How Much Can I Earn as a TEFL Teacher?

It’s not how much you can earn, it’s how much you can SAVE.

Let’s Talk TEFL Money…

See the DRAFT (not finished yet!) transcript below.

Here’s the real bottom line: it’s all about money.

A lot of people go overseas to teach English because they want to save some money and when they’re working an entry-level job in their home country they can barely make ends meet. They can’t save a dime, can’t pay student loans, so can’t really have that much fun.

They’ve heard about teaching English abroad and that you can have just one heck of a good time and still make some real money. But people always ask, “Hey how much money can I make in Taiwan, Korea, China, Thailand or?

Would you be surprised if I told you that’s not the question to ask? The real question is how much money can you SAVE.

If we want to compare for example Thailand versus Korea versus China, then you can make more money in one of those countries, but you’d end up saving more in a different one.

In Taiwan, they don’t usually provide accommodation or cover airfare, you’ve got higher income taxes, and the cost of living is really high. If you go to Korea or China though, accommodation is provided and airfare is usually reimbursed. The cost of living and taxes are much lower. In China, some schools will even pay or subsidize your utilities. Even free meals are provided at some school. What all that means is that when you get paid it all goes in your pocket.

So you might make a certain amount, but in Taiwan, you might spend every bit of it in China and Korea you might save almost all of it. Yeah! In Korea it is pretty easy to save at least $1,000 a month.

Another issue is the freedom to teach “private classes” away from your school. In Taiwan, most teachers do and can fairly easily increase their income by 20-30%. So ask about income possibilities. Often in Korea, your employer might ask you to teach their friend or an important person for additional income. Illegal, but quietly done all over the country. Who wants to turn down US$40-60 an hour for a pleasant evening helping someone improve their English skills?

So… what you need to realize is that it’s not how much money you can earn how much money you can save.

Remember to ask about:
Ability to earn more
Any subsidies: for transportation, meals, utilities
Cost of living: What’s it cost to go out to eat, to go to a move, to have a few beers with friends, etc.


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