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TEFL teaching qualifications money

Your qualifications for teaching English in Asia can help you find a job and they can sometimes increase your pay or salary. Your teaching experience, teaching license, TEFL certificate, master's degree or other related degree can all help you make more money, but they don't necessarily guarantee it at all schools.

Every school is different.

"Pay NT$600 – NT$1,000 per hour depending on qualification and experience." - Taken from a job post on

Do TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificates increase one's pay or salary?

Some TEFL/TESOL/CELTA providers say that getting certified will earn you more money or help you make a higher salary. This can happen, but there is no international law that says teachers with TEFL/TESOL certification will be paid more. It can in a few situations (listed below) and in others, but it depends.

It depends on the school and on you.

I got TESOL certified before teaching abroad in Taiwan. At the interview with my first employer in Taichung, Taiwan I pointed out that I had a TESOL certificate. He didn't seem to care and he noted that he paid all new starting teachers NT$600 an hour which is pretty normal for beginners in Taiwan. I also worked in a public school in Korea that said they paid me more because of my TESOL certification and experience. So there is a couple of examples of where it did help and where it didn't.

A lot of schools have a set salary or hourly wage and that is what they are going to pay the teacher regardless of their qualifications or experience. If you don't have any experience and the next guy doesn't have any experience, but you have a TEFL certification then the school might choose you. Although keep in mind that schools have other preferences as well.

"Korean universities generally pay all teachers equally - like someone can have 10 years experience, a CELTA/DELTA, do presentations at professional conference (me!) and get the same pay as someone who gets the job with one year of experience at a hagwon." - Jackie

The EPIK program in Korea is one program where it does pay to have a TEFL/CELTA/TESOL certificate, but it depends on how many hours it is and more. Here is a quote from their website:

"Currently, we accept a minimum 100 hour TEFL or TESOL certificate as a qualification criteria for level 2 or higher pay grade, regardless of how the course was taken. However, starting from the Fall 2013 term, when we recommend candidates to the POE/MOEs we will give a priority to the applicants possessing a minimum 100 hour TEFL or TESOL with at least a 20 hour offline, in-class component, as opposed to those who only completed a strictly online course. We strongly advise you to take the TEFL or TESOL programs including at least a 20 hour offline, in-class component. However, Busan will only acknowledge TESOL/TEFL certificates that contain at least a 60 hour offline, in-class component. This decision was made to meet requests from the POE/MOEs and schools who wish to have the most qualified Guest English Teachers possible."

Granted you have the appropriate certificate you can earn another 200,000 Korean Won more a month with that TEFL certificate, a degree in education or with a teaching license. Meaning if you have one of those you can earn 200,000 Korean Won more a month. That's 2,400,000 Won more in a year minus the cost of such a course ($550 to $2000+). You can read more about their pay scale here.

I think only a small amount of schools will outright pay you more because of it. Some might, but it's more likely that the person with experience will get or can get the higher pay. It depends on the school and on you.

"If you do have a certificate in TEFL or CELTA, it will only make you slightly more marketable. Correspondingly, you will only be paid slightly more if you are TEFL certified and I mean very slightly." - Baluda, CELTA certified

Does Experience pay more money?

"Salary: 2.1 million won or above depending on experience." - from the Korean job board on ESLcafe

If you have spent any amount of time looking for an ESL teaching job online then you will find that most schools prefer experience. Experience is probably the best qualification when it comes to asking for a higher pay. It comes in a couple of different forms though.

  1. Experience teaching ESL anywhere
  2. Experience teaching ESL in-country
  3. Experience teaching ESL in the school, company or program where you are working or applying to

1. For many schools ESL teaching experience anywhere is a good qualification. It doesn't matter so much as to where you taught ESL, it just matters that you have experience. Some schools may offer you more money because of your experience.

2. I remember when I first went to Korea and interviewed at the first hagwon that I taught at. The manager seemed to point out that I didn't have any experience teaching in Korea, which seemed pretty irrelevant to me. I kept pointing out that I had over 2 years of experience teaching in Taiwan. To them that wasn't the same. They would have preferred that I had 2 years of experience in Korea.

Some other schools in Korea and China that I interviewed with also had similar thoughts. Maybe it's because they are concerned that you might not like their country. If so then you might not stay and if they are not sure then they might not want to pay you any more money.

3. Some schools or programs such as the JET program in Japan have a set pay rate and that only increases if you go on to sign a second or third contract with them. They basically want you to commit to them. I would say that is the case for some other schools as well. For my 1st contracted job in Korea I asked for and got a raise of 100,000 Won more monthly around my 6th month. I was contemplating staying around there for another year and was offered another 100,000 Won to sign a second contract.

If you are just starting out you might enjoy reading 6 Practical Ways to Get Experience as an ESL Teacher.

How about degrees in education, teaching licenses, or master's degrees?

The more related the degree the better. Licensed teachers often get some of the best pics for schools. You can teach in a public school in Taiwan and in international schools throughout Asia. These are some of the best paying jobs in China.

If you have a master's degree you can get a job in a university in Japan which can be pretty lucrative. You can also look at EPIK's pay scale for more on how related degrees can make you another 200,000 Won more a month through EPIK.

Negotiate a higher salary

If a school doesn't outright offer you a higher salary because of your qualifications then you can negotiate. Remember some schools won't care and won't offer you anymore than they would the next guy regardless if you have a CELTA, a degree in education, and 10 years of experience teaching ESL, but it never hurts to try.

You can use whatever your qualifications are to negotiate a higher salary. Even if you don't have any experience, a related degree or a TEFL certificate, you can still point out your talents that best suit you for the job. And remember likeability goes a long ways.


If you are going through a recruiter it won't be as easy to negotiate a higher salary. Since they are a middle man they tend to put some distance between you and the school. Sometimes the case here may be either the school has one salary fits all or they may have a salary for those with experience and one for those without.


All of these qualifications can make you more money, but it depends on the school and on you.

How about you? Did your teaching qualifications make you more money?

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