10 Best Countries for the Financially-motivated English Teacher

English teacher salaries

Teaching abroad as an English teacher is a great opportunity for many seeking to experience the outside world while earning income. For the professional, career English teacher and the gap-year English teacher alike, financial gain is usually the other pull factor. The difficult decision for some is to decide where to teach, and to answer this one has to know what is the salary for English teachers in a given market and how much of that can be saved after necessary expenses.

This list of countries was compiled carefully by not considering only nominal salary for the ranking. The cost of living, the variety of and ease of access to jobs (especially considering that the majority of TEFL professionals only hold a BA/BS and often not with an English or education major), type of amenities available, and chances to grow professionally all play into the financial outcomes of a TEFL professional.

The order in which these countries appear in this ranking is based on the following criteria:

  • variety and volume of job options
  • cost of living to income ratio
  • notoriety of the country
  • cultural and geographic uniqueness
  • safety

 

Regardless of your academic background, earning a TEFL certification along with a bachelor's degree is at least the minimum requirement for working in all of the following countries.

A great addition to your resume and as a means to prepare you for your new career move is our 120-hour TEFL program.

Teach English in the Czech Republic - #10

While the current republic is young (est. 1993), the Czech Republic, or "Czechia", has a rich history. Residents there enjoy the history of Bohemia and Moravia through the preservation of culture. Known to be the country with the highest level of beer consumption per capita. Czechia is also host to brilliant baroque architecture and packed streets which can be enjoyed after an evening of sampling the many breweries strewn about every sizable city.

Regarding cost of living and living standards, Czechia offers the charm of central Europe without the price tag of its neighbors to the west and with arguably better amenities and living standards than its neighbors to the east. Essentially, it is the sweet spot in terms of living standards for TEFL professionals. The Czech Republic is the only country on this list outside of East Asia and the Arabian Peninsula: its low cost of living and reasonably high salaries set it apart from virtually all other European countries. Teaching English in the Czech Republic will not only offer immediate savings potential, but this is a advancing market with many years of growth in its future and for those who choose to grow their career there. Moreover, those who choose to teach English in the Czech Republic can be entry-level or experienced teachers; this is another great distinction and advantage compared to other European countries, with maybe the exception of Spain.

A 120-hour TEFL course, such as the one offered by the North American TEFL Academy, will certify any native English speaker with a 4-year college degree to work in the Czech Republic.

Population: <10.6 million
Types of Jobs: English language centers, kindergartens, and business courses
TEFL Requirement: 120-hour TEFL certification required
Degree Requirement: BA/BA typically required
Average Monthly Salary: $1,100-2,200
Average Monthly Cost-of-living: $700-1,400
Monthly Savings Potential: $400-800

 

 

Teach English in Vietnam - #09

This densely-populated tropical country with a long coastline straddles the line between East and Southeast Asia. Influences from the Indian Subcontinent and from China blend with native Khmer and Viet cultures to create a unique environment. The southern regions of Vietnam have also been heavily influenced by the period of French occupation evident by the cafe culture in Saigon and the strong presence of Catholicism. The northern region is the location of the national government, where cost of living is lower and the social environment is less international.

While at present, Vietnam does not offer salaries that can compete with its neighbors to the north, teaching English in Vietnam has a bright future. Salaries are on the rise as the country has moved into an era of more rapid international trade and investment and therefore requires more English teachers to prepare the population to service a broader market. English teaching jobs in Vietnam are also as varied as anywhere in the world. Adults, kindergarten children, and university students alike all require English teachers in Vietnam.

A 120-hour TEFL course, such as the one offered by the North American TEFL Academy, will certify any native English speaker with a 4-year college degree to work in Vietnam.

Population: <95 million
Types of Jobs: English language centers (all age groups), universities, K-12
TEFL Requirement: 120-hour TEFL certification required
Degree Requirement: BA/BA required
Average Monthly Salary: $1,200-2,200
Average Monthly Cost-of-living: $500-1,200
Monthly Savings Potential: $700-1,000

 

 

Teach English in Saudi Arabia - #8

Saudi Arabia is one of the most important countries in the world, with some of the largest proven oil reserves, administering the most important Islamic holy site in Mecca, and it sets the standard for media, entertainment, and Arabic dialect for region. It is thus a great place to not only earn and save income, but also to learn about the cultural and make connections in the Middle East. It is the largest of the countries featured on this list in the Gulf region, hosting the largest market for English teachers. Saudi Arabia is often a first choice for English teachers in the Middle East prior to moving onto possibly more lucrative work in the smaller states like Kuwait and the UAE.

A 120-hour TEFL course, such as the one offered by the North American TEFL Academy, will certify any native English speaker with a 4-year college degree to work in Saudi Arabia.

Population: <33 million
Types of Jobs: English language centers (all ages), universities, kindergartens
TEFL Requirement: 120-hour TEFL certification required
Degree Requirement: BA/BA required; MA/MS preferred; education & English majors preferred
Average Monthly Salary: $2,000-4,000
Average Monthly Cost-of-living: $1,000-2,500
Monthly Savings Potential: $1,000-1,500

 

 

Teach English in Japan - #07

The nation of Japan with all of its economic and political significance on the global stage needs little introduction. Its unique culture has attracted TEFL and other professionals alike since before most of those reading this article were born. The expat community is huge and the influence of post-war occupation and the maintenance of strong ties between the State of Japan and the United States renders Japan a very foreign-friendly place with virtually all the amenities a foreign teacher could ask for.

Japan is arguably one of the most established markets for English teaching. While opportunities for teaching English in Japan have declined over the last couple decades the market maintains a strong demand for English teachers, and this is particularly true outside of Japan's major cities (e.g., Osaka, Yokohama, and Tokyo).  It is also outside of these cities that the cost of living to income ratio for an English teacher in Japan becomes favorable. Enjoy the world-famous cuisine and beautiful landscape in-and-around Japan's other great cities and grow a bank account. One can try living in Tokyo or Osaka if big-city living is a requirement; very frugal professionals can also do well there.

A 120-hour TEFL course, such as the one offered by the North American TEFL Academy, will certify any native English speaker with a 4-year college degree to work in Japan.

Population: <126 million
Types of Jobs: English language centers (all age groups), universities, K-12
TEFL Requirement: 120-hour TEFL certification required
Degree Requirement: BA/BA required
Average Monthly Salary: $1,800-2,400 (smaller cities); 2,000-3,600 (major cities)
Average Monthly Cost-of-living: $900-1,600 (smaller cities; 1,600-2,400 (major cities)
Monthly Savings Potential: $600-1,200

 

 

Teach English in Kazakhstan - #06

Even for experienced TEFL professionals, the appearance of Kazakhstan on this list may come as a surprise. Despite a cool down in the last few years, over the last two decades the economy of Kazakhstan has been experiencing growth rates often well-above 10% annually. The demand for English teachers in Kazakhstan is rising steadily. Due to its lack of notoriety, few know much about the country, there are always shortages of teachers, and salaries have risen further as a result.

A 120-hour TEFL course, such as the one offered by the North American TEFL Academy, will certify any native English speaker with a 4-year college degree to work in Kazakhstan.

Population: <18 million
Types of Jobs: English language centers (all age groups), K-12
TEFL Requirement: 120-hour TEFL certification required
Degree Requirement: BA/BA required
Average Monthly Salary: $1,200-2,200
Average Monthly Cost-of-living: $400-1,000
Monthly Savings Potential: $600-1,200

 

 

Teach English in South Korea - #05

South Korea often gets overlooked as a great place for TEFL professionals, as it is surrounded by the much larger markets of geopolitically significant countries like Japan and China. Regardless, South Korea, when compared to all of the TEFL markets in the world, is a fairly large and easy market to begin or even maintain a career. After decades of solid economic growth, South Korea has entered a more stable period and the salaries for English teaching in South Korea has reached very competitive levels. New TEFL professionals should definitely consider teaching in South Korea because of the relatively high salaries for teachers with even no experience. The only downside is that there is not a high demand for high school and corporate training, as there might be in other countries. If you prefer teaching early learners and you want to get your foot in the door of the TEFL market, South Korea is a great choice.

A 120-hour TEFL course, such as the one offered by the North American TEFL Academy, will certify any native English speaker with a 4-year college degree to work in South Korea.

Population: <51 million
Types of Jobs: English language centers (mostly for young learners), K-12
TEFL Requirement: 120-hour TEFL certification required
Degree Requirement: BA/BA required
Average Monthly Salary: $1,900-2,200 (smaller cities); 2,000-3,200 (major cities)
Average Monthly Cost-of-living: $900-1,200 (smaller cities; 1,200-2,000 (major cities)
Monthly Savings Potential: $1,000-1,200

 

 

Teach English in Qatar - #04

One of the wealthiest societies in the world, Qatar like most oil-rich nations in the Gulf region has need for highly-skilled English teachers. English teaching jobs in Qatar are typically not available for the inexperienced and the less-credentialed. However, for those TEFL professionals who meet the requirements and are seeking a reliable and professional industry, Qatar can be a very good choice.

A 120-hour TEFL course, such as the one offered by the North American TEFL Academy, will be valuable certification for any native English speaker with a 4-year college degree to work in Qatar. Be aware, however, that only very entry level jobs will be available for anyone without a master's degree and/or a CELTA.

Population: <2.6 million
Types of Jobs: English language centers (all age groups), K-12
TEFL Requirement: 120-hour TEFL certification required
Degree Requirement: BA/BA required; MA preferred; Education & English majors preferred
Average Monthly Salary: $1,800-4,000
Average Monthly Cost-of-living: $1,500-2,000
Monthly Savings Potential: $300-2,000

 

 

Teach English in Kuwait - #03

With the fourth highest GDP per capital of any country in the world, this small semi-democratic country in the Persian Gulf region is typically viewed as being host to one of the most open and liberal societies in the region. For a TEFL professional, not only does Kuwait offer the capacity to generate and save income comparable to if not greater than what one could in their home country, the open and affluent society offers the change for foreign professionals to meet locals and to sustain long-term associations with them. The most notable drawback to the TEFL market in Kuwait is that is fiercely competitive. This is not the only article on the web touting the financial advantages of Kuwait, and if a new teacher hopes to enter this market they should be aware that for every one job opening there are at least several applicants. Preparing a well-groomed resume and earning additional teaching credentials and experience might be necessary for a TEFL professional to even be considered for work in Kuwait.

A 120-hour TEFL course, such as the one offered by the North American TEFL Academy, will be a valuable certification for any native English speaker with a 4-year college degree to work in Kuwait. Be aware, however, that only very entry level jobs will be available for anyone without a master's degree and/or a CELTA.

Population: <4.1 million
Types of Jobs: English language centers (all age groups), K-12
TEFL Requirement: 120-hour TEFL certification required
Degree Requirement: BA/BA required; MA preferred; Education & English majors preferred
Average Monthly Salary: $1,900-3,500
Average Monthly Cost-of-living: $900-1,500
Monthly Savings Potential: $1,000-2,000

 

 

Teach English in the UAE - #02

It is admittedly difficult to objectively rank the small Gulf states in terms of their appeal to financially-motivated English teachers. The UAE stands out because on the upper-limited of salaries, there might be no place in the world where a highly-qualified TELF professional could earn as much. Also, the two major cities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are frequented by foreign professionals from all industries, adding a strong international and open feeling to the social environment.

A 120-hour TEFL course, such as the one offered by the North American TEFL Academy, will be valuable certification for any native English speaker with a 4-year college degree to work in UAE. Be aware, however, that only very entry level jobs will be available for anyone without a master's degree and/or a CELTA.

Population: <9.4 million
Types of Jobs: English language centers (all age groups), K-12
TEFL Requirement: 120-hour TEFL certification accepted in some circumstances; CELTA preferred
Degree Requirement: BA/BA required; MA typically required; Education & English majors preferred
Average Monthly Salary: $2,400-5,200
Average Monthly Cost-of-living: $1,200-2,800
Monthly Savings Potential: $1,200-2,600

 

 

Teach English in China - #01

By far the largest and most dynamic market for English teachers, China not only offers the best salaries for experienced English teachers outside of the Middle East, but it also offers the best salaries anywhere for less-credentialed and inexperienced teachers (some school prefer no experience). There are dozens of major cities in China where one could chose to teach English, influencing the TEFL professional's ability to save and promote career growth. Some markets are as expensive and lucrative as the oil-rich Gulf States, while some cities are mid-tier but still provide solid income and a cost of living so low as to be unthinkable by someone without personal experience. Most schools in China with the exception of those located in a few municipalities (e.g., Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen) are constantly facing a shortage of teaching staff, granting teachers great leverage in contract negotiation and ensuring that anyone meeting the basic requirements for teaching English in China can find a job with relative ease.

Couple the great potential for income and savings with all the other opportunities that the world's most populated country can provide and TEFL professional (historical sites and places of interest, various climates, world-famous cuisine, etc.). Working in China as an English teacher is definitely worth consideration.

A 120-hour TEFL course, such as the one offered by the North American TEFL Academy, will certify any native English speaker with a 4-year college degree to work in China.

Population: <1.4 billion
Types of Jobs: English language centers (all age groups), K-12, university
TEFL Requirement: 120-hour TEFL certification required
Degree Requirement: BA/BA required
Average Monthly Salary: $1,900-2,800 (smaller cities); 2,800-4,600 (major cities)
Average Monthly Cost-of-living: $900-1,100 (smaller cities; 1,500-2,400 (major cities)
Monthly Savings Potential: $1,000-2,000

3 thoughts on “10 Best Countries for the Financially-motivated English Teacher”

  1. I can definitely vouch for countries like Qatar and Kuwait being great places for actual teachers, I mean people who have degrees, to earn solid incomes. The only issue with those countries is that they are pretty boring for Western people because there’s not much we can do there because it’s geared towards people who are of the Muslim faith and most westerners are not Muslim. Meaning, no places to go out for dating, no pubs, Etc.

  2. I had spent the last five years teaching in Malaysia, where I only earned about 25 to 2800 US dollars per month and now I just got a job in a tier 2 city in China where they’ve offered me a free apartment and about 3,600 US dollars per month. I know the cost of living is cheaper in China than in Malaysia.

    1. Exactly. There are a few markets in China that are tight financially (e.g., central Shanghai or Shenzhen), especially for new teachers, but generally-speaking, it’s the best of both worlds: reasonably high salaries and low cost of living.

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