Teach English Abroad and Get Paid for It — Here’s How

by Published

Who wants to travel the world and earn more money to stay on the road? If you’re a native English speaker just out of college or totally bored with cubicle life, why not teach English abroad and get paid? Paid teaching jobs abroad are plentiful. A career in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is not only rewarding but can be quite lucrative in some parts of the world, like Asia and the Middle East. In other countries, paid teaching abroad opportunities provide the perfect way to slowly drink up a country and learn the language.

Teaching English abroad varies across the board. It may mean teaching classes at public schools, private language schools, universities, government bodies, mission-based organizations, or non-profits. It may also mean tutoring kids and adults one-on-one. You can also become an assistant teacher and help local educators get a handle on teaching real-life English conversation skills.

students working on an activity while their teacher observes.

Watching your students improve is more than enough reward for the work you do.

Do you value experiences over material things? Does the experience of teaching English in a foreign country sound right up your alley? Are you ready to learn more about this incredible opportunity? 

Here’s the lowdown on how to teach English abroad AND get paid for it!

Your teach abroad money questions, answered

What is a common TEFL salary?

Let’s breakdown a typical salary when you teach English abroad. Paid ESL jobs often include wages and also some super-cool benefits and perks.

Stipend. This is the money part of your ESL teachers salary. Stipends will vary according to country, location within a country, type of school, your teaching qualifications, your certification, and your level of classroom experience and expertise. 

Flights. Airline tickets are a big bonus because they can cut your expenses considerably. For example, if you live in the States and want to teach halfway across the world in Taiwan, getting a free flight over there can save you quite a lot. Some schools also offer return flights if you complete your contract and that’s another perk you shouldn’t discount. 

Housing. One of the biggest hassles teaching abroad is finding an affordable, safe, and comfortable place to live. It gets worse if you’ve never been to the country before, have no networks on the ground, or can’t speak the native language. Some paid teaching jobs abroad will offer free or subsidized housing. This is a huge plus because you don’t have to worry your pretty little head about estate agents and landlords. However, there is a downside to accepting such housing. For example, it may mean you don’t have much choice about where you live (right above the school) and how you live (no overnight visitors, pets, kids, or spouses).

[Get matched with paid teaching jobs abroad]

It’s tough to say what a “normal” or “common” ESL teachers salary is, as this is affected greatly by your location, your job type, etc. In some locations, you’re more likely to break even (like Spain or Chile), whereas in others, you should be able to be in the green and even pay down some of your debt (like the UAE or Korea).

Important to note: some of the above-mentioned benefits are not the norm for some countries, so please read the fine print carefully before you sign that teaching contract.

pointing out countries on a large globe to a small, blond child.

Paid teaching jobs abroad are available across the globe. Just close your eyes and point.

Where can I teach English abroad and get paid BIG bucks?

The highest paid teaching jobs abroad fluctuate annually, so it will ultimately depend on when you are planning to teach abroad/get rich. ;-) However, as question numero uno for many ESL teachers, here are the 10 highest paid teaching jobs abroad in 2017-2018 — no time like the present, #amiright?

Generally speaking, you can find the highest ESL teachers salary in the Middle East and East Asia. Your pay will ultimately coincide with your skills (AKA if you tick off the boxes of Native English speaker, TEFL certified, Bachelor's degree holder, etc.). If you want to increase your chances of making the most money teaching abroad, be sure to meet — nay, exceed — their minimum requirements.

We also recommend drawing some wisdom from these real life teach abroad salary negotiations, and checking out this sexy infographic on six countries where you can make money teaching English abroad — a lot of it.

[Bookmark paid teaching abroad programs with MyGoAbroad]

How will I get paid teaching abroad?

Different jobs, schools, countries, etc. will all remit your ESL teachers’ salary in different ways. Here are some common tracks:

Direct deposit. One of the easiest ways to get paid teaching abroad is by direct deposit. This is when money goes straight into your bank account every payday. No hassle, no fuss! However, you need to decide if you’d like to set up a local bank account or use the one you have back home. For short term jobs, it makes more sense to use your home account. On the other hand, if you’re in it for the long haul, setting up a domestic account could save you a lot in bank fees. Many local banks will charge you heavy remittance fees if they have to send money to your account overseas.

Cash. Cash is definitely a very convenient way to get paid your ESL teacher’s salary, especially if you don’t have a bank account set up in your adopted home country. It’s often used in countries where cash is king like India.

Check. A check is an easy way to get paid your ESL teacher’s salary, but then there’s the run-around of cashing or depositing it in your bank account. In some countries, it may take several days to clear a check and this may not be ideal if you need your money ASAP.

When it comes to your TEFL salary, whatever method you choose, sort out your payment details with your employer as soon as you can — this might vary considerably from country to country and job to job. Don’t be surprised if your payment is remitted differently between your teaching jobs!

student in bright yellow baseball cap writing on blackboard.

Make a difference in your students lives’, teach English abroad AND get paid.

Should I open a foreign bank account while I teach abroad?

Opening a foreign bank account while you get paid teaching English abroad will make your life super easy as a foreign teacher. It’s safer, more convenient, and legit. Direct deposits are a miracle — after all, you don’t want to only spend your free time lesson planning and waiting in line at the bank. Trade in those precious minutes for more fun exploring your teach abroad destination.

You can even set up direct debits, so that you can pay bills like rent and utilities straight from your account at the same time every month. This can take the ease out of remembering due dates for payments, but it’s also on you to ensure you have sufficient funds to cover those automated expenses (AKA don’t go too crazy buying souvenirs at the market before your bills are due). Note: some banks may charge a small fee for this service.

[6 Countries to Make (Serious) Money Teaching English]

Will I have to pay taxes while teaching abroad?

Whether or not you will have to pay taxes while you teach English abroad and get paid is a pretty complicated question. It all depends on your nationality and whether your country has what are called “double taxation treaties” with the country you’re teaching in. If it does, then you will have to pay home taxes only. If it doesn’t, you will be required to pay in-country taxes as well as taxes in your home country. Woof.

In short: talk to your employer and read up on your country’s laws. Ask previous ESL teachers in your destination-country how they handled it. Or hire a third-party advisor who specializes in expat taxes.

teacher working with young children in Myanmar. Young boy looking at camera.

Teach. Make money. Travel. Smile.

Do most companies pay ESL teachers under the table?

Although there are companies that pay ESL teachers’ salaries under the table, the more reputable schools prefer to set up more legal ways to give you your TEFL salary. In general, schools that adopt legit payment methods tend to be more reliable than those that use shady, hush-hush methods.

That being said, it is entirely common for foreign teachers to be paid under the table. It ultimately comes down to what you’re comfortable with and how well you choose to track and report your earnings.

How can I make more money while teaching abroad?

Although some employers may make you sign an exclusive contract (which means you only work for them only), other English teaching jobs are usually not so fussy and possessive. In the latter case, feel free to increase your earnings by tutoring students privately during your weekends or other off-duty times. This can be a great way to not only earn extra money to burn, but to also create more dynamic one-on-one relationships with local students and families.

Don’t just resign yourself to tutoring to supplement money while you teach abroad, though. There are loads of other ways you can make more money while teaching English abroad. You can teach English online or start ESL teacher blogs. You can offer your free time to the school or company you are working for, and pitch in on marketing or recruitment projects. It may not bring in as much money as your full-time gig, but it all adds up (and feels extra helpful come holiday-booking time!).

You might even consider learning a thing or two from digital nomads

group of young students in Laos working together on an activity.

Tips for negotiating your ESL teacher’s salary

Once you’ve completed the interview and received an offer, don’t throw in the towel yet. If the proposed salary is too low compared to your qualifications and experience, don’t be afraid to negotiate with your potential employer. Also, take into consideration the real cost of living in the country and how much you need to earn to live comfortably. Finding out the salary range for your chosen location, country, and type of school is also very important to make sure you’re not being short-changed.

Don’t discount any benefits apart from your stipend. Sometimes, benefits are totally worth it, like health insurance, which can be expensive if you have to pay it on your own. Like we mentioned before — here are some more real life teach abroad salary negotiations and what you can learn from them.

Don’t settle for less when you teach English abroad. Paid teachers have the right to broker their own deal.

[Why English Language Teaching is a Dream Career]

Should I be worried about visas while I get paid teaching English abroad?

It’s true that some countries legally require that any visitor that is earning money while living in said-country should have a different class of visa than those who are touristing, for instance. Some countries have strict regulations for the amount of money you can earn, how long you can stay in the country, how many jobs you can hold, how legal/approved your jobs have to be, etc.

This is pretty convoluted and messy. We highly recommend that you work closely with the organization helping to coordinate your paid teaching job abroad to understand the legalities surrounding your work placement. Ask questions about situations that have happened with past teachers and how the organization has handled it. Hit the books — we mean, uh, the Google search box — and dig deep into stories from ESL teachers in that country, as well as any official websites regarding work visas or temporary work visas or visitors visas, etc.

Knowledge is power! But remember: As we mentioned above, many ESL teachers abroad are paid in cash. This is risky, but it’s not a path unfamiliar to intrepid English teachers wanting to work abroad and get paid for it.

10 excellent paid programs to teach English abroad 

Here’s a short-list of awesome paid programs to teach English abroad to help jumpstart your search and get you one leap closer to making your dreams a reality. While you can strike out on your own, indie-style to teach English abroad, paid teachers agree that having the added support as you navigate scary visa laws, the occasional “life abroad pickle,” or multi-page rental agreements is second-to-none. 

premiertefl logo

1. Get TEFL Certified with Premier TEFL

Premier TEFL is one of the most reputable TEFL program providers out there. It is fully accredited and internationally recognized (accredited by Accreditation Council for Distance Learning, approved Training Center with Training Qualifications UK, and a GoAbroad top rated TEFL organization). It offers flexible online course that you can access 24/7 wherever you are in the world. After getting certified, Premier TEFL grants short term teaching experiences, mid-length internships, and supported jobs. The program also has a job center with tons of paid teaching abroad postings.

Related: Read Reviews of Premier TEFL | Visit their site

asian college of teachers  logo

2.  Get TEFL Certified with Asian College of Teachers

This program provider boasts a sheer variety of internationally accredited online and in-country TEFL courses including TEFL diplomas, online courses, specialized courses, workshops, even a BA and MA in TEFL! It is the only accredited TEFL course provider in India (accredited by TESOL Canada and TESOL USA, Training Qualifications UK, and the College of Birmingham). After completing your chosen course, the provider can help you get a teach English abroad paid opportunity in Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Europe, Latin America, or anywhere else in the world.

Related: Read Reviews of Asian College of Teachers | Visit their site

entrust tefl logo

3. Get TEFL Certified with Entrust TEFL

Entrust TEFL is one of the highest quality TEFL courses in Thailand. In fact, it was recently awarded the best TEFL provider in Thailand by the Thai Ministry of Education. It offers 140 hour in-class TEFL courses. These courses include internationally recognized TEFL certificates, Thai cultural orientation, real-time teaching practice, teaching materials, Thai language classes, and ongoing alumni support. Its Premier TEFL Program also includes guaranteed job placement, visa support, accommodation, and Thai immersion cultural trips.

Related: Read Reviews of Entrust | Visit their site

language house tefl logo

4. Get TEFL Certified with Language House TEFL

Language House TEFL offers competitive and internationally recognized TEFL courses in lovely yet very affordable Prague. Their intensive TEFL certification courses includes over 14 hours of actual teaching practice and an add-on teaching certificate for those interested in teaching kids and young learners. 

This American-owned company also offers survival Czech language lessons, a teacher-mentor program, lifetime job assistance, employment opportunities with partner schools, and complimentary alumni discount cards for businesses and services throughout the city.

Related: Read Reviews of Language House TEFL | Visit their site

ittt  logo

5. Get TEFL Certified with ITTT

iTTT (International TEFL and TESOL Training) is one of the most expansive TEFL providers out there, with in-class and combined courses in the US, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Intensive in-class courses include 120 hours of training. 

Online courses range from 60 hour introductory courses to advanced-level, TESOL diploma courses to combination courses which include a 120 hour online TESOL certification course and one or two weeks of face-to-face training. This is the ultimate package for TEFL!

Related: Read Reviews of ITTT | Visit their site

maximo nivel logo

6. Get TEFL Certified with Maximo Nivel

Whether you’re a recent graduate or an educational professional with lots of experience, teaching English abroad is one of the best ways to build your skill set. 

Since 2003, this program provider has been offering high quality, internationally accredited, and affordable TEFL certification programs in Latin America including countries like Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru.

If you are interested in teaching abroad in Central or South America, Maximo Nivel is your go-to program provider.

Related: Read Reviews of Maximo Nivel | Visit their site

travelbud logo

7. Get TEFL Certified with TravelBud

TravelBud is different because it offers comprehensive TESOL training and only recommends teaching English opportunities that its staff or trusted friends have personally done already. In other words, you get to talk to someone who has firsthand experience of their recommended programs. 

Teaching programs are also chosen based on whether they positively impact the local community. Paid teaching abroad opportunities include positions in China, Colombia, Thailand, Vietnam, and South Korea.

Related: Read Reviews of TravelBud | Visit their site


i-to-i tefl logo

8. Get TEFL Certified with i-to-i TEFL

Learn online and add on classroom training if you like. I-to-i TEFL offers competitively rated courses that are internationally recognized and government regulated. 

This program provider also promises access to employers worldwide to help you find your dream ESL teacher’s salary abroad. In fact, some courses come with a TEFL job guarantee.

We recommend considering teaching abroad with i-to-i TEFL if you are serious about getting your TEFL certificate prior to finding paid teaching jobs abroad. SPOILER: this is always a good idea. :-)

Related: Read Reviews of i-to-i TEFL | Visit their site

ita logo

9. Get TEFL Certified with International TEFL Academy

This program provider is hard-core and committed to two things: providing the highest quality TEFL training and ensuring that graduates get excellent teach English abroad paid jobs.  All employees have firsthand experience of working and traveling abroad. International TEFL Academy offers accredited TEFL courses in 25 worldwide locations as well as online classes. 

Alumni also get lifetime job search guidance and access to services and networking opportunities.

Related: Read Reviews of International TEFL Academy | Visit their site


buckman education group logo

10. Get TEFL Certified with Buckland International Education Group

Buckland’s Culture Exchange-Teaching Program has 20 years’ experience working with foreign English teachers in China. It recruits, trains (TESOL certification), and places foreign English teachers in 65 franchised schools throughout the country. Bonus: this program provider does not charge any service or application fees and is licensed by the Chinese government to hire foreign teachers.

Related: Read Reviews of Buckland International Education Group | Visit their site

Earn your TEFL salary and get paid teaching abroad!

blackboard with cursive alphabet written on it.

Chalk it up to that sweet ESL teachers salary, but you’ll be living the dream abroad with paid teaching jobs abroad.


Real talk: There is no set TEFL salary if you plan to teach English abroad. Paid jobs vary from school to school, so you have to do your research to know exactly what you’re signing up for. Here are some crucial questions you should ask yourself.

  1. How does the ESL teacher’s salary measure up with the country’s cost of living? 
  2. Are there any extra perks that will reduce your cost of living significantly (subsidized rent, flights, visa fees etc.)? 
  3. Are you willing to break even or do you need to save money to pay off debts back home? 
  4. Are you prepared to change your lifestyle abroad if the salary doesn’t cut it? 
  5. Higher salaries may also mean more hours and more responsibilities. Are you prepared to put in the time? 
  6. Can you supplement your salary as a freelance tutor or is that a definite no-no?

Answering these questions will help you make the best decision about whether to accept that English teaching job or not. If not, there are plenty more opportunities out there. Get the ball rolling and...

Find more English teaching jobs abroad pronto