How Much Can I Make Teaching English Overseas?

By | January 31, 2014

For many people who are considering teaching English as a foreign language abroad, one important element is what will the salary be or how much can I realistically expect to save?

sitting with students to encourage participationWithout a doubt, one of the many advantages of teaching English in another country is the salary, the chance to challenge yourself and live abroad, the opportunity to take trips to nearby places, and the confidence you gain of being able to leave your native homeland and prosper in a different culture on another continent. That spells adventure along with the ability to still earn money.

Teaching English in Asia
The best salaries in Asia for teaching English are in South Korea and China.
If you get a job as a new teacher in South Korea, your salary should range between 1,500-3,000 USD each month. Teachers who renew or taught elsewhere typically can take home much more.  One of the big benefits from many Korean schools, whether you’re working in the public schools or in private institutions (hagwons), is you are provided with an apartment at no cost, except for utilities. Many first year teachers are able to save $1000/month and there are substantial year end bonuses that make it even more satisfying.
China is not far behind in terms of savings. The cost of living in China is more affordable than South Korea but the salary is less. Nonetheless, you can still enjoy a comfortable lifestyle and still be able to set aside around $800 each month.

Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam are other popular countries in Asia to teach English. The cost of living and teacher salary in Taiwan are comparable to those in China, which puts it right behind China in terms of savings.

As you may already know, Tokyo and most of Japan has a fairly high cost of living. This equates to not saving as much even though English teachers are in high demand and pay is around $3000-4000 USD per month. If you can get cheap housing, your savings will dramatically increase.

Conversely in Southeast Asia, the monthly living costs are very affordable, yet English teacher earn considerably less. Accepting a job here is still worthwhile as you could pick-up their language or visit nearby ancient sites.

Teaching English in the Middle East
If your primary motive is to make the most money, perhaps teaching English in The Middle East is probably your number one option. Salaries for entry-level teachers can range from $3000 to $6000 USD annually depending on the country. UAE and Saudi Arabia are among the highest paying regions.

While the pay is excellent i the Middle East, it is worth mentioning that jobs are in high demand and they pay a high salary for the best qualified teachers. Some only want English teachers with advanced degrees. Moreover, a lot of the well-paying Middle Eastern countries very restrictive cultural laws, like Saudi Arabia which may make it less attractive, especially for women.

Teaching English in Europe
Europe has countries on the top of many people’s list of places to visit as well as to find a job to teach English abroad. Similar to Japan, the higher cost of living makes it less popular for ESL jobs. Additionally, schools in Europe are less inclined to employ beginner English teachers than Asia or Latin America. Salaries for ESL teachers in Europe are often similar to South Korea and China.

If money is not a major concern and the teaching pays your living expenses and maybe you have a few hundred left over, then by all means traveling and landing a job in Europe is a fair trade-off.

Teaching English in South America
Regrettably, from an economic standpoint, South America is among the worst places for teaching English. Yet, similar to Europe, the savings is not attractive but the opportunities to travel to different parts may outweigh the low pay and still make it a rewarding experience and destination for teaching English.

Brazil and Chile do offer teachers a suitable salary other countries in South America are not very attractive when it comes to pay. In fact, due to poor funding of some schools and other educational initiatives, in some instances the instructor would need to pay money to teach English in some South America countries.

Teaching Abroad In Other Regions
Generally speaking, don’t bet the house if you are seeking to teach English in Africa or other less-developed parts of the world. In fact, you may only get a job to teach English there by volunteering.

If you want to make more money teaching abroad, you can offer private lessons to business people which is almost always a lot higher than the schools wage per hour. If it is a multi-national corporation, you may become their recommended instructor for their executives and staff that requires English.

Whichever route you choose, understand that English teachers are a respected profession so it is important that you are doing this for not only the salary but also to offer your best to help people. It can be very rewarding experience for all parties involved, the teacher, the students, and the school.