How Much can you Earn Teaching English Abroad?

Everybody asks that question, but the real question probably needs to be, How much can you SAVE teaching English abroad.

The wage packages can be so different between countries and what looks like a great offer – might actually be bettered by what appears to be a more modest offer.

Things to consider when calculating your wages and benefits . . .

Cost of Living.

In some countries you might get paid a lot, but the cost of living can be very high and what you do earn, you may well spend on basics.  Jobs in Europe and the Middle East might fall into this category.

Benefits: Accommodation, Medical Insurance and more . . .

Some jobs provide free accommodation.  But look even deeper.  Some jobs in China, for example, may even offer a basic level of electricity, cooking gas and water as part of your package.  Some schools provide free medical care (but do inquire carefully about coverage and quality of care).

Income Taxes.

A lot?  A little?  Does you employer pay them for you?

Paid Vacation Time.

University jobs often pay modestly but sometimes offer three- or four-day work weeks and even up to twenty (yes, 20!) weeks paid vacation per year.  That is literally a half-time job for full-time wages.  Be careful though, some colleges and universities might pay a reduced rate during vacations and some might not pay at all.

Overtime Pay.

Some jobs will start to pay you overtime when you have taught only nine classroom hours in a week (university jobs again), but others may not pay overtime until you exceed as many as 25 or 30 hours per week and some might not pay until you exceed a certain monthly total.  Make sure you understand how this works before you sign that contract.

Payment of Visa  and Related Fees.

In some countries visa processing and associated paperwork can be quite expensive.  Will your employer cover all or part of these expenses?


Will your employer reimburse airfare?  All or part of it?  Or up to a certain limit?  This often varies by country and sometimes even within a country.

Add it all up

Add it all up and figure what your basic package might be worth and how much you might be able to SAVE per month.  Some jobs in China, for example, can have you saving a lot more than similar jobs in Vietnam or Thailand that pay more but where you have to pay for your own accommodation, airfare and get minimal paid time off.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Don’t compare just the wages of a job.  Add in all the other factors and make sure you leave some money for travel and exploring your new country.  If you have big student loans that need to be paid, Korea is probably your best bet.  If you have better-than-average qualifications and experience then parts of the Middle East are excellent for savings as well.

The BEST EFL Teaching Jobs in China: Government Colleges, Universities and Secondary Schools offer the most reliable and worry-free jobs in China. Click on the Link if you would like to Teach English in China

Author: Ted

Semi-retired EFL teacher/teacher-trainer working and living abroad since 1989 in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

2 thoughts on “How Much can you Earn Teaching English Abroad?”

  1. Single female 53 with BS presently in TESOL program. Will have significant loans approx $90,000 by the time I have my MS TESOL
    completed in approx DEC 2012. Was a single stay home mom for years, so will also have to begin a modest retirement account as well. I’m planning ahead so beginning my search options for a required Summer internship abroad Summer 2012, but found out that I will have to pay for my own transport and accommodation as I will have to return to complete my program. Was told that once my program is completed, I will probably need to go to Korea to make enough to get the loans paid down asap. What do you think my options are for inexpensive summer internship options? (including airfare and acomodation etc…)

  2. Hello MWright,
    It is difficult to get airfare paid for shorter-term jobs, but if anywhere – probably Korea is the place. Another option might be a refugee or immigration center near where you are located right now. Wow! With that debt load get yourself over the UAE or Saudi Arabia so you can pay it off faster. The Middle East prefers us older teachers, Korea like them a bit younger. But do get some experience first as students in the Middle East can be behavior management problems.
    Good luck!

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