Highest Paid ESL Jobs Around the World

Teaching Kimchi dot Com has provided a rough idea of how much money you can make teaching English around the world. Of course this chart doesn’t take into account standards of living or each individual specialized program please just take this as a rough estimate on what you can be making teaching ESL or EFL. These salaries are much different than the average teacher salary you’d find in America.

Country Monthly Salary (USD) Insurance Flight Housing Severance
Dubai $3,200-5,000 No Yearly Return Airfare Free and Furnished No
Taiwan $3,000-4,000 Depends on program No Free not furnished No
Korea $2,000-2,300 Depends on your salary Roundtrip Furnished Apt. One month salary after contract
Japan $2,000 Depends on program Roundtrip Depends on program Extended holidays
Thailand $800-1,000 Depends on program Roundtrip Depends on program Depends on school
Russia $900 No Roundtrip Free and furnished No
China $400-550 No Depends on length Free and furnished One month salary
Vietnam $370 Depends Depends on length Free local food No


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  • Johnny Hotrocket

    I question Taiwan’s entry at #2. I worked there for a couple of years, so I have a bit of knowledge related to teaching salaries there. I know a few people who managed to make that much, but they were not working under typical circumstances. For the most part, teaching positions there will make a bit less than positions in South Korea. That’s why I moved from Taiwan to South Korea two years ago… If you don’t believe me, go to Dave’s ESL and check out the average salary yourself.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Heidi

    the figures you give for Japan and Korea are low. I taught in Japan seven years ago and made $36,000 teaching Egnlish in jr. high with fully furnished apt and other perks. In Korea I started at 2,450,000 at a hogwan since I have a teaching cert.
    I don’t know about the other places, but if you have a degree in English or ed. I am sure you can negotiate for more or benefits.

  • http://www.esldaily.org Korea Jim

    Taiwan actually pays about half of that as Korea, it’s cheaper to live. Some schools do pay more, however they need the teacher to have experience in Taiwan. I have a friend of mine in Dubai who is getting about $3000 US a month. It is very difficult to find a job that pays more than $4000 unless you have your PhD. Japan pays about $3000 USD but you must find your own housing. I worked in Thailand for a year, 3 years ago at an international school. I was paid about $1500 a month, but I know people who got more. China now pays more like $750 now. There money is increasing and pay is rising, but depends on where you live. Vietnam, not too sure but I have heard of people getting over $1000 a month.

  • Austin

    Salaries in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam are now around 1,500 to 2,000 USD. While it is growing… this is still a very poor country. The reason why salaries is so high compared to the weath of the country is that demand is so much more then supply… as more teachers move here salaries could drop.

    Everything I know about Taiwan… the above salaries seem to be way to high?

  • Jax

    I’ve been living and working Korea for the last 4 years. In the beginning, at the first place I worked at, I managed to make a staggering 1000/month. (I almost went home after a few months) But, I talked a few insiders at the larger more respected institutions and I decided to hop change where I worked. Involved a visa change, but it did pay off. I work a lot now, probably about 8 hours a day 5 days a week. and I teach classes non-stop, about 10 a day. I make a steady 6 million per month (=$6,000 / month) now, which has been my average for the last 2 years or so. Also, almost my entire team of teachers make this much. I know the smaller hogwons don’t offer a lot, but for anyone wanting to teach in Korea, I suggest you look around AFTER you get here. there are a lot of jobs that pay as much as the job I have here. In fact, Korean teachers make even more, some of them make a mind-blowing $50,000/month (yes, DOLLARS) without even speaking english that well. Anyway, 6,000 is still more than I made back home, so… just my thoughts on the subject.

  • Lindsey

    Jax, what qualifications do you have that you’re earning 6000 a month? I want to go teach in Korea that’s why and I just want to see if I qualify..

  • Chris

    I have worked in the Gulf for a number of years. I can speak for both Bahrain and Dubai and say that everyone I knew working in the private school and private university sytem got free medical insurance from their employer and anywhere from half a month to one full month indemnity for each year completed.

  • guy in China

    It’s seems that all of your salary figures are way off. I’m currently in China and I’m getting more than $2000 US per month here. I’m on the higher end. If you’re in a major city like Shanghai, Beijing, or Shenzhen you can get that if you have a little experience, a Bachelor’s, and a certification. The smaller cities pay between $750 up to about $1500. the cost of living in China is very low so even $750 can get you by. I’ve never heard of a ESL job here that pays less than 5000 RMB or $750.

  • joanna

    Seeking advice between South Korea and Bahrain and Dubai and other surrounding countries. I have many friends that are in SK and are loving it but I hear the pay is triple in the middle east. I really love teachiing and want to eventually pursue a phd in educ admin but at the moment I need to focus on salary as I have debt from a business that I had to close in this economy. I have a B.Comm and a Masters in management and have only taught Eng in Canada p/t to gov’t employees and I am Cdn. Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

  • Glenda

    Hi Jax
    I am considering teaching English in Korea, only I am currently running a tv agency in Queensland and earning a high salary. So in order to work in Korea I would need to be making between 30K Aud and 50k aud per month.
    My main strengths is literature..I have not taught at high school level..only prep to grades 6 but have a Graduate Diploma in Social Science (4 years university level) and part of the course involved an element of migrant education. I also have tesol qualifications.I have also taught Indonesian here in Australia and published language books and teacher manuals.but I have not taught since 1996
    Do you have any suggestions. I don’t know where to start. I just know that the advertised jobs 2.5 mil won is no where near enough to support my expenses here in OZ whilst I am OS…. I realize it is not all about money…but I have to be realistic. I have been involved in media for 10 years so my skills are very scattered….. I would appreciate any feedback, contacts, ideas that you may have when you have time to respond. I was thinking March 2010….
    cheers Glenda

  • Korean foreigner

    Jax is full of $hit.

    i know tons of friends teaching english in korea, many of whom have been there for at least 4 years.

    nobody makes 6000/month, not even tenured professors.

    any random stranger can make an anonymous post that reads, “I make 10,000 a month and so all my friends!” always obey the maxim: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

  • Chris

    With a Masters Degree in the Gulf (Bahrain, Qatar, Dubai, etc) it is possible to earn a much higher salary for ESL/EFl than the author is suggesting (albeit housing has been calculated separately) . I am currently earning $7000 US/month (including housing allowance), receive full medical insurance including dental, yearly return airfare, yearly indemnity (bonus), professional development stipend, etc. etc. This is not unique for the region or all that new. There is no better place to pay off student loans or build equity!

  • Kay

    I am not a US citizen but I do speak native like English. Would I be hired by schools outside the US like S. Korea, Gulf Area, or China? I have lived in the US for 18 years. I have an MA in Linguistics from the US, 14 years of teaching ESL and coordinating an ESL program of a school district. I have also taught ESL to refugee students under the umbrella of UNHCR. Total number of teaching ESL – 26 years.

  • Sam

    I agree with Chris – the Gulf is the place for making real money in EFL. Usually, the employer will at least pay for housing, transport, medical insurance and visa fees. The salary is also tax-free. I’m going there to pay off my student loans while learning Arabic! :-)

  • Vannessa

    Chris, please tell me more. I want to teach ESL oversees.

  • Richard

    I’ve been teaching in Australia for a couple of years now, teaching in EFL programmes at a university. Last year I was paid $80,015 before tax. I don’t think you can do better than that.


    Teaching salaries in China have increased the last few years. I teach in Shanghai and make a little over 2,000dollars a month/120hrs per month. Honestly this is sad but any native Englsih speaker, regardless of BA or TEFL cert can come here,live well and save money. They don’t do background checks in Shanghai when applying for jobs and when applying for a visa it is far too easy to fake a diploma. Any go getter can make a decent living in China, the economy is very strong. Plenty of job opportunities. Average salary for a full-time teacher in Shanghai is 10,000rmb. Most expats take a part time job as well making around 200rmb /hr. You can make a good amount of money in the larger cities in China. More than you may imagine

  • http://www.happycatstefl.com TEFL Jobs GuRu

    I dont see how thats possible earning that much in Korea when you only get around 2000/month in the US. I cant see the logic.

  • http://www.happycatstefl.com TEFL Jobs GuRu

    It wont submit my comment grrrrrrrr.

  • jasongoes

    I took a job in the gulf and they promised $3,000 a month but after arriving they now say they can only pay $1,500. many who arrived are leaving because of this dirty trick. I\’ve a Master\’s in English and 8 yrs of experience. This was a waste of time

  • jasongoes

    Chris which country are you in? Teaching what for that salary?

  • Saudijobhunter

    Jasongoes, which company/school was that with? I’ve just been offered a job in Saudi for $3000 a month (plus accomodation etc).

  • tneveca

    Why on earth would someone want to travel across the world to make $1000 a month? Canadian welfare pays roughly that much. Even $2000 a month here is minimum wage. You people are pathetic.

  • Hannah

    Good article. I think you’re way off with the salaries in Vietnam. I teach at a language school in Hanoi and everyone I know earns at least $20/hr some $30/hr. The average monthly is more like $2000.

  • sam

    @tneveca, maybe because certain people prefer to do something worthwhile with their lives rather than living like leeches on state welfare.

  • Keith Crownover

    As a US citizen, what are the tax consequences? Are salaries paid using US SS #? If so, is there the alternative for working as an Independent Contractor?

  • Zimmer

    Obviously, the numbers are years old at this point, and so off base, but for the discussion they’re useful (anyone for an updated graph with variables?)
    sam – great comment
    and to Kieth, there’s an 85kUSD threshold.
    Filing the form 2555 explains it.

    have a nice day
    (from korea)
    Also, I should say, in 2012, I’m seeing about 2grand usd, but ship home more than half of that to loans, or use it for trips. living off welfare in canada or the states still keeps you at the whim of the market there, which requires soooo much more.
    And I also lived and worked in Vietnam, where 20$ per hour was fairly easy to find, and 25 or so was easy for those with usTeaching certificates.
    When rent is 200 a month, and food is a dollar or three a plate, it’s a different scale… To be considered.

    Happy trails!

  • Lisa

    Hi Considering getting out of poverty rut with two small children in tow. What would the situation be for a woman alone travelling and teaching with two snall children? Would some countries not allow me in or would this create problems? Esp Dubai, Middle East? What about babysitting? Has anybody experience of this or creche care, or schools and after school care if necessary? Any info be good, esp for Dubai, Mid East or Australia. IN Australia, TEFL in Unis would be good to know more about how to get into this. Many years teaching efl and esl abroad, postgrad certs, main honours degree English, but not taught since had children much due to income and cost of babysitting. Thanks for any info on these areas and for babysitting info.

  • Joe West

    The salary of about 800-1000 is about right for Thailand, but it’s rare that a company will pay for flight or housing. If you have a masters in English, maybe. Not worth your time less you prefer adventure over money.

  • Ryan

    Hi all…

    Whoever said about welfare in Canada being around $1000 so why leave? You’re crazy. As a single person in MB you get $313 towards rent and $283 towards food. That’s it. That doesn’t go far and leaves you living in the hood and usually having to do other things to get by. I managed properties so I know well better than most. As a single father of 2 I saw where NA markets were going and got out. Take off the sheep’s wool my friend…

    As for Lisa, traveling with children does face its own set of challenges and considerations that few understand. I do, so rest assured I will give my honest opinion. I have been living in Malaysia for 3 years now. It is, by all purposes, a Muslim country but unlike the ME, it is very diverse an only really Muslim in the countryside and on paper. It doesn’t behave as strictly Muslim as other places, even this is well known to other Muslims. With that said, the gender of your children should be considered when going to ME and what values you have for them. I have known Muslims my whole life and am fine with how their women see themselves. They do offer something that most of do not see. Their familial values are a nice change from the lack of them at home. With that said, I would make certain of the schools they will be in. Attending local schools may be an option but it is something worth checking into bec each country has varying rules, attire and education levels within the schools.

    Whatever job you take that is legit will pay well overseas – far better than most at home esp when considering COL indexes – but the schools your children will go to are far more important. Take a job in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. It is more free than surrounding neighbours and includes private schooling for children sometimes. Find one that offers with housing allowance, return airfare, long holidays (to recharge and get away) and British Curriculum schooling for your kids. The salaries are tax free so it will go a long way esp considering everything in ME is import and consumption tax free.

    I lived in Japan for 3 years over 2 stretches. Though the pay is the same for the last eon or so, the cost of things continues to drop, esp housing. Keep in mind that housing is far smaller than NA standards but you won’t want to spend so much time inside. Japan has a lot to see and do. All of it costs money though. If you want good pay, leisurely life and heat, go to ME. If you want a freer life, a little less pay, a rather normal life in a new place go to NE Asia (Korea, JP, Twn, HK). Schooling in NE Asia is an issue though bec English medium is not usually an option (except for HK) and if it is, it is costly (likely out of your salary reach unless you work at said school). Language learning is always on my mind so even my children went to local schools down here in Malaysia. They didn’t learn much of anything else but language so am looking to go back up to NE Asia, likely Japan, or possibly to ME if my needs are met.

    Hope this helps…