How much can you earn teaching English abroad?

If you’re considering jetting off to teach English abroad then one of your top questions is likely this: how much can I earn? Salaries vary hugely from country to country, and even within countries there can be a reasonable difference in how much you can earn teaching in a big city compared to a more rural area.

Will you get rich teaching English abroad? It’s unlikely, unless you’re something of an entrepreneur with ambitions to open a string of successful language schools! Most people are drawn to TEFL primarily because of a love of teaching and travelling. EFL teachers live and work within a community, becoming so much more immersed in a different culture and way of life than a holiday could ever offer!

While you’re unlikely to get rich it’s still important to be aware of how much you can expect to earn. Some countries offer higher salaries than others, but keep in mind the cost of living! Countries like Japan and Hong Kong offer teachers attractively high salaries but the living costs are also high, whereas in Vietnam and South Korea teachers salaries can go a lot further due to lower living costs.

How are TEFL salaries determined?

Generally speaking, experience is what determines salaries in the TEFL industry. While factors such as your education, non-EFL teaching experience, and even nationality can make it easier for you to secure work, they’re unlikely to secure you a higher salary in your first TEFL job.

Will taking a specific TEFL course mean I can earn more?

It’s unlikely that a specific TEFL course will secure you a better paid job. While it’s certainly important to gain your qualification through a properly accredited and internationally recognised provider, one won’t earn you more over another. Studying with a reputable and established course provider will make it easier to secure work, however.

What about doing more TEFL hours?

Most TEFL jobs abroad require teachers to have a 120-hour TEFL qualification. So, if you’ve taken a 120-hour or above course you’ll be eligible for most entry-level positions.

But what about courses with 300, 400, even 500+ hours? Will more training mean you’re able to secure a better paid job? Unfortunately not, and it can even be a waste of time and money. If you’re taking a course over 120 hours then the additional hours should be tailored to your goals.

For example, if you’re aiming to teach English to young learners then you should consider taking a 120-hour or Level 5 TEFL course and then adding on advanced training, such as our Teaching Young Learners course. This is much more beneficial than doing hundreds of hours of general TEFL training.

A woman holding a Euro note


Europe

Europe is a great place to find work teaching English. While the salaries aren’t particularly high teachers can still enjoy a good standard of living. Countries like Spain, Italy, and Poland, where the demand for qualified EFL teachers is high have low living costs compared to the likes of the UK and USA.

EU citizens seriously benefit from freedom of movement, which makes it easy for them to find work across the continent. For non-EU citizens (and it remains to be seen what Brexit will mean for UK teachers) working in Europe can be a real challenge. But not an impossible one!

CountryAvg. monthly salaryDegree requiredStart of termTeaching experienceHousing & flights includedSuitable for non-native English speakersAge restrictions
Czech Republic£550 - £950
($700 - $1,200)
PreferredSeptemberPreferred No YesNone
France£725 - £1,500
($900 - $1,900)
YesSeptemberPreferred No YesNone
Germany£800 - £1,600
($1,000 - $2,000)
PreferredAugust No No YesNone
Greece£650 - £950
($800 - $1,200)
YesSeptember No No YesNone
Italy£800 - £1,200
($1,000 - $1,500)
PreferredSeptember No No YesNone
Poland£500 - £800
($600 - $1,000)
YesSeptember NoAccommodation sometimes included YesNone
Portugal£800 - £1,200
($1,000 - $1,500)
YesSeptemberPreferred No YesNone
Russia£800 - £1,300
($1,000 - $1,600)
PreferredSeptemberPreferredSometimes YesNone
Slovenia£550 - £950
($700 - $1,200)
PreferredOctoberPreferred No YesNone
Spain£650 - £1,150
($800 - $1,400)
PreferredSeptember No No YesNone

Asia

If you’re looking to make the most money in your first TEFL job then Asia is where you want to go. The demand for English teachers across this vast continent is off the scale in some parts, with China in particular really driving demand. But you’ll find plenty of jobs elsewhere, in countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, South Korea and many more.

Jobs in a number of these countries typically come with great perks as well. Some will include accommodation and flight reimbursement in your contract. We’ve heard of some teachers who’ve been able to save £10,000+ in a year!

CountryAvg. monthly salaryDegree requiredStart of termTeaching experienceHousing & flights includedSuitable for non-native English speakersAge restrictions
Cambodia£650 - £950
($800 - $1,200)
NoSeptember No No YesUnder 65
China£1,200 - £1,600
($1,500 - $2,000)
YesSeptember No YesYes, if degree obtained from an English-speaking countryUnder 55
Hong Kong£1,600 - £2,800
($2,000 - $3,500)
YesAugust NoNot usually YesUnder 60
Indonesia£700 - £1,100
($850 - $1,350)
YesJuly NoNot usually NoUnder 60
Japan£1,600 - £2,200
($2,000 - $2,700)
YesApril NoSometimes YesUnder 65
Malaysia£900 - £1,850
($1,100 - $2,300)
YesJanuaryPreferredSometimes YesUnder 60
Myanmar£1,000 - £1,800
($1,250 - $2,200)
YesJunePreferredSometimes NoNone
South Korea£1,300 - £2,000
($1,600 - $2,500)
YesMarch No Yes NoUnder 60
Thailand£800 - £1,050
($1,000 - $1,300)
YesMay NoSometimes YesNone
Vietnam£950 - £1,300
($1,200 - $1,500)
YesAugust No No YesUnder 60

Middle East & Africa

First things first, the Middle East isn’t typically for newbie EFL teachers. Those high (often tax-free) salaries attract more competition, which means employers can be selective in their hiring. Unless you have at least two years’ experience teaching English then it’s unlikely you’ll find work in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE. Some employers will even advertise a preference for teachers who have an MA.

For those teachers who do fit the criteria it’s possible to earn more teaching in Middle East than anywhere else in the world. If this is your aim then gain your initial experience elsewhere in the world and then apply for jobs in the region.

In Africa many positions are on a voluntary basis, and in those countries where it’s possible to find paid work don’t expect to earn much.

CountryAvg. monthly salaryDegree requiredStart of termTeaching experienceHousing & flights includedSuitable for non-native English speakersAge restrictions
Algeria£550 - £900
($700 - $1,100)
YesMarch No No NoNone
Bahrain£1,200 - £2,500
($1,500 - $3,000)
YesJanuary Yes Yes NoUnder 60
Egypt£400 - £700
($500 - $900)
YesSeptemberPreferred No NoNone
Jordan£500 - £950
($600 - $1,100)
PreferredAugust No No YesNone
Kuwait£1,200 - £2,000
($1,500 - $2,500)
YesSeptember Yes Yes YesUnder 60
Lebanon£650 - £1,200
($800 - $1,500)
PreferredAugust No No YesNone
Morocco£400 - £800
($500 - $1,000)
YesSeptember No No YesNone
Qatar£1,200 - £2,800
($1,500 - $3,500)
YesSeptember Yes Yes NoNone
Saudi Arabia£1,600 - £3,200
($2,000 - $4,000)
YesAugust Yes Yes NoUnder 60
UAE£1,600 - £4,000
($2,000 - $5,000)
YesAugust Yes Yes NoUnder 65

South & Central America

It’s a part of the world popular with backpackers and EFL teachers alike. You can find TEFL jobs across South and Central America, with strong markets in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador.

Salaries aren’t very high, but with low living costs you won’t have to worry about making ends meet as an EFL teacher. And for teachers who don’t have a degree the good news is that you can find work in most countries in the region without one!

CountryAvg. monthly salaryDegree requiredStart of termTeaching experienceHousing & flights includedSuitable for non-native English speakersAge restrictions
Argentina£500 - £950
($600 - $1,200)
NoMarchPreferred No YesNone
Bolivia£400 - £550
($500 - $700)
NoFebruaryPreferred No YesNone
Brazil£650 - £900
($800 - $1,100)
NoFebruary No No YesNone
Chile£550 - £800
($700 - $1,000)
NoMarch No No YesNone
Colombia£400 - £800
($500 - $1,000)
NoJanuary/February No No YesUnder 62
Ecuador£400 - £650
($500 - $800)
PreferredMayPreferred No YesNone
Guatemala£400 - £550
($500 - $700)
PreferredJanuary No No YesNone
Mexico£400 - £800
($500 - $1,000)
PreferredAugust NoSometimes YesNone
Peru£325 - £650
($400 - $800)
YesMarchPreferredSometimes YesUnder 70
Uruguay£325 - £800
($400 - $1000)
PreferredMarchPreferred No YesNone

Find out more about teaching English abroad with our Definitive Guide

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5 thoughts on “How much can you earn teaching English abroad?

  1. It this for teaching on site? What about teaching online? How many jobs can one reasonably take on if teaching online? I’m moving to Italy, so I am seeking out teaching online.

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