How much can you make teaching English abroad in Asia? This post takes a close look at salaries teaching English in Eastern Asia (Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan). These can be some of the best paying teaching English abroad jobs in the world. It's possible to save a $1000 a month on an English (ESL) teachers salary in all of these places.
Aside from Asia the Middle East is probably the highest paying place for international ESL teachers in the world. Countries like UAE (Dubai, Abu Dabi), Saudi Arabia and Oman can have salaries upwards of $3-4000. The difference is that in the Middle East you usually need to have experience and better qualifications.
Many schools in Asia accept teachers right off the boat without experience and in this post I am going to focus on salaries and money for TEFL in the following countries:
Here's a video I made many years ago.
Anything changed since?
I live now in Japan and I would say that the salaries have perhaps risen in China since I was there (which I also mention below). But other than that I wouldn't say anything has changed much.
Now let's take a close look...
These four Asian countries are some of the best places to teach English abroad and make money. Here I'll also mention a few schools/companies, but I am not necessarily recommending them or not. They are just examples.
You can check out the currency converter for the most recent exchange rates.
And one other thing before I talk about these places. Many sites, schools or recruiters may advertise a higher salary than you'll get and this is sometimes what is called "bait and switch". If you are a new teacher you can expect to be paid towards the low end of the advertised range.
Your salary for teaching English in South Korea looks something like this
When it's written on a Korean Won note!
Korea is probably the best place to save money teaching English abroad for beginners. It is not the highest paying country in terms of salaries, but there are a lot of benefits, such as free airfare, free housing, severance pay (1 month pay at the end of the contract), a pension for some and a fairly low cost of living.
How much do English teachers get paid in South Korea?
Most schools in Korea will offer a salary with benefits ranging from 1.8-2.3 million KRW ($1600-2000USD). Yes, it can go higher or lower depending on the school and the situation. It will depend on the school and perhaps your experience and qualifications.
A few examples of salaries and pay for English teachers in South Korea
CDI (hagwon chain) in Korea claims to offer 3.1-4.2 million KRW (25,000-35,000 an hour) a month for 5 days a week.
Sounds like a lot right?
But that's on an hourly wage without any of the benefits listed above. Their salaries range from 2.0-2.8 million Won. If you don't have experience expect to be on the lower end.
The EPIK program is a popular program that places teachers in public schools. Their pay is dependent upon a teachers experience, qualifications and location within Korea. You can take a look at their pay scale which is similar to other public school teaching jobs in Korea if you do not go through them.
EPIK pay scale
- Level 3 Bachelor's degree in anything = 1.8-2.1 million Won (dependent on location)
- Level 2 Bachelor's degree in education, teaching license or TEFL certificate = 2.0-2.2 million Won (dependent on location)
- Level 2+ One year teaching experience + Bachelor's degree in education, teaching license or TEFL certificate = 2.1-2.3 million Won (dependent on location)
- Level 1 Two years teaching experience + Bachelor's degree in education, teaching license or TEFL certificate = 2.3-2.5 million Won (dependent on location)
- Level 1+ After 2 years of renewing as a level 1 = 2.5-2.7 million Won (dependent on location)
My salary and pay in Korea
My first contracted job
In my first contracted job teaching in Busan, Korea I made 2.3 million Won a month (in a hagwon) which is currently $2044. I had some experience, so I could negotiate a bit. I think they originally offered me 2.1 or 2.2 million Won. Somewhere after 6 months I managed to negotiate another 100,000 Won per month which increased it to 2.4 million Won a month.
Towards the end I negotiated and got offered 2.5 to sign for another year, but decided to leave after one. After that contract finished I spent some time hanging out and traveling in and out of Korea...
Getting paid by the hour
After my first year I worked some part time jobs and got paid hourly. Most of them paid me 30,000 Won an hour which is pretty normal.
My second contracted job
I made 2.2 working in a public school in Changwon, Korea. Public school teaching is a bit more set as you can see in the EPIK program pay scale above.
- How much money can you save teaching English in Korea?
- Best Programs and Largest Companies in Korea
- Learn more about teaching in Korea.
In China your salary for teaching looks like this
When it's written on a digital Yuan note!
Things may have changed since I taught in China. Things vary a lot in China as it's a big country and there are many factors that can contribute to you salary such as location in China, kind of school you work in, your experience and qualifications.
How much money can you make teaching English in China?
You could make anywhere from maybe 5,000RMB to 20,000 RMB ($700-3000 USD) or possibly more a month, but that's on the higher end. You'll make more in one of the big cities, like: Shanghai, Shenzen, Guangzhou, Beijing or possibly Hong Kong (but there is not a lot teaching jobs there compared to mainland).
In tier 1 cities you can make more in Kindergartens, training centers and in international schools if you are a licensed teacher.
I wanted to see if salaries have changed in China since when I taught there in 2011 and it seems like they may have. I just looked at eslcafe.com/jobs/china at the first 12 jobs there. I added them up and the average salary there based on only 12 advertisements was 14,500RMB a month plus some benefits.
So on the lower end you could be making $5-600 teaching at a public school or university and on the higher end you could be making $2500+ teaching at an international school, kindergarten or perhaps private language institute (AKA training center, cram school, buxiban).
"...Especially in Xiamen, the living standards are cheap. You can make less than $2000 and you would only be spending 3 or $400 a month." - Ed in Xiamen, China
Most university jobs that I have seen are between 7,000 and 8,500 RMB a month with free housing. In the bigger cities working in a training center is often close to 11,000RMB or more, but it depends.
Some schools in China will offer free housing and an airfare reimbursement after one year. The cost of living is cheaper here especially outside of the big cities.
My job in China
I briefly taught in a training center in Shanghai that paid me 10,700RMB for about 20 hours a week. They offered an airfare reimbursement as well.
- How much can you save teaching English in China?
- Best Programs and Largest Companies in China
- Learn more about teaching English in China
In Taiwan you'll probably make this much money teaching English
How much money can you make teaching English in Taiwan?
In Taiwan the average hourly wage is around 600NT$ ($20 USD) an hour. Salaries can range from $NT48-70,000+ ($1600-2400 USD) a month. Buxibans tend to pay on the lower end. International and public school teachers typically make more. But you need to be a licensed teacher for that. The working hours for those jobs are also longer (8-5 or so).
Benefits in Taiwan such as free housing or end of contract bonuses are rare, but the cost of living is pretty cheap. Salaries and pay in Taipei tend to be a little higher as are the expenses.
I asked Dale in Taichung this same question.
"Ahh, if you want to work you can make a make 100,000NT a month. Now a 100,000NT is just short of 2,000 pounds, probably about $3,500 USD or $4000 CAD. To make that kind of money you might need to work 7 or 8 hours a day which can be quite tiring... The minimum is about $550-600NT and hour. In USD that is about $20 minimum. If you want to do privates and you get some good schools you can double that..." - Dale in Taiwan
Here is a little note on Dale's comment.
Making 100,000NT a month ($3400 USD) is not easy for most. Most teachers make closer to half of that. To do that you will need several jobs, be making a good hourly wage and working 6-7 days a week. When he is referring to working 7-8 hours a day he is probably referring to "teaching hours".
A few examples of salaries and pay for English teachers in Taiwan
Hess is perhaps the largest company (chain school) in Taiwan. Their starting pay is $NT580 an hour for beginning teachers. They note on their website that their pay does not cover grading student work or preparing for class. This is pretty common in other schools in Taiwan and in other places in Asia.
- Kalvert American School in Jhongli, Taoyuan county offers $NT650 an hour.
- Shane English Schools claims to offer NT$44,000-70,000 a month.
You can see for yourself if you check out Tealit.com for more on jobs in Taiwan.
My pay in Taiwan
For my 1st contracted job
I got paid $NT600 an hour for about 12-16 hours a week for my first gig teaching English in Taichung, Taiwan at a buxiban. That job gave me an ARC. But I worked closer to 12 hours a week on average. Then I got a few...
Part time jobs
I had this one job working a couple of hours a week for $NT700 an hour not too far from where I lived. I also had a Saturday morning job teaching in a high school outside of Taichung that paid $NT1200 an hour for 1-2 hours of work. I did that until my boss who gave me the visa (1st contracted job) said I had to work at his school on Saturday. This is a downer about visas for teaching in China, Korea and Taiwan. Your boss more or less controls it. Japan wins here!
My 2nd contracted job
For my second contracted job in Taiwan I worked at a buxiban in Tainan county. I made $NT650 an hour for about 18 teaching hours a week. Again this job like the other one in Taichung expected you to show up to prepare and not get paid for that. I actually got a ride from my boss in Tainan to work everyday.
- How much can you save teaching English in Taiwan?
- Is Taiwan expensive to live in?
- How to get a job teaching English in Taiwan
- What is it really like to teach English in Taiwan?
Salaries for teaching English in Japan
How much money can you make teaching English in Japan?
You may make the most in Japan, however there aren't usually any benefits like in Korea or in China and the cost of living can be higher. Average salaries are around 250,000 Yen ($2300 USD) a month. See the list of schools below and their salaries.
It used to be enforced by the government that all schools had to pay full time teachers at least 250,000 Yen a month.
But nowadays schools can pay what they want, so if anything salaries in Japan are sliding at least in some places.
Aside from teaching in a university (usually need a master's degree), working as an ALT in the JET program may be your best bet for making a good income in Japan. Teachers here can make around 280,000 Yen a month or more. Teaching privately can also be lucrative. Some teachers easily make $30+ an hour.
A few examples of salaries and pay for English teachers in Japan
JET programme salary
Here's a look at the Jet programs salary:
- 3,360,000 (currently close to $27,000) a year for the first year
- 3,600,000 a year for the second year
- 3,900,000 a year for the third year
- 3,960,000 a year for the fourth and fifth year
Aside from international schools and universities, which you'll need a master's degree for, the government run JET program is going to be one of the higher paying jobs. It also offers free airfare to and from Japan granted you complete the contract successfully. It is one of the only programs or positions in Japan that offers any benefits.
Compare the JET programme to INTERAC which is a dispatch company that places teachers in ALT positions like JET.
- 2.4-2.7 million Yen per year so their website says which is about an average of 200,000-225,000 Yen per month.
Heart is also a dispatch company that places ALT's in public schools and these are the details from their site.
- $18-20,000 a year.
OWL's is a dispatch company in Kyushu perfecture. Their website that their salary ranges from 220-240,000 Yen per month.
- 270,000 Yen ($2170) a month.
Berlitz is an eikaiwa chain focused mostly on teaching adults. The following is from their website.
- 275,000 Yen ($2600) a month
ECC is a chain of eikaiwa in Japan and here is their salary.
- 270,000 Yen ($2500 USD) per month
Happy English club Nagoya
This is a preschool and eikaiwa and their salary is:
- 270-300,000 ($2500-2800) Yen per month
"Phenix" English School
The salary stated in their advertisement on Ohayosensei is:
- 200,000 Yen ($1900) a month
The salary advertised on Ohayosensei by "People school" is:
- 240-270,000 Yen ($2200-2500) a month.
Teaching English privately in Japan...
Then there are always privates if you are a go-getter and can find them.
"When you can teach at an English school making $25 an hour or teaching privates for $30 an hour. And I even teach at a company that is paying $60 an hour." - Jay and MD in Fukuoka
- How much money can you save teaching English in Japan?
- Best Programs and Largest Companies in Japan
- How to get a job teaching in Japan
- What's it like to teach English in Japan?
- How to move to Japan cheaply
How and when will I be paid?
When I got paid
In my experience teaching in Korea, Taiwan and China... If you work in a private school you get paid around the 10th of the month. That means if you start your job on December 1st you're probably not going to see any money until January 10th or so. I worked in a lot of schools and that was pretty normal in the private school sector.
In Korea I also taught in a public school and there I got paid at the end of the month.
How I got paid
If I recall correctly I always got paid in cash when I worked in a private school. Yet in some cases it might've been possible to get paid by direct deposit. Direct deposit is how I got paid when I worked in a public school in Korea.
Will I make more money or have a higher salary if I have better qualifications?
Read more on whether or not better qualifications like experience, TEFL certificates, or related degrees will increase your pay. If you're considering moving you may also want to know about how much money you need to bring.
Is it all about the money?
With experience I personally wouldn't focus exclusively on the money. You can make pretty good money in all of these places. If for example, you are more interested in say China as a place, but the benefits of Korea are enticing I would recommend that you go to China. I'd say that it is important that you have an interest in a place.
Higher salaries and benefits are good, but they are extrinsic rewards. If you want to be happy focus more on intrinsic rewards.
You can make a pretty comfortable life for yourself teaching in Asia.
BUT WILL YOU ENJOY YOUR WORK?
"I wish I would have taken this course BEFORE I started teaching here three years ago.
The methods and insights given in ESL Insider's 120 hour TEFL course could have saved me a lot of grief and disappointment. Now I am optimistic about starting a new school year armed with better lessons and a realigned perspective. Thank you, ESL Insider!" - Dolly M.
Because it's day in and day out and if you don't know what you are doing you are going to have a difficult time.
So if you really want to have a good experience teaching in Asia...
Then take a look at this course as it's especially targeted at teaching mostly kids (which is 8 out of 10 jobs in East Asia).
Learn how to:
- find a good job and avoid the bad ones
- create lessons that are fun and educational
- be the one in charge and orchestrate your classes like a maestro
- crush classroom management problems and difficult students... squishhh... (just kidding)