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How Much Can You Make Teaching English Abroad?

A teaching English abroad salary will vary based on multiple factors, including your qualifications and the countries you wish to teach in. Let's take a deeper look at how much TEFL teachers make overseas.

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So, you're curious about teaching English abroad salaries? Let's cut to the chase: It's true that you don't really become an English teacher overseas for the money. When it comes to TEFL careers, life-changing experiences, personal growth, embracing new cultures and giving back to local communities top most of our ESL teachers' reasons to take the plunge.

That being said, you can get paid to teach English abroad and earn a reasonable salary. Not to mention living a comfortable lifestyle too. Just know that a high salary isn't the only financial variable that you should look at when discussing how much TEFL teachers make. Other factors such as local cost of living, benefits and savings opportunities are to consider as well:

  • Remember, foreign English teacher salaries are typically, though not always, paid in local currency. Therefore, they should be viewed through the prism of the local cost of living. This means that an English teacher who earns $1,000 USD a month in Peru will enjoy the same standard of living as a teacher in Madrid who earns 2,000 Euros a month. Why? While the teacher in Madrid earns more in absolute terms, the cost of living is higher in Spain than it is in Peru;
  • Schools in some countries provide national health insurance and paid vacation time. In other cases, employers provide free accommodation and utilities to help teachers with living expenses. Another perk could include the reimbursement of airfare. Such benefits will vary from region to region and job to job.

Now that we've cleared that up, let's address a few of your questions:

How much does it pay to teach English abroad?

The pay to teach English abroad varies, but you can expect to earn a decent salary. In top-paying countries, teachers can get paid a salary of anywhere from $2,000 to over $5,000 USD per month. Your TEFL salary will depend on your position, qualifications and the country you teach in.

Read more: Top 5 highest-paying countries for teaching English abroad

Does teaching English abroad pay well?

Teaching English is not the most lucrative job, but a first-time English teacher can expect to at least break even and live comfortably. In many Asian and Middle Eastern countries, even first-time English teachers can make enough to save 30%-50% of their income after expenses ($500 - $2,000 USD).

an English teacher and her young students in a classroom in Asia

Europe and Latin America Salaries

Some examples of monthly TEFL salaries you can earn in Europe & Latin America include:

  • Latin America:
    • Mexico: $500 - $800 USD /mo;
    • Argentina: $600 - $1,100 USD /mo;
    • Chile: $750 - $1,000 USD /mo.
  • Europe:
    • Czech Republic: $700 - $1,100 USD /mo;
    • Germany: $1,100 - $2,200 USD /mo;
    • Spain: $1,250 - $1,850 USD /mo. 

Teaching English abroad salaries in these regions typically allow expatriate English teachers to live comfortably in an apartment, cover basic expenses, dine out, travel by public transportation and have some extra money to travel and pursue other interests.

In most cases, first-time English teacher salaries will not enable you to save extensive sums. However, in both regions, private lessons are in high demand and provide excellent opportunities for English teachers to earn additional income.

Going Further:

Watch ITA alumna Julie discuss her salary and cost of living as an English teacher in Madrid, Spain:

Asia Salaries

Some examples of monthly teaching abroad salaries you can earn in Asia include:

  • Japan: $1,500 - $2,000 USD /mo;
  • China: $1,250 - $2,850 USD /mo;
  • South Korea: $1,850 - $2,150 USD /mo. 

Teaching abroad salaries in Asia will typically enable you to save between 30%-50% of your salary after expenses. This can range from $200-$300 USD a month in a country like Thailand to $1,000 USD or more a month in South Korea.

The range in savings will be determined in part by your salary compared to the local cost of living and by the exchange rate between US Dollars or (whatever your native currency is) and the local currency in which you will be paid.

Going Further: Teaching English in Asia

Watch ITA alumna Emilie discuss how she gets paid to teach English abroad, as well as the cost of living as an English teacher in Chiang Mai, Thailand:

Middle East Salaries

Some examples of monthly teaching English abroad salaries you can earn in the Middle East include:

  • Bahrain $1,500 - $3,000 USD /mo;
  • UAE: $1,800 - $5,000 USD /mo;
  • Qatar: $1,600 - $4,000 USD /mo.

English teacher salaries abroad in the UAE, and other Persian Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain are some of the highest in the world as pay can range from $1,500 - $5,000 a month, with benefits including free housing, paid vacation, health insurance and flights to and from the teacher’s home country.

It must be noted that these job markets are smaller and more competitive than those in Latin America, Asia and Europe. Many language schools in the UAE and other Gulf countries will only hire teachers with extra experience and qualifications (education degree, a national or state teaching certification and/or some professional background in education) in addition to an accredited TEFL certification.

In less developed countries like Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Turkey, English teacher salaries will typically enable a first-time teacher to earn enough to support themselves comfortably, but should not expect to save much, if at all. In such countries, the cost of living is usually low and advanced teaching credentials are not required. In Turkey, some teachers may even receive a stipend for airfare or housing.

Going Further: Teaching English in the Middle East

Watch ITA alumna Katie discuss her salary and cost of living as an English teacher in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE:

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