Guide to teaching English in Indonesia

A nation made up of over 17,000 islands, Indonesia boasts great ecological and cultural diversity. In Indonesia, you can surf the clear waters off Lombok Island or survey Komodo dragons, or explore the architecturally-stunning 9th-century Buddhist temple of Borobudur. With a population of about 238 million, there is never a dull moment as you meet and teach incredibly spirited and friendly people. English teachers in Indonesia can expect to earn a monthly salary of around $600-$1,110 depending on position and job location.

Indonesian students love hearing about pop culture from other countries and are eager to improve and practice their language skills. If you want to experience the pulsing traffic of Jakarta, eat fresh seafood on the shores of Bali, or visit orangutans in Sumatra, Indonesia welcomes new teachers looking to inspire and be inspired.

Interested in teaching English in Indonesia? We’ve got you covered! Keep reading to learn more about the types of teaching jobs, average salaries and benefits, and how to get a teaching job in Indonesia!

Types of teaching jobs in Indonesia

Formerly a Dutch colony, Indonesia gained independence in 1945. Afterward, the government replaced a Dutch language study with the English language, establishing it as a compulsory subject, beginning in elementary school. Today, most students study English as their second language.

Private schools

Overall proficiency is much higher in students attending private schools, considering public schools have little funding for native-speaking English teachers. Additionally, the Ministry of Education manages English programs in public schools, and it recently shifted goals to create a broader curriculum for the native language, Bahasa Indonesia. Private and private international schools continue to seek English instructors for K-12 and generally pay their teachers well. Preschools and kindergartens are especially popular destinations for English teachers.

Language schools/extra-curricular programs

Other teaching opportunities are at language schools or after-school centers. The EF language school has a large presence in many Indonesian cities. At these types of schools, students range from primary school-aged to university level. These take on the model of an after-school or evening program, so if you are not an early riser, then this schedule might be perfect for you!

Average salary and benefits for teaching English in Indonesia

On average, an English teacher's salary in Indonesia is between $600-$1,100USD a month.
Higher salaries can be found in international schools while wages at private preschools and kindergartens tend to be more modest.

Common benefits for teachers

Most teaching jobs in Indonesia do not include housing but luckily housing is affordable and won’t eat into your salary substantially. Teachers with contracts will have paid vacation and sick leave. International schools tend to have the best benefits but they are also the most competitive positions.

Read more: How Much Money Can You Save Teaching Abroad?

Cost of living in Indonesia

The cost of living is quite murah (inexpensive in Bahasa Indonesia) in comparison to life in the US or Europe. Although your monthly budget will depend on your individual spending habits, the following is a picture of an average cost of living.

  • Food: $120-$180 USD per month
  • Transportation: $10-$20 USD per month
  • Entertainment: $50-$100 USD per month
  • Housing: $150-$450 USD for a room in shared accommodation depending on city
  • Utilities: $10-$40 USD per month

Source: Numbeo

Where and how to find housing

Using a realtor is helpful to gaining access to a wide range of properties within your price range and in your preferred locations. A realtor will also be able to ensure the whole rental process is above board. You can also search for apartments on your own using websites like Rumah123 or through local classifieds.

Where to teach English in Indonesia

As with starting a job in any new country, it's important to do your research before coming to Indonesia. Start by exploring these major destinations for TEFL jobs in Indonesia:

English teaching jobs in Jakarta

Most teaching opportunities are on the largest island of Java, where Jakarta is the capital. There is something for everyone in Jakarta, from fine dining to street food to endless places for great shopping. This is a city that is bustling both day and night so if a vibrant, fast-paced lifestyle is what you’re looking for then Jakarta will be a great fit.

English teaching jobs in Surabaya

Surabaya is the capital of East Java and Indonesia’s second-largest city. Surabaya’s architecture is a mix of the remnants of Dutch colonization and elaborate and beautiful mosques that reflect the religious beliefs of many of the population. Known as The City of Heroes, Surabaya was the site of a major battle in Indonesia’s battle for independence. If you’re a history lover, this might just be the city for you.

English teaching jobs in Bandung

Bandung, the capital of West Java, has a small-town feel. If you want to be surrounded by nature, this is a great option. Volcanoes, sprawling tea plantations, lakes, and forests are within easy reach of the city. You’re also not far from Jakarta, which is only a 2-hour drive or 4-hour train ride away.

English teaching jobs in Bali

Not a city but an island, Bali is one of the most sought-after destinations in Indonesia for English teachers. Teachers looking to work in Bali will find unparalleled beauty and a wide range of English teaching jobs. However, remember that because of its popularity there is a lot of competition for jobs. Having a TEFL certificate and a four-year degree will help your chances of gaining employment.

How to get a job teaching English in Indonesia

Native English speakers will have a wide range of job opportunities available to them in Indonesia. With the right qualifications, you’ll be on your way to securing a work visa to teach abroad in Indonesia.

Where to find jobs

Teaching programs like those below place English teachers in schools and academies around Indonesia. These programs assist teachers throughout the entire application and hiring process, taking the guesswork out of finding a job in Indonesia. This is a good option for new teachers and those who are nervous about moving abroad for the first time.

When to apply

The school year starts in mid-July and ends in mid-June. Students receive a break in December and for the Muslim Eid Holiday, which changes each year. However, most programs hire teachers year-round.

Qualifications needed

Indonesia will only issue work visas to nationals of the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa (these are classified as English-speaking nations). To teach English in Indonesia, teachers must have a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL or TESOL certificate. In addition, most programs require a one-year commitment. Classroom teaching experience is preferred but not required for most positions.

Read more: What are the Requirements to Teach English Abroad?

Work visa

Schools or programs will help you to obtain a work visa, known as KITAS (the identity card for foreigners). Programs can arrange company sponsorship for visas and any other legal working papers.

What’s it like to live & teach English in Indonesia

As an ESL teacher abroad, it’s essential that you take the time to research the country’s etiquette and classroom culture, as it can be vastly different from what you’re used to at home! ESL teachers should be respectful and understanding while adapting to a new classroom environment.

Classroom & work culture

About 86% of Indonesians practice Islam. Thus, it is recommended that teachers wear conservative clothing to work. Both men and women should avoid tank tops and shorts. Hot spots for tourists, such as Bali, tend to be more relaxed about dress codes. A great deal of the younger generation has adopted Western fashions, as Indonesia integrates further into the global economy.

Culture & etiquette tips

In Indonesia, remember to take off your shoes before entering a carpeted room or place of worship. Islam plays a large part for the majority of the population so things like alcohol and pork products are off-limits for many Indonesians. Avoid giving gifts that contain these items.

Only pass food with your right hand at the table. Leaving an empty plate or glass indicates that you want more so don’t be surprised when you receive a refill upon finishing your meal.

Bringing small gifts to friends when visiting is customary, although Indonesians may refuse a gift two or three times before accepting it.

Ready to find your dream teaching program in Indonesia?

Start researching and comparing teaching programs here at Go Overseas, in the Teaching Programs in Indonesia section below.

Want to read more? Get started with these articles:

Teaching Programs in Indonesia

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TEFL Courses in Indonesia

A TEFL Certification will help you acquire the skills and qualifications to teach abroad in Indonesia

New Teaching Jobs

View the latest teaching job postings on our job board.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you teach English in Bali?

    It is very possible to teach English in Bali. Most schools and programs will require a TEFL or TESOL certification.

  • Can you teach English in Indonesia without a degree?

    By law, in order to teach English in Indonesia you will need a Bachelor's degree or a TEFL/TESOL certification. That being said, there are ways to teach without a degree, such as through volunteering programs.

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  • How much do English teachers make in Indonesia?

    The average salary for teachers in Indonesia is $650-$1,050 per month.

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