Teaching abroad can become a very rewarding career that allows you to use your skills and passions to make a difference in communities around the world, and Asia is a great place for international teachers to obtain teaching jobs abroad. As an increasing number of Asian countries are recognizing English as an official language or the importance of the language on a global level, the demand for English speaking teachers is rising every year. Additionally, teaching in Asia means receiving salaries that rank among some of the highest in the world, making it a great place to kickstart your career teaching English abroad!
There are teaching jobs for international teachers in over 20 countries across Asia! But, the most popular locations for teaching in Asia, which provide the most options for English speaking teachers especially, are Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and China.
One of the biggest benefits of teaching in Thailand is the ability to gain certifications while completing teaching placements. While qualifications to teach internationally vary—and sometimes are not strictly regulated—there are lots of certification programs housed in Thailand for teachers to pick up specialties and certificates on the fly. Historically, teachers have been attracted to Thailand for the flexible lifestyle and ability to teach in multiple environments around the country.
South Korea offers perhaps the most competitive pay for teaching jobs, and often housing as part basic teaching contracts too. Japan is also known for high teacher salaries, although the cost of living is quite a bit higher. Both of these Asian countries are known to have more regimented and predictable schedules for teaching jobs too.
Due to its rapid comeback over the past two decades, Vietnam has lots of opportunities for teaching English abroad, primarily in urban settings working with both young students and adults.
China offers a blend of benefits and drawbacks associated with teaching abroad. Salaries are very standard and the visa application process can be quite complicated. That being said, the cost of living is quite low and teachers can normally expect adequate vacation time to travel extensively. Teachers are very respected in China and are frequently hired by private families and businessmen to offer additional tutoring, which are both great advantages of teaching in China.
Teaching Abroad in Asia
Most teaching jobs in Asia are in the area of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). This field does not require teachers know much about the local language of the country, in fact most schools prefer you don’t, although a TESOL or TEFL certificate is recommended. Many TEFL programs in Asia offer training in country and then help participants find a teaching job in Asia after certification.
Private tutoring is a very popular type of teaching in Asia. Many families are interested in hiring native english speakers to tutor the whole family, or just the children, for a few hours each afternoon. Most of these placements focus on English language lessons and require teachers to work for a few hours each afternoon, while accommodation is often provided with the family.
Teachers may also find placements in classroom instruction. From teaching young kids all the way to pre-college classes, there are a variety of options to teach abroad in Asia in traditional classroom settings. Many of these teaching jobs in Asia require teachers to work a few hours, three to four days a week, depending on the school and needs of the community.
A growing trend in international education is teaching English abroad by providing basic English lessons to business professionals. This is a very popular practice in Asia, especially, as well as a very lucrative field. Contracts for teaching English in Asia to businessmen and women range from part-time meetings, to well over 40 hours each week. You may work on pronunciation skills at call centers or give vocabulary lessons to executives in logistics or international trade companies.
Regardless of if you are teaching in Asia for 10 hours each week or over 40, most foreign teachers are expected to commit for a set period of time (typically ranging from four months to two or three years). Most teachers can expect to have three to four day weekends, and often receive a month or two off in both the summer and winter if teaching in traditional academic settings.
Salary & Costs
Generally speaking, salaries for teaching jobs in Asia are quite high compared to Europe or South America. The cost of living is also usually quite low and affordable for most Westerners too, though there is some variation between countries.
More developed countries, like Japan and South Korea, offer higher salaries, but the cost of living is also higher. Countries such as China offer very average salaries, typically $1,500 to $3,000, but provide a lower cost of living. Salaries in less developed countries, such as Thailand, Vietnam, or even India, will fall on the lower end of this spectrum but every dollar will go much further.
Most countries prefer to hire teachers in country rather than prior to arrival (although this does vary based on visa regulations and cultural preferences). Therefore, it is a good idea to save up some money to support yourself for the first week or two before you begin teaching English abroad. Emergency funds for housing, food, and unexpected trips home should be set aside before starting any professional teaching career abroad though.
Accommodation & Visas
Depending on the country you choose to teach English abroad in, accommodations may or may not be provided for you. Generally, if you are willing to commit to a multi-month or several year contract, the host school will include accommodation as part of job (although this is not true of all placements or countries). If accommodations are not provided with your teaching job in Asia, it is usually easy to find housing within a few days of arriving in country.
Apartments will be the most common style of housing, especially when it is provided as part of a teaching position. Generally speaking, apartments in Asia are much smaller than most Westerners are accustomed to. Beds are typically small and mattresses are often hard and simple. The bathroom may or may not be located within the unit, and the toilet will likely not be what you are used to.
In the same way, your host school may or may not be able to assist you in obtaining a visa to teach in Asia legally. In most countries, a work visa is required of international teachers. Each country in Asia has different visa rules, ranging from very strict to fairly flexible. Typically a work visa requires a sponsorship from an employer that has already hired you. In some countries, you may be able to enter on a tourist visa and change to a work visa while in-country. Other countries will require that you secure sponsorship prior to arriving. It’s important to research the customs and laws of your destination before deciding where to teach in Asia.
Benefits & Challenges
- Opportunity: Individuals who teach abroad in Asia, specifically English teachers, make some of the highest salaries in the field of education. It can be a very successful career for many people, with ample opportunities to make a lifelong international career.
- Cultural Differences: Life in the East can be different than most Westerners expect. From squat toilets to monkey brain soup, first time travelers might be pushed to extremes jumping into an immersive experience like teaching abroad in Asia.
- Travel: Teaching in Asia will provide a steady income so teachers will most likely be able to travel while teaching abroad. Without the expense of a trans-oceanic flight, and the flexible schedule of teaching english abroad, many international teachers are able to visit multiple countries and interact with many cultures during their international teaching job.