THE 5 COUNTRIES WITH THE HIGHEST SALARIES TEACHING ENGLISH
Often people still think of teaching English as a poor career choice for making money. The reality is that just like any profession, there are levels to what you can achieve. If you’re really determined to make teaching English a career, not a stop-gap, then it’s possible to forge a very lucrative path, especially if you’re flexible with where you live and open to moving around, so how much do teachers make? These are five countries with the highest salaries for teaching English. Note that we’re not even looking at academic management or leadership roles, which of course push the pay packet higher. This is just regular teaching roles.
We should say though, that money isn’t everything. The best things in life are free, and that for us includes living by the beach, not stressing too much, and having time to do the things we love. So remember that, unless your goal is to become the next South Korean Millionaire Teacher, the cash isn’t all that matters.
1. SAUDI ARABIA
Avg. Salary: $2600-$4200
Saudi Arabia is not everyone’s choice of destination, particularly if you enjoy a drink or two at the weekend. The entire country is ‘dry’ – no booze. In addition, there are other concerns on the agenda, particularly if you’re female…as you won’t be allowed to drive a car under their legal system.
Part of this strict code of conduct is mediated by the sky-high, and tax-free, salaries that you could only get in one of the richest countries in the world.
For experienced teachers with a high level of qualifications, it’s reasonably to expect up to $5000 tax free a month, with a number of fringe benefits including housing, airfare, transport, and even relocation allowances. It’s safe to say, even with an average cost of living, you’ll be very comfortable.
Most adverts for this kind of work ask for a minimum of a Master’s degree, particularly at university positions. You’ll also need a recognised teaching qualification, probably a Delta to achieve the very highest levels and move into the management-level roles.
2. UAE (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
Avg. Salary: $3000-$4000
Sticking with the Middle East, one of the other high-paying nations where you can build up your bank account teaching ESL is the United Arab Emirates, or UAE, boasting, potentially the highest English teacher salary in the world.
Again, if you’re currently holding a TEFL certificate and nothing else, it’s not going to cut it. To make serious bank you’ll need to invest in your qualifications, and hold a minimum of a Bachelor’s and a teaching certificate, or a Master’s degree (usually in TESOL) to get to the top of the pile.
If you can meet the qualifications, you can expect up to $65,000 a year, and again – tax free! That’s before we’ve mentioned a similar benefits package that you’d get in Saudi Arabia, plus bonuses and very generous holiday allowances.
Living in won’t be for everyone, but the rewards aren’t just financial. You’d be hard pressed to find a more dynamic, exciting, and futuristic city than Dubai. A trip up the highest building in the world or to the largest indoor aquarium are both weekend options, if you don’t fancy snowboarding down sand dunes.
Avg. Salary: $2000-$3500
Oh man, another gulf country? (sorry for the pun). We want to be accurate, so we’ve got to stick to the facts. Oman is another country on the Arabian Peninsula offering very, very comfortable salaries. The country is growing very rapidly and experiencing a great deal of development – with that comes the need to communicate globally, and so ESL is very much in demand.
From the millenia old relics to the new burgeoning, cosmopolitan metropolis, dominated by skyscrapers, bars, and clubs, living and being a part of this city’s story is a great reason to take a year in Beijing. We bet that if you do, you’ll never be short of a story or two..
Salaries aren’t as high as the two countries above, but they’re still tax free. You can earn up to $3500 a month at some of the more reputable schools, and add in all the benefits we mentioned, as well as tuition for any kids you might be bringing, insurance, and a host of other sweeteners. If you can handle the heat, the Middle East is the place to be.
Check out Eric Woro’s interview, on living in the Middle East.
Avg. Salary: $2000-$3000
Offering the best teacher salary in Asia, Japan tends to be a bit more of a mixed bag and attracts a different crowd of candidates. Among the options, you can teach on the JET programme, be an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) or look to international schools and universities, if your CV allows it. The lowest end of salaries hover around $1800 – $2000, but often include airfare, housing, and other benefits.
If you’re looking to the high-end international schools, you can expect a ceiling of approximately $5000 a month plus benefits. Management positions can move even higher, but be wary of gruelling working hours and a high-stress environment.
It’s worth noting that while Japan has high salaries, the cost of living is a lot higher than other nations. What might cost you $0.50 in Thailand and $0.30 in Cambodia might be as high as $5 in Tokyo, and if housing isn’t included and you’re in a major city, that’s gonna take up a large percentage of your earnings. Mostly, it seems the call of Japan is enough for many people, and they’ll happily take whatever they can get to live in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Avg. Salary: $1500-$2500
It could only be China. Home to beautiful scenery, delicious food, crazy air quality, lots of fake merchandise, the iPhone, and well, lots of other stuff, too.
Honestly, China is the most profitable all-rounder. The reason is that while a lot of the jobs above have super high salaries and unbelievable benefits, they’re pretty hard to get, and if you don’t have the time or money to go about pursuing an MA in TESOL you’re probably not going to apply. If however, you want to scrape together some travelling money, or spend a few years having fun and taking wild adventures, this is the place to be.
Demand in China is exceptionally high, and even working at an independent English centre, with minimal requirements, can net you from $1500 – $2500 a month. Bear in mind that outside of the city, the cost of living can be extremely low, allowing you to put nearly all of your income into savings. Most jobs as well will include housing, airfare, and often Mandarin lessons too.