Teach English Abroad

With so many incredible opportunities across the globe, there’s never been a better time to become an English teacher overseas. In this guide, we cover finding the right job for you, what you need to be a successful teacher abroad, where the demand is highest for budding teachers, and so much more!

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Teach English abroad

Travelling the world can feel like something that’s out of reach. There’s a whole planet out there, but the reality for most people is that travel can be hugely expensive, and extremely time-consuming.

What if it wasn’t? What if the answer was getting a job teaching English as a foreign language abroad?

What if, with TEFL certification, you could relocate and be teaching abroad within less than a year? Maybe even earn more money per month than you do now? What if you could meet all kinds of people, and have unique and fascinating experiences while giving something back to the communities you visit?

What if all it took was the ability to speak English, the time and resources to pass a course, and the get-up-and-go to make teaching abroad happen?

Well, that’s the Teaching English as a Foreign Language experience. Getting started is probably a lot easier than you realise. Teaching jobs are plentiful, teach abroad programmes - to give you some experience first - are commonplace, and there are English teachers posted from their own homes to the far reaches who can help you along the way.

In this article, we’ll cover everything, from “who” can teach English overseas, how to find English teaching jobs abroad, what salaries are like for ESL teachers and so much more. Perhaps this will be the reassurance you need if you think you’d like to teach English as a second or foreign language, but just aren’t quite sure.

For making the leap into English teaching, the rewards are incredible. Life-changing experiences await in any number of countries, whether you’re working in classrooms or tutoring groups of adult learners. 

So, teaching abroad - why not you?

Who can teach English abroad?

When we ask “why not you?”, we do mean you. There is always a smorgasbord of ESL jobs available to all sorts of applicants, from the new and inexperienced to the veteran teachers, the career changers, the recent graduates to retirees. 

There really are English language learners everywhere, but who is in a position to teach them? Let’s discuss who can teach English abroad.

Students and graduates

Some people finish college, school or university and aren’t sure of their next steps. It’s not uncommon to wonder what’s next. On the other hand, there are others who are certain they want to see more of the world and bolster their CV before picking a career path. 

Some people might want to give the vocation a try first, before committing to a postgraduate teaching course, with the aim of teaching English overseas in the future.

Teaching English as a Foreign language offers prospective university students, university graduates and young people, in general, a perfect opportunity. TEFL-certified teachers see new corners of the world and gain priceless, international work experience. Even if you’re unsure of whether in-person teaching, or indeed teaching in general, is something you want to pursue long-term, living and working abroad as an English teacher can nurture a range of skills that transfer into different job markets.

Living abroad and teaching abroad have their own challenges that you’ll have to adapt to, learn from, and overcome. By doing that, a person can build character and really invest in their personal development. In other words, it really does change people for the better.

Even if you haven’t graduated yet, there are opportunities to teach English during the summer months. Summer schools recruit huge numbers of English teachers every year. So whether you’re a student or a graduate - or neither - TEFL offers opportunities to develop both yourself and your career opportunities.

How to teach English abroad

So, you're into the idea of teaching English abroad? That's great; English teachers are needed worldwide, from Spain to South Korea, Nepal to Nicaragua. The doors really are open for qualified teachers across the globe.

What do you actually need to teach abroad, though? Are there requirements? Limitations? How expensive is it?

All good questions. Let's take a look at how you'd go about starting your English teaching journey.

Qualifications and certificates to teach English abroad

Firstly, do you need a degree to take up a TEFL course and become an English teacher overseas?

Not necessarily. Generally, you don't need to have a bachelor's degree or, indeed, any university degree to get started. All you need is the finances to start a course, and the ability to speak English.

You won't even need teaching experience to land a TEFL job, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

What you will need is TEFL certification. Employers want to know you have the wherewithal and the skills to successfully navigate a course, and there are plenty available. From Level 5 qualifications to starter courses, 120 hours to much longer, TEFL courses of all stripes offer different experiences and attributes.

Which course is right for you? Well, there are handy resources like our TEFL Course Quiz that might help you answer that question. Different organisations will offer different lengths of course. Some are self-paced, with tutor support, and allow you to complete the course at your leisure. The industry standard - i.e., the qualification for really getting yourself noticed - is 120 hours of quality teaching.

Ultimately, you want to pick a course that works for you, where you feel supported and have ample time to put together lesson plans and are given everything you need to prepare for the world of English teaching.

Courses with top accreditation are likely to yield better results.

Download our TEFL guide to the World!

How to choose the right TEFL course

With so many TEFL courses out there, it might feel like a bit of a minefield to find the right path to teach abroad.

TEFL certification programs are varied. For beginners, course providers tend to offer all-encompassing courses between 120 and 200 hours, either online or in-person, with continual assessments throughout the course. A good TEFL course will cover lesson planning, English grammar, how to handle classes of various sizes and abilities, and a range of other skills to keep students engaged and interested.

Advanced courses are also widely available. These can offer more specific guidance on topics like Business English, teaching young learners, exam preparation, and more. If it helps, you can think of your 120-hour course as a bachelor's degree and advanced TEFL as a master's.

Of course, it depends on what you want to teach, and to what level. It’s important to avoid doing a course that doesn’t adequately prepare you for teaching English abroad.

With TEFL courses, there is variety beyond the initial certification. If you need something more specific or want to go over particular scenarios for teaching English abroad, it’s worth speaking to a dedicated TEFL tutor.

Tutor support

Before you sign up for a TEFL course, it’s important to find out how much tutor support you’ll be getting from people with real teaching experience.

You want to make sure you’re learning from tutors who are both qualified EFL teachers and experienced teacher trainers. That way, you’ll be able to pick up both theoretical and practical tips for teaching English abroad.

On a good English teaching course, you’ll be assigned the same online tutor from start to finish, rather than be passed around to different people who don’t get the chance to get to know you and your work.

When you’re working through your course, you want to have a single individual who you can contact for advice and guidance. It’s a crucial part of your learning experience.

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TEFL course accreditation: why it matters

For employers, and in terms of value for money, course providers with top accreditation are the best choice.

Accreditation bodies like Ofqual and the British Accreditation Council should be names you see on any good course provider’s website. These regulatory bodies ensure the highest quality of teaching, materials and resources from a provider.

Just like applying for a school, university or a bachelor's degree, these kinds of things are important. It’ll help in the long run, too; if an employer sees you’ve attained a certification from a widely-acclaimed organisation, they’ll take your qualification more seriously.

Good accrediting bodies have rigorous standards that a provider must meet. Going through this external assessment is a significant undertaking for a course provider. Therefore, their courses must be of high quality in order to earn accreditation.

If you’re unsure about the source of an organisation’s accreditation, look them up on a search engine and read our handy guide about why TEFL accreditation is important.

Groupon and discount TEFL courses

A TEFL course at a discount rate that promises qualification in next to no time?

It sounds too good to be true! And yes, sadly, it is.

Unfortunately, much like other industries, there are unscrupulous TEFL merchants out there “offering” certification to teach English abroad. These courses often promise the earth at a rock-bottom cost.

The fact is, though, these courses are rarely if ever, accredited by any respected teaching authority. What’s more, the hidden costs are abundant. The timescale being promised might be unreasonable, which means you’ll likely need to pay to extend the course.

Keep in mind, for teaching English abroad you’ll most likely need a hard copy of your certificate. This won’t be included in a budget course and can easily set you back more than what you initially paid for the course!

If something seems too cheap to believe, then it’s not the kind of qualification that’ll land you a good teaching position. Employers want to see applicants for English teaching positions who have completed fully accredited, reputable programmes. English teaching jobs abroad aren’t won with slap-dash qualifications.

The sad fact is, there’s no ultra-cheap, ultra-quick way to ensure you’ll get a job teaching English abroad.

The good news is, however, there are fantastic courses designed by real English tutors that can get you more than ready to teach English abroad – and for a reasonable cost with no extra, hidden fees.

Does the TEFL course I do matter?

In short: absolutely, yes. If you want to work as a teacher or build a client base of online students, the course you do has to be high-quality. 

Groupon might be offering a quick TEFL course at a discount price, but it's unlikely to be up to scratch. There won’t be adequate tutor support, meaning you’re not getting proper feedback on your work. Chances are, the training you get won’t even be from teachers, so it’s a case of the uninformed leading the curious. What’s more, if you do an unaccredited course, it’s unlikely to mean much, since the course provider hasn’t been inspected and approved by the top educational authorities. These things matter a great deal, especially to employers of repute.

Whereas a comprehensive course at a competitive cost that's been accredited by major educational bodies is likely to arm you with everything you need. That is if you want to teach English abroad to a high standard, and make a living doing it.

If you're serious about teaching English abroad, picking the right course that is both recognised by employers and gives you all the knowledge and confidence you need to do the job properly is paramount.

Teaching English abroad without a TEFL qualification

Perhaps you want to try your luck teaching English abroad without official certification.

Good luck, because this really is a risky strategy. If you have no teaching experience, then the lack of a TEFL certificate will really hamper your chances of a job teaching English.

Perhaps you do have teaching experience, but not a certification? Ultimately, it depends; TEFL is a completely different experience. If you've never taught English as a foreign language, then you might have the fundamentals of teaching in your arsenal, but not necessarily the specific skills for teaching English to language learners.

Ultimately, a high-quality English teaching certificate removes a lot of the doubt and worry about applying for jobs. These days, it’s very difficult to secure a job teaching English abroad without certification - and a willingness to recruit an untrained, inexperienced teacher is usually a sign of a TEFL scam or a bad employer

Visa requirements

When it comes to landing teaching positions overseas, one of the first things people will ask is “what about a visa?”. It’s a good question.

Most overseas teaching jobs carry their own requirements. Generally speaking, you won't need a degree to teach English abroad, and previous teaching experience might be enough. However, in countries such as Japan, a bachelor's degree is required for a visa. There are solutions for this, however.

Each nation has its own entry requirements, and before you go looking for the perfect teaching job abroad, it pays to do some research.

Some regions will have stricter visa and entry requirements, even for qualified teachers. Whether you want to teach private lessons or get a job in one of the many private language schools worldwide, it makes sense to really get into the weeds with what each government requires.

For example, countries including Turkey, Japan, South Korea and the UAE generally require a degree to teach English abroad. For more on visa rules by region, check out our Teaching English Abroad Requirements page.

The start-up costs of teaching English abroad

Moving abroad to teach English can be expensive. For a start, you need to invest in a suitable TEFL course in order to gain the certification required for teaching English abroad.

Let's say that you've got your certification, and you've landed a job. Some employers might contribute, or even cover, your travel expenses to get to say, South Korea, Algeria or Cambodia. Even when employers offer to reimburse flights, though, this will typically be done at the end of your contract. To that end, you’ll need the money upfront to purchase your flight out.

If you’re heading to a country that requires a visa, there will be fees involved. There will be the processing cost of the visa itself, but you’ll also need to pay for certain documents to be legalised, such as your TEFL qualification and, if relevant, degree. A criminal background check will also likely be required.

It's also worth remembering that you’ll also need money to cover costs after you arrive until your first month's pay arrives in your account. This could include rent, groceries, leisure activities and more. A travel credit card could help with the initial costs of moving abroad, but it’s a good idea to save as much as you can in advance.

Here's what you'll need to cover for your first teaching job teaching English abroad:

  • Your TEFL qualification
  • Document legalisation fees
  • Visa fees
  • Flights
  • Deposit and first month’s rent
  • Enough to cover cost of living you until your first payslip

Where you can teach English abroad

While some English teaching graduates set up shop at home and work teaching English remotely, for many it's about getting abroad and taking on new challenges.

Within months of taking up TEFL certification, you might find yourself working as an English teacher abroad. With a constant demand for English teachers worldwide, you could find yourself teaching overseas to English language learners in South Korea, Japan, China, mainland Europe, Latin America - wherever you feel like going!

But what about teaching contracts, teaching salaries, the need to know the native language, and all the other requirements for teaching English abroad?

Much depends on the individual nation you want to move to, as obvious as that sounds. For some countries, English teachers are at a premium, and the ability to teach English means entry requirements to live and work somewhere new won't be particularly strict.

In other countries, though, like South Korea and Japan, it is necessary to have a degree to teach English.

Here's our most recent guide to the different requirements in dozens of countries for teaching English:

Teach English abroad

Discover 70+ TEFL destinations with The TEFL Org Guide to The World!

Country Avg. monthly salary Degree required Start of term Teaching experience Housing & flights included Suitable for non-native English speakers Age restrictions
Teach in Cambodia £560 - £2,000 GBP
($700 - $2,500 USD)
No November No No Yes under 65
Teach in China £1,000 - £2,000
($1,300 - $2,575)
Yes September No Yes Yes, if degree obtained from an English-speaking country Under 55
Teach in Hong Kong £1,550 - £6,300
($2,000 - $8,380)
Yes August No Not usually Yes Under 60
Teach in India £120 - £775
($150 - $1,000)
Yes April Yes No Yes None
Teach in Indonesia £560 - £1,187 GBP
($700 - $1,500 USD)
Yes July No Not usually No under 60
Teach in Japan £1,600 - £2,000
($2,100 - $2,675)
Yes April No Sometimes Yes under 65
Teach in Kazakhstan £360 - £470
($465 - $600)
Yes August Yes Yes Yes None
Teach in Malaysia £550 - £1,450
($720 - $1,900)
Yes January Preferred Sometimes Yes under 65
Teach in Myanmar £600 - £1,500
($800 - $2,000)
Yes June Preferred Sometimes No under 52
Teach in Mongolia £700 - £1,120 GBP
($875 - $1,400 USD)
Yes September Yes Sometimes Yes None
Teach in Nepal Voluntary No April No Sometimes Yes None
Teach in South Korea £1,280 - £1,600
($1,670 - $2,000)
Yes March No Yes No Under 62
Teach in Taiwan £1,335 - £1,735
($1,700 - $2,220)
Yes September No Sometimes No Under 65
Teach in Thailand £740 - £980
($1,000 - $1,280)
Yes May No Sometimes Yes None
Teach in Vietnam £920 - £ 1,500
($1,200 to $2,000)
Yes August No No Yes Under 60


The most robust jobs market in Europe can be found in Southern, Central, and Eastern Europe. Countries such as Spain, Italy, Romania and Poland are great places to look for your first job teaching English.

While there are opportunities to be found in Western Europe, it can be trickier for new teachers. Entry-level jobs do come up in Germany and France, but it’s quite rare for these to be full-time positions.

And in Northern Europe, jobs almost always go to very experienced EFL teachers. If it’s your dream to live and work as an English teacher in Scandinavia, then you’ll need to build up your experience elsewhere first.

For prospective English teachers from Britain, it's a bit trickier than it used to be. Freedom of Movement, a privilege enjoyed by EU citizens, ended for UK residents at the end of 2020. Therefore, working in an EU country can require a longer application process.

This is also true of EEA nations - Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland. UK nationals no longer have access to the streamlined residency process in these countries.

However, countries dictate their own immigration policy. In Poland, for example, "there is no obligation for UK citizens to obtain a new residence status or document." For more details on the Withdrawal Agreement and how it affects English teachers in Europe, the UK and EU website is useful.

Teach English in Europe

Discover the top European TEFL destinations with The TEFL Org Guide to Europe!

Top 5 places for TEFL in 2024

Every year, we look at a selection of great teaching spots, and if they’re deemed worthy of top 5 status for the coming 12 months, we put them under the spotlight.

2024 is no different, and while South Korea remains from last year’s top spots, there are some exciting, emerging locales where you can teach English overseas.

Let’s take a look!

South Korea

South Korea is a perennial favourite, and it remains so for 2024. 

As a country, South Korea is quite simply incredible, with 15 UNESCO Heritage sites, buzzing cities and a hybrid of rural, traditional living and modern, forward-thinking industry. It’s also just a very cool place - so much Korean pop culture has dominated the western world over recent years, from the work of Oscar-winning South Korean director Bong Joon-ho, to massive pop groups like BTS. 

It’s also an ideal destination for any TEFL teacher. A lot of jobs in South Korea provide benefits, like accommodation and subsidised air travel. There are a wide range of positions available within South Korea, from the government-run EPIK programme to the tens of thousands of hagwons (private language schools). Not only that, there are government jobs, businesses are hiring English teachers, and many prestigious universities have openings. You won’t be short of opportunities.

What’s more, the demand is huge, and the wages compare well with anywhere in Asia. Yes, it’s popular, and you’ll have competition, but schools and businesses in South Korea are constantly hiring.


Thailand hosted over 7 million tourists between January and October 2022. That’s more tourists than there are citizens in Scotland, Croatia and Uruguay. Its popularity with crowds of curious international tourists, then, speaks for itself.

What about as a destination for teaching English abroad? Well, Thailand remains very popular. This is aided by initiatives like the Thailand Teaching Programme, which pays well and includes airport pick-up, visa assistance, flexible contracts and teacher-friendly working hours. If you’re looking to go straight into permanent employment, though, there’s considerable demand for English teachers from kindergarten to the university level and beyond. 

Additionally, it’s one of the more suitable locations for non-native-level English speakers – so don’t feel intimidated if you’re qualified to teach, but English isn’t your first language.

With a low cost of living, don’t be put off by Thailand’s starter wages. On less than $1000/£1000 a month, you can comfortably live an exciting life while teaching. Even better, public transport is hard to beat if you want to explore the Land of Smiles. If you want to take a look at the wider region, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Vietnam and Myanmar are a stone’s throw away!


Increasingly, emergent economies in the Southeast of Asia have become perfect landing spots for teachers. That’s handy because Vietnam is a fascinating, beautiful country that’s calling out for qualified English teachers.

For teachers, the demand is constant – you’ll find plenty in our Jobs Centre at any given time. Once you’ve settled in Vietnam, you’ll find warm and friendly locals, innovative fashion and street food par excellence

Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia, Malaysia and aforementioned Thailand are aiming to improve their English proficiency from kindergarten level to adulthood, due to their emerging industries and English being the lingua franca of business. So it’s a perfect time to explore a hugely underrated gem!

You’ll need a bachelor’s degree along with a TEFL qualification, but the rewards – especially in relation to the cost of living – make Vietnam a fantastic destination for any English teacher. From the countless beautiful attractions to the stunning and dramatic history, Vietnam is a fascinating destination, with the potential to be an English learning powerhouse in the coming years.

Best to get involved now while the jobs are going, because availability for teachers in terms of jobs and accommodation won’t last forever!


Forget what you know about Colombia. Today, the South American nation is outward-looking with a tourist-friendly image, and as far as teaching English goes, there’s been plenty of strategising in their schooling system.

The clamour for TEFL teachers continues apace, with the government really pushing for heightened proficiency in English. For first-time or less experienced teachers who want to try something a bit different, and help a place build its English infrastructure, Colombia is a great choice.

Obviously, the weather is beautiful, and Colombia has so much to see - UNESCO has heralded gems like the National Archeological Park of Tierradentro and the Historic Centre of Santa Cruz de Mompox. The wages are good, on average, especially considering the cheap cost of living in Colombia. It’s cheaper to live in than 91% of the world, so expect your teaching wages to reach pretty far.

A degree is preferred, but optional, meaning that in many cases you only need a high-quality TEFL certificate to get going. Perfect, then, if you’re looking to add stamps to your passport and get started on your teaching journey.

If you’re particularly intrepid and ambitious, you won’t struggle to find work in Colombia. The only difficulty will be matching the experience you have elsewhere!

Digital Nomadism

There is another way to do things. Working remotely, especially since the pandemic raged through 2020 and 2021, has become something of a norm. Companies are seeing the benefits of a global office, where people can cover different hours, and offer a range of perspectives. The lack of a central job location means that anyone with the energy and resources can work for a range of different companies, or indeed, for themselves. 

Being a digital nomad means locational independence. You can work from anywhere. To be a digital nomad English teacher, all you need are:

  • At least a 120-hour TEFL certificate
  • A laptop
  • Access to reliable WiFi
  • An online teaching job and/or your own freelance online teaching business
A lot of countries are making that nomadic life much easier. For example, Spain will have a digital nomad scheme in place in 2024, catching up with countries like Croatia, Estonia, Iceland, Portugal and Greece.

In 2024, the conditions are excellent for people who want to travel while they work. If this lifestyle sounds appealing, read our guide to becoming a digital nomad!

How much you can earn teaching English abroad

The salary you’ll receive teaching English abroad will vary depending on where you are in the world. Obviously, your experience and attributes will also determine the actual amount you take home each month. To put it in simple terms, some countries value English teachers more than others would and will gladly pay top dollar for the best ones.

You can expect to earn more if you teach in Asian countries, such as China, Japan, and South Korea. These are countries where you’re more likely to require a degree to teach English as a foreign language. These nations in particular are known for offering highly competitive compensation packages but expect a lot from their teachers.

There are 1.5 billion English language learners, and a lot of them are in Asia. With English being the de facto language of business worldwide, it helps to have knowledge of the English language to get into prestigious colleges, find lucrative jobs and forge a path in business. 

Meanwhile, in Latin America and Europe, your salary will be enough to rent a flat, visit restaurants, and travel. You won’t become a millionaire, but at least you can supplement your income by teaching English online, or offering private lessons. Tutoring outside of school, if you have the time, is obviously a great way to generate extra income.

Some employers might offer additional benefits, for example, air travel, insurance, help with accommodation, or access to local amenities like gyms, libraries and other public services. It’s worth seeing if an employer will provide any extras with their offer of a job - free travel, for example, could be a significant boost to your coffers!

Where can you earn the most as a TEFL teacher?

A reality of life is that everyone needs to pay the bills. That’s true whether you’re an English teacher abroad, a CEO of a multinational company or you’re, say, a content writer. We’ve put together some useful tables detailing the average salaries and requirements for countries across the globe. These are intended as a guide rather than a rule, but we’ve done our best to ensure the information is accurate as possible.

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

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. Across the board, it can be harder for non-EU citizens to gain a working visa, so make sure to follow guidelines from your nearest embassy, and look into region-specific visa rules.

Salaries in Asia 

If you’re looking for the best entry-level salaries then Asia is your safest bet. China represents the biggest jobs market in the world for English teachers, 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 as 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. In places like Cambodia and Vietnam, some meals are included in your day of teaching!

Salaries in Central & South America

Central and South America offer a fantastic gateway into teaching abroad, especially for newcomers and career changers. Requirements are less strict, and although wages aren’t as lucrative as teaching jobs in Asia, for example, there’s an excellent standard of living to be had, with eager students.

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.

Salaries in the Middle East & Africa

The Middle East, somewhat unsurprisingly, is where you’ll find the highest teaching salaries. High, tax-free salaries, mean there’s plenty of competition for teaching positions, which means employers can afford to be picky. Consequently, 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.

What benefits do employers offer?

When it comes to English teaching jobs and employee benefits, it very much depends on where you are in the world, and who you’re teaching for. While public schools might offer a free lunch, private international schools could potentially fly you over to teach English overseas.

Unfortunately, there’s no definitive list of employee benefits offered to every English teacher. However, a benefit that’s available in some areas is accommodation. Some employers understand that you’ll need a home base when you move abroad to teach English, and offer an apartment - either on-site or accommodation owned by the employer. This is more common in China, South Korea and Japan, though it’s not a guarantee.

Similarly, travel canrack up a hefty bill, and many employers will help out, again depending on the size and repute of who you’re working for. This more often comes as reimbursement later on, so it’s still important to factor flights into your first budget for teaching English abroad.

Some employers might offer additional benefits, for example, insurance (health, home contents or another), lessons in the local language, and access to local amenities like gyms, libraries and other public services. It’s worth seeing if an employer will provide any extras with their offer of a job - free travel, for example, could be a significant boost to your coffers!

How much can TEFL teachers save?

Saving as an English teacher working abroad might seem like a contradiction in terms, but it’s far more achievable than you might think.

Much depends on two things: your salary as a teacher, and the cost of living wherever you’re situated. The more reputable your institution is, and the more experience you have as a teacher, the higher your salary is likely to be. That, of course, can be matched with a high cost of living, depending on where you are.

Budgeting is a really important thing here. No two ways about it, your first month or so of teaching are going to be expensive. Consider this: you might start a teaching job halfway through a month, meaning your first pay packet is less than it might usually be. Then, unless you’re covered for these costs, you’ve got your first month’s rent, a deposit on accommodation, flights, visa - it adds up.

When it comes to budgeting, it’s a great idea to understand the cost of living before you head over somewhere. That way, you can compare what your normal budget would be, versus what you’d be spending in another country. From there, factor in your wages, and it’s more than possible you’ll be able to save up a little each month for a rainy day.

It’s more possible to save in some locations than others, that stands to reason. If you’re an experienced teacher with a degree, working overseas in, for example, the UAE? Your pay will far exceed your outgoings. Meanwhile, if you’re a new teacher working in Colombia, for example, the wages are going to be considerably lower, but the cost of living might well balance that out. For a comprehensive guide to saving while teaching, check out our blog titled ‘Where can you save the most teaching English?’.

With everything we've covered about teaching English abroad, it’s natural to feel an urge. That urge is to look for the right jobs, send applications, and maybe even get packing and find work on the ground!

With that in mind, let’s have a look at some of the most important factors when it comes to successfully teaching English overseas: finding that right job, spotting English teacher job scams and preparing for a move abroad.

Tips for successfully teaching English abroad

Finding the right job

Craving adventure? Can’t wait to take your TEFL qualification on the road and leave students smiling?

Remember, the right job isn’t any job. While you might’ve heard before - whether from career counsellors at school or someone else - that being “fussy” won’t help, it’s still vital to find something that’s right for you.

There are some important things to consider. Foremost, where do you want to be? There are plenty of mega-cities in the likes of China and Japan, where you could easily find work if you want to be in the centre of a sprawling metropolis. Or, if you’d rather be somewhere a bit more off the beaten track, there are excellent locations in Latin America, where teachers without degrees can more easily find work, or emergent countries like Cambodia and Vietnam, which match big cities with fascinating, captivating rural sights and sounds.

Think about the kind of hours you want to work. Are you the kind of person who likes to get stuck in and go 100% into a job role? Or, do you want to match work with the opportunity to travel, spending evenings exploring cities? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to really immerse yourself somewhere, nor exploring career progression and devoting yourself to work.

A job that works for you

Safety and accessibility are also important factors. If you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community, you want to ensure that the job you have is somewhere where you can feel safe and legally protected. If you have a disability, also, it’s crucial to find work that has accessibility legislation in place and suits you.

Again, the right job isn’t just any job. It has to work for you, just as you’d work for an employer. Consider living expenses vs. salary, the hours demanded of you and the kind of students you’d be asked to teach. Don’t feel as if you have to accept the first job offer that comes up.

How to spot English teacher job scams

Unfortunately, just like any other industry, there are unscrupulous “employers” looking to take advantage of TEFL teachers.

Sadly, exploitative “recruiters” often masquerade as a school, college or other institutions, in order to seek payment from unsuspecting prospective English teachers.

It’s a sad fact, but there are ways to identify if a teaching job isn’t for real. Here are the top things to look out for if you’ve been approached by a potentially fraudulent recruiter or false company:

These are the best ways to identify whether a scammer is “at it”. Although job offers are exciting, use your common sense, along with these tips, and you won’t go wrong.

  • They ask you to send money. This most often goes to dodgy third parties, fraudulent insurance providers or travel agencies, or fake schools.
  • They don’t have a reputation or online presence to speak of.
  • Their email address seems fake, and is not attached to the school’s domain.
  • They communicate poorly, and don't use proper spelling or grammar.

How to prepare for a move abroad

So the job offer is in hand, or you’re confident about finding work. You’ve looked at flights, places to live, living expenses and salaries. It’s time to get moving.

Again, the TEFL Org is here to help. We’ve got a guide on preparing for that move abroad to teach English, with some factors you may or may not have considered. 

Let’s break it down into sections, so you can tick off everything you need for making that life-changing step:

  • Demand for English: does the country you have in mind have a real demand for English teachers? If you haven’t found work already, should you be able to without any problems?
  • Competitive marketplaces: will you stand out in the crowd? Do you have an English teaching qualification, a specific niche within teaching or a particular agenda in mind to separate you from other teachers?
  • Cost of living: Will your prospective salary cover how expensive it is to live somewhere? Or, in fact, will you be able to save some money? Think about your goals when it comes to finances.
  • Safety: It’s important to follow the news in the country you’re thinking of moving to. Your safety is absolutely paramount - consider any conflicts, political upheaval, medical concerns, acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community and of people with accessibility needs.
  • Packing: Yes, it’s a chore, but are you going to be in a position to pack light, or do you want to take all your belongings with you? Consider renting storage where you live now, if you’re worried about losing anything particularly important.
  • Write a checklist: Clothes, utilities, copies of important documents, immunisation/vaccination status, emergency contacts, basic stationery - think of everything you might need!
  • Healthcare: from dental to mental, your health is the most crucial thing of all. Check to see if you’d be covered by universal healthcare, whether you need insurance, and if applicable, what your prospective employer is responsible for.
  • Finding your people: It helps immeasurably if you already have contacts wherever you’re heading off to. Find online communities of teachers, ex-pats, or even people with a common interest. Believe us: having someone over there you already get on with is a major plus!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q. Is teaching English abroad worth it?

    Of course, it’s subjective whether teaching English abroad is “worth it”. However, in terms of opportunities to travel, make a living and experience something totally new, there’s nothing really like teaching English abroad. It’s great for your CV, but it’s also a truly exciting career in and of itself. Teaching a language, especially one so widely used worldwide, is such a fulfilling career, and it also gives TEFL teachers the chance to absorb a new culture and ingratiate themselves in communities across the globe. Ultimately, it’s like anything else - teaching English abroad is what you make of it. We’d certainly recommend it though!

  • Q. Is teaching English abroad hard?

    Again, this is entirely subjective. That said, with the right TEFL certification, from an accredited provider, you should be fully prepared for the challenges of teaching English abroad. A good TEFL course will incorporate tutoring, ideally from someone who’s been there and done it, as well as proper lesson planning and practical experience.

  • Q. Why should I teach English abroad?

    Well, why not? If it’s something you’re keen to do, you have a passion for both learning and teaching, and the drive to do something truly different, then go for it.A few things to consider before you decide, though: do you have the financial backing to relocate to another country? Do you have a passion for the English language, and for teaching in general? Are you good at managing people, even rowdy schoolkids? Can you leave your current responsibilities behind? If the answer to those is yes, then why shouldn’t you teach English abroad?

  • Q. Why is teaching English abroad important?

    Here are some stats about the English language that demonstrate why teaching English abroad is important and worthy work.

    According to a Washington Post report

    • English is spoken in 101 countries
    • There are 1.5 billion English learners worldwide 
    • “More people learn English than French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, German and Chinese combined.”

    So yes, it’s very important. English is the most commonly spoken language in the world of business, and with English-speaking countries being popular destinations to visit or to work, teaching English abroad can unlock so many experiences for learners.

Other teaching English abroad articles


Can non-native English speakers TEFL?

Can non-native English speakers TEFL? Does English have to be your first language in order to teach it?


How to teach English abroad without a degree

If you don’t have a degree don’t let that stop you from teaching English abroad! While many countries do require teachers to have a degree there’s no need to despair if you don’t have one – there are still plenty of countries where you can find work.


How to Find a TEFL Job Abroad Without Teaching Experience

The good news is that there’s plenty of work out there for those who don’t have any teaching experience at all. In fact, many of our course graduates have never taught before.