The TEFL industry is present to some extent in almost every country in the world. English is more important than ever!

But how much can you really earn doing TEFL? And which countries pay most?

Find out the answers to those questions in this, the most comprehensive guide to TEFL earnings for countries all around the world.


TEFL earnings in Europe
TEFL earnings in Asia & Africa
TEFL earnings in Latin America
Which countries have the highest overall salaries for TEFL teachers?
Which countries have the best salaries taking into account living costs?
Where can you earn most as a private tutor?
Which countries have the best-paid government programs?
Which country is best for you (my recommendations)
How to earn more as a TEFL teacher

In general, TEFL teachers earn between $1,000 and $2,000 per month at language academies or from private tutoring. However, these figures vary significantly depending on the region. At the extremes, salaries range from $500 to over $6,000 per month.

If you’re considering becoming a TEFL teacher, how much you earn will affect your experience of living abroad. Your salary makes the difference between scraping together the pennies to pay for rent, or being able to jet off to all the nearby destinations you’ve dreamed of visiting.


This article covers all major TEFL destinations where there’s sufficient data available. All earnings are listed in US dollars for ease of comparison.

NOTE: All figures in this article are subject to change as the industry evolves, countries change policy and currencies fluctuate. Finding data is a difficult process and not all figures reflect everybody’s individual experience. They are rough guides rather than exact limits.

For each country, I’ve assigned an average estimate. This is what most TEFL practitioners can expect to earn, although some will earn less and other will earn more.

Then I’ve broken it down into expected salaries for specific job types.

Language academies are the most common source of employment, and are accessible in most countries for people with a TEFL certificate, although in parts of Europe and the Middle East, you’ll need something more advanced.

Private & international schools typically pay the best. However, they mostly require a degree-level teaching certificate and teaching license, so are out of reach for most TEFLers.

In a few countries, government programs are available. They’re usually quite easy to get on, if you have a bachelor’s degree in any subject, and pay a salary that’s good enough to live on.

Private tutoring is another option, either as a full-time pursuit if you have the legal right to do so, or as a source of extra income. For each country, I’ve provided estimates of how much a private tutor could charge for an hour’s class.

Following the breakdown by type, I have also added a rough estimate of living costs in each country. These costs assume a single person living in simple accommodation and spending enough to eat and enjoy some social and leisure time within reason.

And finally, each country has a rating of how easy it is to get a job there.

  • High: There are plenty of jobs available and requirements for employment are quite low
  • Medium: Competitive markets with low requirements, or countries where requirements are high but if you meet them you can find work
  • Low: Saturated markets where jobs are hard to come across or countries where teaching requirements are beyond the reach of most TEFL practitioners.

Everyone who wants to work as a TEFL teacher should get a 120-hour TEFL certificate. It’s the bare minimum for the vast majority of countries, and, if you choose a good course, it’ll prepare you for your first step into teaching English.

If you’re looking for great value TEFL certificates, I recommend International TEFL and TESOL Training. Click the link for 15% off all courses (I receive compensation, so you’re supporting me, too). Not convinced? Read why I’d choose ITTT over other TEFL course providers.

TEFL earnings in Europe

CountryAverage Estimate ($/m)Language Academies ($/m)Private & Intern. Schools ($/m)Gov. Program ($/m)Private Classes ($/hour)Living Costs ($/m)Job Availability
Czech Republic1,000800-1,300------8-13800-1,200High
Hungary800600-1,000---500* 9-18600-1,000High
The Netherlands2,3001,700-2,8003,400-6,600---22-331,100-2,200Low

*Accommodation is provided
Click the links on each country to head to articles I’ve written with more details and guidance.

In general, Europe is a high-salary, high-demand place to work as a TEFL teacher. Many countries have high-quality education systems that teach English from a young age, meaning language academies are rare.

Countries in the north of Europe especially are tough. To work there you’ll need strong qualifications, probably a teaching degree. And if you do bag a job there, the cost of living is so high that the seemingly generous salary doesn’t go as far as you’d like.

However, some countries offer more opportunities. Countries in the Mediterranean area like Spain, Italy and Portugal together with some Eastern European nations like Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary are good markets, although the salaries are lower.

I can personally attest to salaries in Spain, as I live and work there. While you won’t get rich working as a teacher, you can definitely earn enough to live with relative comfort, and there’s plenty of demand for English, especially if you’re a native speaker.

TEFL earnings in Asia & Africa

CountryAverage Estimate ($/m)Language Academies ($/m)Private & Intern. Schools ($/m)Gov. Program ($/m)Private Classes ($/hour)Living Costs ($/m)Job Availability
Saudi Arabia3,5003,200-4,0002,600-4,000---21-40700-2,000*Medium
South Africa1,200900-1,4001,200-2,400---9-15700-1,200Medium
South Korea1,8001,500-2,0001,450-2,3001,450-2,30020-30900-2,000*High

*accommodation and airfare is often included, meaning cost of living is at the lower end of the range.
Click the links on each country to head to articles I’ve written with more details and guidance.

Asia holds the best opportunities for TEFL teachers. Whether it’s the well-known destinations like South Korea and China, or the extremely high salaries of Middle Eastern states, chances are the biggest continent is the most attractive.

There are three general categories of country in Asia.

  1. Low pay, high quality of life. Countries like Indonesia and Thailand have low TEFL salaries, but it doesn’t matter because the cost of living there is so low that you can have a fantastic lifestyle there.
  2. Good pay, medium cost of living. China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan fall into the category of having good salaries that are higher than the average cost of living. You can enjoy life there and save a little too.
  3. Very high pay, potential restrictions. Jobs in Middle Eastern countries pay very high salaries and often also include accommodation and airfares. However, as you can imagine, they’re competitive and living in those countries might not be for everyone.

Africa is not a popular TEFL destination. Most African countries don’t appear on this list because the TEFL industry is either tiny or non-existent. Salary data is unreliable at best. However, South Africa and Egypt can offer some work for a decent wage.

TEFL earnings in Latin America

CountryAverage Estimate ($/m)Language Academies ($/m)Private & Intern. Schools ($/m)Gov. Program ($/m)Private Classes ($/hour)Living Costs ($/m)Job Availability
Colombia800500-1,050750-1,000400 + accommodation12-25500-1050High
Costa Rica800600-1,000800-1,200---5-20500-1000High

It’s quite easy to start out as a TEFL teacher in Latin America. There’s a huge market and requirements for employment are very low.

But you won’t get paid much. If you’re earning more than $1,000 a month in any country you’re doing well for yourself, and in some nations that kind of salary is out of the question.

On the flip side, living is cheap. While you may only earn $500 a month in Peru or Bolivia, you could end up spending only $300 in the same amount of time.

And if you work as a private tutor (online or in-person), you can charge a decent hourly rate and earn well above the cost of living.

Which countries have the highest overall salaries for TEFL teachers?

Typically, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offer the highest salaries for TEFL teachers, with a general estimate of $3,500 per month.

However, higher wages are available in specific situations in various European and Asian countries where private and international schools pay over $5,000 a month.

And with the right skills and marketing, a private TEFL tutor could potentially earn up to $10,000 a month in Switzerland!

So while we can crown Saudi Arabia and the UAE as overall winners, we should dive deeper to see which countries pay best for different jobs.

Private/international schools

The highest TEFL salaries around the world are generally earned by teachers in private or international schools in very wealthy countries.

Switzerland stakes a claim for the highest salaries, with international school salaries starting at $4,700 per month and rising to $6,000.

However, teachers in The Netherlands can earn up to $6,600, although starting salaries for those jobs are lower, at $3,400. Likewise, Taiwanese international schools start paying $3,600 per month, but salaries can rise as high as $7,000.

The problem with these figures is that very few TEFL teachers earn that much. You have to be very experienced. Serious qualifications are required (teaching degree as a minimum) just to get started in that kind of job, so for most TEFL practitioners it’s out of the question.

Other high paying countries: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Singapore.

Language academies

Language academies have various different names around the world, but they’re all essentially the same thing: a private business that provides English instruction to students of all ages.

They’re the most common employers of TEFL teachers worldwide. What’s attractive about them is you often only need a 120-hour TEFL certificate. Saying that, the highest paying jobs demand plenty of experience and perhaps a higher-level qualification like a CELTA.

Not sure about the difference between TEFL and CELTA? Find out here: TEFL vs. CELTA: What’s the difference? Which is best?

Two countries compete for the highest salaries at language academies. Switzerland is once again in the picture, with monthly wages ranging from $1,500 all the way up to $6,000.

However, I’d argue the United Arab Emirates takes first place. The range is $3,300-4,500. Although the top end is lower, the starting salary is more than double. As the majority of TEFL teachers will be at the lower end of the payscale, the UAE offers much higher wages straight off the bat.

Other high paying countries: Austria, Norway, China, Saudi Arabia.

Which countries offer the best salaries after living costs are deducted?

A lot of high-paying countries, particularly in Europe, have such high living expenses that most of a TEFL teacher’s wage goes towards paying for rent and food.

However, there are some countries around the world that have high salaries and low living costs. This may be because they’re cheaper countries to live generally, or that they provide generous perks, like providing accommodation and airfare.

Hands down, the winners are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In Saudia Arabia, if you have your rent paid by your employer, living costs can be as low as $700 a month. Assuming a starting salary of $3,200 at a language academy, that leaves you with $2,500 of extra income per month.

Likewise, in the UAE, you can get by on $600 a month when you don’t have to pay for rent. Even on the lowest language academy salary of $3,300 per month, that means you’ll get $2,700 to save.

That means you could save upwards of $30,000 a year on a basic TEFL salary! There’s no surprise these jobs are competitive and often require a CELTA and some experience.

Countries that aren’t that far behind: China, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar.

Where can you earn the most as a private TEFL tutor?

Private tutoring is always a great money earner. But in some countries you can earn much more per hour than others.

The two standout countries are Singapore and Switzerland. Both countries have a high demand for professional, business English for their high-end services like banking and hospitality. As a result, companies and individuals are willing to pay a premium for high-quality tutors.

In Singapore, hourly rates range from $35-60. Considering that $35 is higher than the upper limit you’ll find in most countries, even a less experienced tutor can earn a decent wage. Giving 20 hours of classes a week will get you around $2,800-4,800 per month.

In Switzerland, hourly rates can get crazy high. With the right connections and plenty of experience, you can earn as much as $127 per hour (over $10K a month with 20 classes per week at this rate). I know, that seems ridiculous, but it’s possible. The lower end of the scale in the country is $32.

For more on how to get started as a private EFL/ESL teacher, read my article on the topic: How to Get Started as an EFL/ESL Private Tutor: Full guide.

Which countries have the highest paying government programs for TEFL?

Government-sponsored TEFL programs are only available in a few countries around the world. They often don’t require a teaching certificate or any experience, so can be quite good earners.

The JET program in Japan pays highest of all. Salaries range from $1,600 to $2,200 per month. Not far behind is EPIK in South Korea which pays $1,450-2,300.

Behind these two well-known programs, the Fullbright USTA program in Austria pays $1,307 per month, while the Auxiliares de Conversación program in Spain has a monthly salary of $800-1,100 depending on location.

Which country is best for you? My recommendations

Where you choose to teach English depends on what you want to get out of the experience. Some are in it to make as much money as possible, others to travel the world regardless of expense. Most people are somewhere in between.

So here are my recommendations for locations based on your aims, with options from each part of the world.

MONEY MAKER: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Switzerland

LIFESTYLE ABOVE ALL: Vietnam, Thailand, Spain, Peru (or anywhere in Latin America)

BALANCE OF MONEY & LIFE: Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Czech Republic

Honestly, though, the best place to go is where you’d feel happiest living. While you want to be making good money, if you’re somewhere that makes you uncomfortable or miserable, TEFL won’t be a good experience.

So go with your heart (then check you can get paid enough to live!)

If you want to consider more deeply your options, head to my article where I lay out all the options. It’s right here: How to Pick the Right TEFL Destination: 5 steps to success,

How to earn more as a TEFL teacher

There’s no denying that TEFL salaries in most countries aren’t great. They’re enough to live off, sure, but at some point you’ll want to start earning more. Most people never get to that stage and return home where they can get a better paid job.

But there are ways of earning more.

The first is private tutoring. If your company and country allows it, why not take on a few private classes. You can charge a higher hourly rate than your normal salary.

The next step is to get better qualifications. A 120-hour TEFL certificate is the minimum, but you’ll need more to earn more. A CELTA is a good bet, and could be enough to bag you a private school job.

But for the highest-paying positions, you’ll need a teaching degree. If you’re serious about TEFL and want to get the best wages, get a teaching degree and license. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you can do a one year course to get qualified.

However, that’s a big commitment. An easier way to boost your chances of a higher wage is by specialising. Become an expert in something. Business English and exam preparation are highly-sought after. Stand out in those fields and you’ll be able to get those big bucks.

And finally, you can advance up the chain within a teaching organisation. Rise up the management structure, or get paid for making resources. Just like any job, there are higher paid positions if you look upwards.

For more on this kind of thing, check out my article: Can TEFL Be a Long Term Career? 9 ways to make it happen.

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