Although financial gain is not the main motivator for every person who heads overseas to teach English, most teachers have some amount of interest in living a comfortable lifestyle during their stay abroad. In order to earn the best salary possible and to have the option of saving some of your income, there are a few tips you can follow before heading off and after you arrive in your teaching destination.
Do teachers with a TEFL certificate earn more while teaching English abroad?
Completing a TEFL qualification before you head off to teach is probably the most important thing any potential teacher can do if they want to maximise their earning power. In many countries it is an official requirement to have a TEFL certification, but even in countries where it is not you will find you have a wider choice of job options and a better chance of getting a higher paying position if you are TEFL qualified. Having a teaching qualification to add to your job applications also sends a clear message to employers that you are serious about teaching and that you have all the required skills to thrive in an international classroom environment.
Will my choice of destination make a difference to how much I can save?
The location you pick to teach English abroad can have a big impact on your ability to earn and save while overseas. Many teachers choose Western European countries such as France, Italy and Spain as their dream destinations, but in reality these are expensive countries to live in and the average salary of an inexperienced TEFL teacher is unlikely to allow you to save much if anything at all. If your priority is to earn money to pay off debts or to fund further travel, you should probably look elsewhere.
Most teachers who want to save a significant sum of money while teaching English head to East Asia or the Middle East region, where countries such as China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. all routinely offer the chance to earn a high salary. In these destinations you can also expect to receive a range of added extras such as free housing and paid airfares that all add up to a good overall package. On average, teachers working in these countries are able to save between 25% to 50% of their salary each month. This could equate to around $500 to $1500 a month in China and South Korea, or as much as $2,000 a month in some Middle East countries. In other Asian countries, including Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Taiwan, this figure will probably be around $500.
Can TEFL teachers earn extra money while teaching English abroad?
Many teachers choose to teach private students in their freetime away from their main job as a way of bringing in a little extra income. In some of the most popular teaching destinations such as China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan this is common practice as many parents choose to pay for extra English lessons for their children. In these countries TEFL qualified teachers charge between $20 and $40 per hour for each student, which means it is certainly possible to add a considerable amount to your monthly earnings. If you are teaching in Europe you might find that taking on a few extra students is a necessity in order to live the quality of life you were hoping for.
How do teachers save money on accommodation while working abroad?
For some teachers accommodation costs are not a problem as they receive free or subsidized housing as part of their contract. However, for many others, accommodation is likely to be the biggest expense they will have during their time overseas. The simplest way to reduce your housing costs is to share a house or apartment, rather than living alone. In many places it is common for teachers to split the housing costs with other teachers that work for the same school or in other schools in the local area. Another popular and very affordable option is to rent a room from a local family. Either of these common accommodation arrangements will make a big difference to your monthly outgoings and your ability to save money while teaching English abroad.
Are there any other things TEFL teachers can do to save money?
When new teachers arrive in an unfamiliar environment it is common for them to gravitate towards areas that are aimed at expats and tourists. Although bars, restaurants and coffee shops in these areas can be a great way to meet new people, they can also take a large chunk out of your wallet if you rely on them too much. If you want to maximize your saving potential you should consider doing your grocery shopping at local stores and markets rather than flashy supermarkets, and try socializing at local entertainment venues where prices are generally much lower than those that cater mainly to foreigners. As well as saving you some cash, this approach might also provide a more authentic experience of life in your host country.