Teaching English abroad salaries: what to expect

Earning potential might not be the primary motivator behind your decision to TEFL – you’re unlikely to get rich as a teacher, after all – but it’s still an important factor to look into.

Will a TEFL teacher’s salary be enough to support you while you live abroad? Will you have enough to live comfortably, or will money be tight? And can you save money while teaching English abroad?

The answer to these questions mainly comes down to where you teach. In this article we’re going to take a close look at TEFL salaries, covering what entry-level teachers can expect to earn, as well as the average salaries for dozens of countries across the globe.

A woman counting money

How much can you earn teaching English?

How much you can earn teaching English abroad can depend on a few different factors, such as:

  • Where you teach English
  • How much experience you have
  • Your other qualifications
  • Your TEFL qualification

Let’s take a look at each of these points in more detail.

Where you teach

Teachers’ salaries vary hugely from country-to-country. As a general rule, TEFL salaries will be in line with the cost of living and you should be able to live comfortably on your wage.

Higher salaries can be found in Asia and the Middle East, so if returning home with a healthy bank balance is your main goal then that’s where you’ll want to focus your search.

You’ll also find that salaries can vary significantly within a country. Salaries in big cities will typically be higher than in smaller towns and more rural areas to compensate for higher costs of living.

How much experience you have

TEFL salaries are typically determined by experience more than anything else. And this means direct EFL teaching experience – experience teaching other subjects, while definitely beneficial, won’t give you an instant salary bump.

Your other qualifications

A degree is a visa requirement for a number of countries abroad. Unfortunately, the countries that pay the highest also typically require a degree, so your earning potential is limited without one.

Having a degree opens up doors and makes it easier to secure work, but don’t despair if you don’t have one. There are still plenty of opportunities to TEFL. Check out our post about how to TEFL without a degree for more information.

Your TEFL qualification

It would be disingenuous of any TEFL course provider to tell you that their course will earn you more money. It doesn’t really work like that – your earning potential as a first-time teacher with a qualification from a properly accredited TEFL course provider vs a CELTA, for example, is typically the same. Remember, experience is the most important factor in determining salaries.

Where there can be a difference is if you’ve signed up for a budget TEFL course, like those advertised on Groupon. These courses are incredibly cheap for a reason – they usually include a variety of hidden costs, little or no tutor or customer support, and, most problematically, are rarely adequately accredited.

One of the first things most recruiters and employers will look at is if your TEFL qualification is accredited by established and respected external bodies. If it isn’t then you may struggle to secure work, and having fewer options means you may end up settling for a lower salary. It can also put you at risk of falling foul of a TEFL scam or bad employer!

A man holding a piggy bank

Salaries vs the cost of living

When you’re looking into TEFL salaries it’s important to also consider the cost of living in that country. For example, the average salary in Chile is around £550 – £800 ($700 – $1,000), which probably sounds low if your comparison point is salaries in your home country. But with the low cost of living in Chile that will be enough for you to live off.

On the other hand, in some countries salaries might look high but you need to factor in other expenses. The average salaries in Northern Europe look at first glance to be fairly high, but so are the cost of living and taxes.

Accommodation, flights and other benefits

In some countries it’s common for teaching contracts to include a range of benefits, such as flight reimbursement, accommodation, and health insurance.

This can make a big difference in terms of how much disposable income you’re left with. The average salary in China is £1,200 – £1,600 ($1,500 – $2,000) and in Japan it’s £1,600 – £2,200 ($2,000 – $2,700), but while salaries are higher in Japan you won’t necessarily save more. In China it’s common for accommodation to be provided for teachers, which isn’t usually the case in Japan. With accommodation covered by your employer you’ll have more money leftover for leisure and/or saving!

TEFL salaries by country

We’ve put together some useful tables detailing the average salaries and requirements for countries across the globe. Keep in mind that these are intended as a guide, but we’ve done our best to ensure the information is accurate and as up-to-date as possible!

One of the best ways of getting an idea of how much you can earn in in a specific country is to look up job adverts there. You can take a look at what’s listed over on our TEFL Jobs Centre.

TEFL salaries in Europe

The amount you can earn in Europe really varies by region, with higher salaries to be found in the North and West, and lower in the East and South. But remember that where salaries are higher the cost of living is also going to be higher!

In many European countries it’s common for teachers to work for multiple companies and schools for an hourly rate. In most countries it can be tricky or even near-impossible for non-EU citizens to find legal work, so make sure to investigate visa requirements.

Country Avg. monthly salary Degree required Start of term Teaching experience Housing & flights included Suitable for non-native English speakers Age restrictions
Austria £700 - £2,600
($850 - 3,200)
Preferred September Preferred No Yes None
Belgium £1,455 - £1,780
($1,800 - $2,200)
Preferred September Preferred No Yes None
Czech Republic £500 – £1,285
$600 – $1,450)
Preferred September Preferred No Yes None
Denmark £2,900 - £3,900
($3,600 - $4,800)
Preferred September Preferred No Yes None
Estonia £720 - £900
($920 - $1,150)
Preferred September Preferred Accommodation sometimes included Yes None
Finland £700 - £3,050
($900 - $3,850)
Preferred August/September Preferred No Yes None
France £926 – £1,852
($1,082 – $2,164)
Yes September Preferred No Yes None
Germany £1,1123 - £1,872
($1,297 - $2,162)
Preferred August No No Yes None
Greece £630 – £900
($790 – $1,100)
Yes September No No Yes None
Hungary £390 - £650
($500 - $830)
Preferred August/September Preferred No Yes None
Italy £1,054 – £1,229
($1,312 – $1,531)
Preferred September No No Yes None
Netherlands £1,300 - £2,600
($1,600 - $2,800)
Preferred September Yes No Yes None
Norway £2,100 - £2,500
($2,580 - $3,090)
Preferred August/September Preferred No Yes None
Poland £400 – £700
($480 – $850)
Yes September No Accommodation sometimes included Yes None
Portugal £616 – £880
($756 – $1,080)
Yes September Preferred No Yes None
Romania £200 - £460
($260 - 580)
Preferred September No Accommodation sometimes included Yes None
Russia £800 - £1,300
($1,000 - $1,600)
Preferred September Preferred Sometimes Yes None
Slovakia £330 - £900
($400 - $1,120)
Preferred September No No Yes None
Slovenia £550 - £950
($700 - $1,200)
Preferred October Preferred No Yes None
Spain £614 - £1,317
($758 - $1,623)
Preferred September No No Yes None
Sweden £1,100 - £2,400
($1,400 - $3,000)
Preferred September Preferred No Yes None
Switzerland £1,850 - £2,475
($2,260 - $3,015)
Preferred August/September Preferred No Yes None
Turkey £170 - £575
($220 - $730)
Yes September No Accommodation sometimes included Yes None
Ukraine £215 - £920
($260 - $1,125)
Preferred September No Accommodation sometimes included Yes None

TEFL salaries in Asia

If you’re looking for the best entry-level salaries then Asia is your best bet. China represents the biggest TEFL jobs market in the world, but you can find strong demand in the likes of Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan. You’ll need a degree to teach in most of Asia, with Cambodia the only exception.

In some countries, like China and South Korea, it’s standard for accommodation to be included in a teacher’s contract, which frees up a lot of your wage.

Country Avg. monthly salary Degree required Start of term Teaching experience Housing & flights included Suitable for non-native English speakers Age restrictions
Cambodia £650 - £950
($800 - $1,200)
No September No No Yes Under 65
China £1,200 - £1,600
($1,500 - $2,000)
Yes September No Yes Yes, if degree obtained from an English-speaking country Under 55
Hong Kong £1,600 - £2,800
($2,000 - $3,500)
Yes August No Not usually Yes Under 60
Indonesia £700 - £1,100
($850 - $1,350)
Yes July No Not usually No Under 60
Japan £1,600 - £2,200
($2,000 - $2,700)
Yes April No Sometimes Yes Under 65
Malaysia £900 - £1,850
($1,100 - $2,300)
Yes January Preferred Sometimes Yes Under 60
Myanmar £1,000 - £1,800
($1,250 - $2,200)
Yes June Preferred Sometimes No None
South Korea £1,300 - £2,000
($1,600 - $2,500)
Yes March No Yes No Under 60
Thailand £800 - £1,050
($1,000 - $1,300)
Yes May No Sometimes Yes None
Vietnam £950 - £1,300
($1,200 - $1,500)
Yes August No No Yes Under 60

TEFL salaries in Central & South America

You won’t be left with much to save when teaching English in this part of the world, but the salaries aren’t what draws teachers to Central & South America.

Living costs are generally very low, but don’t expect to be able to save much after accommodation and other essentials. It’s also important to note that it can be hard to get a sense of what the current going-rate is as many employers won’t advertise online – finding work in this part of the world is best done on the ground.

Country Avg. monthly salary Degree required Start of term Teaching experience Housing & flights included Suitable for non-native English speakers Age restrictions
Argentina £500 - £950
($600 - $1,200)
No March Preferred No Yes None
Bolivia £400 - £550
($500 - $700)
No February Preferred No Yes None
Brazil £650 - £900
($800 - $1,100)
No February No No Yes None
Chile £550 - £800
($700 - $1,000)
No March No No Yes None
Colombia £400 - £800
($500 - $1,000)
No January/February No No Yes Under 62
Ecuador £400 - £650
($500 - $800)
Preferred May Preferred No Yes None
Guatemala £400 - £550
($500 - $700)
Preferred January No No Yes None
Mexico £400 - £800
($500 - $1,000)
Preferred August No Sometimes Yes None
Peru £325 - £650
($400 - $800)
Yes March Preferred Sometimes Yes Under 70
Uruguay £325 - £800
($400 - $1000)
Preferred March Preferred No Yes None

TEFL salaries in the Middle East & Africa

The Middle East is where you’ll find the highest TEFL salaries in the world. But the high, tax-free salaries, mean there’s plenty of competition for positions, which means employers can afford to be picky. As a result, you’ll need a couple of years’ experience under your belt to be eligible for jobs in countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

In Africa you’ll find most paid opportunities are in the north of the continent, in countries such as Egypt, Morocco, and Algeria. Elsewhere most positions are on a voluntary basis.

Country Avg. monthly salary Degree required Start of term Teaching experience Housing & flights included Suitable for non-native English speakers Age restrictions
Algeria £550 - £900
($700 - $1,100)
Yes March No No No None
Bahrain £1,200 - £2,500
($1,500 - $3,000)
Yes January Yes Yes No Under 60
Egypt £400 - £700
($500 - $900)
Yes September Preferred No No None
Jordan £500 - £950
($600 - $1,100)
Preferred August No No Yes None
Kuwait £1,200 - £2,000
($1,500 - $2,500)
Yes September Yes Yes Yes Under 60
Lebanon £650 - £1,200
($800 - $1,500)
Preferred August No No Yes None
Morocco £400 - £800
($500 - $1,000)
Yes September No No Yes None
Qatar £1,200 - £2,800
($1,500 - $3,500)
Yes September Yes Yes No None
Saudi Arabia £1,600 - £3,200
($2,000 - $4,000)
Yes August Yes Yes No Under 60
UAE £1,600 - £4,000
($2,000 - $5,000)
Yes August Yes Yes No Under 65


Where are you interested in teaching English abroad? Let us know in the comments! 

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2 thoughts on “Teaching English abroad salaries: what to expect

  1. It’s important to remember that when abroad, you’ll be living like the locals do, which means you may spend money on different types of entertainment or sightseeing, and you’ll definitely have to get used to different prices — whether good or bad — when it comes to buying food, paying for medical expenses, renting an apartment, and more. Before taking the plunge, it’s essential that you research locations and learn what you need to do in order to teach English abroad .

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