Teaching English abroad is never usually regarded as a top paying job.
In fact, when it comes to the expat community in many cities throughout the world, ESL teachers are probably at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to wages. Playing a little game of ‘Spot the English teacher’ in the CBD is like shooting fish in a barrel, as the expats working at large financial institutions wear neatly-pressed suits and matching ties. On the other hand, English teachers stand out with their bargain-basement shirts and generally world-weary look on their faces. Having said this, ESL teaching can be a lucrative industry for those with a B.A and a CELTA or TESOL, can make a nice little pay-packet to afford luxuries like a flashy pad, holidays and even a brand-spankin’ new motorbike. What it all boils down to is: ‘Location! Location! Location!’ This article will provide a guide to the top paying countries for ESL teachers.
ESL teachers make more $$$ in...
How much would I get? Between US$1000 and US$3000 per month. Do I get insurance? No. Is my flight paid? No. Do you guys provide me with a pad? No, but most places will help with finding a place to stay. What about a bonus? Some companies will pay up to 1 month’s salary.
Vietnam is a relatively newcomer to the world of high-paying ESL jobs, recently knocking off Thailand for the fifth position. As the country opens up to the outside world, a greater need for English speakers has arisen in the past 10 years. ESL teachers will find that schools are in remarkably high demand, as there is an ESL centre on practically every corner of the two major cities, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Schools and universities are also great places to work in Vietnam and generally have the best work conditions and salaries. Language centres can pay up to US$20 per hour for qualified teachers who can teach specialist subjects like IELTS and TOEFL. The downside of things in Vietnam, if you want to live like a westerner and enjoy a cool western-style apartment, you will need to pay at least US$500 per month.
How much would I get? Around the US$2000 mark. Do I get insurance? Sometimes, check your contract. Is my flight paid? Yes, return airfare is usually included. Do you guys provide me with a pad? Sometimes. If not, your employer should assist you in finding a place. What about a bonus? A small bonus that is less than a one month.
Note: Ever since the earthquake and tsunami have affected Japan, teachers have been reportedly leaving in record numbers. The next few months will be an interesting time for those who want to work in Japan in terms of benefits and salary.
Japan has long been a favourite for ‘gappys’ who take the year off their studies between school and university to spend a year discovering the world before heading back to do four years of study. This has since changed in recent times as countries crack down on qualifications, and Japan is now a common place for those who have recently obtained their degree. The ESL culture in Japan is quite interesting; the majority of English teaching takes place after school, with many institutes offering classes as an extracurricular activity. This is an ideal option for many of those who want their mornings free (although the occasional private student may come along, and turn your mostly-free day into a horrible split shift). Japan is also a great place for those who want to sink their teeth into business English.
How much would I get? On average, US$2000-US$3000 a month. Do I get insurance? Yes. Is my flight paid? Yes, return airfare. Do you guys provide me with a pad? Usually a furnished apartment. What about a bonus? Most ESL jobs offer a bonus of 1 month’s salary.
Long been considered as being one of the best destinations to teach, Korea comes in at third sport as the highest-paying ESL country. With a slightly lower salary than Taiwan, the extras are absolutely spectacular! The usual ESL job in Korea comes with the lot, insurance, apartment and bonus. For those who want to sink their teeth into a job with a kickass salary, Korea is definitely the place. South Korea, that is (even though Pyong Yang in North Korea has a British Institute with foreign teachers, apparently!) Teaching at language centres seems to be the way to go, but many teachers living in the capital (Seoul) make a very good living off teaching private students.
How much would I get? Approximately US$3000 – US$4000 a month. Do I get insurance? No, the teacher must cover it themselves. Is my flight paid? NO! It seems that’s just the way it is with ESL teachers in Taiwan. Do you guys provide me with a pad? Yes, but without furniture. What about a bonus? No return flights, no bonus. Just a high salary.
Taiwan comes in at number two spot on the list for salary although additional benefits are slim. With no insurance, no bonus or no flights, teachers may have to dip into their incredibly-high salary to fund those extras. Teachers have the option of schools or language centres, while some great local holiday spots can be found to the south of the island.
How much would I get? Between US$3,200 and US$5,000 per month. Do I get insurance? Nope! With $5,000 a month, you can pay for it yourself! Is my flight paid? Yes, many companies include a yearly return airfare to your home country. Do you guys provide me with a pad? Yes. In Dubai, most companies include free, furnished accommodation What about a bonus? Nope! Unless you count your return fare as a bonus.
In the first position, it’s no surprise that Dubai takes the cake when it comes to the highest paying salaries for ESL teachers. The oil rich nation has enough to splurge on the world’s tallest residential tower, an indoor skiing centre that’s located in the middle of a desert, and the world’s only 7-star hotel – the Burj al Arab. The phenomena of learning English amongst those living in Dubai are a rather recent trend that has soared in the past decade or so. Many residents of Dubai, including the vast number of Pakistanis and Indians living in the oil-rich nation, have been spurred on to improve their English skills by the number of international corporations that have set up their base there. The ESL setting in Dubai is quite competitive, and teachers are paid according to experience. Most teachers who work in Dubai generally come with years of experience and have worked at other countries, especially throughout the Middle East. Language centres are the most common ESL learning institute, which mostly cater for the booming hospitality and finance industries.
Have you worked in any of these countries? How was it? Please share your experience with us!
Want more teaching tips like this?
The Entire BusyTeacher Library
Includes all 80 of our e-books, with thousands of practical activities and tips for your lessons. This collection can turn you into a pro at teaching English in a variety of areas, if you read and use it.