How Much Money Can You Earn Teaching English Abroad?

How Much Money Can You Earn Teaching English Abroad?Nowadays, there are so many opportunities available to teach English abroad and more and more people are becoming English certified teachers. Unsurprisingly, most people do not get into teaching English overseas to make their first million, and you may have heard that teaching abroad is not a particularly well-paid career choice.

However, although teaching English abroad will not get you a Ferrari, there is no reason why you can’t earn yourself some decent money, and you may even be able to put some of that hard-earned cash into your savings account!  In this article, we will look at some of the countries that tend to pay their teachers well, along with some information on how to maximize your earning potential whilst living and travelling abroad.

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So, which countries pay well?

Although some countries still pay relatively low salaries (some schools in Italy can pay as little as 800 -1,000 EUR per month. There are some countries which offer surprisingly generous financial packages.  Some of the highest-paid teaching jobs can be found in the Middle East, China and South-East Asia.  Bear in mind though, that you need to weigh up the local cost of living and the financial package you will receive, to determine how much you will actually be able to save.


The UAE is one of the most lucrative places to work as a TEFL teacher.  Ultra-modern cities, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are amongst the best places to work in this region, and many companies offer salaries ranging between 12,000 – 20,000 AED per month, which is around $3300 – $5600

It is common practice for schools to provide furnished accommodation, return air fares and healthcare to qualified English teachers.  In terms of living costs, a single person can expect to pay around 9,000 AED per month, so there are ample opportunities to save money.


China is a country that is crying out for EFL teachers, and it offers thousands of teaching opportunities to the newly certified TEFL teacher.  Salaries differ, depending on where you are living and teaching, but you can expect to earn anywhere between 12,000- 20,000 RMB per month ($1,800- $3,000), based on an average workload of 25-30 hours per week.  Teachers working in more rural areas tend to be paid on the lower end of the scale but the cost of living will be much lower than in a bigger city, like Shanghai or Beijing.

Most of your work will involve teaching children, but some schools do have adult English classes too.  You could also top up your income with some private tutoring on the side.  The average pay you can expect, per hour, for offering private tuition, is around 140RMB ($20-21).  There is a high demand for one-to-one tutoring, from business professionals, adults, and high school students, especially in the bigger cities.

Some positions offer free or reimbursed flights, comprehensive medical insurance, and fully-furnished private apartments. This country is suitable for students who want to earn while studying & traveling since teaching English is the number one job abroad. China is a relatively cheap country to live in.  For example, for a well-located, private apartment, you can expect to pay anywhere between 6,000 – 9,000 RMB per month ($860 – 1,200), and bills are a meager cost than those in the UK.  In addition, public transport in Beijing is very cheap, a subway journey traveling up to 6km will cost around $0.41, and public transportation is effortless to access. Groceries are pretty cheap; a bottle of water is approximately $0.27, and eating out will probably set you back at around $5.50!  So, can you earn and save good money while working in China? Yes, absolutely!

South-East Asia

South-East Asia has offered me some of the most rewarding teaching, and culturally rich experiences, I have ever had. Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam are all very popular places to live and work in as an EFL teacher.

Indonesia is huge, and cities like Jakarta have a lot of language schools.  EF English First, is one of the world’s leading language training providers, and currently has 77 schools in Indonesia alone.  If you work for one of their many schools, you will likely be teaching adults and children of all ages.  But, what can you expect to get paid?  EF is currently looking for experienced or newly qualified EFL teachers throughout Indonesia and is offering IDR 12,000,000 – 15,000,000 ($760 – $960) per month, after-tax, and this is based on location, qualifications and experience.  This may not seem like a lot of money, compared to the UAE or China, but the cost of living in Indonesia is very cheap.

A one-bedroom apartment, outside of the center, would cost around IDR 3,500,000 million per month ($220), and eating out is very cheap.  If you stick to local restaurants, you could pay as little as IDR 50,000 for a meal, which is about $3.20, and you would receive a large plate of the most delicious food you have ever tasted!

Personally, the best-paid teaching job I had whilst living in South-East Asia was working for International House, Kuala Lumpur.  International House has English language schools, in a similar way to EF, all over the world.  I worked for IH in 2005 and back then I was offered a starting salary of 3,500 MYR ($830) per month, along with free shared accommodation, shared with only one other English teacher. Nowadays, I believe some schools are offering up to 8,000 MYR per month.

The cost of living is also pretty cheap. Monthly utility bills for two people, for 85 metres squared flat, average at around 243 MYR ($56) and eating out is as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be.  You can buy a decent meal, for two people, at a neighbourhood pub for around 85 MYR, $20, and two tickets to the movies would set you back a whopping 38 MYR!  Back in 2005, I managed to save money every month, so I am absolutely certain that anybody could earn well, and save a decent amount too, whilst living and working in Kuala Lumpur!

As you can see, there is good money to be made whilst traveling and teaching abroad.  In some countries, as mentioned, you can expect to earn lucrative salaries, receive competitive benefits packages and enjoy living it up in ultra-modern cities, but you would most likely have to venture out of Europe if making money is your main purpose.  Some European countries, like Spain and Italy, offer reasonable salaries with higher living expenses, which doesn’t offer much in terms of saving potential.

I am sure that wherever you decide to go, you are guaranteed to make memories that will last a lifetime. Have fun!

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