Teaching English abroad is, in my humble opinion, the best way to balance work and travel.
It’s the ultimate cultural immersion experience. Living in a country day-to-day is so different than just traveling through. Plus, having weekends open to travel is a huge bonus!
But teaching English abroad isn’t always the most lucrative field. When I taught in Thailand for a semester, I was making about $700 USD per month. It was livable, but it’s definitely nothing to brag about.
I’m headed back to Thailand in October, and I plan on making much more money this time.
If you’re looking to do the same, here are five ways you can make more money teaching English abroad.
Get a TEFL or CELTA certificate
The first requirement for teaching English abroad at a lot of schools is a valid TEFL or CELTA. Many schools require this even if you have a valid teaching license. Even if your school doesn’t require it, it can boost your pay.
There are a million TEFL/CELTA courses available online and in person, and just as many debates happening over which kind of course to take.
Here’s a quick rundown of your options:
CELTA: In general, more widely respected than TEFL. (The more “serious” cert.) It’s probably the best actual teaching preparation, but it’s also more demanding and far more expensive.
In-person TEFL: Includes live teaching components and actual classroom time. Often cheaper than CELTA but there are still many well-respected programs.
Online TEFL: Aka “Groupon TEFL.” This is your easiest & cheapest option and you can find infinite courses online. There are also Groupons in the $20-$50 range for a 120 hour course. You won’t get a well-recognized name to add to your resume, but it works if you just need to meet the requirement to teach.
Weigh your options here and figure out which works best for you. I taught with no TEFL my first time in Thailand, but the pay sucked. I plan to go the Groupon route this time around just to stick it on my resume, as I’ll have a teaching license.
Which brings me to my next point:
Get a Teaching License
This is such an obvious option that I feel a lot of people overlook. Being a certified teacher in your home country is a way to make your pay abroad skyrocket. Of course, it takes time and effort, and requirements will vary by state/country.
In Massachusetts, my home state, I need a college degree in anything and to pass two MTELS (licensure tests) to get a preliminary teaching license. (What tests you take will vary based on the subject you’re getting licensed in.) This type of license is valid for five years.
While the tests aren’t easy, it’s definitely possible to study and pass. I’ll have a valid license when I teach again in October.
This is an option everyone serious about teaching English abroad should look into. It’s the #1 way to boost your pay.
Get Experience at Home
Having some classroom experience in your home country is a great way to make yourself stand out to schools abroad. It makes you look like you know what you’re doing and it also gives you background to pull from and talk about during interviews. And, of course, it will give you ideas you can implement in your classroom abroad.
You don’t have to decide to be a teacher for a whole year overnight.
Here are some easy ways to get relevant experience at home:
Substitute teach a couple days a week
Tutor (volunteer or paid)
Volunteer in a classroom
Become a paraprofessional or teacher’s aide (full time job)
Observe a teacher
Get Experience Abroad
This can be both teaching experience and just general experience abroad. For example, I did a low-paying semester in Thailand through a program called CIEE. It’ll make getting a higher-paying job this time around infinitely easier. But there are also lots of ways to do this that are short-term or don’t even require you to leave your country at all.
Here are some ideas:
Overseas summer camp/English camp
Tutor English online (Here’s an awesome list of companies looking for foreign tutors.)
Teach in a high-paying country
Thailand has my heart for now, but the pay absolutely sucks in comparison to other countries.
Here are some well-paying countries for teaching English abroad:
There ya go! Five ways to boost your paycheck teaching English abroad.
It’s completely possible to make a decent living teaching English abroad with a little effort. Plus, the lifestyle of travel that it affords you is incomparable.
Thinking about teaching English abroad? Already teaching and figured out how to boost your pay? Let me know in the comments!