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Teaching English Abroad Salaries – Where Can You Make the Most Money?

a teacher in a classroom teaching abroad with young children.

Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), which is also referred to as teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), is a rewarding career that requires dedication and passion. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t also pay well! As you make plans to get TEFL certified and teach English, you may be wondering about teaching English abroad salaries. How much do English teachers make? What country pays teachers the most? That can change over time, but the short answer is that countries like Saudi Arabia, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have many of the highest-paid teaching jobs in the world (scroll down to learn more about teaching English abroad salaries by country and the highest-paying countries in each region). In these countries, pay can range from $2,000 to $6,000 USD per month for an English teacher’s salary, and perks like housing and insurance are often included.

You may be thinking, “I want to teach with the highest-paid teachers in the world.” However, TEFL salary doesn’t provide the whole picture when it comes to teaching overseas or any other teach-abroad location, so we’ll break down the highest-paying TEFL destinations and also factor in the cost of living to see where you can get the most bang for your buck when teaching abroad. But first, a little background on salaries.

How much money can you make teaching English abroad?

EFL teacher salaries greatly vary depending on where you’re teaching. An English teacher salary can be as little as $600 USD per month to as much as $6,000 USD per month! Each country not only has different salaries but also different teaching requirements, expectations, and contract lengths to think about. Some countries are great locations for digital nomad English teachers who teach online while traveling, immersing themselves in the culture and exploring the destination.

However, location isn’t the only factor when determining salary. To really answer the question, “How much can you make teaching English abroad?” you’ll need to consider the following factors.

What are your qualifications?

How qualified you are can affect your salary. For example, someone who has a Master’s in TESOL will probably earn a higher salary than someone who only has a TEFL certificate. This is due not only to the basic rule that a more qualified teacher will earn more but also to the fact that teachers with higher qualifications have more access to a wide range of jobs, including positions at universities.

In any case, a TEFL certificate will typically be required for most jobs abroad. Most employers will require a minimum 120-hour TEFL certification from an accredited institution, and while there are opportunities for new teachers, many employers will look for candidates with experience.

If you are new to TEFL, some ways to gain experience include taking a guided teaching practicum or teaching as a volunteer.

At what type of school will you teach?

Whether you work at a public school or a private language institute can also affect your salary. Depending on the country, some public schools may pay better because of access to government funding. On the other hand, there are many instances when private language schools offer a higher English teacher salary because they can also charge parents more to enroll their kids and, therefore, may have a bigger budget.

The level at which you teach can also play an important role in your salary. You will almost certainly make more teaching at a university versus teaching English to young learners at a primary school. You may also make more teaching business English for a large company than teaching conversation classes at a local community center.

How does salary compare to the cost of living?

Looking at the teaching English abroad salary that a job pays doesn’t necessarily reveal anything about how much money you’d actually have left after expenses. It’s important to consider the cost of living for a given location. For instance, Latin American countries may pay less (around $600-$1,000 USD per month), but is that really such a bad thing when you can find rent in some places for as little as $150 USD/month? On the other hand, a high salary earned in Japan would not go far in an expensive city such as Tokyo – unless, of course, your employer offered free housing with your contract.

The cost of living is particularly important if you plan to be a digital nomad. Digital nomads teach English independently online, so they set their own schedules and determine their own income. That income will then determine whether a destination will be affordable.

Read about the 10 best places to teach English this year.

Can you make a living teaching English abroad?

Absolutely! To choose a location, consider whether your goals are simply to make enough to travel or live while teaching overseas or whether you’re aiming to actively save money. Then, factor in the cost of living and the salary for each location to find out where you’re most likely to achieve your financial goals.

It’s important to remember that when abroad, you’ll be living like the locals do, which means you may spend money on different types of entertainment or sightseeing, and you’ll definitely have to get used to different prices – whether good or bad – when it comes to buying food, paying for medical expenses, renting an apartment, and more. Before taking the plunge, it’s essential that you research locations and learn what you need to do to teach English abroad.

Which countries pay teachers the most?

To fully answer the question, “How much do you get paid to teach English abroad?” we’ve distilled the TEFL world into popular regions and researched the highest-paying countries in each one. If you really want to know the answer to, “What country pays teachers the most?” the answer is the UAE, but there are some close contenders and the highest pay can change over time. The following popular regions with the highest-paid teaching jobs list TEFL salary information that is estimated based on their major cities. We’ve also included a “bang for buck” suggestion where the English teacher salary may not be the highest, but the cost of living is lower!

a teacher with RVF International leading a class in Spain.
A teacher with the RVF International teach abroad program leading a class in Spain.

Western Europe

Highest-Paying Country: Germany

Average monthly salary: $1,100-$2,250 USD

Average monthly cost of living: $1,000-$2,000 USD

Best Bang-for-Buck Country: Spain

Average monthly salary: $1,300-$1,500 USD

Average monthly cost of living: $800-$1,400 USD

Important Info

Western Europe is known as a highly competitive market. For most jobs, it is recommended to have both a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate like the IDELTOnline.

Local Tip

If you want to work in Western Europe’s public schools, there are plenty of great opportunities available, as many governments offer placements. For example, France’s Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) provides renewable seven-month contracts that require you to teach 12 hours per week in up to three different local schools. Spain offers a similar program called Cultural Ambassadors that runs for the duration of one academic year and offers a tax-free monthly stipend and full medical coverage in exchange for 12-16 hours of teaching per week.

Find English teaching abroad jobs in Spain with Bridge’s Preferred Employment Partner RVF International, which places teachers in schools throughout the country.

Bridge alum Tariq while teaching English in Russia.
Bridge alum Tariq, from Ghana, while teaching English in Russia.

Central/Eastern Europe

Highest-Paying Country: Czech Republic

Average monthly salary: $1,000-$1,500 USD

Average monthly cost of living: $750-$1,500 USD

Best Bang-for-Buck Country: Russia

Average monthly salary: $1,000-$1,200 USD

Average monthly cost of living: $600-$1,000 USD

Important Info

To teach in Central/Eastern Europe, you’ll most likely need a bachelor’s degree. The good thing about teaching in this part of the world is that countries tend to be more flexible about hiring non-EU citizens.

Local Tip

Countries in this region also offer government placements in places such as the Czech Republic. One option is to join the Central European Teaching Program (CETP), which offers an approximately 10-month-long teaching contract with placements all over Hungary.

Teacher with BFITS posing with students in Thailand.
A teacher with the BFITS teach abroad program poses with her students in Thailand.


Highest-Paying Country: Japan

Average monthly salary: $2,100-$2,700 USD

Average monthly cost of living: $1,100-$1,800 USD

Best Bang-for-Buck Country: South Korea

Average monthly salary: $1,700-$2,200 USD

Average monthly cost of living: $500-$800 USD (since housing is almost always provided)

Important Info

Asia is currently one of the biggest and most popular markets for learning English, and there is a high demand for English teachers around the region. You’ll likely have your pick of countries when deciding where to teach English in Asia.

Most positions in Asia require both a bachelor’s degree and at least a 120-hour TEFL certificate.

Some countries, such as South Korea, will even cover flight and housing expenses as part of their benefits package, which is a huge plus when it comes to getting the most out of your salary. Jobs in other countries may also offer these benefits, so make sure to do a thorough job search!

Local Tip

Most positions in the major cities of Japan (where pay is highest and teachers are most in demand) require some teaching experience. Learn more about teaching in Japan as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT), the most common EFL teacher job, as well as other types of work you can find.

Interested in teaching abroad in Thailand? Explore your options with Bridge’s Preferred Employment Partner, BFITS.

Bridge alum Erin while teaching in Oman in the Middle East.
Bridge alum Erin, from the U.S., while teaching in Oman in the Middle East.

Middle East

Highest-Paying Country: UAE

Average monthly salary: $2,200-$6,000 USD

Average monthly cost of living: $1,300-$2,150 USD

Best Bang-for-Buck Country: Saudi Arabia

Average monthly salary: $2,300-$3,000 USD

Average monthly cost of living: $500-$900 USD (if housing is provided, which it almost always is)

Important Info

The Middle East has some of the highest-paid teaching jobs abroad and ranks as the most competitive TEFL region in the world! If you want to teach here, advanced TEFL/TESOL training like the IDELTOnline is pretty much required, as is a bachelor’s, or often master’s, degree and several years’ worth of teaching experience. If you don’t quite meet all of those requirements, consider taking a look at positions in Saudi Arabia, as they tend to require less experience than other Gulf countries.

On the upside, housing for English teachers in the Middle East is almost always provided. This is true for positions in both Saudi Arabia and Oman. Another plus is that teaching salaries in the Middle East can be tax-free.

Local Tip

This can be a good region for teachers who prefer to teach adult students, as you’ll often find jobs teaching business English or working at the collegiate level.

Bridge alum Johan poses with his wife at the border of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. Originally from Venezuela, Johan teaches Business English in Brazil.

Latin America

Highest-Paying Country: Chile

Average monthly salary: $800-$1,500 USD

Average monthly cost of living: $800-$1,300 USD

Best Bang-for-Buck Country: Argentina

Average monthly salary: $700-$1,500 USD

Average monthly cost of living: $400-$550 USD

Important Info

You may find it more difficult to score a job that comes with a pre-arranged visa in Latin America because schools prefer to hire people who are already in the country.

Many of the placements you do find here are part-time, and some English teachers may choose to supplement their income through private tutoring and online teaching.

Local Tip

If you are determined to work full-time in a Latin American school, your best bet may be teaching English at one of the many bilingual private K-12 schools (or “international schools”) that are common in countries like Colombia.

Teaching English online as a digital nomad

If you want to travel or live overseas while teaching, you can also become a digital nomad and teach online. Whether you choose to freelance with an online school or company, tutor for a marketplace, or run your own online English teaching business, at the end of the day, all you’ll really need to work is your laptop and a good internet connection.

Some countries are popular digital nomad destinations. These locations typically have an affordable cost of living, access to public Wi-Fi and fast internet speeds, and coworking and coliving options. And, since the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries are beginning to offer digital nomad visas, making it easy to work remotely in the country as a foreigner.

Teaching English online is a great option for teachers who plan to move from country to country often, as you won’t need to find a new job every time you want to travel to a new place. You can also use online teaching as a way to save money. For instance, if you work online but live in a country with a low cost of living (e.g., Colombia), you can save a lot of your income.

These days, more and more English classes are being delivered virtually, and teaching online is a fairly stable market. If being location-independent sounds appealing, you can earn Specialized Certification in Teaching English Online to master the specific skills you need to deliver classes virtually, or you can take the Comprehensive Certification Bundle, which combines general TEFL/TESOL training with specialized training to qualify you for jobs both online and in classrooms worldwide.

If you plan to teach English online independently (or to scale and expand your current online business), Teacherpreneur Academy provides the Specialized Certification Succeeding as an English Teacherpreneur, as well as monthly workshops and networking sessions, resources, and ongoing coaching.

Hear from digital nomads as they discuss the ins and outs of traveling while teaching English online.

So, where is the best place to teach English abroad?

You decide! Salary and saving money may be the most important factors for some when choosing where to teach English abroad; however, others are drawn to a location because of its history, culture, language, or sights. Whatever drives your teaching abroad goals, the right place for you is out there!

Ready to start exploring potential locations to teach abroad? Download the free eBook: Teach English Abroad Destination Guide.

Camille is a content marketing manager, specializing in the language industry. Her love for language and experiencing other cultures has taken her around the globe, and she has taught English abroad both in the classroom and online. When not working or traveling, she can be found spending time with her family or — when not chasing after her two young daughters — cozying up with a good book!