As a whole, Asia is an incredibly popular destination for ESL teachers thanks to the large number of opportunities available on the continent. While most will head to Japan, China, or South Korea, Taiwan is a lesser known secret that offers ample opportunities for those looking to teach English overseas.
If you are considering teaching abroad in Taiwan one of the first questions you’ll likely have is what salary you can expect to make abroad. Given the favorable exchange rate, rather stable currency, cheap monthly rents, reasonable costs for food and utilities as well as ease of taking taxis and local transport, both large and small cities in Taiwan offer quite an easy life and high standard of living for foreigners. Read on for a detailed breakdown of salary expectations for teaching abroad in Taiwan.
How Much Can You Earn Teaching English in Taiwan?
Teaching English is a great option for those looking to make enough cash to support their lifestyle overseas. The salary rates for English teaching positions do vary widely by region and institution type, so it's important to familiarize yourself with the expected breakdown with these variables in mind.
The official currency in the country is the New Taiwan dollar (NT$). As of October 2018, the exchange rate is 1 US Dollar to 30.97 New Taiwan dollars. In general, English teachers in Taiwan can expect to make between 60,000-70,000 New Taiwan dollars, which equates to $2,000-2,400, per month. In addition to a base salary, most contracts will also come with severance pay, which comes to roughly one month’s salary, paid at the completion of your contract, and often other benefits such as housing or flights.
In Taiwan, there are five main types of ways to teach abroad. These include big chain schools, big chain kindergartens, public schools bushibans, and American schools. Read on for our breakdown of salary expectations by institution type.
1. Chain Schools: 49,500 NT$ per month
Chain schools are a popular education option in Taiwan. The average hourly pay hovers around 600 NT$ ($20 USD) per teaching hour at a big chain school. Most teachers work an average of 4 teaching hours per day (prep work not paid/included) -- averaging out to about 49500 NT$ or $1,600 for one month's worth of teaching five days per week.
Chain schools are also referred to as “cram schools,” and are a common place for foreigners to start out teaching English. Some well-known companies include Hess, Joy, and Shane. These chains mainly teach North American English and like to employ a 100% English method, meaning English is the only language spoken in class to and by the students.
2. Chain Kindergartens: 44,500-49,500 NT$ per month
Similar to chain schools, Taiwan has chain kindergartens which provide education to younger students. These types of institutions pay slightly lower than other schools. The average hourly pay is between 550 NT$ and 6000 NT$ ($18-$20) per teaching hour. Again, this is for teaching hours only, but this is made up for in the fact that less lesson planning is needed for these classes.
Typically chain kindergartens are owned by the same companies that run the chain schools for older students. Curriculum tends to be the same, although more arts, singing, and crafts are involved. It would be helpful to at least speak some Mandarin for classroom management, though the teaching method is often to speak 100% English.
3. Public Schools: 60,000-70,000 NT$ per month
In Taiwan, jobs for English teachers at public school jobs are usually at the high school level, though some middle and elementary schools do seek out English teachers. If you're teaching English at a public school in Taiwan, you should expect to earn around 1,000-1,320 NT$ ($33-$44) per hour. This equates to $2,000 to $2,400.
Generally, the curriculum is much more variable and leaves a lot more planning and responsibility to the teacher. English is expected to be used 100% of the time during teaching though some Mandarin may be spoken. Hours can also vary quite a bit from school to school and can stretch as long as from 8:30-5pm grading tests, planning, and performing administrative or other school duties.
4. Foreign-Run Bushibans: 40,000-62,000 NT$ per month
The most competitive educational offerings in Taiwan are the foreign-run bushibans. Owned by native English speakers, these schools are highly elite and demand more from their students and teachers. and happen to be owned by native English speakers. The average hourly rate at a language school / bushiban run by foreigners is 900-1,200 NT$ per hour ($30-$40) which equates to a monthly salary of 40,000 NT$ to 62,000 NT$ ($1,300-$2,000).
Generally to make more money, these are the best gigs to get. That said, they are not as easy to work at nor gain employment at. Pronunciation, sentence patterns, and grammar are all prioritized in these schools. They demand results and will fail students who do not complete their homework and pass tests while other bushibans tend not to fail students. Training is also a big factor as many schools require months of training from teachers, as well as a good amount of teaching experience, before ever setting foot in the classroom. These schools are hyper-competitive with each other and generally require non-competes to be signed.
5. American Schools: 200,000 NT$ per month
The most lucrative teaching positions in Taiwan are at American or international school in Taiwan are as high as 200,000 NT$ ($6,600) per month. While this amount is staggeringly higher than other teaching positions, it should also be noted that such positions require longer working hours, teaching credentials and are highly competitive.
Like teaching at a private school in the United States though, teaching at schools for foreigners in Taiwan involves teaching lessons in English to what are normally native English speakers. Most of the students are either children of wealthy local Taiwanese or children of native English speakers who live in Taiwan for work..
How Much Does it Cost to Live in Taiwan?
Before signing that contract, buying your one way plane ticket, and cramming all your belongings into one or two suitcases, you'll need to know some money basics to understand what exactly your salary will cover. What do all those numbers mean, and how do they actually translate?
Here's a quick breakdown of the most common expenses you'll pay while living as a teacher in Taiwan:
- Monthly rent for a room in a shared flat: 5,000 NT$ ($165) in a rural area; 15,000 NT$ ($495) in a city center.
- Utilities (including water, energy, heating, garbage): roughly 2,700 NT$ ($87) per month
- Internet: 820 NT$ ($27) per month
- Meals at an inexpensive restaurant or street stall: 100 NT$ ($3)
- Meals at an expensive restaurant: Expect to pay western prices
- Taxi and public transport pricing: Taxis are cheap at 100-200 NT$ ($3-$6) to get just about anywhere within the city limits. The MRT in Taipei, for example, is extremely clean, efficient, and timely at around 30 NT$ ($1) per one-way ride
- Beer at a bar: 50 NT$ ($1.50) and up
Taiwan remains one of the best options for native English speakers looking to live and teach abroad. Though more and more schools require advanced teaching certifications these days, it is still possible to show up in Taiwan without certification and land a teaching gig, especially at a bushiban. For those who are qualified, opportunities for higher earnings are definitely out there, and the quality of life is excellent.
This article was originally written in March 2014, and was updated in February 2019.