The 11 Countries Paying the Highest Salaries for Teaching Abroad

If you’re interested in living abroad, you might be considering teaching ESL as a way to fund your travels. 

Teaching English abroad can be incredibly lucrative, as well as a great way to see the world. However, not every country promises teachers lavish salaries. 

Want to know where you should move to if you want an incredible experience and a paycheck that lets you pay back your student loans?

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Read this guide to find out more about the countries paying the highest salaries for teaching abroad, and how much you can potentially save in each.

Earn Over  $ 4000 for Teaching Abroad: The Best 11 Countries

Why a Teacher’s Salary Matters

If you’ve just graduated or have never lived abroad before, you might have questions about what an adequate salary looks like, and whether a high salary is more important than having a wonderful experience or not. 

These questions are important, and you need to take a good look at your finances and priorities in order to answer them.

So…why exactly is YOUR salary so important?

Your salary is important because it’s a reward for your hard work, and because you literally need money to, you know, live. 

You may also want a good salary to pay for extra expenses you’ll rack up when you’re living abroad: visa fees, plane flights, and more. 

It’s of course also important to save for the future, which is hard to do if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. 

If you’re trying to pay back student loans or other debt, or if you want to travel a lot or just live a more luxurious lifestyle, you should probably try to make a higher salary so that you don’t have to worry so much. 

However, if you don’t need a lot of money to live and are financially secure (i.e. have no debt or obligations), you can live somewhere you’ll make a lower salary if you prefer the lifestyle there to elsewhere. 

Factors to Consider When Comparing Salaries

You may be scrolling through job postings shocked at the disparity in pay between different countries and schools. 

However, you can’t just land on the place with the highest salary and assume that’s the best deal. 

There are three other factors to consider when you’re looking at your finances:

Your Cost of Living

It’s important to remember that the cost of living varies drastically depending on where in the world you are, which will, of course, impact how far your salary goes. 

How high of a salary you need also depends on your lifestyle and general expenses, as well as whether you plan on saving for the future or paying back student loans. 

The Benefits Your Job Gives You

Some jobs include benefits like housing, airfare, health insurance, and more. 

These perks may drastically impact how much money you need to spend and can make up for a lower salary because they save you a lot of money.

Your Workload

Some jobs require their teachers to work more hours, which will result in a higher salary but preclude other opportunities to make money or enjoy your life. 

Would you rather get paid $4,000 a month to work 60 hours a week or get paid $1,000 a month to work 20 hours a week and have time left over for private tutoring and getting to know your city?

Take your workload into account when you’re looking at how much money different places offer teachers.

Countries Paying the Highest Salaries for Teaching Abroad: Ranked by Number

Here’s the breakdown of how much you can earn — and save — in each of the 11 countries paying the highest salaries for teaching English abroad, ordered from highest to lowest possible savings

CountryPossible Monthly EarningsPossible Monthly Savings
Saudi Arabia$2,600-$5,000$4,300
United Arab Emirates$2,700-$4,200$3,400
South Korea$1,500-$3,000$2,000
Hong Kong$2,300-$3,200$900

Keep in mind that these numbers are rough estimates based on averages.

As we’ve briefly mentioned, it’s important to keep in mind that the specifics of your monthly finances will vary widely based on a number of factors, including the following:

  • Whether you live in a big city or somewhere more rural
  • Whether you’re an experienced teacher or not
  • What kind of benefits package your school offers

Your lifestyle will also impact your cost of living pretty drastically: if you eat out a lot, buy new clothes often, and enjoy vacationing, you’ll spend a lot more than you would if you stayed home eating microwave ramen every day. 

The costs of living in this article include rent unless otherwise noted. All dollar amounts are listed in USD.

Read on to find out which country makes the most sense financially for you to teach in! 


If you’re a native English speaker, the surest way to land a job teaching English abroad is in Asia

Not only are there an abundance of ESL positions to be found on this beautiful continent for ESL teachers at every stage in their career, but most of the countries in Asia offer a healthy balance of modernity, traditional culture, and amenities to suit your lifestyle. 

This continent has incredible food, breathtaking nature, and innovative tech. If you are only teaching in Asia to make money, then you are missing out on what it truly has to offer. 

While you will battle through days of inevitable homesickness and isolation, living in Asia is an incredible experience. 

Here is a breakdown of what you can expect to make in some of the most popular — and lucrative — teaching destinations in Asia.


Overview: TEFL Jobs in China
Monthly Salary$1,100-$3,000
Monthly Living Cost$800-$1,200
Possible Monthly Savings$2,200
Typical RequirementsTEFL certificate; Passport from an English-speaking country; Bachelor’s degree

China is huge: it contains over 18% of the world’s population, and it’s the second-largest country by area. It also has a seriously booming ESL market. 

This is all to say that opportunities are endless in China, but also that you can find all kinds of jobs, and all kinds of living situations, here. 

If you live in a Tier-1 city like Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, or Guangzhou, you’ll find that your salary — and the cost of living — is significantly higher than it would be in other places. 

Location isn’t the only factor that will affect your financials, though: you’ll find that some schools pay lower salaries but offer teachers lots of money-saving benefits like two meals a day and accommodations on the school’s campus (or a housing stipend). 

Many schools even cover the cost of your visa, airfare, and more!

You’ll also find that private and international schools tend to offer higher salaries (and have higher requirements for teachers), while public schools offer lower salaries but more benefits. 

Training center salaries vary, but they tend not to offer benefits like housing or meals to teachers.

Read our comprehensive guide to find out everything you need to know about teaching English in China!

South Korea

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple in Busan, South Korea
Overview: TEFL Jobs in South Korea
Monthly Salary$1,500-$3,000
Monthly Living Cost$1,000-$2,000
Possible Monthly Savings$2,000
Typical RequirementsTEFL certificate; Passport from an English-speaking country; Bachelor’s degree

Location and experience will both affect your salary in South Korea. Experienced teachers can make over $1,000 a month more than inexperienced teachers. 

Experienced teachers are also more likely to be able to find work in Seoul, where the cost of living is higher, but there’s a world of things to do. 

If you live outside of Seoul, you’ll probably make a lower salary, but your expenses will be much lower than they would be in the city.

Many schools in South Korea provide good benefits, including reimbursing teachers for airfare and providing housing or a housing stipend. It’s also common for schools in South Korea to provide teachers with subsidized healthcare. 

You should factor these benefits (or lack thereof) when calculating your salary and expenses in South Korea, because big-ticket items like housing make a huge difference when you’re figuring out your budget. 

Read our guide to teaching ESL in South Korea for more information on what it’s like to apply for jobs and live here.


Mount Fuji, Japan
Overview: TEFL Jobs in Japan
Monthly Salary$2,000-$3,500
Monthly Living Cost$900-$2,500
Possible Monthly Savings$2,600
Typical RequirementsTEFL certificate; Passport from an English-speaking country; Bachelor’s degree

You can make a pretty decent salary in Japan, especially if you’re a seasoned teacher. You may also get benefits like a housing stipend and reimbursement for airfare if you have teaching experience and land a good job.

If you’re less experienced, though, you may find yourself working long hours to make ends meet. 

It’s important to check whether your school covers housing or not, because rent can get pretty expensive in Tokyo and other big cities. 

Where you live also matters, as costs that are reasonable in less population-dense areas can get pretty exorbitant in Tokyo. And keep in mind that Japan has one of the highest costs of living in the world. 

Don’t let that discourage you, though! 

If you keep track of your finances and live modestly, it’s definitely possible to teach and live here more than comfortably.

For more information about teaching English in Japan, check out our comprehensive guide.


Taipei by night
Overview: TEFL Jobs in Taiwan
Monthly Salary$1,800-$2,700
Monthly Living Cost$1,200-$1,200
Possible Monthly Savings$1,500
Typical RequirementsTEFL certificate; Passport from an English-speaking country; Bachelor’s degree

While salaries are lower in Taiwan than in neighboring China and Japan, the cost of living is lower here, too.

If you have teaching experience you can make upwards of $3,000 per month teaching at a training center here, but otherwise you’ll probably make a lower salary (and have more time off). 

Some but not all schools in Taiwan offer benefits like annual bonuses, airfare, and housing. 

Double-check to find out what your planned place of work does and doesn’t offer when calculating your budget. 

Taiwan is probably not the place to go if you’re trying to save up as much money as possible, but if you’re in the market for delicious street food, a laidback lifestyle, and lots of adventure (along with a healthy salary), this just might be the destination for you.

Use our comprehensive country guide to find out about teaching English in Taiwan.


Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Overview: TEFL Jobs in Vietnam
Monthly Salary$1,500-$2,000
Monthly Living Cost$800-$1,200
Possible Monthly Savings$1,200
Typical RequirementsTEFL certificate; Passport from an English-speaking country; Bachelor’s degree

While salaries in Vietnam are lower than in some other places, the cost of living is also pretty low here, making Vietnam a dark horse entry in this list. 

An influx of foreign teachers in recent years is making the job market more competitive, meaning that it might be hard to find work in Vietnam if you don’t have qualifications like a TEFL certificate, a bachelor’s degree, and a passport from an English-speaking country. 

But if you do meet the qualifications, you’ll still be able to find work here easily, and you’ll find a great expat network — especially in bigger cities like Hanoi. 

Housing or a housing stipend is sometimes included for teachers in Vietnam, but other benefits like airfare or healthcare are rarely provided.

Read our primer on teaching ESL in Vietnam to find out more about what it’s really like to live and teach here. 

Hong Kong

Street Life of Hong Kong
Photo: Arnie Chou
Overview: TEFL Jobs in Hong Kong
Monthly Salary$2,300-$3,200
Monthly Living Cost$2,300-$4,000
Possible Monthly Savings$900
Typical RequirementsTEFL certificate; Bachelor’s degree

Hong Kong is expensive. So expensive, in fact, that Mercer’s Cost of Living survey ranked it the most expensive city for expats in the world in 2019. However, with the high price tag comes a high paycheck. 

As long as you have a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate, you’ll be able to find some kind of ESL job here — probably at a private school or a language learning center.

You’ll need a teaching certificate and some teaching experience to get a job at a university. The barrier for entry comes with some pretty sweet benefits, though, including paychecks of up to $7,400 per month and other benefits. 

Housing is pretty expensive in Hong Kong, but there are a number of schools that offer housing stipends, along with other benefits like covering the cost of your visa and airfare and performance bonuses.

Many teachers who work at private schools or language centers in Hong Kong only work 20-30 hours a week, leaving them time to work a second job like private tutoring and earn some extra money.

If you work hard and are careful with your money, you can earn quite a bit of money teaching in Hong Kong. 

If you love keeping up with the Joneses, though, you might find it difficult to keep your purse strings shut when you see all the opulent wealth and designer brands people have here. 

The Middle East

Many expats flock to the Middle East to teach English because there are so many high-paying jobs here. Oh, and the Middle East is entirely tax-free, which saves you both money and red tape!

While it’s true that you can make quite a bit of money teaching in the Middle East, not every job is ridiculously high paying here. 

Schools in the UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait tend to offer pretty generous salaries, while schools in Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, and Turkey offer teachers more modest compensation. 

Do your research to find out which jobs pay — and which pay in experience. 

With that said, let’s dig into the financials of teaching in the Middle East. 

Saudi Arabia

Photo: Yasmine Arfaoui
Overview: TEFL Jobs in Saudi Arabia
Monthly Salary$2,600-$5,000
Monthly Living Cost$700-$2,000
Possible Monthly Savings$4,300
Typical RequirementsTEFL certificate; Passport from an English-speaking country; Bachelor’s degree; Two years or more of teaching experience

You can make a super good living in Saudi Arabia, and schools often provide airfare, accommodations, healthcare, paid vacation time, and other benefits to teachers — on top of a generous salary. 

Oh, and did we mention that your salary is entirely tax-free here?

Even with a higher cost of living, you’ll make it out of Saudi Arabia with a healthy bank account unless you’re living a totally lavish lifestyle — especially since drinking, movies, and other wallet-draining activities are banned here. 

For the really high-paying jobs you’ll need a master’s in English or another similar degree. 

However, you can get a relatively high-paying job even as a teacher near the beginning of your career in Saudi Arabia, so long as you’re a native English speaker with TEFL certification, 2 years of experience, and a 4-year degree. 

If you want further information, look into our guide to teaching English in Saudi Arabia.

United Arab Emirates

The Dubai skyline
Overview: TEFL Jobs in the UAE
Monthly Salary$2,700-$4,200
Monthly Living Cost$800-$1,200
Possible Monthly Savings$3,400
Typical RequirementsTEFL certificate; Passport from an English-speaking country; Bachelor’s degree; Two years or more of teaching experience

Teachers love the UAE because schools pay well and the culture is pretty Westernized, making the lifestyle here easy and comfortable. 

While you can make a good salary in the UAE even if you’re a relatively new teacher, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree, TEFL certification, two years or more of teaching experience, and a passport from a native English-speaking country to find work here. 

You’ll also have an easier time finding work (and a higher salary) if you have more extensive teaching experience and a teaching certificate in your home country. Even better if you have a master’s in the subject you’re teaching!

If you do qualify to teach in the UAE, you’ll find yourself with not only a high salary but also benefits like free housing, healthcare, and airfare as well as generous paid time off each year. And you can supplement your salary with pretty lucrative private tutoring here, to boot!

When you’re looking for work, it’s a good idea to prioritize jobs that provide housing or a housing stipend, because rent can get astronomically high here. 

Our guide to teaching English in the United Arab Emirates (Dubai) will give you all the info you need. 


A road in Oman
Photo: Katerina Kerdi
Overview: TEFL Jobs in Oman
Monthly Salary$1,600-$3,500
Monthly Living Cost$700-$1,500
Possible Monthly Savings$2,800
Typical RequirementsTEFL certificate; Passport from an English-speaking country; Bachelor’s degree; Two years or more of teaching experience

As in other Middle Eastern countries, there are no taxes in Oman. This is a huge boon for you because it means your salary goes a long way. 

Most teaching jobs in Oman also include housing stipends or accommodations, which saves you quite a bit that you’d be spending on rent otherwise.

That’s not all, though. Many schools in Oman offer a number of other benefits, too, including airfare, performance bonuses, and even free tuition for your children if you have any. 

If you’re serious about teaching and already have some experience, Oman is a great place to save up some money while you see a whole new side of the world.


Oil refinery in Kuwait
Photo: Nasser Almutairi
Overview: TEFL Jobs in Kuwait
Monthly Salary$2,600-$4,000
Monthly Living Cost$650-$1,200
Possible Monthly Savings$3,350
Typical RequirementsTEFL certificate; Passport from an English-speaking country; Bachelor’s degree; Two years or more of teaching experience

Kuwait has a pretty competitive market for ESL teachers right now, so it’s preferable to have a master’s degree if you want a high-paying job here. 

Most jobs here offer pretty generous benefits packages including airfare, performance bonuses, housing or housing stipends, and more. You may even get airfare and other benefits for any dependents you bring with you.

Like in Saudi Arabia, the consumption of alcohol is prohibited in Kuwait. While this might put a damper on your social life, it may also help you save more of your paycheck.

Come to Kuwait if you’re a licensed teacher looking for a taste of the Arab world — and a healthy paycheck to boot.


Photo: Florian Wehde
Overview: TEFL Jobs in Qatar
Monthly Salary$1,800-$4,000
Monthly Living Cost$800-$2,100
Possible Monthly Savings$3,200
Typical RequirementsTEFL certificate; Passport from an English-speaking country; Bachelor’s degree; Two years or more of teaching experience

Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world and it has a giant expat population, so you’ll find all the amenities you’re used to at home here, as well as all the cultural appeal of the Middle East.

Teachers here routinely get a number of enviable benefits, including housing, airfare, and health insurance. Schools also often offer benefits to teachers’ family members. 

However, the job market is pretty competitive in Qatar, so these cushy jobs go fast.

You’ll be much more likely to find work in Qatar if you have a master’s in teaching, but if you have two years or more of teaching experience you may be able to find a job.

Other Regions

You might have noticed that Europe and Latin America aren’t included on this list. Why? The truth is, you’ll have a harder time saving a sizeable amount of money in these parts of the world. 

While you may be able to amass some decent savings in some parts of Europe if you have teaching experience, you’ll generally find that the difference between salary and cost of living in both Europe and Latin America is smaller than it is in the Middle East or Asia. 

What does this mean? 

Less money for you at the end of the day.  

So if you’re really trying to make the big bucks — and save a good portion of your salary — you’ll find the best luck in the countries we’ve mentioned above.


Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

You can make a pretty decent salary if you teach in Western or Northern Europe, but your cost of living will be pretty high, meaning that it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to save much unless you’re super scrappy. 

If you’re a certified teacher, you can make upwards of $4,000 teaching in countries like Ireland, Finland, and Iceland. However, the cost of living is relatively high in all these places, so unless you get a generous benefits package from your school you’ll be unlikely to save a sizeable amount.

There’s a high demand for English teachers in Central and Eastern European countries like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Hungary. You’ll make between $800 and $2,000 a month in these countries, roughly speaking. 

The cost of living is low, meaning you’ll be able to live comfortably, but you won’t necessarily make enough to take a good chunk of money home. 

Latin America

Rio de Janeiro

Many countries in Latin America pay teachers salaries somewhere in the general range of $1,000 per month, though you can make as little as $300 a month in poorer countries like Nicaragua. And in richer countries like Brazil, you can make as much as $1,500 a month.

Pretty much every country in Latin America pays a salary that’s not too far off from the cost of living, so while you won’t lose money teaching in this region you’re unlikely to save up enough to bring earnings back home with you. 

Teaching in Latin America is most definitely worth it for the experience, but don’t come here expecting to get rich.

How Much Money Can I Make Teaching ESL from Home?

If you want to teach English to get rich quick, you’d be far better off going to the Middle East or Asia than looking for jobs in an English-speaking country. 

However, if you’re interested in teaching ESL to help people out or to supplement your income, you’ll find options wherever you live.

There are jobs in English-speaking countries that can be totally rewarding, but they generally aren’t extremely lucrative. 

Use Google to search for opportunities to teach refugees and immigrants in your hometown if you’re interested in giving back to the community.

If you live in the United States, see our guide to teaching ESL in the USA to find out more about what your options here are.

The most lucrative options for teaching ESL in North America and Western Europe are private tutoring and teaching online.

Read on to find out a little bit more about each option:

Private Tutoring

If you’d like to do private tutoring and have some teaching experience, you can easily make at least $50-$100 an hour conducting one-on-one sessions. 

You’ll earn more if you have a teaching certificate or are able to help students prepare for English exams like the TOEFL or IELTS. 

You’ll need to find clients and devise your own lesson plans in order to get your business off the ground, but the initial output will be worth it once you’ve figured out your schedule and put in the initial labor of designing curriculums.

If you have children (or friends with children), you can reach out to parents at their schools to find clients. You can also use platforms like Nextdoor to advertise your services.

Many people use platforms like Varsity Tutors to find clients, too. These services give you tools that help you teach and plan lessons, but beware that they do keep a chunk of your paycheck. 

Online Teaching

If you’re interested in teaching through a web platform rather than in a classroom, teaching ESL online is a great option! 

If you design your own curriculum and create your own online tutoring business, you can easily charge students more than $50 an hour. If you teach through a company like VIPKID, you can earn up to $22 per hour

Our guide to teaching ESL online gives you all the info you need to figure out what kind of setup will work for you, and how to get started teaching today!

The Requirements for Teaching ESL from Home

Just like if you were teaching abroad, you’ll be more in demand and earn a higher paycheck if you have a master’s degree in teaching, previous experience teaching ESL, or other relevant qualifications. 

A TEFL course will also make you a more attractive candidate and will give you teaching strategies that are extra useful if you’ve never taught before.

How Can You Increase Your Salary?

There aren’t really any quick and dirty ways to get a higher salary, but if you’re looking for jobs in a higher pay scale than you’re currently in, there are a few things you can do to try to get better jobs.

Quick Tips for Increasing Your Salary

  1. Get TEFL certified
  2. Show off
  3. Get a foot in the door
  4. Get a teaching certificate

1. Get TEFL Certified

The quickest and most effective thing you can do to increase your salary is to get TEFL certified if you aren’t already. 

Although it’s possible to get ESL teaching jobs without TEFL certification, the vast majority of employers require teachers to be certified, and even the ones that don’t prefer teachers who’ve received certification.

If you’re not sure which TEFL course is right for you (or don’t even know where to start looking), use our primer on online TEFL certification to find a TEFL course that fits your budget and goals.

2. Show Off

If you don’t believe you deserve a high-paying job, guess what: you probably won’t get one. If you advocate for yourself and sell people on your strengths, however, they’ll start believing in you — and you’ll start believing in yourself, too.

How do you show off? 

Use your experience to your advantage:

Maybe you haven’t been a classroom teacher before, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have any experience teaching. 

Have you ever been a camp counselor? A private tutor? The leader of a club or organization? Don’t discount the experience you do have with education and childcare just because you don’t think it’s the experience you should have. 

Update your resume to reflect your accomplishments, and talk about them — and why they’re relevant — in interviews. 

Schools will be more confident in you if you believe in yourself and showcase your talents.

Be assertive:

In order to get a higher salary, you need to believe that you deserve one and go after the jobs you really want.

That means reaching out to schools you’d like to work at by email and phone, talking yourself up in interviews, and not giving up even if you get rejected by school after school. 

3. Get a Foot in the Door

Having connections is always helpful. If you know someone who’s teaching somewhere you’d like to work, reach out to them and have them put in a good word for you. 

Or ask your friends who work at nice schools whether there are any openings. 

Having someone who knows you personally advocate for you makes a huge difference when you’re trying to get a job, and is one of the fastest ways to get an interview somewhere. 

4. Get a Teaching Certificate

If you’re really committed to teaching for the long haul, go back to school and get your master’s degree or teaching certificate. 

Having the right qualifications will put you in a whole new league of job opportunities, and the cost and time you put in will pay back manyfold.

Key Takeaways

  • When you’re comparing teaching jobs, remember that you can’t just look at the salary offered. You should also consider the following factors to determine how much money you’ll actually be saving:
    • Your cost of living
    • The benefits the school offers
    • Your workload
  • Many jobs in the Middle East are only available to teachers with 2 years or more of experience
    • If you’re an inexperienced teacher, you can still find high-paying jobs in Asia
  • The easiest way to get a higher salary is to get TEFL certified — Our guide to online TEFL courses can help you find the right program for you

Last Thoughts

After reading this list, which country would you most like to teach in? 

Let us know in the comments below!

We’d also love to hear from you if you have any information you want to add to the list or feel that any of the numbers here are inaccurate, or if you have any general questions or comments.  

And remember: the numbers here are general averages, and there are exceptions to these salary ranges. 

If you’re considering teaching English abroad, the biggest thing to remember is that money isn’t the only thing worth considering. Make sure to take what kind of life you want to live into consideration before you jump into a job. 

Read our top list of the best places to teach English abroad.

But no matter wherever you end up, you’re sure to have a good time and create lasting memories!

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2 thoughts on “The 11 Countries Paying the Highest Salaries for Teaching Abroad”

  1. Avatar

    Hi, nice post….I enjoy Vietnam and have a good life, but always wanted to teach in Taiwan also. I agree regarding South and Latin America: great lifestyle but low wages.
    I miss Mexican food so much!

    If I was starting over I’d teach in every country for one year! That being said, each year a teacher remains in one city, their network, income, and social experience improve.

    1. Avatar

      Hi Kevin,

      Yeah, I think I feel the same way. There are so many awesome places to go and see. How many countries have you taught in so far?

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