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STA Travel Blog

How Much Can I Earn Abroad as a TEFL Teacher?

Can you survive on a TEFL salary? Happily, yes and the really good news is that you can even put money away into your savings in some destinations, too! TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is about the only job in the world that allows you to travel almost anywhere, and support yourself at the same time.

Coming up is a very general overview of what you’re likely to earn around the world as a TEFL teacher. Of course, salaries vary between countries and cities, and change quickly depending on demand.

In most destinations you’ll earn something comparable to a typical local salary — or perhaps even higher. You’ll certainly earn a salary good enough to live a comfortable lifestyle, comparable to most locals.

Here’s what you can expect to earn…

If you’re looking to save money or pay off debts back home, you’ll have to choose your country carefully, but it’s certainly possible!

North Asia

There’s a huge demand for TEFL teachers throughout the region, and in Japan, Korea and Taiwan salaries are amongst the highest in TEFL (up to £2000 a month).

There are also plenty of opportunities for one-to-one tutoring, which can pay £15-£40 an hour.

Of course you should remember that the cost of living in some locations is high. Expect to pay a third of your salary on accommodation (if it isn’t included) and another third on essentials. It still means you can save a pretty good amount, if you’re careful with your spending. If not, you can guarantee you’ll have a good time while you’re there!

In China you’ll earn around £1000 a month, but the cost of living is low, and many employers offer amazing perks such as free accommodation and return airfare for longer contracts. It’s worth considering all of the options open to you, before lurching for the highest salary on the table.

Southeast Asia

Salaries aren’t so high for English teachers in Southeast Asia, but on the plus side, neither is the cost of living, so you’ll earn enough to get by and have an amazing experience at the same time. In Thailand and Vietnam you can expect a salary of around £600 a month (incidentally, the average Thai makes half that). It’s typical, and completely accepted, for teachers to take on additional classes out-of-hours for £10-16 an hour.

Make sure that you’re not paying a tourist price for everything and you’ll be able to live comfortably and even put some money away for a rainy day.

Central and Eastern Europe

Some places (like Prague) are so popular with TEFLers that the best jobs are harder to come by. But just dig deeper, as there’s a lot of need and a lot of great positions.

You can certainly make a decent salary of around £1000 a month; pretty good when a pint of the local beer might set you back a mere £1!

Western Europe

There are limited opportunities in Western Europe — remember where English levels are higher there will always be less demand! Positions in France and Germany may offer around £1800 a month; in Italy or Spain they may be half that, but jobs are more plentiful. Many schools offer hourly rates only, so you may need to juggle jobs.

Latin America

It’s hard to generalise about Latin America as economic conditions are so varied between the countries. One thing we can say with certainty is it’s one of the most exciting regions to live in.

In a large wealthy city like Buenos Aires or Santiago you can make a decent living, with an hourly rate of around £7. At a rural school outside of the city you might earn a third of that. However, there is a low cost of living, and it’s always possible to juggle contracts schools to get by quite comfortably.

Middle East

The secret’s out! The Middle Easy is currently the number one destination for earning big salaries as TEFL teachers. In Saudi Arabia an experienced teacher can earn £2600 a month, along with return airfare and fantastic accommodation; and what’s more, demand is increasing as the Saudi government pumps billions of dollars into the university sector. Be prepared for challenges however, and a huge but fascinating cultural shift.


Most positions in Africa remain on a volunteering basis, so it’s quite likely you’ll need to have the necessary funds to pay for the opportunity. But if you have the funds and you’re looking for an amazing and worthwhile trip, how can you beat an experience that will be life-changing for you AND your students?

Interested in earning some cash on your travels? Online TEFL courses are just £99. Plus, we can sort you out with a TEFL internship, which includes the TEFL course and guaranteed job abroad! Check out our current offers on internship programmes right here.
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Showing 25 Comments

  1. TEFL is the second best decision in my life (the first choosing my university!). I was meant to stay in China for 6 months but I’ll be here for 2 years in total! It’s an amazing experience to broaden the mind, travel and also make yourself more employable at the end of it; that’s what I’m telling myself anyway!

    1907 days ago
    • So many people love teaching in China Sarah and most the people that come through us here at TEFL Panda also extent there stay beyond their contract. Glad you are having a great time in China!

      1527 days ago
  2. Jessica B

    I have just finished teaching in Taiwan for two years. It was fantastic. I definitely recommend it.

    1907 days ago
  3. Kari Munro

    I taught in South Korea for a year back in 2005 – 2006 and it was easily one of the best things I ever did and often look back on it fondly. The earning potential is fantastic, and often leads to further travelling. The kids are great to teach, obviously challenging at times, but worth it! Being amongst another culture is also fantastic and you meet so many great people! Thoroughly enjoyed it. Its daunting at first, but you soon get into the swing of things and support from other teachers/ resources out there certainly helps!

    1907 days ago
  4. David F

    I have just finished a year in Spain where I earned 15euros an hour and visited some amazing places while meeting new people.

    1907 days ago
  5. Susana

    I have a question:
    Do you think is possible to become a TEFL techer if your first language is Spanish?

    1906 days ago
    • Absolutely, Susana. TEFL is a qualification-based award, so you you will have to pass the exam, but if you have a good grasp of English (which you appear to have), then you shouldn’t find it an issue.

      1906 days ago
  6. Shannon

    Is it the norm to have to pay an organisation to find a job in Asia? I’ve been looking at some teaching jobs with a couple of orgs that are asking between $3000-$4000 (NZ) to take me on – and that doesn’t cover visas, insurance, or airfares. It does cover your first months accom, food, and a TEFL course.

    1712 days ago
    • estela

      Hi !
      Im wanting to travel to NZ to work as an TEFL how did you find those orgs. Can you tell me the name of them ?
      Thanks !

      1536 days ago
      • Martin I think you’ll find this works the other way round too I guess Americans would find that non-English speakers who lenared their English from a British teacher would sound British. What most people who learn English end up with is a mixture of their own accent and the accent of their teacher. Being British, you don’t detect the British component but, for you, an American component sticks out like a sore thumb!

        963 days ago
    • Hi Shannon,

      Please have a look at the jobs on and you will find plenty of positions across Asia, Europe and America.

      1219 days ago
  7. Jamal

    I Have Finished Learning Tefl And Tefl Advance In The United Kingdom,Birmingham At Aston University And Im Only 22 Years Old Im Looking To Teach Nd Help Kids Or Adult’s With The knowledge I Have Learnt So Any One Who’s Looking For A Teacher Here I Am Thank You

    1621 days ago
    • andie

      No. Do Not Capitalise Every Word. This Is Not Good English. Bad English Jamal. No Job For You.

      1597 days ago
      • radu

        Hahahaha! Brilliant!

        1400 days ago
  8. khalegh

    i am an english teacher . 8 years exp. teaching adults . M.A. degree. teaching at university.
    i am looking for a job in arab countries

    1401 days ago
  9. Robert Wishton

    I’m a Primary School teacher with an English specialism, would I have to do the TEFL course to teach English abroad or would my degree be transferable?

    1367 days ago
    • Phillip

      If you get a job with a state university or state school in China. having a Bachelors degree (preferablyBA), is usually acceptable. If you go to a private school then they often ask for a TEFL certificate. Also private companies to teach their employees ask for a TEFL certificate. I do not know about other countries, but I have been happy in China, teaching for over 10 years. I have retired here now.

      1322 days ago
  10. Lauren

    Do I need a degree to do a TEFL course and if not, would not having a degree affect my employability? Many thanks :)

    1320 days ago
  11. m

    can u get a small mprtgage in Portugal as a tefl tutor…….I need stability aswell I wish to live in Portugal consistently.
    the mortgage people say yes for up2 70g but is it sane 2 consider working solely as a tefl tutor all yr round…so is it possible 2 work all yr round and whats the mthly salary expected for Lisbon/ and surrounding areas. :)

    1269 days ago
  12. Carol

    I am retired, have a BA (highest Hons) and have a little teaching experience. I have been working at invigilation but very bored with it and it is not enough to occupy me. I am considering taking a TEFL course here in Brighton – has anyone experience of St Giles’ School? Also, which of the qualifications offered is most sort after by employers? Thank you, Carol.

    1250 days ago
  13. gianna

    Suggest you learn some decent english first! It is sought, not sort!

    1089 days ago
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