Guide to Teaching Abroad
Want to fulfill your dream of living overseas and have an income at the same time? Obsessed with the idea of staying in a destination longer than a two-week vacation but your tourist visa stops you in your tracks?
Consider teaching abroad!
- Countries around the world welcome travelers to explore beautiful destinations while making money teaching English.
- Teaching abroad is the perfect way to get to know new cities and villages, contribute to the community like a local, and get paid while doing it.
You may have heard of people volunteering their time to teach English for free, but there are also travelers who do this for a career. Real people around the world have taken their love for travel to the next level by teaching English as a second language.
You can make up to $5,000 per month teaching abroad and some opportunities don’t even require a college degree. While experience and education sets you apart from the rest, you can have a lucrative salary without sacrificing your travel dreams. If you don’t know where to start, Go Overseas has your back.
Where to Teach Abroad
Take your qualifications and TEFL certification with you around the globe to teach -- there are opportunities everywhere! Across all age groups, in small villages, or bustling cities; you’ll find the world is your oyster if you want to teach abroad.
If you don’t know where teach, consider what you want to get out of the teaching abroad experience:
- Are you looking for a higher paycheck or adventurous destinations to explore on your free time?
- Are you interested in supporting the education systems in underprivileged communities?
Once you’ve figured out your teaching goals, the big question remains: where should I go to teach abroad? You may be wondering whether one country is better than another. Do some destinations offer more teaching opportunities? Can you get paid more by teaching in certain regions?
These are questions every teach abroad candidate debates before choosing the best place for them. Based on key criteria, Go Overseas has tracked the best places to teach abroad this year and found the top ten most popular countries to teach overseas:
- South Korea
- The UAE
- Saudi Arabia
The criteria considers each country’s popularity from Google searches and the Go Overseas website, as well as salary and teaching opportunities available, respectively.
In the United States, most people need at least a bachelor's degree and education program credentials to become a teacher. There is a bit more flexibility, however, when teaching abroad. While many western countries may still require a college degree, others only require certified training as a foreign language teacher.
To qualify to teach abroad, we recommend:
- English language fluency
- TEFL certification (most often required to teach English overseas)
- If you want a leg up against the competition, a bit of teaching experience too
Do you really need a TEFL certification to teach abroad? The short answer is no… The long answer is more complicated. Being certified to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) provides the skills needed to be an effective instructor. Neglecting to train is a disservice to the students you teach, as well as your own professional growth.
When you are TEFL certified you automatically have an advantage over other non-certified teaching candidates. Schools understand that you are equipped with the knowledge, confidence, and skills needed to lesson plan and lead effectively. Therefore, having a TEFL certificate can go a long way to show prospective employers that you’re serious about and skilled for the job.
If you thought the only way to teach abroad is to visit a small village and teach English for a few days to fund your backpacking adventures — think again.
While a great way to finance your travels, teaching English is a valuable job that has a significant impact on students and local communities. There are a number of different types of jobs available around the world for teachers, and thoughtful planning can help you find the right one for you.
Whether you choose to help professionals excel in their field with business English classes, teach K-12 in public or private schools, or become an after-school English tutor, the options are plentiful. Click “program type” above to find the right teach abroad program for you.
Your teaching abroad salary can vary greatly depending on where you choose to teach. This pay is determined by a number of factors, including: country and city, private vs. public school, teaching credentials and experience, and local cost of living.
On average, ESL teachers can make $900-$5,000 per month around the world. While some countries pay more than others, you can count on Asia (the Middle East and East Asia, specifically) to be one of the most popular places to earn a high salary teaching overseas.
If some destinations pay significantly more to teach abroad than others, you must be wondering which countries offer the highest salary for English teachers, right?
According to our research, the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China, and Vietnam offer 10 of the highest paying ESL teaching salaries in the world. The United Arab Emirates, for instance, pays up to $5,500 per month for English teachers (though they require more teaching experience and credentials).
Just remember: a high salary shouldn’t be your only deciding factor when choosing where to teach abroad. Cost of living and community impact should be considered too!
Frequently Asked Questions
What qualifications do you need to be a teacher abroad?
You’ll need to have a CELTA, TESOL, or TEFL certificate before attempting to teach in most places. Even if it's not a requirement, it's a good idea to have so you know what you're getting in to and feel more confident your first day of class.
Some certification providers will also help guide you through many of the above steps, providing benefits like job placement assistance, housing, and insurance. For this reason, getting TEFL certified in the country you’ve decided to teach abroad in will help you build connections and network with local schools so as to graduate with a job in hand.
Which countries pay teachers the most?
Although some countries and regions still pay very little (like teaching gigs in Thailand or Central America), other countries, particularly teaching jobs in the Middle East and Asia, are compensating English teachers with surprisingly decent wages. The highest paid ESL jobs can often be found in these parts of the world.
How do I start teaching abroad?
Pre-Job Search Activities:
Enroll in a local on-site certification course, or attend an online one
Job Search Activities:
Use job placement programs, use a recruiter, enlist in government programs, network on social media or find a job independently
Gaining Experience Activities while Job Searching:
Teach private lessons, teach online, or volunteer teach abroad
How old do you have to be to teach abroad?
That is a great question! While there isn't a specific age that runs across the board for all countries, it is often mandatory to have have at least a Bachelor's degree completed. This usually means that you are at least 22 years old. Many schools have specific requirements (such as Ed Degree or newly grads welcome), and all of these specific requirements will usually change the age of applicants based on experience and qualifications.
South Korea is usually very open and excited to work with new grads, while Chinese schools often prefer a bit more a mature teacher. However, there is no age specified, and often a positive attitude and enthusiasm will trump academic specifications!
How Go Overseas Works
Go Overseas is your trusted source for travel abroad programs: here you can browse and discover thousands of vetted providers. Just like a trusted travel buddy, we want to help you find the right information and feel excited and confident about your first or next culturally immersive trip overseas. We know sometimes having an abundance of options can be overwhelming, so we have a few tips on how to use Go Overseas to find the perfect transformative travel program for you.
Browse 16,000+ programs: Narrow your search results by using filters, such as program type, location, and length.
Read 46,000+ Reviews: Real people have gone on these programs, and have experiences to share. Read alumni reviews on any program that interests you to get an idea of what it's really like to be on the ground, overseas.
Read 5,700+ Interviews: For any program that really sparks your interest, read personal stories and in-depth accounts from travelers like you. If you'd like to reach out and hear more from the traveler who left an interview, let us know and we'll help connect you.
Browse community photos: Pictures of food, accommodations, adventures, and people (oh, the friends you'll make!) in program community galleries will help you visualize yourself abroad.
Wish List 💙: Not ready to commit to a program? Click the Wish List heart icon to bookmark programs and save them for later. Then, compare programs side by side.