It is important to appreciate that higher salaries are made available to attract the best teaching candidates. What each country considers best does depend on the country, but there are some common factors regarding qualifications and experience when it comes to securing the top paying jobs.
In general you need to be a native English speaker, have a degree, usually in education or a related field, and a minimum of a TEFL certificate (though often higher, such as a Diploma in TESOL). You will often see that a minimum of two years teaching experience is also needed.
If you have all the above, you have a good chance of gaining employment in the first five of our top ten below. With some of them, you may be able to gain employment in the other five.
Top ten paying countries for EFL teachers
Figures taken from a range of teaching positions posted on a number of EFL job sites.
1. The United Arab Emirates, sometimes simply called the Emirates or UAE, is a federation of seven emirates (states): of these Abu Dhabi and Dubai are probably the best known. Typical pay range = $3,500 - $5,500.
2. Saudi Arabia. In addition to a tax free salary there are often many additional benefits that come with jobs in Saudi Arabia. Examples of the ‘perks’ are: end of service gratuity, special end of service bonus, fully furnished rent free apartment, transport to and from school, water, electricity and other utilities are free. Typical pay range = $2,500 - $5,000.
3. Qatar. A fairly typical list of the requirements for a primary school level teacher in Qatar are: degree in secondary education, a teaching license (state license/QTSetc), a minimum of 3 years of teaching, at least 2 references, and an up to date police check. Typical pay range = $2,500 - $5,000.
4. Kuwait. There are many international schools in Kuwait which teach from a British, American or Australian curriculum. In addition to EFL teachers and instructors, positions are also available in these schools to teach other subjects in English. Typical pay range = $2,500 - $4,000.
5. Oman. Typical working conditions in Oman include: five working days a week (from Sunday to Thursday), plus paid holidays as per Oman labor law. Typical pay range = $2,000 - $3,500.
6. Japan. The job market for TEFL in Japan is one the largest in the world. Teaching in Japan offers a vast variety of experience. You will be expected to work hard but you can earn a high salary. Typical pay range = $2,000 - $5,000.
7. South Korea. TEFL graduates usually have no problem finding a TEFL job. In South Korea the pay is generally good, the cost of living is not too high and you can usually save part of your salary each month. Typical pay range = $1,500 - $3,000.
8. Taiwan. Taiwan has thousands of English language schools and hundreds of thousands of English language students. TEFL jobs are mainly in private language schools and kindergarten, and you can expect to be offered TEFL jobs at both. Typical pay range = $2,500 - $5,000.
9. Hong Kong. Another place where the base salary must be viewed against the cost of living. Hong Kong can be a very expensive place to live, so you should always look at what else comes with the salary, such as accommodation and benefits. Typical pay range = $2,000 - $5,000.
10. Western Europe. As a rough rule the further west you move in Europe the greater the opportunity for a higher salary, but this is one area where the ‘cost of living’ becomes very important. The cost of living in some Western European countries, Switzerland for example, is very high. Typical pay range = $1,500 - $4,000.