Teach English in the United States

a world of opportunities

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Kirsten Colquhoun
April 11, 2024

Contents

Why teach in the USA?
Where to teach
Qualifications and requirements
Types of jobs
How to get a job
Salaries and benefits
Cost of living
Saving opportunities
Life and culture

Land of the free, home of the brave! The United States is a gigantic geographical space just waiting to be explored. From the country music of Nashville in the south to the wilderness of Alaska in the north; the sunny climes of California in the west to the skyscrapers of New York in the east, and so much more in between.

Why teach English in the USA?

While the TEFL market in the US is not as big as in Asia or South America, the US offers loads of opportunities for TEFL teachers. 

The influx of immigrants has increased the demand for ESL teachers. To be a successful member of society here, a working knowledge of English is a must. For this reason, there are loads of language schools dotted around the country to cater for the needs of the immigrant population.

Besides immigrants, international students come to these shores for a few weeks or months to improve their English. 

Read more: The Growing ESL Crisis In The US

Best places to teach English in the US

In the US you can find teaching opportunities in language schools, international schools, and businesses offering English courses for professionals.

You are more likely to find language schools in east- or west-coast cities like New York, Boston, Miami or San Francisco. Arizona is a state which has seen a boom in demand for ESL teachers.

New York

Best for those who like it BIG

As Alicia Keys tells us, New York is a concrete jungle where dreams are made, these streets will make you feel brand new, and the big lights will inspire you. New York is known as one of the most linguistically diverse cities in the world, making it very attractive to ESL teachers.

Boston

Best for the culture vulture

A vibrant and diverse coastal city, Boston offers endless cultural opportunities. With a deep appreciation for history and education, Boston is the perfect city for teachers. Even better, Boston is extremely safe, so it’s common to walk wherever you want to go in the city. 

Miami

Best for the party animals

This scenic party town is certainly an international city. World-class beaches and year-round sunshine contribute to the festive atmosphere in Miami, but locals enjoy a definitely laid-back lifestyle.

How do I qualify to teach English in the US?

To work in a public school, teachers need to have a teaching license. There may also be additional requirements depending on which state you are teaching in.

To work as an ESL teacher, you need a TEFL or TESOL qualification. You may require a Bachelor’s degree for visa purposes.

Do you need a visa to teach in the United States?

To work legally as an English teacher in the US, you need a work visa. The requirements and costs behind these visas vary based on your nationality. 

A J1 visa allows qualified foreign teachers to teach in public and private K-12 schools for 3 years. An EB-2 or EB-3 visa is also an option depending on your qualifications. An H1-B visa is available for temporary work contracts.

The visa process for the US can be lengthy and complicated, so factor in this consideration when planning your adventure.

Do I need teaching experience to teach in the United States?

Prior teaching experience can be a huge plus on a resume when applying for positions, though it isn’t always essential. 

Do I need TEFL certification to teach in the United States?

TEFL or TESOL certification is an essential requirement for employers. 

Can I teach English in the US with no degree?

Some positions may ask for a degree at Bachelor’s level. Some may prefer a degree in Education, or Linguistics.

Can non-native speakers teach English in the US?

A high level of proficiency in English is vital for a position teaching English abroad. As long as your level of proficiency in English is equivalent to or above the CEFR level C1, and you are suitably qualified, then you can teach English in the US regardless of your first language.

How much start-up capital do I need to teach in the US?

There are a few costs to consider when you are starting out in the US. Besides your TEFL qualification, flights and visa costs, you need to be able to cover your living expenses for the first month. It’s likely that you’ll only be paid at the end of your first month.

Here are a few costs you need to consider.

  • TEFL certification: A TEFL course can cost between $100 and $500, depending on the length and level of the course and the course provider. 
  • Document fees: Any costs related to certifying and notarising your degree and TEFL certificate
  • Flight ticket: Variable. Your flight may be reimbursed by your employer.
  • Visa application: The cost of getting a work visa is subject to your home country. 
  • Living expenses: If accommodation is not provided by your employer or included in your salary, you will need capital to cover a deposit and the first month’s rent. 
  • Generally speaking, without including any expenses related to accommodation, it’s recommended that you have approximately $1,000 – $1,500 at your disposal until your first paycheque. 

Bear in mind that this is a guideline, as costs vary from city to city and state to state.

Types of English teaching jobs in the United States

Due to its size, the US offers a range of different positions for TEFL teachers. 

Types of teaching jobs in the USA

Private language schools

Private language schools usually offer English lessons to young adults and adults. Students might be university students, internationals in the US to better their English, or expats who need to improve their English. Classes are often in the evenings and on weekends to accommodate the learners’ schedules.

Public schools and community colleges

There are opportunities to work as an English teacher in the US working with both young and adult learners. These positions in the K-12 public school system and community colleges fall under different laws to the private language schools so you are required to have a teaching license. Laws and requirements differ from state to state.

Private lessons

Teaching private students is big business in the States. Whether it be full- or part-time, online or in-person, tutoring can be one of the most lucrative ways of making money.

Online

The world is your oyster when it comes to teaching English online. Get started as a freelance online teacher or sign up with one of the thousands of teaching platforms. 

Other teaching programs in the USA

Summer camps

There are various summer camps which take place during the summer months of July and August which are a good option. It’s not easy for non-US residents to work here and employers are not guaranteed to help with visas, so working for a summer on an Exchange Visa is a good way to experience the States for a few months.

On summer camps teachers generally work 10 to 15 hours a week, as well as undertaking other pastoral duties. Summer camp positions usually include food and accommodation.

How to get a job teaching English in the USA

The demand for English language skills is growing in the US. Here are some of our top tips on how to get a job abroad across the country: 

  • Research: Start by researching the types of English language jobs in the areas that interest you. You can search job boards, networking sites, online directories and across social media. 
  • Application: Tailoring your CV and resume to each employer you send it to is vital. Highlight your teaching experience. 
  • Applying: Once you have submitted your application, be sure to check in with your employer if you haven’t had a response from them in a timely manner.

Keen to stand out from the crowd? Our Level 5 TEFL course is the perfect resource for helping you get the skills and qualifications you need to begin your teaching career in the United States!

Salaries and benefits in the USA

There are a variety of teaching opportunities in the USA for English teachers. Your salary will differ based on which teaching route you choose to follow. 

What is the average teaching English salary in the USA?

The average TEFL salary in the US ranges from $2,000 – $5,000 a month depending on the position, your qualifications and if you choose your own rates. 

  • Teachers at public schools or community colleges earn between $2,000 and $5,000 a month.
  • Language schools generally pay between $20 and $25 an hour.
  • Summer camps pay $650 – $850 a week.
  • ESL teachers can charge between $10 – $25 an hour for private lessons, but the sky is the limit if you have the right qualifications and experience. Some teachers are known to charge upwards of $40 an hour.
  • Online teachers earn $7 – $20 an hour, and freelance teachers can set their own rates.

What is the cost of living in the United States?

Major cities such as New York and Los Angeles hold the highest salaries, but also the highest costs of living. San Diego, Los Angeles and Miami currently rank as the most expensive cities in the US.

It should be remembered that these costs depend on the state you find yourself in. The average cost of living in the United States is roughly $2,500 – $3,000 a month.

Here are a few of the monthly costs you can expect in the United States.

Accommodation

  • One-bedroom apartment in city centre: $1,500 – $3,500
  • One-bedroom apartment outside city centre: $1,000 – $2,000

Utilities

  • Water, electricity, heating, garbage: $100 – $300 

Food and groceries

  • Monthly shop:  $250 – $350
  •  A meal at an inexpensive restaurant:  $20 – $30

Public transport

  • One-way ticket: $2.50
  • Monthly pass: $75

Internet 

  • Unlimited: $75

Entertainment

  • Cinema, gym, going out etc: $100 – $150

Is it possible to save as a teacher in the United States?

The States can be an expensive place to live. But if you are smart, it’s definitely possible to live on a budget. 

Our top tips for saving in the US:

  • Use public transport instead of buying a car. 
  • Buy a thermos flask and make your own coffee for the commute to work. Don’t fall into the Starbucks trap!
  • Shop at second-hand stores for clothes, books and furniture.
  • Shop at dollar stores.
  • Stock up on groceries and cook at home. Eating out and even takeaways can get expensive.
  • Find out when local attractions like museums and art galleries have free days.
  • Take advantage of coupons! 

Life and culture in the US

  • You know what they say: everything is bigger in America!
  • With an area of almost 4 million square miles, the United States boasts all kinds of natural scenery, weather, food and cultures.
  • America is a wildly diverse country which makes it fascinating to explore and experience.
  • In terms of cuisine, the US offers tastes which mirror its melting-pot identity. Burgers and fries, pizza, New York-style baked cheesecake, pretzels, southern fried chicken and biscuits, Starbucks – the United States has whatever your stomach desires.

Contents

Land of the free, home of the brave! The United States is a gigantic geographical space just waiting to be explored. From the country music of Nashville in the south to the wilderness of Alaska in the north; the sunny climes of California in the west to the skyscrapers of New York in the east, and so much more in between.

Why teach English in the USA?

While the TEFL market in the US is not as big as in Asia or South America, the US offers loads of opportunities for TEFL teachers. 

The influx of immigrants has increased the demand for ESL teachers. To be a successful member of society here, a working knowledge of English is a must. For this reason, there are loads of language schools dotted around the country to cater for the needs of the immigrant population.

Besides immigrants, international students come to these shores for a few weeks or months to improve their English. 

Read more: The Growing ESL Crisis In The US

Best places to teach English in the US

In the US you can find teaching opportunities in language schools, international schools, and businesses offering English courses for professionals.

You are more likely to find language schools in east- or west-coast cities like New York, Boston, Miami or San Francisco. Arizona is a state which has seen a boom in demand for ESL teachers.

New York

Best for those who like it BIG

As Alicia Keys tells us, New York is a concrete jungle where dreams are made, these streets will make you feel brand new, and the big lights will inspire you. New York is known as one of the most linguistically diverse cities in the world, making it very attractive to ESL teachers.

Boston

Best for the culture vulture

A vibrant and diverse coastal city, Boston offers endless cultural opportunities. With a deep appreciation for history and education, Boston is the perfect city for teachers. Even better, Boston is extremely safe, so it’s common to walk wherever you want to go in the city. 

Miami

Best for the party animals

This scenic party town is certainly an international city. World-class beaches and year-round sunshine contribute to the festive atmosphere in Miami, but locals enjoy a definitely laid-back lifestyle.

How do I qualify to teach English in the US?

To work in a public school, teachers need to have a teaching license. There may also be additional requirements depending on which state you are teaching in.

To work as an ESL teacher, you need a TEFL or TESOL qualification. You may require a Bachelor’s degree for visa purposes.

Do you need a visa to teach in the United States?

To work legally as an English teacher in the US, you need a work visa. The requirements and costs behind these visas vary based on your nationality. 

A J1 visa allows qualified foreign teachers to teach in public and private K-12 schools for 3 years. An EB-2 or EB-3 visa is also an option depending on your qualifications. An H1-B visa is available for temporary work contracts.

The visa process for the US can be lengthy and complicated, so factor in this consideration when planning your adventure.

Do I need teaching experience to teach in the United States?

Prior teaching experience can be a huge plus on a resume when applying for positions, though it isn’t always essential. 

Do I need TEFL certification to teach in the United States?

TEFL or TESOL certification is an essential requirement for employers. 

Can I teach English in the US with no degree?

Some positions may ask for a degree at Bachelor’s level. Some may prefer a degree in Education, or Linguistics.

Can non-native speakers teach English in the US?

A high level of proficiency in English is vital for a position teaching English abroad. As long as your level of proficiency in English is equivalent to or above the CEFR level C1, and you are suitably qualified, then you can teach English in the US regardless of your first language.

How much start-up capital do I need to teach in the US?

There are a few costs to consider when you are starting out in the US. Besides your TEFL qualification, flights and visa costs, you need to be able to cover your living expenses for the first month. It’s likely that you’ll only be paid at the end of your first month.

Here are a few costs you need to consider.

  • TEFL certification: A TEFL course can cost between $100 and $500, depending on the length and level of the course and the course provider. 
  • Document fees: Any costs related to certifying and notarising your degree and TEFL certificate
  • Flight ticket: Variable. Your flight may be reimbursed by your employer.
  • Visa application: The cost of getting a work visa is subject to your home country. 
  • Living expenses: If accommodation is not provided by your employer or included in your salary, you will need capital to cover a deposit and the first month’s rent. 
  • Generally speaking, without including any expenses related to accommodation, it’s recommended that you have approximately $1,000 – $1,500 at your disposal until your first paycheque. 

Bear in mind that this is a guideline, as costs vary from city to city and state to state.

Types of English teaching jobs in the United States

Due to its size, the US offers a range of different positions for TEFL teachers. 

Types of teaching jobs in the USA

Private language schools

Private language schools usually offer English lessons to young adults and adults. Students might be university students, internationals in the US to better their English, or expats who need to improve their English. Classes are often in the evenings and on weekends to accommodate the learners’ schedules.

Public schools and community colleges

There are opportunities to work as an English teacher in the US working with both young and adult learners. These positions in the K-12 public school system and community colleges fall under different laws to the private language schools so you are required to have a teaching license. Laws and requirements differ from state to state.

Private lessons

Teaching private students is big business in the States. Whether it be full- or part-time, online or in-person, tutoring can be one of the most lucrative ways of making money.

Online

The world is your oyster when it comes to teaching English online. Get started as a freelance online teacher or sign up with one of the thousands of teaching platforms. 

Other teaching programs in the USA

Summer camps

There are various summer camps which take place during the summer months of July and August which are a good option. It’s not easy for non-US residents to work here and employers are not guaranteed to help with visas, so working for a summer on an Exchange Visa is a good way to experience the States for a few months.

On summer camps teachers generally work 10 to 15 hours a week, as well as undertaking other pastoral duties. Summer camp positions usually include food and accommodation.

How to get a job teaching English in the USA

The demand for English language skills is growing in the US. Here are some of our top tips on how to get a job abroad across the country: 

  • Research: Start by researching the types of English language jobs in the areas that interest you. You can search job boards, networking sites, online directories and across social media. 
  • Application: Tailoring your CV and resume to each employer you send it to is vital. Highlight your teaching experience. 
  • Applying: Once you have submitted your application, be sure to check in with your employer if you haven’t had a response from them in a timely manner.

Keen to stand out from the crowd? Our Level 5 TEFL course is the perfect resource for helping you get the skills and qualifications you need to begin your teaching career in the United States!

Salaries and benefits in the USA

There are a variety of teaching opportunities in the USA for English teachers. Your salary will differ based on which teaching route you choose to follow. 

What is the average teaching English salary in the USA?

The average TEFL salary in the US ranges from $2,000 – $5,000 a month depending on the position, your qualifications and if you choose your own rates. 

  • Teachers at public schools or community colleges earn between $2,000 and $5,000 a month.
  • Language schools generally pay between $20 and $25 an hour.
  • Summer camps pay $650 – $850 a week.
  • ESL teachers can charge between $10 – $25 an hour for private lessons, but the sky is the limit if you have the right qualifications and experience. Some teachers are known to charge upwards of $40 an hour.
  • Online teachers earn $7 – $20 an hour, and freelance teachers can set their own rates.

What is the cost of living in the United States?

Major cities such as New York and Los Angeles hold the highest salaries, but also the highest costs of living. San Diego, Los Angeles and Miami currently rank as the most expensive cities in the US.

It should be remembered that these costs depend on the state you find yourself in. The average cost of living in the United States is roughly $2,500 – $3,000 a month.

Here are a few of the monthly costs you can expect in the United States.

Accommodation

  • One-bedroom apartment in city centre: $1,500 – $3,500
  • One-bedroom apartment outside city centre: $1,000 – $2,000

Utilities

  • Water, electricity, heating, garbage: $100 – $300 

Food and groceries

  • Monthly shop:  $250 – $350
  •  A meal at an inexpensive restaurant:  $20 – $30

Public transport

  • One-way ticket: $2.50
  • Monthly pass: $75

Internet 

  • Unlimited: $75

Entertainment

  • Cinema, gym, going out etc: $100 – $150

Is it possible to save as a teacher in the United States?

The States can be an expensive place to live. But if you are smart, it’s definitely possible to live on a budget. 

Our top tips for saving in the US:

  • Use public transport instead of buying a car. 
  • Buy a thermos flask and make your own coffee for the commute to work. Don’t fall into the Starbucks trap!
  • Shop at second-hand stores for clothes, books and furniture.
  • Shop at dollar stores.
  • Stock up on groceries and cook at home. Eating out and even takeaways can get expensive.
  • Find out when local attractions like museums and art galleries have free days.
  • Take advantage of coupons! 

Life and culture in the US

  • You know what they say: everything is bigger in America!
  • With an area of almost 4 million square miles, the United States boasts all kinds of natural scenery, weather, food and cultures.
  • America is a wildly diverse country which makes it fascinating to explore and experience.
  • In terms of cuisine, the US offers tastes which mirror its melting-pot identity. Burgers and fries, pizza, New York-style baked cheesecake, pretzels, southern fried chicken and biscuits, Starbucks – the United States has whatever your stomach desires.

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