Pay, Wages, & Salaries for English Teachers Abroad

A jar full of coins.Salaries for English teachers abroad are not generally high and people do not come into the industry to make a lot of money. This article looks at what you can expect to receive; as you might expect, the numbers we give here are very general and you will find schools paying much more and much less than the average.

When you start looking at the salaries on offer abroad you will often notice that when you convert them back into your home currency they are a lot less than you might expect to get for a similar job in your home country.

It is important to remember, however, that the cost of living in many countries is significantly lower than in the USA or the United Kingdom and many other English speaking countries. The salary you might receive in, say, Vietnam or Romania may seem very little, but you will find that your money goes a lot further in Vietnam or Romania than back home.

Teaching Jobs

Generally speaking an entry level job abroad will pay enough to cover the basics and enjoy yourself in a new country. This means the salary will cover:

  • the rent on a small apartment
  • food and utility bills
  • getting out once or twice a week to enjoy yourself
  • a holiday in-country at the end of your contract

Of course a lot will depend on how you manage your money!

This is for an entry level job. If you have a couple of years experience under your belt you can look around for better paying jobs and better schools. Places like the British Council‏‎ along with larger schools and universities or colleges pay more.

Although there is a lot of variation, in general the best paying countries are those in the Middle East and northern Europe. Of course they generally ask for more qualifications and experience in return.


Some schools offer airfare to their teachers either one or both ways from their home country. This is normally paid at the end of the contract (either in part or full).

Occasionally a school will also include accommodation in the package; this will normally mean a slightly reduced salary however to make up for it. Sometimes the accommodation will be shared so this must be checked in the teaching contract.

It is fairly standard to have basic health cover included in teaching jobs although some teachers will take out extra insurance just in case. See the main article: Insurance‏‎ & Health Cover for Teachers Abroad.

Extra Income

Many teachers supplement their income through private lessons and quite a number live off these entirely. Private lessons tend to pay more and can generate a significant income in many cases.

In some cases, teachers will end up leaving their regular school job and working on as freelance private English instructors, often taking home considerably more than the average school teacher.

Student Loans

Many new teachers often have the burden of student loans. An entry level job in TEFL‏‎ will probably not give you enough to pay off your student loan unless you are able to negotiate a more favorable pay back rate. In many cases you may be able to defer repayment of your student loan as you will under the threshold.

Remember, however, that whilst your student loan may be deferred this doesn't necessarily mean it is written off and after many years abroad you may find yourself returning home only to find you need to restart your payments.

For more on this see the main article, Student Loans.


Finally remember that there may be tax implications here. Even if you are offered a large tax-free salary as a teacher in Brunei or the Middle East, you may have to pay income tax on this back home. This will depend on where you are resident and the tax agreements between the two countries.

For more on this, see the main article, Taxation.

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