Someone once said ‘You can have it all, but not all at once’. Is that so? Is it true that you can’t have a well-paid job AND a meaningful career? Or a job that allows you to travel abroad AND earn a high salary? Or perhaps you might think it impossible to work as a teacher abroad AND have enough time and money to explore your new country? Working as a teacher of English as a foreign language (TEFL) you can have it all at once, as long as you choose your destination wisely.
Teaching English abroad is an extremely rewarding and enriching experience, and it is one of the most fulfilling jobs out there. Through your lessons, you will meet countless people and you will have an impact on every single one of them. By improving their English language skills, they will have more job opportunities and better career options that will help them and their families thrive. As a teacher, you play a crucial role in your learners’ development, and it’s not always plain sailing. While it is true that you don’t get into teaching for the money, but for the life purpose it gives, earning a generous salary would be a suitable compensation for such an important job as this.
The salary of a TEFL teacher varies greatly depending on the country you work in. However, some countries are renowned for offering high TEFL salaries. Let’s see where in the world you should go if you want to teach English and earn a competitive pay.
When thinking about TEFL destinations, this country is often overlooked. However, this country has plenty to offer, from modern urban areas to incredible landscapes; from history and tradition to healthy and spicy food. What’s more, South Korea is the country where TEFL salaries are the highest in the world, between $1,350 and $3,100 depending on the type of institution in which you work.
If you want to work in public schools, consider applying for government-led programmes, like SMOE (Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education), if you are interested in working within the Seoul area, GEPIK (Gyeonggi English Program in Korea), and EPIK (English Program In Korea), perhaps the most popular programme available. Alternatively, you can apply to work at hagwons, which are private language academies. These too offer competitive salaries as well as a flexible timetable.
Known for its delicious food, efficient public transport, and low crime rate, Japan is also a country where TEFL teachers are in high demand and very well paid. Some research shows that you could earn between $1,300 and $4,100 US dollars a month, depending on the institution you work for.
Like for TEFL posts in South Korea, you can apply for jobs in public schools through programmes specifically designed for international teachers. Because of its high salaries and renewable contracts, JET is the favoured programme available. If you are selected, you’ll be working as an ATL (Assistant Language Teacher) to support the local teachers during their lessons and to share your culture with students and teachers alike.
This South-Eastern country is an island situated off of the coast of China. Similarly to South Korea, Taiwan is often forgotten in the list of TEFL destinations. This is a real shame, because this country can offer an incredible lifestyle – think about free WI-FI anywhere across the territory! There, you’ll find state-of-the-art buildings and high speed trains coupled with stunning places of great historical interest, like the tallest monastery in the world, the Chung Tai Chan Monastery in Puli Town, and the most visited museum worldwide, the National Palace Museum in Taipei.
If you decide to take your TEFL career to Taiwan, know that you must meet specific requirements to obtain a visa. Once you overcome this hurdle, you’ll be rewarded with a generous pay that averages around $2,200 per month.
Although China doesn’t offer a salary as high as that in other countries in East-Asia, it remains the biggest employer for TEFL teachers. Your pay will depend on your qualifications, previous teaching experience, and the institution you work for, but the average TEFL salary is somewhere between $2,500 and $3,400 US dollars a month. However, this can vary depending on the area where you work. As is often the case, salaries are higher in large cities, but so is the cost of living.
Salaries in private language schools offer better pay than public schools, but your teaching hours are usually in the evenings and at weekends. However, they provide lots of support for newly qualified teachers and have a tried-and-tested curriculum and guidelines effectively in place. On the other hand, public schools offer morning/afternoon teaching hours and long and frequent holidays. Class sizes are very large, with 30 to 50 students per class, depending on age range, compared to the classes in private academies.
From the South East to the Middle East, Kuwait is one of the smallest yet one of the richest countries in the world. Teachers of Business English and English for Specific Purposes (ESP) are highly sought-after, mainly for students that work in the oil industry. There, salaries are exceptionally high, between $2,600 and $4,000 per month and benefit packages often include housing, utility bills, medical insurance, transportation to and from work, and return flights to your home country. If this isn’t appealing enough, remember that your earnings in Kuwait are tax-free.
TEFL contracts in Kuwait can be one or two years long, and the language schools here are happy to hire newly qualified teachers, as long as they have the right qualifications, such as degree and TEFL certificate. To work in this country, you will also need a residence visa and a valid work permit.
Working as a TEFL teacher abroad AND earning a salary that allows you to have a comfortable lifestyle is possible, but it is limited to specific countries. South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, and Kuwait are among the countries that offer the highest salaries in the world as well as appealing benefit packages. With such appealing opportunities, where would you like to go next?