is a special place that sees four seasons a year. Forests, rocky trails, and villages abound. It’s tranquil, quiet, and a great place to meet locals and other families. It’s a resort-type town for Moroccans, but still small enough to enjoy.
Al Akhawayn University
Lots of options here, so see more below.
Al Akhawayn School of Ifrane
This is the ‘American’ style school overseen by the university. It has switched hands from French to the American system of education and now remains American in its curriculum.
The most-visited city in Morocco, Marrakesh has a magical ring and is a special place to call home. It does average above 110-degrees in the summer, but winters are mild, cool, and even warm. Many expats live here and it has a plethora of restaurants, shops, and more to keep one busy.
Tel: +212 (0) 524 44 72 59
Address: 3 Impasse du Moulin, Gueliz, 40000 Marrakesh
Director : Jordan Earl
American School of Marrakesh
Idealog Language School
Center for Language and Culture
A sunny place most of the year, Agadir has some appeal in that it is somewhat laid back and right on the beach. This is a great place for water sports and surfing.
American Language Center
Tel: +212 (0) 5 28 82 15 89 or +212 (0) 5 28 82 04 63
Address: Ave. des Nations-Unies, Cité Suisse, Agadir
Director: Lu-Ann Hassanin
German Language Institute – LIAL
Offers English language courses as well.
As one can see, there is plenty of American Language Centers (ALC) in Morocco from which you can choose. Salaries and hours given to new teachers will always vary. Introducing yourself via email before arriving to any of these institutions is recommended since this will mean you can meet with the director.
Official American Schools in Morocco are elite institutions and it’s best to be hired for these schools outside of the country. Some teachers are hired on the ground, but salaries can be lower since you are considered a ‘local hire.’
Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco is also an elite establishment and will do most of their hiring of Master’s Degree holders and above the phone and at fairs in the States. The Language Center teachers work 20-25 in-class hours per week with plenty of meetings, while CAD (Center for Academic Development) works 12-15 in-class hours per week with less meetings. All contracts are negotiable, as no clear scale exists, so bargain well. Other schools on campus hire also hire from abroad, so look into all of their departments. If you do get offered a contract, request a heated apartment on campus or at the residences near the Ifrane School (or in the center of town) as a part of the deal in writing. If not, you may get stuck at a not-so-nice apartment at the poorly located Best Western complex. Ifrane can see up to six months a year of snow and rain in the winter, so heat is a big issue for both single and family occupants. Apartments are not insulated. Nights commonly dip below zero. Ask to speak with current professors about their job and what’s involved before signing on the dotted line.
In other areas of the country, such as in the region of Erfoud, Errachidia, and Merzouga, English teaching is very limited. There are some volunteer opportunities in the area, but not regular jobs. Moreover, other areas such as Ouarzazate, Zagora, Taroudant, Tafrout, and Essaouira also offer limited opportunities to teach, although they are amazing places to travel.
Thomas Hollowell is a travel writer and business owner. He has been published in various magazines at home and abroad and has four books to his name. Learn more about Morocco travel at http://www.