Exchange FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to apply?

The exchange educator must be a non-probationary, full-time employee of the current school district. By the beginning of the exchange, four and a half years of classroom teaching and/or professional experience are required, with the last three years in your present district or school. There should be a lapse of three years between exchanges.  You must hold a state teaching license. You must be a US citizen.

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How long does an exchange last?

For a CITEL exchange to Australia, a full calendar year matching the Australia academic year, generally from about January 1 to the end of December.  The exchange requires the Colorado educator to leave mid-contract year.

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Where may exchanges take place?

CITEL exchanges currently take place in the following locations:

  • Australian Capital Territory
  • New South Wales
  • Northern Territory
  • Queensland Independent Schools
  • South Australia
  • Victoria, Australia

Note: New Zealand, Western Australia, and Queensland State Schools have discontinued their exchange programs. 

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What are the personal and professional qualities of an exchange candidate?

Educator Exchange positions are very competitive. There are more applicants than available positions.  Successful candidates must be excellent ambassadors and should be able to communicate effectively.  Exchange educators may be called upon to talk about their state education system, educational practices, and life in the United States.  An Exchange Educator may be the first American whom Australians have met.

Educators need to be flexible and adaptable to school systems that use unfamiliar methods. Schools vary as they reflect the philosophy of individual administrators, their communities, location (city, town, country), or the background of the students enrolled.  It will be very different from your present teaching assignment.

Educators and their families must be prepared to adapt to a new environment, different living accommodation, an unknown community, and definite cultural differences. An open mind and a willingness to adapt and learn are the keys to a successful exchange.

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What are the benefits of an exchange?

  • Students benefit from being taught by a visiting overseas educator who brings to the classroom new ideas and experiences from a different educational system and culture.
  • Educators and schools in the US gain access to new ideas and teaching methods by working closely with an educator from another country and education system.
  • Visiting educators provide valuable input into curriculum within schools by contributing their knowledge and asking questions about education in their US School.
  • Educators have the opportunity to work in another educational system, exchange ideas and knowledge, observe different teaching practices, and experience another culture and environment.
  • The home school gains when the overseas teacher is here teaching a class and again when the US teacher returns to share the experiences and knowledge gained while on exchange.

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What are the terms and conditions of an exchange?

The following Terms & Conditions of Exchange should be carefully read.


  • full-time permanent employee of a US school or school district
  • a minimum of 4 1/2 years continuous professional experience
  • employed a minimum of three years by the present independent school or school district
  • 3 years since your last exchange
  • a state educator License
  • US citizen

Teaching Assignment:

Be aware of the time commitment for your exchange. The American educator will work under the direction of the authority of the foreign exchange agency. At the end of the exchange, educators cannot enter the permanent employment of the education authority to which they have been exchanged. They agree to return to their American schools. Educators on exchange are sometimes called on to give lectures on life in America and to address interested adult groups about our system of education. Preference is given to those who have participated fully in the cultural and civic life of their own communities and have contributed to their own schools.

Other Exchange Details

Exchange does not involve any change in salary. The educator will continue to be paid under his or her school or school district contract. All current benefits continue.  Educators exchange accommodation (living quarters). This is regarded as a matter to be resolved on a personal level between the educators concerned. Exchange of cars is not recommended.

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Can my partner also participate in an exchange?

Two persons desiring exchanges at a common location must indicate such desire on their respective applications. Joint matches are difficult to obtain, but they can be made.

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What happens when I return?

The educator will return to his/her current position at the end of the exchange. The educator is not entitled to return to his or her current position if returning before the end of the exchange period.

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What are the personal adjustments I’ll need to make?

The first few months require many adjustments and are usually the most difficult for the exchangee and family. These adjustments might include:

  • a different climate
  • a new country and society, laws, communication, customs, and rules
  • a different school, students, curriculum, structure, administration, and responsibilities
  • a new house and neighborhood – orientation, making friends, budgeting and buying for household needs, possibly living a different life style
  • the exchangee’s own expectations – cost of living, life at school/ home, availability of “free” time and opportunity for travel, and family life – stress of the new job, settling the children and the non-working partner

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What are my financial considerations?

Applicants should give immediate and careful consideration to finance. Additional savings are a necessity. Sufficient funds should be allowed to cover preparation expenses, travel to your exchange location, settling into a new country, and travel during the exchange year. Considerations:

  • Your spouse may be non-working unless you are doing a double exchange
  • Currency exchange rates will vary

Your two biggest expenses will be airfare and transportation, once you’re there.

  • Airlines don’t usually book one year ahead. Look for deals with travel agents. Round-trip airfare to Australia can cost $2,500 and more per person.
  • Most of the problems with exchanges have been as a result of exchanging automobiles. Sponsoring agencies recommend that you do NOT exchange vehicles. Buying a used vehicle is usually your best choice. That will cost you $4,000-$5,000 in Australia. Depreciation is slight, but it isn’t always easy to sell your car after the exchange is over. You can’t count on getting your money back right away.

Utilities and food will be about the same over there as here.  You will have vacation travel expenses. You will want to travel as much as you can while you are there.

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Is there anything special I need to know about completing the application forms?

The application is an application for an educational position overseas and should be professionally presented. This is your introduction to the interviewers and to the overseas authorities. Adequate time and consideration should be allocated to its completion.

A typed application represents you as a professional person. Do not use acronyms, as overseas authorities will not be familiar with the terminology (e.g., CEA). The application is downloadable from this site (MS Word).

When filling out the application, provide as much detail as possible, particularly if you have a specialized teaching assignment, to indicate the detailed duties expected of the exchange educator. If there is anything unusual about your teaching assignment e.g., you teach half time in each of two schools, make it clear on your application.

Select location preferences carefully. Do not indicate a location if you are not prepared to accept an exchange position there. However, keep in mind that limiting your location options will restrict your chances of exchange.

While it is possible to arrange spouse/partner exchanges, it is more difficult to place couples than educators in a single exchange.

Enclose a school/passport photo (not one from your last party).  Ensure that photos of the accommodation/school are labeled and attached securely. The best way to present your photos is as color laser montages with color for the three copies of your application as well as your original. 

  • Be sure to attach the required letters, floor plan of your home, and the signed exchange statement, which is part of the application. Be sure all items are included in the CD you submit

Application forms must be received by the date noted on the form.

Remember to include the appropriate fees with your application. For successful applicants there will be a substantial additional administrative fee if you are matched.

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What is the matching process?

For CITEL exchanges the matching process involves the following:

  • Matching takes place from February to August in Australia.
  • Successful applicants are selected on merit including teaching experience, teaching assignment, community involvement, principal or supervisor references, and personal circumstances such as size of family, living accommodation, and location preferences. A regular classroom teacher has the best chance of finding an exchange partner, but there is no way to predict who will get matched.
  • In the event that the applicant decides to withdraw from the program, immediate written notification to the exchange Officer is required.
  • Written notification is also required if circumstances change (e.g., transfer of schools, change of living accommodation, change of telephone number or address).
  • In the event that an applicant changes schools or position, the application for exchange should be discussed with the new principal and the following information should be forwarded to the Exchange Officer: Principal’s approval, details of new school and teaching assignment, and/or living accommodation.
  • Applicants are advised not to call with questions regarding the progress of exchange matching, as the matching is done in Australia.  You and your principal will be notified immediately when an exchange is proposed for you.
  • Those applicants not receiving a match will be notified when the matching process has been completed in Australia.

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What professional and personal arrangements do I need to make?

Professional Arrangements:

In order to contribute to the success of the exchange, successful applicants are required to:

  • correspond with the exchange partner to obtain information on the foreign school system and the professional requirements of the exchange position
  • correspond with the overseas principal or supervisor regarding expectations
  • prepare units of work and resources, prepare the classroom, and provide curriculum documents for the incoming teacher
  • inform and prepare the students, staff, and parents for the arrival of the incoming exchange teacher, making them aware of the implications and benefits of the exchange situation; and nominate a school sponsor and a community sponsor to assist your exchange partner

Personal Arrangements: Applicants are responsible for arranging their own travel and transportation. They are also responsible for obtaining the necessary visas. Acceptance of the exchange implies willingness of exchangees to organize mutual housing arrangements. Options are to exchange houses or to arrange for a mutually satisfactory alternative, such as rental of a house through a real estate agent. Each party continues to pay mortgage/rent in the home country and educators are expected to ensure that the exchange accommodation is fully furnished. You may not offer a living accommodation that must be shared (such as with a room-mate).

CITEL and CEA will provide the best current advice available, but they cannot accept responsibility for these personal aspects of an exchange and are only facilitators in the exchange process.

Success of an exchange relies on the integrity and good sense of the exchange partners.

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What is the application timeline?

CITEL program timeline (for Australian exchanges)

  • August: CITEL Program information (including updated applications) is posted on this website.
  • November:  Applicants should submit Section 6 of the application to their Principal and other Administrators for approval and references.
  • January: Australia Application deadline. Completed applications must be submitted to the Exchange Officer by the date specified on the application.
  • January: Each applicant is interviewed.
  • February:  All applications for Australia are sent to participating states in Australia.
  • March to June: Matches are made. Exchange Officers in Australia review the applications that are sent to them. They consider the grades and subjects taught by the US teacher, the size of the town or city in which the teacher lives, the size of the living quarters, and all the other details an applicant is asked to supply.
  • August/September: Former exchange educators who are CITEL members will host a mandatory orientation for all matched Colorado teachers. Exchange applicants are asked to come with a list of all their questions about the exchange process. CITEL members are available to support Colorado educators and their exchange partners throughout the entire exchange process. It is expected that all returning exchange educators will join CITEL to support future exchanges.
  • December/January:  Exchanges begin.

If one of the overseas applicants has matching qualifications for a US educator, and if that applicant and his/her principal think it would be a good match, that Australian state sends a proposal to the CITEL Exchange Officer/Coordinator. The US applicant and his/her principal are notified that a proposal has been received.

The US applicant, principal, and superintendent review the overseas application and decide whether it would be a good match for their school/district. After all parties have agreed that it would be a good match and approval has been received in the US and overseas,  communication begins between applicants. Details of the exchange are agreed upon. At this point, facilitators become less involved and serve primarily as advisors.

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What if I don’t live in Colorado?

Applicants who are not teaching or living in Colorado may apply, please contact Judy Hansen for special instructions.

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