How Much Does a TEFL Job Pay?

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This question is about as useful as asking how long is a piece of string, but it’s a necessary question. TEFL jobs vary so much in terms of environment, hours and working conditions that comparing TEFL salaries is almost impossible. Teaching in a rural village in Malaysia can never compare to teaching in a bank in Tokyo, and it is important to remember this. However, what can be compared are the salaries in relation to the cost and standards of living. In other words, what kind of life will I be living on this salary?

Let’s look at South Korea, for example. In South Korea the average monthly salary for a TEFL teacher is 2.1 million Won, which sounds like an incredible amount of money. In fact, it is approximately £1 100, but with relatively generous contracts – including accommodation and flights – you will probably be able to save about half of that.

If you decide to work in Saudi Arabia, the UAE or another country in the Middle East, chances are your accommodation and a travel allowance will be included in your contract. While you may be expected to pay bills and utilities, the fact that you are given an apartment rent-free will do wonders for your bank balance.

Thailand, on the other hand, has salaries which are pretty low. A starting TEFL salary is B30 000 or £550. However, the cost of living in Thailand is incredibly low and you will find this salary compares very favourably with local salaries. On such a salary you will be able to live a very good lifestyle and be able to save for local holidays. However, with the exchange rate it’s not a country you would go to take money home; the minute you leave Thailand your thousands of Baht are reduced to a handful of pounds.

Closer to home, if you work in the UK or Europe, you can hope for a monthly salary of around £1 200 or an hourly rate of about £15. At the same time, the cost of living is high and so it might not be so easy to save. On the flip side, living and working in Europe means that it’s easy to travel within the Europe so it’s a great way to country-hop and see what the continent has to offer.

No matter what you earn, though, what is really going to affect your bank balance, is what lifestyle you choose to live. If you are happy to live modestly and eat locally, you are more likely to save than if you need a more extravagant, expatriate lifestyle. Of course the way you live completely depends on the kind of experience you are looking for; some teachers work to save money, while others work to live well in a new place.

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