TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and it’s a certificate you need if you want to teach non-native speakers English. With a TEFL certificate, you can teach students of all ages – from young learners to adult business language learners – anywhere in the world. It’s recognised globally and is the key to kick-starting your English teaching career abroad, home or online.
What to Expect: TEFL Teacher Salaries
Ok, the cards are on the table! Teaching English abroad is not about earning a fantastic amount of money. But being paid reasonably well and getting the chance to experience living abroad. That’s not to say you won’t have enough money to live on, and in some cases, the cost of living is low, and the wages are high enough that you will even be able to save money.
Most people who want to teach English as a foreign language have a passion for helping other people learn new skills, but with any job, you should understand the salaries and where it is, you can earn the money that best suits you. So, look closely at teaching salaries for TEFL teachers living and working abroad.
So, What Can You Earn?
Unsurprisingly, there is no direct answer here. The amount you can earn depends on several factors, including your qualifications and experience, where you are headed in the world, and the institution employing you. We will have a look at these in a little bit more detail.
Two primary qualifications will factor into the mix when determining how much you’re likely to earn. First of all, you need to consider whether you have a degree. Some countries require a degree; it’s not negotiable, whereas others are pretty happy to welcome TEFL teachers who do not have a degree. This also directly translates to the amount of money you can earn, and not having a degree does tend to limit your earning potential.
Secondly, and probably more importantly, is your TEFL qualification. Hundreds of people offer TEFL courses, but they are not all worth the same. This is particularly true if you grab a system off one of the bargain sites. You need to look for a course provider who can prove that they have accredited courses endorsed by respected external bodies. It is also fair to say that not all systems are designed to offer the same endpoint.
For example, we have a range of accredited courses that fit the bill. But we also provide top-up courses designed to add additional skills to those already earned. However, some course providers will try and convince you that you will get work teaching English abroad. Which is just one of these extra short courses, and that is not the case. They are not necessarily accredited, as they don’t need to be. They are designed to further the knowledge of someone already qualified to teach English abroad. So, it’s vital that you have a recognised and accredited TEFL qualification to ensure that you will find work and earn a reasonable amount of money.
It doesn’t matter what industry you are working in. Experience is always a factor in salary, and most people have to start at the bottom. If you are a newly qualified teacher heading out into the world for the first time at the start of their career, you may have to accept a lower salary for the first couple of years. However, if you are an experienced teacher in your own country, looking for a change of pace, the offers will come with higher remuneration packages.
You will also find a large salary variation, depending on where in the world you are hoping to teach. But, remember that salaries should also be on a par with the cost of living for the area. Meaning that the money you earn should comfortably cover your accommodation and living expenses while leaving you something left over to play with. For example, the Middle East has a reputation for offering high salaries, but the cost of living is also quite expensive. Conversely, you may see a salary advertised in Chile as €500 a month which sounds scarily low.
However, they also have a meagre cost of living; therefore, your money will stretch and cover everything you need. You also need to consider that you can earn more money in big cities versus smaller towns. Again part of this is because it will cost more to live in a bigger city than a rural village, so there are many factors to consider.
Look at Other Benefits
Although some countries do not offer the highest salaries, other benefits may be included in your salary package. Sometimes these can be worth a significant amount of money, so you don’t need to earn as much. For example, some countries routinely include the cost of a flat or house. That means you have no rent to pay, saving you a significant monthly salary. If we consider the average wage in China at €1200 a month and compare that to Japan at €1600 a month, you may think Japan is offering the best deal. However, accommodation is routinely provided for teachers in China and not in Japan. So that €400 salary difference translates to earning more money in China because you are not paying rent.
Other benefits like flights and health insurance can be included in some countries, so you need to consider how much impact this will have on your monthly earnings v expenditure before you decide whether it is enough to live on. Health insurance can undoubtedly be expensive in some countries, so having that included for free is a definite positive.
Salaries by Continent
The average amount an English teacher abroad can earn does vary by continent. Of course, it depends on many factors, including the economic situation within each country, but as a rule, you can see a lot of similarities by continent.
In Europe, the salaries are split between north and west, where he will enjoy the highest level of earnings, versus east and south, where the economic climates are not as good, and you would expect lower wages. However, remember that this also works for the cost of living, so although you are being paid less, you will spend less on daily life.
Norway and Denmark offer the highest salaries in Europe, and currently, these are averaging about €2500-€3000 a month in Norway and €3500-€4800 in Denmark. You will need to have a degree to attract this sort of pay, and they prefer you to have experience. They do not routinely include extras like flight costs or accommodation. So you also need to bear that in mind as the cost of living is relatively high there. To be earning at the high end of either of these salary ranges, you would need to have extensive experience, potentially a master’s degree, and be able to demonstrate skills they would struggle to find elsewhere.
In stark contrast, the lowest salaries offered in Europe are found in Turkey at €220-€730 per month and in Georgia, which offers between €240-€1000. Both of these countries are looking for teachers who have a degree. But do not require you to have a lot of experience. Remember, the cost of living will be on a par with the salary. So although this seems like a meagre salary, it will be enough to live on, and you may find that your accommodation costs are covered. If you want to teach English abroad in Europe, every country prefers you to have a degree.
If you don’t have a lot of experience and are just starting, Asia offers some of the best entry-level salaries. Both South Korea and China routinely include accommodation costs in their salary packages. Cambodia is the only country in Asia that does not require you to have a degree. It also offers reasonable wages from €700-€1100 a month. Hong Kong has the most significant earning potential at €6500 a month. But remember that this will be reserved for people with substantial qualifications and experience to bring to the table. The entry-level salary in Hong Kong is closer to the €1700 mark. The cost of living is also relatively high, so you must be careful with your money as accommodation is included.
Teaching English in India attracts the lowest salaries in Asia, with starting rates of around €130 per month and up to €800 per month for those with more experience. They require a degree, but they do not require you to have taught before at entry level. Nepal is the only country in Asia where you will not be paid to teach English. Currently, they can only afford voluntary teachers, but you do not have to have a degree or experience, so plenty of people are still up for the challenge.
Central and South America
Salaries in Central and South America are consistently low. However, most places do not require a degree or experience, provided you have the relevant TEFL qualification. It is a popular place for those just starting, and the countries are fascinating and worth exploring. Generally, salaries range from around €500-€1000 a month. The cost of anything is relatively low, but you won’t have masses left over. Peru and Chile are the two countries that require a degree, and it is preferred in Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Uruguay. Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia all welcome teachers who do not have a degree but have the TEFL certification.
Middle East and Africa
One of the reasons that the Middle East is a popular TEFL destination is the tax-free salary status. However, this does mean that competition for positions is fierce. You are unlikely to find work in the Middle East without experience, a degree, and TEFL certification. Africa offers a decent salary, particularly in Egypt, Algeria and Morocco. They also have a lot of voluntary positions in other African countries. So the UAE provides the highest salary levels in the Middle East. Starting at around €1700 per month; very experienced teachers can earn up to €4500 monthly.
They also tend to offer fully comprehensive packages that include flight costs and accommodation, meaning you have a significant amount left over. Morocco and Egypt offer the lowest salaries in the Middle East and Africa, with monthly figures ranging from €450-€800 in Morocco and €450-€700 in Egypt. Both these countries require a degree but may offer a contract to those without experience. Accommodation and flights are not included.
TEFL Salary Summary
So there you have it; the amount you earn varies depending on several factors. It is probably best to start your career in a country that is not looking for a lot of experience. But once you have taught for a while, you can start to aim higher. The location of your TEFL destination and its economic climate will impact the amount you can earn. This is subject to change, depending on what happens across the world. Teachers bringing a degree and experience to the table alongside an accredited TEFL certification will earn the highest salaries.
You should always check whether a country offers extras, like the cost of your flight, free accommodation or health insurance and work out how much this will save you. Although the salary might not seem that high, if you remember the example of China, compared to Japan, having a free apartment can save you more money than the difference in salary each month. Finally, don’t be put off by countries to offer less than you are used to in your home country. The cost of living is likely to be lower and therefore you will spend less each month.
To get a TEFL certificate you must take an accredited TEFL course. The minimum training required by employers worldwide is 120 hours. You can choose between accredited, government regulated Level 5 or combined TEFL courses. You’ll find TEFL courses are either online or combined in-class and online experiences.
Getting a TEFL certification from a recognised, trusted provider is essential when it comes to receiving high-quality training and finding a job. Always go for a globally recognised accredited certification. It’s also worth double checking company reviews to make sure customers are satisfied with their training.
What’s the difference between accredited and government regulated Level 5 TEFL courses?
The Accredited 120 Hour Premier TEFL Course is what we call one of our fast-track courses. This is the minimum recognised worldwide.
- You have 10 modules to complete usually taking 4-6 weeks.
- Each module has a multiple-choice test at the end, and you need 80% to pass.
- You’ll get your digital certificate on completion and can buy a hard copy from us if you’d like one with an embossed logo.
Level 5 Ofqual-regulated courses offer more in-depth training. If we look at the 180 Hour Level 5 TEFL Diploma in comparison:
- Learners typically spend 12 – 14 weeks to complete 11 modules.
- The pass mark is 100% and assessments are multiple-choice plus open-ended answers. Don’t worry, you can redo quizzes to get 100%. Our academic team will review your answers at the end of your 11 modules and may ask for some questions to be reattempted. Some questions may require you to provide academic references.
- You’ll get your digital coursework completion certificate from us after module 11. Following successful assessment from our academic team, we’ll be able to claim the licence for your Ofqual (government) certificate from our accreditation body Highfield.
The Ofqual-regulated Level 5 course range is for those who want to gain a higher-level, more recognised qualification.
TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teachers teach English in non-native English speaking countries. TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) teachers teach English in native English speaking countries. CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) is a separate qualification you can get to teach English.
TEFL: One of the most accepted certificates worldwide, this allows you to teach English to non-native speakers across the globe.
TESL: As a TESL teacher, you would likely be teaching English in your home country to students who have moved or live in an English speaking country. In other words, they are continuously surrounded by the language and will be using it every day outside of the classroom, unlike TEFL students who are likely learning in their home country.
CELTA: A very prestigious certification that follows a strict regulation created by Cambridge University. You must complete a 120-hour TEFL course and six hours of teaching real ESL students. Most of the programmes are held over a month and are full time. However, you may be able to find some courses that are part-time and are spread over three months. Due to its intense nature and requirements, the cost tends to be much higher and can be up to €1700!
Yes! Teaching English as a foreign language – online or in-class – will give you an abundance of transferable skills. From time management to problem-solving and communication, you’ll have plenty of experience to impress future employers. As your TEFL certification never expires, you can get back into TEFL whenever you wish, too.