The average TEFL salary: the lowdown

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What is the average TEFL salary abroad, we hear you ask? Oh, if only we could give you a number.

There are not many things in life we can guarantee but when it comes to teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), there are a few:

  1. teaching English as a foreign language will change your life
  2. you need to research your TEFL course before spending your hard-earned money and time
  3. teaching English abroad is a job. 

What that means is that there will be highs and lows, challenges and accomplishments but you will get paid. What your TEFL salary will be is another story altogether.

What is the average TEFL teacher salary?

First things first, there is not one fixed TEFL salary for teachers around the world. We all know that a meal at a nice restaurant can cost a month’s salary in Denmark but be as cheap as chips in Mexico, but it’s not as simple as that. 

There are certain considerations we need to take into account when considering the average TEFL salary.

Your TEFL qualification

First of all, your qualification does matter. We’re not saying you need a degree but your TEFL qualification needs to be impressive. There are so many TEFL courses out there that you need to make sure yours stands out from the crowd. 

How can you do that? Make sure your TEFL course is accredited and internationally recognised. Any of the TEFL courses from The TEFL Academy are held in high regard all over the world so you can’t go wrong with us!

Read more: 5 Reasons to Avoid a Cheap TEFL Course

Having a Bachelor’s or higher degree is certainly a plus, but by no means a necessary requirement. We have loads of alumni who have found amazing TEFL jobs without having a degree.

Like our alumnus Jason. He started working as soon as he finished school. After a few years he decided to do a TEFL course and soon he was teaching in Phuket, Thailand. As he says: “It was honestly the best thing I’ve done in my life”.

What's the average TEFL salary in Thailand?

Having said that, having a Bachelor’s degree may increase your pay rate or salary. If your degree is in English, Education, Linguistics or any related field then this is even more of a benefit. Plus, if your degree is higher than a Bachelor’s, you’ll be able to ask for more money.

A TEFL teacher working in a school in Dubai will earn, on average,  £4,000 but if you are qualified enough to work in a university the average salary becomes  £6,000 a month.

Your experience

But it’s not only your education that matters when it comes to your teaching salary. If you have any teaching experience, this will count in your favour. While many new TEFL teachers don’t have any teaching experience, you could have experience related to working with children or in a teaching role. For example, if you’ve been a tutor, au pair or football coach, this can be listed under your experience.

Read more: Qualities of a Good TEFL Teacher

The TEFL job

Let’s be real: if you’re teaching two hours a day you can’t be expecting to make millions. If you are teaching in a school then you will earn a set salary but also with a set number of hours. If you are working for a language school you are usually paid on an hourly rate, so the more you teach the more you earn.

On top of that, you may be paid to do any extra administrative work as well – and with teaching there can be a lot of that! Lesson preparation, marking, attending school functions – these will either be included in your salary or added to your hours.

A TEFL teacher working 20 to 30 hours in a school in Beijing can earn from  £1,200 to  £3,000 a month.

What's the average TEFL salary in Beijing?

If, however, you are teaching in a private capacity, there is no limit to how much you can earn – firstly because you can work as much as you want, and secondly because you can charge as much as you want. Plus you can even teach groups.

Again this will depend on your TEFL qualification and your experience, but don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth. If you can make a name for yourself as a private tutor, you can call the shots!

A private teacher can charge from  £10 to  £30 an hour per student.

Read more: How Much Can I Charge for an EFL Lesson?

Then there is teaching English online. Teaching English online is a flexible option for TEFL teachers. It’s possible to structure your working hours to what suits you by choosing who you want to work for. If you want to be an independent online teacher, then it’s even easier. This is why many teachers use online teaching as a way to travel the world or as a way to earn extra money. 

A teacher working for an online company earns on average between  £10 and  £20 an hour, while a private teacher can charge up to  £30 an hour.

Read more: How Much Money Can I Really Make Teaching English Online

The country

It’s a similar situation depending on where you are teaching. A salary is only as good as how it compares to the cost of living. It makes no difference earning loads if it costs even more just to survive! This is why it’s important not to compare the salary to your local salaries or costs of living. It doesn’t add up.

There are certain countries where the cost of living is really low and others where it’s really high. In Thailand, for example, you will probably earn around B40,000 a month which, when you convert to dollars or pounds (even rands) is not very much. But when you realise that your accommodation is about 10% of your salary, and groceries are even less, then you will realise that your salary is a lot of savings. 

Handy hint: Numbeo is a great tool to use to determine the costs of living in different countries.

This is what our alumnus Tim has to say about living and teaching in Thailand:

“If you’re interested in teaching in Thailand, here’s what I can tell you about it. It’s crazy cheap to eat here (Thai and western). Food is everywhere and it’s fresh and delicious. There’s no need to cook, unless you want to. I have cooked only once in 18 months! The wages (£600 – £700 per month) go further than I expected.

Apartments are also more modern and stylish than I thought too. Even so, rent is so much cheaper and I still have more money left over than I would in the UK. My apartment has a king sized bed, separate bathroom, balcony, wardrobe, desk, TV and fridge. In London it would cost me a fortune. Over here it’s 4,200 baht a month (£80) plus about 2,000 baht (£40) a month for electricity (depending on how much air con is used). The total: £120 a month.

If you have no debts that still leaves over £500 disposable income. Travel is very easy out here; local buses are frequent and very cheap. I decided to buy a motorbike, which as long as you’re careful is a great way to get about most cities. I paid it off over a year and now own it (a new Honda Scoopy; Google it, it’s awesome!). If I want to travel to Bangkok or other towns, a typical coach journey is very cheap too (a four hour air-con coach ride is about £7).”

The package

Schools in some countries offer salaries and nothing else. In other words, if you are teaching in England, chances are your salary just includes your job. But, if you teach in South Korea, for example, your salary package is likely to include housing as well – plus, airfare and health insurance. If you teach in Qatar, too, it is common to be offered accommodation and an entertainment allowance for the duration of your contract. 

When you think about it, if your salary doesn’t include your accommodation, you would be happy accepting a lower salary. 

Alana tells us about her package in Vietnam:

“I applied for a handful of jobs and got the vast majority. I chose a company in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. The offer provided me with a shared house where I’d be living with other teachers, a salary of $990 per month, health care, visa guidance, transport costs and airport pickup. It was pretty much smooth sailing.”

What's the average TEFL salary in Vietnam?

The working conditions

Now, we don’t mean whether or not you have an interactive white board! What we mean is what you are being paid for. Many language schools, for example, incorporate a holiday rate into their hourly rate so when you can go on leave you’re not technically paid for it but you have been paid for it beforehand. 

If you teach in a school or a university, you are probably lucky enough to get all the public holidays and academic holidays, paid.

Priyanka is living her best life teaching in France:

“I am currently teaching in the French Riviera and the best thing about teaching in France is 5 weeks of paid holidays! I believe this is also the best thing about teaching jobs in general because many countries provide paid holidays. If you’re teaching in a school with a full-time contract, sometimes the summer holidays are also paid!”

What's the average TEFL salary in France?

As you can see, there are a number of variables involved in considering the average TEFL salary. Because there are so many different jobs you can do, and so many different environments and countries you can teach in, you need to consider each salary on its own merits. 

One final tip: be sure to compare the salary and package to a similar job in the same country to make sure you’re comparing manzanas with manzanas.

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