Many TEFL qualified teachers head overseas to look for excitement, adventure, new experiences, and to simply get away from the daily grind, but not all are aware of the potential to earn a very good living whilst doing so. In some parts of the world teachers can earn more than enough to live a high quality of life and also afford to put aside a considerable sum each month to pay off student debts or to save for future travel etc. As demand for qualified teachers continues to grow in many areas, so do the potential salaries on offer.
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When looking for a teaching job, it is always advisable to weigh up the salary on offer in comparison with the local cost of living as this can vary considerably from one country to the next. A monthly salary of $1000 in Bolivia would allow you to live a very comfortable lifestyle, while the same salary in a city such as Barcelona would probably not be enough to provide all the comforts you had hoped for. Other benefits included in the contract are also worth noting as free housing, health insurance, paid vacations and reimbursement of airfares can all add up to an attractive overall package.
Asia has long been one of the most popular regions due to a combination of good salaries, a low cost of living and a wide variety of fascinating cultures to explore. Traditional hotspots such as South Korea and Taiwan continue to be popular as the average monthly salary is generally very high at around $2000 to $2500 for new teachers and up to $3000 for those with experience. China's huge demand for teachers means it's also very popular, particularly with new teachers who can expect to earn between $1000 and $2000 per month in their first year and up to $3000 with experience. These countries all offer a great opportunity to save considerable sums of money during your stay. One star in Asia that has faded in recent years is Japan, a country that was once the most popular in the region. Although still worth checking out, Japan's increasing costs and stagnated salaries means it is no longer the best destination for saving while you work. Alternatively, Southeast Asia is a very popular region as it is seen to provide a more adventurous and exotic experience compared to the more developed countries to the north. Thailand and Vietnam have the most numerous opportunities with salaries of up to $1500 and a relatively low cost of living.
If making money is your top priority then this is the region to head for. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offer some of the highest salaries to be found anywhere in the world. Here you can expect to earn between $3000 and $5000 per month including benefits such as paid housing, health insurance and round-trip flights home. If that is not enough, also consider that these are tax-free countries so what you earn is what you keep. Having said all that, this may not be the right destination for everyone. Competition for jobs is very high so you will probably need a few years teaching experience before you can expect to be hired. The conservative nature of society in this region also deters some teachers from coming here. Female teachers in particular may find the strict social norms hard to deal with in the long term. Other countries in this region worth looking at include Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.
Europe is the automatic first choice for many people setting out to teach English abroad. However, from a financial standpoint it may not be the best option as the cost of living is generally quite high and salaries are often similar to those offered in far cheaper destinations such as South Korea or China. If you want to save while you teach, this probably isn't the right choice for you. However, if you are one of the thousands of people who dream of living and working in this fascinating region, there are plenty of places to choose from. Central and Eastern Europe is often a good choice as costs are considerably lower than in the West. The Czech Republic is one of the most sought after destinations thanks to a healthy job market and a long and fascinating history. Other popular countries due to lifestyle rather than financial gain include Spain, Italy and France.
As with Europe, Latin American countries naturally attract many teachers due to the exotic culture and lifestyle they can provide. Unfortunately, it is one of the toughest regions in which to earn a good salary. However, if you are keen to travel this region and explore its varied attractions, there are plenty of countries where you can earn enough to get by. Chile is often regarded as one of the best options in the region, whilst other popular destinations include Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Ecuador. If you find that your salary is not quite enough to live as you would like, private tutoring is often in high demand and provides a great opportunity for English teachers to earn an additional income.
The worldwide market for English language teaching is huge, with over 250,000 teachers employed every year. The level of pay and other benefits varies considerably from job to job, however, there are some countries where employers routinely pay for your flight up-front or reimburse the fare once you arrive. In some cases you might be expected to complete a probationary period before receiving any cash, but if you see out your contract you should also have your return flight taken care of or at least a large portion of it.
This vast and diverse country is home to the largest and fastest growing English teaching job market in the world, with over 50,000 positions taken by foreigners every year. A large percentage of these positions are likely to come with a benefit package that includes free air travel in and out of the country, and paid housing during your stay. At the very least you should expect to receive a stipend towards your housing costs, as well as assistance with finding suitable accommodation.
This popular teaching destination attracts around 25,000 foreign teachers every year, particularly those from North America. Korean employers routinely recruit teachers directly from their home country, and paid airfares are typically a part of the overall benefit package. Other benefits normally include free housing and a generous salary that allows teachers to save a considerable amount during the length of the contract.
This region has long been popular with ESL teachers due to its famously high salaries and good benefits packages. Paid airfares are the norm for most teaching positions in countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain.
As a whole, the Asian continent has far more jobs available for foreign English language teachers than any other region. Aside from those already mentioned where paid airfares are the norm, there are several other countries where airfares are sometimes covered. These include Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong.
Due to the region's popularity as a destination for English speaking language teachers, there are very few employers who are prepared to cover airfares or other expenses. However, there are a few exceptions such as Russia and Turkey where help with flights is sometimes included.
Due to economic reasons, it is uncommon to find employers willing to offer financial assistance with flights to and from these regions.
Two of the world's biggest markets for teaching English abroad are China and South Korea, both of which routinely provide free housing for foreign teachers. The lucrative markets of the Middle East are another area where housing is almost always included in the benefit package. Employers in countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain are well known for providing generous salaries and other extras including airfares and comfortable accommodation. In many cases, schools rent or even own their own housing complexes so you are likely to live close to other foreign teachers.
Another situation where housing is usually part of the teaching contract are government run programs that employ foreign teachers to work in state schools. Participants on the South Korean EPIK Program will generally have their accommodation provided, while the Japanese JET Program provides financial and practical assistance with accommodation in most cases. Teachers who sign-up to work in summer language camps across Asia or Europe can also expect to receive free room and board. Outside of these locations and specific work situations it is less common to be offered financial help with accommodation, however, contract terms do vary from one school to the next so you might find you are offered housing assistance in other circumstances.
Wherever you are teaching in the world, having adequate health insurance is obviously a very important issue. Whether it is provided by the employer or is entirely your own responsibility varies from one situation to the next, so it is vital that you confirm health insurance details whenever you are interviewed for a teaching position.
The Asian continent is home to some of the world's largest and most popular ESL job markets. Health insurance is typically provided for most teachers working in countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam. In many cases health cover is provided free of charge, although you may have a small sum deducted from your monthly salary in some situations. Other than at schools with international status, health insurance is less likely to be provided in other countries in the region.
EU citizens teaching in other EU countries typically have access to the local health care system. Non-EU passport holders who are able to secure a work permit should also find that they are eligible for health insurance, normally through a monthly deduction from your paycheck. Another situation where health cover is generally provided is for those enrolled on government run teaching assistant programs such as those in France and Spain. For most non-EU citizens, work permits are notoriously hard to secure in many European countries. Because of this, thousands of ESL teachers in popular countries such as Italy and Spain find themselves working 'under the table'. Although technically illegal this is common practice and conducted openly, however, it does mean that you are responsible for your own health insurance. It is also worth noting that anyone applying for a student visa or working holiday visa for a European country will usually have to provide proof of adequate health insurance cover for the duration of their stay.
Health insurance is generally provided as part of a teacher's benefit package in most of the main markets in the region, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait.
As work permits are hard to secure in many countries across South and Central America, it is normal practice for ESL teachers to be employed without being officially registered for tax purposes etc. Because of this, most teachers across the region are responsible for their own health insurance cover. Exceptions can be found in countries such as Chile and Mexico where work visas and official contracts are more common.
There are plenty of health insurance providers out there so it is highly recommended that you conduct in-depth research to ensure you get the best deal. When considering your options, remember that you are looking for long term international insurance that is generally far cheaper than the daily rate for holiday insurance or domestic health insurance policies. As a guide you should budget around $50 per month, although you may find cheaper policies that provide sufficient cover. For those whose contracts include health cover it is still worth considering additional international coverage, particularly if you plan to travel outside of the country where you are working as this may not be covered.
YES. Teaching English to private students is a very common practice for thousands of teachers who live and work abroad. For many it offers a great way to earn extra income on top of a salary earned from working in a language school, while for others it becomes a full-time job once they have found enough clients. In certain situations, working as a private tutor is the most common form of income for foreign teachers. In some large European cities where language schools tend to only hire teachers from within the European Union, you will find large numbers of American teachers working as private tutors due to the high demand for English language instruction. Whether it is your main income or just to top up your salary, working as a private English language tutor can be a perfect option for many TEFL certified teachers.
Probably the most important step you can take is to become TEFL certified before you start teaching. Completing an internationally accredited certification course will not only provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to plan and deliver successful lessons, but it will also provide you with a qualification that shows prospective clients that you are a serious teaching professional.
When looking to attract your first clients there are several things you can do to increase your appeal. Contacting other teachers that are already working in the local area is a simple yet highly effective way of getting the inside knowledge to help you get started. The next step is to advertise your services. The most common method of advertising is to post fliers on notice boards in areas frequented by students, such as universities and coffee shops etc. Having a few business cards at hand is also recommended as you might meet potential clients at any time of the day or night. When advertising your services it is also recommended that you have a local phone number that clients can use to contact you. Expecting clients to phone an international number is a guaranteed way to lose business. Another great way to attract students is to offer incentives in your advertising. Offering a free introductory lesson, as well as discounts for purchasing multiple sessions, are both tried and tested methods for getting customers through the door. Giving free lessons or discounts to clients who refer new students is also an effective strategy for increasing your client list. By utilizing these common methods for attracting clients, you should find that working as an independent English language tutor is a viable option whether full or part-time.
Although financial gain is not the biggest driving force for most people heading overseas to work as an ESL teacher, being able to live comfortably and to enjoy as many new experiences as possible without money worries is usually a high priority. To give yourself the best opportunity to earn a good salary and the chance to save enough to pay off debts or to fund further travel and adventure, there are a few things you can do prior to departure and once you arrive in your country of choice.
When it comes to salaries and earning potential, one of the most important things you can do prior to departure is to complete an internationally recognized TEFL certification course. TEFL certification is increasingly expected by employers in many of the most popular countries, particularly those who offer the best salaries and other benefits. Completing a TEFL course will not only open up a greater number of job opportunities, it will also show employers that you are serious about teaching and capable of providing quality instruction to your students.
For first time teachers the choice of destination will have a big impact on how much you can earn. Many teachers dream of living and working in European countries such as France, Italy or Spain, however, the relatively high cost of living means that these may not be the best choice from a financial standpoint. While jobs in these countries are likely to provide a comfortable standard of living, most teachers are unlikely to be able to save more than a small amount each month. If you want to do more than simply break even, to pay off college debts or fund further travel for example, you might consider heading to Asia or the Middle East. In countries such as China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., many jobs come with free housing and paid airfares on top of a generous salary. In these countries it is common for teachers to save anywhere from 30% to 50% of their monthly wage, which can add up to a tidy sum at the end of a one year contract. Typical savings per month in countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Taiwan amount to around $500, while those in China and South Korea can expect to save anywhere from $500 to $1500 per month. For the biggest savings, head to the Middle East where teachers have the opportunity to save up to $2000 per month.
In most popular destinations around the world there is usually the opportunity to top up your paycheck by taking on private students in your free time. In countries such as China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan it is common practice for parents to fund extra language tuition for their children outside of the school day. Here you can earn anything from $20 to $50 per hour for each student on your books. There is also a strong demand for private tuition in many European countries, which offers a great chance to earn the extra you need to fund further travel or simply to save.
Although some teachers receive free or subsidized housing, for the majority of those teaching English abroad, accommodation can prove to be one of the largest expenses. The simple answer to reduce your monthly rent and other bills is to share a house or apartment during your stay. In many cases it can be easy to find a teacher from your own school who is looking for the same arrangement. Whether you share with a colleague or a local resident, house sharing is a simple way to save a considerable sum of money.
For teachers arriving in Asia, the low cost of living in comparison to western countries is a big factor in your ability to save money during your stay. However, new arrivals often find themselves only socializing in bars and restaurants aimed at foreigners, and subsequently paying inflated prices for everything from food and drink to everyday groceries. To enhance your ability to save your hard earned wages it is easy, and often more rewarding, to shop at local street markets and hangout in establishments aimed at a wider audience.