Is English your forte? Whether it be by native tongue or your dedication to watching cartoons in English your entire life, you just might be able to turn it into money.
If you haven't considered teaching English abroad, you should!
It allows you to make money while you travel so you can see the world without making your credit card shrivel up and wilt. Sounds like a good deal, right?
So, where, in this big bad world, will you be adequately compensated for your hard work teaching children or adults who would almost definitely rather be anywhere than in your classroom? Fortunately, there are a number of countries that will offer a very generous English teacher salary.
As an added bonus, oftentimes living abroad is cheaper than living at home. You can actually save more money on a smaller salary abroad.
Obviously, there are certain restrictions on who can teach where and earn what. However, if you have a TEFL or CELTA qualification then you are in the running for English teaching jobs all over the world. Not every country on this list is suited for everyone—you will have to choose where is going to be best for you. Afterall, you're going to be living there!
So, are you ready to spin the globe and see where you can make some bank on an English teacher salary?
1. South Korea
C'mon, you know you're curious to see if Gangnam actually exists!
South Korea is by far one of the most popular teaching destinations in the world. It is a modern country with amazing food, an efficient transport system and an excellent standard of living. It also has the perfect balance between bustling cities and chilled nature spots.
Yet, for some, teaching in South Korea can be a bit of a challenge. The country still hasn’t quite made it big in the global tourism scene so foreigners are still a novelty and staring occurs with tiresome regularity. English is also not very prevalent so communication can be difficult.
Nonetheless, with an excellent salary, free housing and airfare reimbursement all included in your teaching package, South Korea is a great place to teach English. There are also plenty of other English teachers there so you won’t necessarily have to learn Korean to make friends.
Indulge in all the chaos and Peking duck you want.
With China on its way to becoming the number one global superpower, a solid grasp of English is in high demand. This is great news for any potential English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers out there. Oh, and there are quite a few people in China, which makes finding a job very, very easy.
Obviously, somewhere like China doesn’t come without a few obstacles – language being one of the main ones. It can also be a bit of a culture shock with the cities being crazy hectic and some rural zones verging on a bit too under-developed. You get used to it though.
Basically, China is ideal for those who want a good English teacher salary and don’t want to spend ages looking for a post. You’re virtually guaranteed a job. It is also a good way to completely immerse yourself in a foreign culture and experience something completely different.
3. Czech Republic
The salary is enticing but so is all the beer.
I bet you never thought of the Czech Republic when you decided you wanted to teach English abroad. Well, believe it or not, this little European gem is doing wonders for English instructors thanks to its low-cost of living and plentiful teaching positions.
The hardest thing about living and teaching in the Czech Republic is probably going to be trying not to become an alcoholic. If you’ve never had Czech beer then you’re missing out. It’s dangerously good and is so cheap they might as well give it out for free.
Cheap and cheerful, the Czech Republic also makes an excellent springboard for visiting the rest of Europe. What better way to spend your teaching salary than by exploring the Czech Republic’s neighboring countries?
4. The United Arab Emirates
A place where luxury follows you with every step and where you can actually make enough to enjoy it.
Landing an English teaching job in the UAE—particularly in Dubai or Abu Dhabi – is like winning the lottery when it comes to procuring an English teaching job. Unfortunately, competition is high and so are the standards, so getting a job here isn’t easy.
You will need a significant amount of teaching experience under your belt (think around 10 years) and you will need to be as certified as possible. If you tick all the boxes then you can say hello to a huge tax-free salary and innumerable benefits.
Should you decide to go for a job in the UAE then be aware of the cultural differences here. If you are a woman, gay or a big drinker, it could be safer to go elsewhere. Also, note that teachers here tend to be older and come with their families to settle.
Grab your kimono and stretchy sushi pants, Japan is hiring!
A country of ancient mystery and one of the weirdest modern cultures you may ever encounter (cat cafés and seaweed KitKats anyone?), Japan is a hotspot for English teachers. Do a bit of research and it’s not hard to see why so many people are flocking to the Orient to teach.
Japan is full of incredible things to see and do, from skiing to shopping and everything else in between, but it comes at a price. Luckily, an English teacher salary here is more than enough to let you live comfortably and even save some. That means steaming bowls of noodles and sushi every day without breaking the bank. Not a bad life.
The one thing you should bear in mind if you head over to Japan to teach English is that they have a very clear hierarchy in place. This means that if you end up teaching business English in a company your students might be too terrified to talk if their boss is in the room. These cultural differences can be challenging but they’re easily overcome once you’re in the swing of things.
You can literally live off tapas and good wine while making money. Is this heaven?
There is nothing not to love about Spain. The people are beautiful, the weather is amazing and the food is divine. And, despite the dismal state of their economy at the moment, they are still hiring hordes of English teachers. So, it might be time to get your tapas pants on and head to the Iberian Peninsula.
Madrid, Barcelona, and Bilbao tend to be the main hubs for English teaching positions in Spain but there are plenty of opportunities outside of these cities as well. Wherever you go within Spain, I recommend learning some basic Spanish before you go – it’s not too difficult to get to grips with and it will be immensely helpful.
Spain doesn’t usually offer its English teacher perks like airfare reimbursement and housing but the salary is more than enough to live well. If you do find yourself struggling for cash then consider doing some private tutoring, which can bank you around $22 per hour or more.
Bask in paradise in Colombia. For some, that will be on the beaches, others, the coffee.
Want to learn a foreign language while you’re teaching a foreign language? Then Colombia could well be the place for you. The accent here is delightfully easy to understand (especially compared with places like Chile and Argentina) and the cost of living is almost offensively cheap.
Yes, teaching and living is easy in Colombia despite its turbulent past. If you’ve watched Narcos then you might be a bit nervous about heading to Escobar’s former turf but Colombia is a different country nowadays. The FARC is basically a thing of the past and Colombians are determined to move exclusively onwards and upwards.
As long as your mind doesn't think Mexico = Spring Break anymore, it's an excellent place to call home and make money!
While Asia attracts English teachers in their masses and has been doing so for some time now, Latin America is somewhat of an up and comer in this scene. But, Mexico, the culinary king of the world is changing that with its very attractive English teaching opportunities.
Whether you decide to be in the foodie haunt of Oaxaca or on the shimmering coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, you are guaranteed the time of your life in Mexico. And, let’s be honest, what’s not to love when you can get tacos and guacamole for less than a dollar.
Generally speaking, it is a lot easier to find an English teacher position once you are already in Mexico. That’s not to say it is impossible to organize beforehand, it’s just a bit tougher. English teacher salaries vary greatly in Mexico depending on which kind of institution you are in but the rule of thumb tends to be that more experience equals more money.
Your vodka drinking capabilities are not a prerequisite for living here—but it's a bonus.
Russia remains a complete anomaly. Not quite European and not quite Asian, it sits alone in the world. While this might be of no interest to some, to others it is mind-bogglingly fascinating. If you fall into the latter category then rejoice at their rather desperate need for English teachers.
Naturally, St Petersburg and Moscow are the most common destinations for English teachers in Russia but there are also positions in some of the smaller cities that are worth considering. Life is more expensive in the big cities but worth it if you like the buzz.
The visa process is lengthy and off-putting so a lot of people don’t even bother applying for posts in Russia. This means that if you can power through there will be an abundance of choices at your disposal.
10. Saudi Arabia
With every challenge comes a massive reward…
This final entry is only for the truly dedicated. You can make more money as an English teacher here than anywhere else in the world but it won’t be easy. Most teaching posts require years of experience and are generally reserved for older teachers with plenty of qualifications.
Men, you won’t have too many problems if you decide to teach English in Saudi Arabia. This is not the case for women. Women are not allowed to drive cars, ride a bike, speak to men in public or make decisions without their ‘guardians’. It isn’t impossible to live like this but it will certainly be a challenge.
The benefits of working in Saudi Arabia, however, are myriad. Accommodation is provided, as is healthcare, 1-month vacation and more.
To Get a Decent English Teacher Salary, You First Need to Get Certified
No matter which of these countries you choose to score some cash in for teaching English, you'll need a TEFL certification. I highly recommend getting certified through i-to-i as they are internationally recognized and can even help you find a job anywhere in the world after you complete the training.
Their 120-hour course is all you need to get one step closer to making decent wages as an English teacher.
Teaching English is a fantastic way to not only make money abroad and travel more but with some of these jobs, you can actually save money too. Some of my friends saved $17,000 USD or more in a single year!
So which of these countries and their English teacher salary are most appealing to you? Where could you see yourself relocating to teach English? Let us know in the comments below!