Money isn’t everything.
But we’d be lying if we said it didn’t matter at all!
If you know you want to teach English abroad, you might be struggling to figure out where to go. Where can you earn the most money? Traveling the world costs a pretty penny, and it’s helpful to find a job that pays enough to finance your adventure.
When considering the highest paid teaching jobs abroad, there are two ways to approach choosing a destination.
First, you can teach in a country where the pay is decent, but the cost of living is super low! In this case, a little money feels like a lot. It’s easy to save for the future and travel to far-off places.
Second, you can teach in a place that pays you fantastically, but the cost of living is a little higher. In these rich countries, you usually need higher qualifications, too.
Each alternative has its pros and cons, and there’s no right or wrong decision. Here are the best countries for both categories!
Remember, speaking the local language will make you a more desirable candidate in all these countries. Being conversational could even earn you a higher salary! Try FluentU free for 15 days to start your language journey for teaching abroad. FluentU teaches you the language with authentic videos, like news reports, music videos and sports programs. You’ll be impressing your students in no time!
Highest Paid Teaching Jobs Abroad: Choose from These 10 Destinations
Countries with Decent Pay and Low Cost of Living
In the following five places, monetary compensation for teaching abroad might not be the highest, but pay is still generous compared to your daily expenses.
This lifestyle allows you to pay off debts, save some cash and live comfortably, even on a lower salary.
South Korea probably has the best reputation when it comes to earning good money and living on very little.
Nearly all Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) jobs include the price of your apartment. Food, entertainment, transportation and nightlife are extremely cheap throughout the country. And the won is a strong currency at the exchange counter when it’s time to go home!
Starting wages for full-time TEFL jobs are moderate, hovering around 2,000 USD per month. But living rent-free means you can keep most of your income!
It’s easy to find the job of your choice through teaching abroad programs like EPIK. You need a bachelor’s degree. It helps to have TEFL certificate, but sometimes you can find a job without one.
You’ll notice most of the countries on this list are in Asia, where cost of living is generally low. It’s easy to forget about Mexico as an option!
Mexico is a big country, and once you get away from tourist areas, the cost of living drastically drops.
You won’t pay more than 4,000 pesos, or about 200 USD, per month for rent in most smaller cities.
There are no rules or laws against taking additional part-time jobs or tutoring privately, so you can earn extra money on the side!
Teach Away partners with public schools and universities offering lucrative positions. According to Teach Away’s salary calculator, you’ll earn a minimum of 800 USD per month teaching in Mexico. This gig also includes perks like annual bonuses, paid vacations and health care coverage.
Universities and boarding schools tend to offer on-campus housing at a steep discount, making life even less expensive. However, a master’s degree is often required for jobs at this level.
Experience the bustling economy, high standard of living and pleasant subtropical climate of Taiwan while saving a nice chunk of change.
Housing and flights aren’t provided, but the cost of living is quite low to compensate.
Employment requirements are lenient. Most jobs require only a bachelor’s degree and TEFL certification. If you’d like some guidance and a strong support system, apply to teach in Taiwan through Go Overseas.
You should be able to find a full-time job paying at least 2,000 USD per month, and you can live on less than half of that. This income puts you comfortably in the middle class where you can enjoy vacations to nearby Asian countries or indulge on a fun life in Taiwan!
Spend your liquid income on partying in upscale clubs, eating all the local food you can stomach or studying Mandarin Chinese.
For those who like to get in on the ground floor, Cambodia is starting to emerge on the teaching abroad scene. Organizations like International TEFL Academy have a variety of teaching programs if you need some guidance.
Cambodia is ramping up their education and tourism sectors after several decades of government oppression, and teachers and entrepreneurs are leading the charge.
This is a time of high demand and low regulation if you prefer to work independently, don’t have a lot of experience or lack official certification.
Entry-level jobs pay a little under 1,000 USD per month, which is high considering the low cost of rent, food and transportation.
There’s an emphasis on language learning with a high demand for English teachers. Cambodians are also looking for investors willing to put their money where their language is.
China is a huge country with a wide range of jobs to choose from. Use a program like the one at Reach to Teach Recruiting to decide on the right job for you.
Even entry-level teaching jobs offer a moderate to high salary, between 1,200 and 3,000 USD per month, along with a transportation and/or accommodation allowance. Combine these benefits with a relatively low cost of living and you’ll have some income to spare.
Chinese cities are divided into different tiers. Life in first-tier cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, tends to be more expensive.
So if you want to save even more, check out opportunities in second- or third-tier cities. These places are smaller and have fewer amenities when it comes to details like international airports and foreign food. But if saving money is your motivation, they could be the perfect fit.
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Countries with Fantastic Pay and High Cost of Living
These are the countries where the salaries are the highest and the certification requirements are much more demanding. These jobs usually require a minimum of a master’s degree, teaching certification and TEFL certification.
Even though salaries tend to be high, so is the cost of living. Rent and nightlife might take a bite out of a salary that looks high at first glance.
However, you can save just as much money in one of these countries as in one of the previous five listed. It all depends on how you manage your cash!
United Arab Emirates
Most of the Gulf states have a reputation for high salaries and luxurious living, and the United Arab Emirats (UAE) is a prime example. Salaries range from 2,000 to 5,000 USD per month, and that’s tax- and rent-free. Employers will also cover the cost to move you and your family overseas.
Footprints Recruiting has several resources, from job recruitment to tips for dealing with culture shock.
5,000 USD sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it? You can use that extra cash to pay off your student loans, because you’ll need a teaching degree and a minimum of two years classroom experience to be eligible for these jobs.
The good news is you can be a teacher of virtually any subject, not just English. And jobs are available at every grade level, from kindergarten to university.
Japan is consistently reliable when it comes to both generous salaries and first world amenities.
Full-time teaching jobs in Japan pay between 2,000 and 4,000 USD per month. However, the high cost of living can offset the many benefits included in the job. This country has earned a reputation for the high cost of housing and other daily necessities.
If you find a job in a smaller city and/or one that covers the cost of accommodation and transportation, you’re off to a good start. Programs like the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET) can help you find the perfect job in the Land of the Morning Sun.
If you know some Japanese and have some experience teaching already, you can negotiate a higher salary.
Modern Burma, also called Myanmar, is experiencing some growing pains. Teachers are in high demand, but so are basic necessities like housing, hot water and internet.
A TESL certificate and bachelor’s degree in almost any subject is required, and salaries at some private schools go as high as 3,000 USD per month.
Asia Teaching Jobs has listings for teachers in a variety of subjects. There’s a wide range of choices!
Teachers’ salaries tend to be moderate to high, while daily living expenses remain low. However, a skyrocketing rental market has driven monthly rent prices through the roof. If you want to work here and save money, find an employer who will cover your housing and transportation costs.
Employment opportunities are limited to two major cities, Yangon and Mandalay.
Another Gulf state with a reputation for high salaries, Kuwait has the same stringent requirements for teachers as the UAE.
You must be a licensed teacher to find work in Kuwait and have at least two years of classroom experience. Teach Away can connect you with the right job along with plenty of support and information.
Teachers can make up to 4,000 USD per month. Those in leadership roles, such as department heads, can earn even more.
Because accommodation, health insurance and transportation costs for you and your family are completely covered, that leaves a generous portion of your income left for food, fun and exploration.
Not a lot of people expect to see Kazakhstan on this list!
This country has a compelling history that was kept hidden behind the Iron Curtain for decades. Kazakhstan is just now emerging as an economic and tourism hub between Asia and Eastern Europe.
Teachanywhere has a comprehensive collection of information and resources to get you started.
Kazakhstan has the best of both worlds, offering high salaries between 2,500 and 4,000 USD per month and generous benefits. Not to mention the cost of living is low compared to countries like UAE and Japan!
But there’s a catch: Demands for experience and advanced certification are high. You might not need a TEFL certification or a BA in English, but all jobs require teaching certification and a bachelor’s degree at the bare minimum.
There’s nothing like a nice wad of cash to make you feel proud of your accomplishments. But there’s more than money to be found at the end of the ESL rainbow.
If you score one of these highest paid teaching jobs abroad, you’ll have more than a pocket full of cash. You’ll also have stamps in your passport and a lifetime of memories.
Kristy Ambrose has been writing professionally since 2010. She dabbles in various genres, including everything from short blog posts to serialized novels. Her inspiration comes from gamers, beachcombers, foodies and fellow travelers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Victoria.
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