What to Expect as a TEFL Salary

Written By Alla Levin
April 30, 2021

What to Expect as a TEFL Salary

We all go into jobs expecting to be enumerated, and teaching, even at entry-level, is a job that is guaranteed to be paid fairly well because it’s part of an established industry that isn’t going to burn out any time soon. Although your earning potential might not be a motivating factor – after all, you’re unlikely to become rich as a teacher! – it should certainly be a consideration for you.

How much you earn will directly impact the quality of life that you can afford to have, and let’s assume here that you are going to want to go out and explore the country and culture, you’re going to want to spend time socializing, and you probably want to stay somewhere where the bathrooms have doors on them. The things you need to consider about your salary include:

  • Will it support your life abroad?
  • Will you be on a shoestring budget, or will you be able to be a bit more comfortable?
  • Will you be able to build up any savings?

Many things go into your ability to secure a decent salary and have a good budget, and these four points are a good place to start.

How much experience do you have?

Salaries are often largely determined by how much experience you have, i.e., how much you will be able to bring to the teaching role. The more skills you have, the higher the salary you can command. Having direct TEFL experience is also a huge bonus. Any teaching experience is good, but if it’s other subjects, then it won’t bump up your salary in the same way. So if TEFL abroad is something you’ve got your heart set on, acquiring some TEFL practice is an excellent idea.

Where are you going to teach?

Salaries vary greatly from country to country, and they’re usually in line with the cost of living. So the amount might be low compared to what you could earn in your home country, but life will be vastly cheaper, leaving you with roughly the same amount of disposable income.

So you should be able to live comfortably on the salary they offer you. Different areas of the country will have different levels of play; in a city, you can expect to earn more than in a rural area because of the disparate costs of living. Asia and the Middle East offer the highest-paid jobs, so if your mission is to go home with a bulging bank account, then jobs there are your best bet.

What to expect as a TEFL salary: Your TEFL certification

It would be disingenuous to compare companies with like in this field, but some courses you can find are really not worth the paper they are written on. We mean by this is the budget courses that are out there, ones you can find through Groupon or similar, for example. If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys, as the old saying goes, and that’s certainly true here. These courses are cheap for a reason, and their drawbacks are many, including:

  • There’s little or no tutor/customer support.
  • There are almost always lots of varied, hidden costs that will be suddenly sprung on you.
  • They are rarely adequately accredited.

The last of these is the biggest problem because the quality of the course you’ve done will be one of the first things a potential employer will be looking at. They will expect your course to be high quality and accredited by respected and established external bodies for a good teaching position. In addition to this, a sub-par course will offer you limited job options, and you’re likely to be stuck earning a much lower salary with no probability of progressing any further up the ranks.

More worryingly, you are leaving yourself open to falling for a TEFL scam or landing up with a bad employer. So, all in all, these cheap courses are not the bargain they seem to be, and you’re better off saving up and going with a respected course option, even if that delays your TEFL aspirations for a year or two.

Other qualifications (degree, etc.)what to expect as a TEFL salary

Having a degree is usually a visa requirement. But even if it isn’t, the countries paying the best salaries will typically expect you to have a degree, so you are limiting your options somewhat without one. On the other hand, it’s far easier to get established as a teacher with one, plus it opens doors for you. Don’t despair if you don’t have a degree, though, and it’s still possible to get a job without one; it’s just unlikely to be as good.

Flights/accommodation/additional benefits

Your teaching contract might well include some benefits, like flight reimbursement, health insurance, or accommodation. This can make a huge difference in how much disposable income you have for things like traveling around, socializing, going to the gym, or even just having a quick coffee with friends. China represents the biggest TEFL job market, so if you’re looking for a good entry-level salary, then going to Asia to teach is probably the best plan to have.

It’s important to remember that you’ll be living like the locals do, whether that’s cheap or expensive, spending money on things like different types of entertainment, buying food, paying for medical expenses, and finding somewhere to rent. So research your intended location to get an idea of what life is like there and what you’ll have to do to teach English there.

What to expect as a TEFL salary: conclusion

Even though this worldwide pandemic, the TEFL jobs market is thriving. There are challenges and complications, and things are shifting around slightly, but the demand for teachers is still high. So if you line up the things that will give you the best starting point for earning money by TEFL, there’s no reason why you can’t get started in this career pretty much straight away!

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