Everybody is familiar with the saying “you don’t become a teacher for the money.” While going to teach English abroad will almost certainly be one of the most enriching and rewarding experiences you will ever undertake, you probably don’t want to count on it to buy that tropical island you fantasize about for your retirement.
There are countries, however, where you can make an excellent salary and receive top benefits as an English teacher abroad. Let's understand together what the best-paying English teaching jobs abroad are, including which ones provide the highest salary for teaching English abroad, and how to find them.
The Best Countries to Teach English Abroad for Money in 2023
The best places to teach English abroad to make money are South Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan, Gulf Arab States and Vietnam. Being an English teacher in these countries will have you earning enough money to save anywhere from $500 - $1,500 USD per month.
Teach English abroad for a year
There are thousands of opportunities around the world for TEFL-certified English teachers who want to find a job abroad that pays well and offers exceptional benefits. In most cases, you will be expected to make a one-year commitment to receive contracts in the most lucrative countries for teaching English abroad.
Which country pays the highest salary to English teachers?
So which country pays foreign English teachers the most? We've compiled a list of the highest-paying ESL countries for you. Here are the top 5 most lucrative countries to teach English Abroad in 2023.
Note: With the onset of COVID-19, many schools and even many countries have closed. Luckily, the countries listed here have been among the most effective in containing the pandemic and are open (or are opening) for TEFL jobs. To learn more about individual countries, call an advisor at 773-634-9900 or fill out a form to request your free TEFL Starter Kit.
Now that you know where the best places to make money with TEFL are, let's take a look at the teaching abroad salary by country:
1. South Korea ($1,850-$2,650 USD a month)
A prosperous economy and a deep-rooted commitment to education make South Korea a top destination for teaching English abroad, especially for those looking to make money. Offering a fantastic combination of high-tech, modern cities with thousands of years of history and culture, Korea offers a great international experience in addition to fantastic travel opportunities throughout Asia. In addition, South Korea has been one of the first countries to hire foreign English teachers since COVID-19.
On top of that, South Korea is one of the best countries to teach English and save money. Therefore it is a strong contestant on our 2023 list of countries that pay English teachers the most.
Highlights of teaching English in Korea:
- English teachers in Korea typically make enough to save around 50% of their salary each month. Savings can top $1,000 a month, or up to $15,000 a year.
- Free furnished housing is provided to English teachers in Korea.
- English Teachers will be reimbursed for their airfare and provided with a stipend for a flight home at the end of their contract.
- English Teachers in Korea who complete their 12-month contract will typically receive an extra month’s salary as a bonus.
- Kick off your international teaching career by earning your TEFL certification in Incheon, Korea.
- Learn about ITA's Guaranteed Job Placement Program for Teaching English in South Korea.
Read More to learn more about teaching ESL abroad in South Korea: Salary & Benefits for English Teachers in South Korea.
2. China ($1,200-$2,600 USD a month)
From the spectacular skylines of Shanghai and 250-mile-per-hour bullet trains to the imperial grandeur of the Forbidden City in Beijing and the ancient treasures of Xi'an, China offers a wealth of contrasts between ancient and modern and East and West. With 300 million Chinese taking English classes every year, it's also the largest TEFL job market in the world, with some of the highest-paying ESL jobs for English teachers abroad.
Highlights of Teaching English in China:
- Make enough money to save $500-$1,500 a month or more after expenses.
- Most English teachers in China receive free housing and free or reimbursed airfare.
- Discover the treasures of one of the oldest civilizations.
- Live in modern, fast-paced cities like Shanghai or Shenzhen offering world-class shopping, fantastic cuisine, exciting nightlife, and state-of-the-art modern public transportation.
Read More: Salary & Benefits for English Teachers in China
3. Japan ($1,700-$2,600 USD a month)
Offering an unparalleled combination of culture, cuisine, history, and stunning natural beauty, Japan has long been a top market for qualified English teachers to teach ESL abroad.
Highlights of teaching English in Japan:
Read More: Salary & Benefits for English Teachers in Japan
4. Taiwan ($2,000-$3,000 USD a month)
Another great destination for teaching ESL overseas, Taiwan is located on an island off the southeast coast of China. It offers a unique opportunity to experience Chinese culture in a subtropical environment (think Florida or Jamaica). In addition, Taiwan has had one of the lowest cases of COVID-19 in the world.
Highlights of teaching English in Taiwan:
- Make enough money to save $500-$700 a month after expenses.
- Live in a prosperous and democratic Asian society where living standards are high.
- Enjoy the vibrant street life, colorful markets, and world-class shopping of Taipei.
- Spend your weekends enjoying Taiwan’s gorgeous coastlines or exploring the country’s lush, mountainous interior, known for its innumerable hot springs and awe-inspiring views.
- Learn Mandarin and discover Chinese & Taiwanese culture.
Read More: Salary & Benefits for English Teachers in Taiwan
5. Gulf Arab States ($2,000-$5,000 USD a month)
Where does it pay the most to teach English abroad?
The highest-paid ESL teaching jobs abroad tend to be paid by countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). English teaching jobs in Abu Dhabi and Dubai pay particularly well, and teachers can expect to earn between $2,000 - $5,000 USD per month, tax-free.
(Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain) – Tremendous oil wealth and a desire to become international players in the economic and political arenas have led the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf region to invest billions of dollars into their educational systems, particularly English language instruction. As a result, qualified English teachers are offered very attractive pay and benefits packages to come to teach. However, because the number of opportunities is only a fraction of what is found in Asia or Europe, the job market can be competitive (a MA and/or professional background in education is often required for many positions).
Highlights of teaching English in the Persian Gulf region:
- Salaries ranging from $2,000 - $5,000 per month (tax-free).
- Benefits may include free health insurance, furnished housing/housing stipend, and flights to and from your home country.
- An opportunity to experience a region rich in culture and history.
- Enjoy fantastic regional travel opportunities, with access to Europe, Africa & South Asia.
Read More: Salary & Benefits for English Teachers in the Middle East
Honorable Mention: Vietnam ($1,500-$2,000 USD a month)
One of the up-and-coming nations of Asia, Vietnam represents a distinct blend of Chinese Confucianism and the Buddhist Khmer cultures of Southeast Asia with a taste of French colonial charm. Boasting thousands of miles of coastline, mountainous highlands, and a collection of colorful and bustling cities, Vietnam offers something for everyone, including a great job market for teaching English.
Highlights of teaching English in Vietnam:
- Low cost of living and good salaries enable English teachers in Vietnam to save up to $600 a month after expenses.
- Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is a bustling, dynamic Asian city that combines modern conveniences and cosmopolitanism with traditional street markets and local color.
- An ancient center of Vietnamese culture with a touch of French colonial charm, Hanoi offers an alluring combination of historic monuments, serene lakes and bustling streets lined with colorful shops and food stalls.
- The beaches of Vietnam are said to be some of the most spectacular of all Southeast Asia.
Read More: Salary & Benefits for English Teachers in Vietnam
Bonus Tip: Wherever you decide to teach ESL abroad, you can always increase your earnings by Teaching English Online.
With demand for online English language instruction skyrocketing worldwide, teaching English online provides TEFL-certified teachers with opportunities to earn extra pay at virtually any time from anywhere in the world, including your own home. Most starting teachers are able to make at least $10-$20 (USD) an hour & hours are very flexible.