TEFL Salary Map – What Can English Teachers Expect to Earn Abroad? 

 February 11, 2024

By  Jonathan

In this article, we will explore the global landscape of TEFL salaries and what English teachers can expect to earn abroad. From factors influencing TEFL salaries to the highest paying destinations and salary comparisons by region, we will provide valuable insights into the earning potential for TEFL teachers worldwide.

Key Takeaways

  • TEFL salaries vary based on experience level, location, and qualifications.
  • United Arab Emirates, South Korea, and Japan are among the highest paying TEFL destinations.
  • Asia, Europe, and the Middle East offer different salary ranges for TEFL teachers.
  • Experience plays a significant role in determining TEFL salaries.
  • Qualifications such as TEFL certification and degrees impact salary levels.

Factors Influencing TEFL Salaries

Factors Influencing TEFL Salaries

Experience Level

As you embark on your TEFL journey, it’s crucial to understand that your experience level will significantly impact your earning potential. Newly certified teachers often start at the lower end of the pay scale, but with each year of experience, you can expect a noticeable increase in salary.

For instance, a teacher with less than a year of experience might earn a modest wage, while those with over five years can command higher salaries, often with additional benefits. Here’s a simplified breakdown:

  • Less than 1 year: Entry-level salary
  • 1-3 years: Moderate increase
  • 3-5 years: Competitive salary
  • 5+ years: Higher salary with potential for benefits

Remember, perseverance in this field can lead to not just financial rewards but also to a wealth of enriching experiences and professional growth.

While the figures vary by location and institution, the trend is clear: the more seasoned you are, the more you can negotiate your terms. This is especially true in countries where TEFL teachers are in high demand and can save up to $1000 a month.


The location where you choose to teach English can significantly impact your salary. Countries with a high demand for English teachers often offer more competitive salaries, especially where the cost of living is higher. For instance, teaching in urban centers typically yields higher wages than in rural areas due to the increased cost of living and the greater demand for English language education in cities.

Here’s a quick look at how location affects TEFL salaries:

  • Urban vs. Rural: Expect higher salaries in cities.
  • Developed vs. Developing Countries: Developed countries often pay more.
  • Regional Demand: Areas with a shortage of English teachers may offer better pay.

Remember, while a higher salary in a costly city may seem attractive, it’s essential to consider the local cost of living. A lower salary in a country with a low cost of living could actually go further, providing you with a more comfortable lifestyle.


When considering a career in TEFL, your qualifications can significantly impact your earning potential. The most fundamental requirement is an ESL teaching qualification, such as a TEFL certificate. This certification is often a non-negotiable aspect of the hiring process and can be the key to unlocking higher salaries.

In addition to a TEFL certificate, some employers may require or prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree. The field of your degree may not always be crucial, but having one can be a stepping stone to more lucrative positions.

Here’s a quick overview of the basic qualifications you might need:

  • ESL teaching qualification (e.g., TEFL, TESOL, CELTA)
  • Valid passport
  • Bachelor’s degree (in some cases)

Remember, the more credentials you have, the better your chances of securing a position with a competitive salary. It’s also worth noting that in some regions, additional qualifications such as a master’s degree or specific teaching licenses can further enhance your salary prospects.

Highest Paying TEFL Destinations

Highest Paying TEFL Destinations

United Arab Emirates

In the United Arab Emirates, TEFL teachers are among the best compensated globally. Salaries can be quite lucrative, with many institutions offering packages that go beyond the basic salary. Expect to earn between $2,500 and $6,000 USD per month, a range that reflects various factors such as experience and qualifications.

Benefits often include free housing, which can significantly reduce your cost of living. Additionally, many schools provide round-trip flights to and from your home country, ensuring that your transition to and from the UAE is as smooth as possible.

The United Arab Emirates stands out for not only the salary but also the comprehensive benefits that come with teaching positions.

Here’s a quick glance at what you might expect:

  • Competitive monthly salary
  • Free housing or housing allowance
  • Health insurance
  • End-of-contract bonuses
  • Paid vacation time

These perks make the UAE an attractive destination for TEFL teachers looking to save money while experiencing life in a culturally rich and dynamic region.

South Korea

As you consider teaching English in South Korea, you’ll find that the financial incentives are quite attractive. The salary for English teachers starts at 2.1 million Korean Won ($1,500) per month and can go as high as 2.8 million Korean Won ($2,200), depending on various factors such as experience and location within the country.

South Korea is renowned for offering a competitive salary along with a host of benefits that may include housing, airfare reimbursement, and severance pay. These additional perks make it an even more appealing destination for TEFL teachers.

The cost of living in South Korea is reasonable, and with careful budgeting, you can save a significant portion of your salary.

Here’s a quick glance at what you might expect in terms of salary and benefits:

PositionSalary (KRW)Salary (USD)
Entry-level2.1 million$1,500
Experienced2.8 million$2,200

Remember, the ability to save money while teaching in South Korea is a major draw for many educators. With a lower cost of living compared to Western countries, your earnings can go much further.


In Japan, the demand for English teachers remains consistently high, offering a blend of cultural immersion and professional opportunity. Salaries can vary widely, but on average, you can expect to earn between 250,000 to 600,000 yen per month, depending on the institution and your level of experience.

Living expenses in Japan can be quite high, especially in metropolitan areas like Tokyo or Osaka. However, many teaching positions include benefits such as housing allowances, which can offset some of the costs. Here’s a quick breakdown of what you might expect:

Position TypeAverage Salary (Yen)
ALT (Assistant Language Teacher)230,000 – 300,000
Eikaiwa (English Conversation Schools)250,000 – 350,000
International Schools400,000 – 600,000

Remember, while the salary is an important factor, the opportunity to immerse yourself in Japanese culture and gain international work experience can be invaluable.

To maximize your earnings, consider obtaining TEFL certification from a reputable provider and gaining some teaching experience before heading to Japan. With the right qualifications and a bit of research, you can find a rewarding teaching position that allows you to explore the rich heritage and modern dynamism of Japan.

TEFL Salary Comparison by Region

TEFL Salary Comparison by Region


In Asia, the TEFL market is as diverse as the continent itself. Salaries can vary widely, from the high-paying positions in countries like South Korea and Japan to more modest earnings in Southeast Asia. One constant, however, is the lower cost of living, which can make even smaller salaries go further.

Demand for English teachers in Asia remains high, and this is reflected in the competitive salaries and benefits offered, especially for those with recognized qualifications and experience. Here’s a quick glance at what you can expect in some popular Asian countries:

CountryAverage Salary (USD/month)
South Korea2,000 – 2,500
Japan2,500 – 3,000
China1,500 – 2,200
Vietnam1,200 – 1,800

Remember, these figures are just averages and can fluctuate based on a variety of factors, including the type of institution you work for and the city or region within the country.

While the allure of adventure and culture is a significant draw, it’s important to research and understand the economic landscape of the region to ensure your TEFL journey is both financially rewarding and culturally enriching.


In Europe, the TEFL salary landscape is as diverse as its cultures. Salaries can vary widely, not just from country to country, but also within regions of the same country. For instance, teaching English in Eastern Europe typically offers lower wages compared to Western Europe. However, the cost of living is also generally lower, which can balance out the financial equation.

Qualifications play a significant role in determining your potential earnings. A TEFL certification is often a minimum requirement, with the cost of such courses ranging from $100 to $500. This investment can significantly influence your salary prospects. Additionally, document fees and other bureaucratic necessities can add to your initial expenses.

In Western Europe, you might find that language schools in metropolitan areas offer competitive salaries, but these are often matched with a higher cost of living.

Here’s a quick glance at the average monthly salaries in a few key European countries:

CountryAverage Salary (USD)
Spain$1,000 – $2,000
France$1,200 – $2,500
Germany$1,500 – $2,800
Italy$1,000 – $2,000

Remember, these figures are just averages and can fluctuate based on numerous factors such as your experience, the institution you work for, and the city’s cost of living.

Middle East

In the Middle East, the TEFL salary landscape is as diverse as the cultures and countries it encompasses. The United Arab Emirates stands out as a top-paying destination, with salaries ranging from $1,800 to $5,000 USD per month. This region is known for providing lucrative packages that often include benefits such as housing, flights, and health insurance.

Salaries in other Middle Eastern countries like Bahrain and Qatar also offer competitive rates. Here’s a quick glance at what you can expect:

CountrySalary Range USD/month
UAE$1,800 – $5,000
Bahrain$1,500 – $3,000
Qatar$1,600 – $4,000

While the cost of living can be high in some parts of the Middle East, the tax-free salaries can make it an attractive option for many TEFL teachers.

Remember, these figures are subject to change based on factors such as your experience, qualifications, and the institution you work for. It’s essential to do thorough research and negotiate your contract to ensure you get the best possible deal.


In conclusion, this article has provided valuable insights into the global TEFL salary guide, shedding light on what English teachers can expect to earn abroad. By exploring the typical TEFL salaries around the world, we have highlighted the varying earning potentials and factors that influence these salaries. It is evident that TEFL teachers have the opportunity to earn competitive salaries in different countries, making it a lucrative career choice for those passionate about teaching English as a second or foreign language. As the demand for English language education continues to rise globally, understanding the salary landscape for TEFL teachers becomes increasingly important for prospective educators seeking opportunities abroad.

Frequently Asked Questions

What factors influence TEFL salaries?

TEFL salaries are influenced by the teacher’s experience level, the location of the teaching job, and the qualifications of the teacher.

Which are the highest paying TEFL destinations?

The highest paying TEFL destinations include the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, and Japan.

How do TEFL salaries compare in different regions?

TEFL salaries vary by region, with Asia, Europe, and the Middle East being popular regions for English teachers.

What is the average salary for TEFL teachers with no experience?

The average salary for TEFL teachers with no experience varies depending on the country and region, but it is typically lower than experienced teachers.

Do TEFL teachers receive additional benefits besides salary?

In addition to salary, TEFL teachers may receive benefits such as accommodation, airfare reimbursement, health insurance, and professional development opportunities.

Are there opportunities for career advancement in the TEFL industry?

Yes, TEFL teachers can advance their careers by obtaining further qualifications, gaining more experience, and taking on leadership roles within schools or organizations.

Jonathan has been teaching students to prepare for the IELTS and PTE Exams for more than 10+ years. He's taught English to students in various countries in the world including Singapore, China, Australia, Canada and Colombia.