Teach Abroad

Highest Paying Countries for Teaching English Abroad in 2024

Learn about the countries with the highest salaries for ESL teachers, including the benefits they offer and how to meet the job requirements.

Finding a financially sustainable and rewarding experience is important when searching for English teaching jobs abroad.

Curious how much you can earn as an ESL teacher abroad? Depending on the country or region, and your prior teaching experience and qualifications, you can be earning anywhere from $2,000 to over $6,000 per month! Many of the highest-paid English teaching jobs can be found in the Middle East and Asia, though it will vary by region.

However, It's important to keep in mind that high salaries are not the only variable for a financially rewarding job teaching abroad. Many jobs will offer other benefits like a furnished apartment, flight reimbursements, and health insurance in addition to your salary. Plus, your cost of living in the country may be lower than what you're used to back home, allowing you the chance to save more of your ESL teacher income!

Editor's Note: These ESL salary estimates are subject to change.

Ashely, an experienced ESL teacher shares some of the highest paying countries for ESL teachers, plus tips for getting a higher salary!


The United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Skyscrapers, chart of salary and cost of living

Average ESL teacher salary: $3,500-$5,500 USD/month (based on experience & credentials)
Average cost of living: $1,200-$1,900 per month
Typical job requirements: Experience and / or teaching certification from home country.

Generally speaking, the highest-paid ESL teaching salaries globally are found in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the two biggest cities in the UAE.

Salary packages for teachers in the United Arab Emirates can range between $3,500-$5,500 (12,300-22,000 AED) per month, depending on experience. However, like most Middle Eastern countries, the requirements are stringent, and most jobs require teachers to be certified to teach in their home countries or at least have several years of teaching experience. Additionally, while highly experienced teachers can make a salary around or even potentially above $6,000 USD per month, the average teacher is making much closer to 16,000 AED ($4,350).

Along with a high salary, ESL teachers can expect to receive an extensive benefits package in the U.A.E., including a housing allowance, relocation allowance, flights home, and government health care. Plus, your salary will most likely be tax-free! When all of this is combined, saving money on a teacher's salary here is very achievable.

Two of the most popular destinations in the UAE are Dubai and Abu Dhabi. These world-class cities are the definition of cosmopolitanism. If you live here, you'll have your choice of top restaurants, beaches, nightlife, and cultural activities. Additionally, the cost of living is in the U.A.E. is less than in the United States.

Read more:

Teaching Programs in the UAE



Temple in Japan

Average ESL teacher salary: $2,200-$5,000 USD/month (based on job type, experience & credentials)
Cost of living: $1,000 per month
Typical job requirements: TEFL certificate and experience preferred but not required.

The cuisine, snow-capped mountains, springtime cherry blossoms, steaming bowls of noodles, and welcoming people have given teaching in Japan a broad appeal. Plus, salaries in Japan have a range of $2,200-$5,000 (¥220,000-¥540,000) per month, depending on your certifications and prior teaching experience.

Some schools offer additional bonuses such as housing assistance and free flights to their ESL teachers.

Although previous teaching experience isn't necessary, it can be tough to find a position without it since the job market in Japan is extremely competitive. Less experienced teachers typically opt to participate in the JET Program, but be sure to consider the alternatives. ESL teachers participating in the JET program average a monthly wage of $2,550 USD (280,000 JPY).

Japan has a high cost of living relative to the United States, which should be considered when evaluating potential destinations to teach English abroad. An individual living in Japan should expect to pay at least $1,500 USD a month, making programs that provide housing subsidies extremely desirable.

Read more:

Teaching Programs in Japan



Skyscrapers in Qatar, cost of living chart

Average ESL teacher salary: $2,400-$4,500 USD/month (based on job type, experience & credentials)
Cost of living: $1,000 per month
Typical job requirements: Bachelor's degree and TEFL certificate; international schools generally require a valid teaching license

If a dry, desert climate sounds like a fair trade-off for a high ESL teaching salary, Qatar might be a destination for you to consider. This tax-free teaching destination is considered very safe for Western professionals -- even thousands of miles away from home, you won't feel so alone with Qatar's lively expat community to join.

Having teaching experience is always beneficial, and TEFL certificates are usually necessary. Salaries in Qatar are typically in the range of $2,400-$4,500 (9,000 to 16,300 QAR) per month.

ESL teachers in Qatar can also expect extensive benefits packages, often including housing, flights, and the potential for a transportation allowance.

Qatar has a lower cost of living relative to the United States, so an ESL teaching salary can go a long way. The generous salary range offers significant room for savings.

Teaching Programs in Qatar



Skyscrapers in Kuwait, cost of living chart

Average ESL teacher salary: $2,600-$4,000 USD/month (based on job type, experience & credentials)
Cost of living: $1,500 per month
Typical job requirements: Experience and TEFL certificate

Due to the high number of international schools, job opportunities are plentiful for English teachers. Kuwait City may be surrounded by desert, but the city itself is buzzing. It's clean and modern, with skyscrapers, green parks, clubs, shopping, and a vibrant expat community.

ESL teacher salaries in Kuwait range from $2,600-$4,000 (785-1,200 KWD) per month, tax-free. Most employers require teacher certification and experience, especially for higher salaries in this range.

Kuwait also has a reasonable cost of living, so the quality of life English teachers can experience is high. Combining the low cost of living, a modern city, and a robust salary range makes Kuwait an excellent destination for prospective ESL teachers.

Teaching Programs in Kuwait



Buildings in Oman, cost of living chart

Average ESL teacher salary: $2,000-$3,500 USD/month (based on experience & credentials)
Cost of living: $800 per month
Typical job requirements: TEFL certificate

Oman is one of the most developed countries in the Arab world, and it has seen rapid advancements in its education system in recent years.

Teacher salaries in Oman can range from $2,000-$3,500 (750-1,350 OMR) per month, and with a very low cost of living you'll live comfortably and have plenty of opportunities to expand your savings.

Although opportunities to teach English in the country are somewhat limited, it is an excellent opportunity to help develop the ESL field in Oman and earn a competitive salary.

Teaching Programs in Oman


South Korea

Neighborhood in Korea, cost of living chart

Average ESL teacher salary: $1,700-$2,650 USD/month (based on job type, experience & credentials)
Cost of living: $900-$1000 per month
Typical job requirements: Bachelor's degree; TEFL certificate and experience preferred but not required

English teachers are flocking to South Korea, where the salary for ESL teachers is $1,700-$2,650 (2.0-3.2 million KRW) per month and often includes housing and complete or partial flight reimbursement.

Considering the additional overtime and bonus opportunities, and a lower cost of living, South Korea is one of the best destinations for teaching abroad. A minimum of a TEFL certificate and bachelor’s degree is generally required to teach English in Korea, especially for the EPIK program.

Read more:

Teaching Programs in South Korea



Skyscrapers in Taiwan, cost of living chart

Average ESL teacher salary: $2,000-$3,000 USD/month (based on hourly wage, experience & credentials)
Cost of living: $1,000 per month
Typical job requirements: Bachelor's degree

Similar to ESL salaries in Korea, the salaries in Taiwan range from $2,000-$3,000 (60,000-90,000 TWD) per month, with an even lower cost of living, milder winters, and lively, tropical summers.

Saving money can be very easy, and ESL teaching jobs are available across the board. You can find jobs from kindergarten to university-level, and roles in both public and private schools. Many ESL teachers in Taiwan find it possible to save at least $1,000 a month!

Taiwan does not have a legal requirement that ESL teachers obtain a TEFL certification, however, most schools will require one. Additionally, applicants will need a bachelor's degree (or, in a few cases, an associate's degree) and will have to pass a background check to get a teaching job in Taiwan.

Teaching Programs in Taiwan



Great wall of China, Cost of living chart

Average ESL teacher salary: $1,400-$4,500 USD/month (based on experience & credentials)
Cost of living: $1,000 per month
Typical job requirements: Bachelor's degree

China is by far one of the biggest employers of ESL teachers in the world. With the large job demand, plus the generous benefits packages and low cost of living, many ESL teachers are able to save most of their salary while teaching in China.

If you decide to teach in China, you can either work through a private company or find a position at a public school. Speaking English is a requirement for many students hoping to pursue higher education in China, so ESL teachers are valued.

China does require ESL teachers to obtain a TEFL certification and a bachelor's degree. Many of the employment packages available in China include a TEFL certification course, adding to the benefits of choosing China as your destination to teach English abroad.

Read more:

Teaching Programs in China



Pond near trees and a pagoda, cost of living chart

Average ESL teacher salary: $1,200-$2,100 USD/month (based on experience & credentials)
Cost of living: $700 per month
Typical requirements: Bachelor's degree and TEFL certificate

While salaries here aren't as high for ESL teachers as other countries on the list, Vietnam has a much lower cost of living than most. Ranging from $1,200-$2,100 per month (27,000,000-48,000,000 VND), you can stand to save a good bit if you don't splurge on extravagant housing.

Vietnam isn't the most popular option in Asia for ESL teachers, but it's an incredibly beautiful and friendly country with a lot to offer. Ho Chi Minh City and Saigon have many modern amenities and thriving international communities. Regional travel is affordable so making low-cost Vietnam your home base is a great choice for teachers interested in exploring Asia.

Read more: How to Get a Teaching Job in Vietnam

Teaching Programs in Vietnam


Bonus: Teach in the US or online

We've covered international locations for this article (almost exclusively in the Middle East and Asia) however, that doesn't mean you can't make a comfortable salary elsewhere. ESL teachers in the United States earn on average $40,000 - $75,000 per year.

As with most professions, teaching certifications plus prior experience will help you significantly raise your salary. Urban centers and towns or cities with a high international student population tend to have more teaching opportunities and better wages -- though they might also have a higher overall cost of living.

Teaching English online is also a great way to gain teaching experience, connect with an international community, and save money, all while maintaining maximum flexibility. Salaries vary widely, but you can expect to earn between $14-$22 per hour, which will certainly add up over time, especially relative to the expenses of traveling, living, and working internationally.

Teaching English online is a fantastic option for those looking to determine if teaching English is a rewarding career path for them or if you want to grow your teaching experience.

Read more: The 11 Best Companies for Teaching English Online

New Job Postings for Teaching Online


Tips for getting a higher ESL teaching salary

For each country on this list, there is, expectedly, a fairly large range of salaries. Inexperienced teachers, especially those without any TEFL or teaching certification, should expect a salary on the lower end. Those with several years of experience, a relevant degree, and a TEFL certification will be able to make more -- regardless of destination.

A TEFL certificate is highly recommended for anyone interested in teaching English abroad. It will prepare you for the classroom and help you provide students with a highly valuable experience. Additionally, many TEFL programs will help you find a job in the country you get certified.

You may also want to consider gaining skills in teaching test preparation. This could lead to salary increases, more job opportunities, or the possibility of added income from outside tutoring.

Cost Table: Which Countries Pay Highest Salaries for Teaching Abroad

Don't settle for less

Teaching English abroad is a great way to pay off student loans, travel, save money, add to your skillset, and immerse yourself in a new culture. With contracts that range from 6 months to 2 years, it’s possible to cater your experience to suit your needs.

Remember that the job and visa requirements for teaching in different countries are constantly changing. With a little bit of luck and research, you can earn both a good wage and an unforgettable life experience!