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.