With beautiful beaches, cosmopolitan cities, tropical islands and the largest English teaching market on the planet, it’s easy to see why Asia is one of the most popular destinations for new and experienced ESL teachers alike.
The continent is home to some of the highest-paying teaching jobs in the world, with countries including Japan, South Korea and China offering top dollar to entice people to teach English. Meanwhile, destinations like Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand offer an incredibly low cost of living and the chance to experience the Southeast Asia, work-to-beach, dream lifestyle on a daily basis.
From private schools to volunteer programmes, private tutoring gigs to teaching through a government-backed programme in a public school, foreign teachers are in high demand, and TEFL jobs across Asia are as varied as the countries themselves. And, while the days of turning up with your backpack and nothing more than a passport from an English-speaking country to teach English might be long gone, it is still relatively easy to find a teaching job. To teach English in Asia now, most teachers will require native level proficiency and a university degree. Employers will also ask for TEFL certificate and, for higher paying positions, prior teaching experience. Salaries vary greatly between countries where you can make anything from £700 – £4500 per month.
Read on to discover more about where teaching English in Asia might take you.
Most popular countries to teach English in Asia
With almost 50 countries to choose from, the hardest part about teaching English in Asia might be picking just one! From the high-salaried jobs of Japan and South Korea to low-cost living in Vietnam, the enviable after-school beach lifestyle of those who teach English in Thailand to city-living in cosmopolitan capitals like Shanghai and Taipei, Asia really does have something for everyone when it comes to teaching English destinations.
Read on to discover five of the most popular places to teach English in Asia.
With high salaries, an abundance of teaching jobs, a blend of ancient traditions and future-forward technology, as well as spectacular natural scenery to soak up on your time off, you won’t want to miss the chance to teach English in Japan.
Japan is best known for offering higher salary positions for ESL teachers than most other countries in the world (aside from perhaps teaching jobs in the Middle East). While these might go hand-in-hand with a higher cost of living in the big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, it is still possible to save a decent amount of money while teaching abroad in the country (as long as you don’t go crazy with your living expenses!).
It’s easy to find TEFL jobs in Japan, ranging from teaching ESL at private language schools, also known as eikaiwa, to working at elite international schools, teaching university students and even working part-time, offering private tuition. You’ll usually need a university degree and a TEFL certification as minimum requirements, while English speakers from native-speaking countries are usually preferred.
The basic monthly salary for full-time teaching jobs are likely to be in the region of 220,000 – 280,000 Yen (£1,600 – £2,000 / $2,100 – $2,675) per month, with 250,000 Yen (£1,820 / $2,390) being a common rate amongst employers. Meanwhile, it’s possible to land a job at an international school if you have the relevant experience and qualifications, which may pay as much as 600,000 Yen (£4,360 / $5,730) per month.
Considering a move to teach English in South Korea? Good choice! The country is another favourite teach abroad destination for foreign teachers. One of the things that makes South Korea so popular is the country’s high wages compared to a relatively low cost of living. Throw in some great teaching contract benefits (like free return airfare, accommodation and healthcare) and many teachers in South Korea can save a large portion of their paycheck each month.
TEFL teachers are in high demand in South Korea, with Seoul and Busan offering the majority of English teaching jobs. If city life isn’t for you, schools in rural areas also look to hire teachers for English lessons. You’ll most likely be paid a little less here but, chances are, you might have a far more authentic South Korea experience.
Those who teach English in South Korea can expect to make a full-time salary of around 2 million – 2.5 million Won (£1,280 – £1,600 / $1,670 – $2,000) per month. If you’ve already spent some time teaching English abroad or have a teaching certificate, this can go up to as much as 2.8 million Won (£1,800 / $2,345) per month.
To teach English in South Korea, you’ll usually need a bachelor’s degree, TEFL certification and a clean criminal background check, while some employers will show preference for those with previous experience from a native-speaking country.
Low living costs, cheap travel opportunities, friendly students and the chance to live in a country that most people back home can only daydream about – it’s no wonder so many ESL teachers choose to teach English in Thailand. But don’t be fooled – it’s not quite as easy a country to teach as it used to be! The days of unqualified backpackers showing up in any country in Southeast Asia and being able to teach English are over. Most countries, including Thailand, take English education a lot more seriously now.
Teaching English abroad in Thailand now most means holding a BA degree and, in most cases, a 120-hour TEFL qualification. If you don’t have a degree, don’t give up on your teach abroad dream just yet! You may be able to teach English in Thailand through a volunteer programme.
Most of Thailand’s teaching jobs can be found in and around Bangkok, or the popular spots of Chiang Mai, Phuket and Korat. Competition for the top jobs here can be fierce and for new TEFL teachers, it’s worth considering smaller locations where you might have more luck securing a position.
To give a rough idea of what you can make, a starting salary of around 30,000 THB – 40,000 THB (£740 – £980 / $1,000 – $1,280) at a language school is fairly common, moving closer to 50,000 THB (£1,230 / $1,600) for those with experience. Meanwhile, at international schools, experienced teachers can expect to make anything from 60,000 THB – 150,000 THB (£1,475 – £3,700 / $1,900 – $4,800) per month.
Looking for something a little more challenging? Why not teach English in China? With a population of over 1.4 billion and a rapidly growing English education system, the country has a high demand for ESL teachers, with opportunities across this vast country.
Securing a job before you go is essential – China has incredibly strict rules around visas and working. TEFL teachers will require a BA degree, a clean criminal background check, and a 120-hour TEFL qualification to receive a Foreign Expert Certificate and a Z visa – which is the only legal way to work as a foreign language teacher in China.
Salaries for new TEFL teachers tend to be slightly lower than that of Japan or South Korea but contracts tend to come with benefits that balance this out. For example, most schools in China will include free flights, free accommodation and good contract completion bonuses in their contracts.
Wages can vary between locations and positions, with destinations like Shanghai and Beijing offering the highest, but it’s also worth considering a lower-tier city with a lower cost of living if you want to save a decent percentage of your salary.
As a guide, an English teacher in China can expect to make an average teacher salary of about 13,000 RMB (£1,450 / $1,860) per month.
Just starting your TEFL journey? You might want to consider a move to teach English in Vietnam. The country has a large number of entry-level positions, making it the ideal place to get some first-time teaching experience.
With widely diverse landscapes, incredible food and friendly, eager students, Vietnam is the tropical teach English abroad experience many new teachers dream about. Plus, with its central location and cheap flights, Vietnam is a great base for exploring the rest of Asia.
English teachers looking for ESL jobs in Vietnam will almost always need a TEFL certificate, usually with a minimum of 120-hours, and a BA degree – the latter being a visa requirement.
Salaries for full-time positions range from around 27,700,000 VND – 46,171,000 VND (£920 – £ 1,500/$1,200 to $2,000 USD) per month. Although lower than some other countries in Asia, Vietnam is an incredibly affordable place to live, meaning most English teachers can usually save at least a little of their monthly salaries.
Requirements for teaching English in Asia
Each country in Asia will have its own rules when it comes to requirements for teaching English but these usually tend to fall into one of two categories. The first is the legal requirements needed to obtain the correct visa and permit to allow you to work in the country. The second is the requirements set out by individual schools or employers.
While you may be able to negotiate your way around the requirements that your employer is looking for, visa requirements tend to be set – which is why it’s important to make sure you know these before you start applying for jobs.
When it comes to teaching qualifications, most countries in Asia will look for a 120-hour TEFL course and a BA degree as a minimum. Some countries will also show a preference for those with previous teaching experience and teachers from native-speaking countries.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t teach English abroad with no experience or you can’t teach English abroad with no degree. For example, it’s quite easy to find a job teaching English in Cambodia without a degree, and (most importantly) it’s completely legal. Or, for those without experience, consider a move to teach English in Taiwan, where new TEFL teachers are in high demand.
If you want to teach legally in Asia, you must obtain the correct work visa and work permits for the country you want to live in. Each country will have its own application process but many will require your school or employer to provide sponsorship for a 6 or 12-month visa, meaning you’ll often need to have a job in place before you go.
Of course, you’ll read plenty of stories on the internet about those teaching in Asia without the correct visa, usually working on a tourist visa and making border runs to the next nearest country whenever it gets close to running out. Many countries in Asia have cracked down on illegal teachers in recent years, with school raids and deportations not uncommon. If you want to make sure your teach abroad experience doesn’t end with an earlier-than-planned flight home and a country ban, it’s highly recommended that you follow the legal process to obtain a work visa.
Teaching English jobs in Asia
Classroom assistant? Language teacher? Private tutor? Volunteer? No matter what kind of English teaching job you’re looking for, you’re guaranteed to find it in one of Asia’s 48 countries!
The continent is rich in teaching opportunities and there are plenty of positions for teachers at all stages of their careers. Fresh from your TEFL course? No problem! There are entry-level jobs across Asia. Looking for your next step with a few years of teaching already under your belt? Experienced teachers are in high demand. Qualified teacher in your home country? You’ll have no problem securing a job at one of Asia’s top international schools.
The English education market in Asia shows no sign of slowing down, meaning there’s never been a better time to find a teaching job in Asia.
Types of teaching jobs
While teaching jobs across Asia are varied, the majority of ESL teachers will usually end up working in one of four different types of teaching institutions/roles. These are; public schools, private and international schools, language school teachers and offering private tutoring. Each one will have its own set of requirements, as well as benefits. Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail below.
In many Asian countries, English teachers can find a position at a public school through a government-backed programme. These are usually open to newly-qualified TEFL teachers from native English-speaking countries – mainly the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
These programmes are often considered a good choice for those who’ve never taught abroad before as, along with good wages, free accommodation and healthcare, they tend to provide ongoing support and/or training for the duration of the contract.
Working hours tend to be set between Monday-Friday, 9am – 5/6pm with weekends off. School holidays are usually generous, giving TEFL teachers plenty of time off to explore Asia. However, teachers don’t always get a say in where their placement is, meaning those with their hearts set on a particular city or region might want to consider another option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How much money can you make teaching English in Asia?
Teaching salaries vary greatly across countries in Asia, where you can make anything from £700 – £4,500 per month. Countries like Japan and South Korea offer the highest wages, with a salary of around £1,820 / $2,390 being a fairly common amount. On the other hand, countries like Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam offer less money but have a lower cost of living, allowing many teachers to live comfortably and still save some of their monthly paycheck.
Q. How do I become an English teacher in Asia?
What you need to teach English overseas – whether in Asia or anywhere else in the world – will depend largely on where you want to teach, as each has its own set of rules and requirements. However, the most common qualifications are a bachelor’s degree and a 120-hour TEFL certification. Individual schools and employers will have their own requirements on top of these, which may include being a native-English speaker and having previous teaching experience.
Q. Are English teachers in demand in Asia?
In short, yes! There’s a high demand for TEFL teachers throughout Asia. As many Asian countries continue to experience economic growth, particularly in the areas of business and tourism, the need to learn English has never been higher. From teaching young learners to teaching adults business English, there are a huge number of English teaching jobs right across Asia.
Q. Can you teach English in Asia without a degree?
Teaching in Asia without a degree is possible. However, it does limit your options. One of the most popular locations for those without a degree in Cambodia, where it’s not a legal requirement for teachers to hold a university degree. In this case, having a TEFL certification will greatly improve your chances of finding ESL jobs.