Every year, thousands of people move away from their home countries to teach abroad. They move away for many reasons. Teaching abroad offers decent work experience and good pay and it also allows individuals a chance to travel to exotic countries. Moreover, you don’t need a lot of skills to teach abroad. Every country has its own rules and guidelines for international English teachers, but there are also several common denominators that can be assumed for each country.

    • You must be a native English speaker.
    • Most teaching destinations these days require a university degree.
    • Previous teaching experience is not necessary, but it does help your chances of getting a job.
    • TEFL and TESOL certification aren’t required everywhere yet, but more and more schools are requiring them.
    • If you are looking for work in public school systems, you will likely need to take a TEFL course or be a certified teacher with teaching experience .

How To Write An ESL Resume That Will Get Noticed


Owing to a high demand for teachers, the best countries for teaching abroad are in Asia. Finding a job in Asia is easy, especially if you are from North America. There are a number of websites, job placement agencies, and recruiting companies that can help you with your search.


If you’re looking for work in Europe, keep in mind that it is very difficult to get a work permit if you are not a citizen of the European Union. If you are from the UK, however, finding a job shouldn’t be much of a problem.

Two major tips to keep in mind when you are job hunting:

1. Do your homework on any company or school you are interested in working for.

2. Remember that the interview process works both ways. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask for references, and don’t pay anyone to secure a job for yourself.

With these details in mind, please read on to learn about some of the most popular TEFL destinations in the world.

Useful Articles about Teaching Abroad

Five of the Most Popular Teaching Destinations in the World


South Korea schools are well known for offering teaching positions that come with amazing benefits, making it a popular destination for many teachers heading to Asia. Public and private school options are widely available in South Korea. It has reined as the most popular teaching destination for many years because the salary packages are terrific. If you’re not bringing home $10,000USD at the end of your first year in South Korea, you probably living the high life in Korea.


  • Bachelor’s degree


  • Excellent pay. Basic salary is around 1.8 million Won ($1900 USD) a month
  • A low cost of living
  • Airfare is generally offered by most schools
  • Housing or housing subsidy
  • Health insurance airfare


  • Minimum one year contract
  • Long workweeks – 40+ hours a week.
  • Korea is also well known for dodgy schools, so do your homework and check out the schools you are applying with before you sign a contract.

Guide to Teaching English in China_.jpg


Over the past ten years, China has become a popular choice for English teachers. Five years ago, it was easy to find a job without a degree. These days, however, it’s getting harder and harder to find a job without the proper qualifications. Competition is fierce and good schools are hard to come by.


  • College or university degree
  • A 100+ hour TEFL Certification – The Chinese government is cracking down on teaching in Asia. Reputable schools now ask that teachers have at least a 100-hour TEFL certificate in order to be considered for a teaching position.
  • You must be 24 years of age
  • You must have two years of post graduate work experience


  • Most schools offer paid holidays
  • Some schools offer benefits
  • It’s still possible to find work without a university or college degree
  • Extremely low cost of living
  • Accommodations or Housing Assistance
  • Visa sponsorship
  • Some schools offer airfare reimbursement
  • Some schools offer end of year contract completion bonus


  • Be cautious when you’re searching for jobs. If you’re interested in teaching at a school that offers all kinds of benefits, make sure you do your homework.
  • Not all schools are legit and many schools have been accused of all kinds of abuse, including holding on to a teacher’s passport and refusing to pay for return flight tickets.
  • A teaching salary is more than adequate to live on comfortably, but you might not be able to save or travel as much.


Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, is a city of over 2 million that includes thousands of expats from all over the world. You can expect a low cost of living and a huge salary range. Unqualified teachers have made as little as $300-$500USD for a part time teaching job, while teachers with experience and credentials can earn as much as $2,500USD per month

There is a huge range of different salaries and it depends on a huge range of factors! From the age and level of the students, the teacher’s qualifications and experience, the city that you live in and more! I’ve heard people being offered salaries as low as $300 for a part time job teaching kindergarten and I personally know people that earn in excess of $2000-$2500 a month teaching full time in a good school.

In fact, most teachers will find a job earning $10 per hour with little experience and no qualifications. For the higher salaried positions ($15-$20), you would need qualifications and experience.


  • You must be a native English speaker (Even this rule can be bent, though.)


  • Low cost of living
  • Inexperienced teachers can easily find work here


  • Living outside of Phnom Penh might not be for everyone, thus jobs in Phnom Penh can be competitive


Jobs in Japan may be a little harder to find, but there’s no denying that Japan is one of the top destinations for teachers looking for work abroad. JET or The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program is a popular program with teachers.


  • A Bachelor’s Degree
  • Preference is generally given to teachers with Master’s degrees or previous experience


  • Monthly salary of $1800-$2300US
  • Visa sponsorship
  • Paid vacation
  • Housing assistance is sometimes offered


  • A high cost of living can take up to 75% of your paycheck
  • One year contracts
  • You’ll need start-up capital
  • Teachers generally need to pay their own airfare
  • You might need to be flexible about your job placement
  • Good jobs can be hard to find because the market is over saturated

Isla Formosa


Few places can match Taiwan’s cost of living vs. pay ratio. Over the past ten years, it has been an extremely popular destination for teachers looking for work abroad. Reach to Teach Recruiting is probably the biggest and best known provider to ESL teachers in Taiwan. They’re also one of the few agencies on the island that doesn’t charge teachers for jobs.

Teaching English and Living in Taiwan, otherwise known as Tealit, is one of the go-to sites on working in Taiwan. This is where you’ll find everything from apartments for rent, jobs, and general merchandise for sale to language exchange partners, nightlife, and everything else you need to know about living and working in Taiwan. Bear in mind that this site has been around for years and there are a lot of scammy schools and agents there looking for teachers. Make sure you do your research.

MYU Language Teacher Finder – Whether you’re a teacher looking for students or a student looking for a teacher, this is where you should start your search.


  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • TEFL/CELTA certification isn’t necessary, but it will increase your chances of getting a better salary. Some schools will not hire teachers without a TEFL or CELTA qualification.


  • Low cost of living
  • Excellent salary. Teachers here can expect to earn between NT$50,000- NT$60,000 a month. ($1500-$2200 USD)
  • Medical Insurance is generally provided
  • Some schools offer a housing subsidy
  • Some schools offer paid holidays


  • The market has become oversaturated in the last few years and jobs are getting harder to find
  • Compensation packages for airfare and housing generally aren’t offered
  • You’ll need start-up capital for your first few months
  • You might only be able to find work teaching children
  • 20% of your paycheck goes to taxes
  • One year contract


Teaching English in Brazil is a wonderful experience and there is a high demand for English teachers.


  • A bachelor’s degree is generally required for work in Brazil.


  • TEFL, TESOL, or Cambridge CELTA certification is not a prerequisite.
  • If you are hired by Brazilian school or company, you will probably receive in-house training regardless of whether or not you are certified.


  • Getting a work visa for teaching English in Brazil is quite difficult and will require a lot of patience.
  • Because of the complications and expenses involved in filing for work visas, most schools in Brazil are generally unwilling to sponsor teachers.


  • It is possible to arrange a job beforehand. Dave’s ESL Cafe occasionally has ads for teaching positions in Brazil. You might consider researching schools and then contacting them directly instead of waiting for advertisements to appear online.


Some of the highest paying jobs for native English speaking teachers can be found in the Middle East.


  • TEFL/TESL/CELTA certification generally required
  • BA in English
  • 2-3 years of teaching experience
  • Some schools require a Master’s degree
  • A good understanding of what to expect from life in the Middle East and an understanding of cultural differences is required.


  • Excellent salary. $2000US a month tax free
  • Health insurance is generally provided
  • Accommodation is usually provided]
  • Visa sponsorship paid
  • Airfare compensation
  • Paid holidays up to one month
  • Free transportation to and from work
  • Low cost of living


  • Previous teaching experience is a requirement for any job
  • Restrictive society
  • Significant cultural differences. A good understanding of Middle Eastern culture comes highly recommended
  • Teachers share a flat with another teacher of the same sex
  • 40 hours a week


If paradise is what you are after, consider looking for a teaching position in Thailand.


  • A university degree is a basic requirement for teaching in Thailand


  • Incredible opportunities for cheap travel
  • Low cost of living
  • Monthly salary between $700 and $900 USD
  • Some schools offer housing or housing subsidy
  • Completion and performance bonuses
  • 20 days paid vacation


  • Minimum one year contract
  • You earn a low salary compared to other countries in Asia


Teachers considering a teaching position in exotic Turkey will be pleasantly surprised. The people there are friendly and hospitable, the architecture is sublime, the food is incredible and there is a dynamic mix of eastern and western cultures here. Best of all, there is a high demand for English teachers!


  • Native English speaker
  • Bachelor’s degree is good, but not necessary
  • No previous teaching experience required


  • Many schools will hire without the proper qualifications as the number of students wanting to learn English far outweighs the number of English teachers
  • Monthly salary of $700 – $1500 USD
  • Accommodations are generally provided by schools
  • Six and twelve month contracts
  • Some schools offer return airfare or airfare subsidy
  • Summer job placements available at some schools


  • Owing to low salaries, there isn’t much opportunity to save
  • Most schools aren’t willing to provide a work permit
  • Income tax 25%
  • Cost of living is low but it has been increasing sharply because of inflation
  • Some schools still treat their teachers quite badly. Do your homework!



  • CELTA, Trinity TESOL and/or Degree in TESOL
  • Teaching experience is generally required


  • Decent monthly salary ($1040-1160 USD)
  • Some schools offer an end of contract bonus
  • Visa support
  • Accommodations are generally provided
  • Health insurance
  • Some schools offer airfare reimbursement


  • Online teaching qualifications might not be accepted


Mexico is a great place to gain experience as an ESL instructor. It’s unique culture, rich geography, and extraordinary sights mean you’ll never be short of things to look at. f you’re interested in finding a teaching position in Mexico, contact a local TEFL program and ask them to help you get in contact with a good local school.


  • A university degree in related fields
  • TESOL, CELTA, TEFL, EFL certification


  • Low salary, but more than enough to live on
  • Accommodations are generally provided by the school
  • Paid vacation


  • Teaching salaries in Mexico are quite low, starting between $350-$700 USD per month
  • Some areas in Mexico are dangerous, especially for women
  • It might be difficult to find a job before you go as hiring rarely takes place via the telephone or Internet


The Czech Republic offers incredible scenery and architecture, Eastern and Central European countries are more likely to take non E.U. citizens than Western Europe. The Prague Post, a weekly English language newspaper, is the best place to look for job opportunities.


  • University Degree


  • A low cost of living
  • Decent salary. Teachers here can expect to earn between 16,000-24,000kc per month ($750-$1100 USD)
  • Jobs are relatively easy to find owing to a high demand for teachers


  • You’ll have to find and pay for your own housing
  • Teaching in Europe is generally restricted to residents of the EU. Americans and Canadians will find it hard to get a job here.
  • Don’t rule out the possibility of finding a job in Europe if you aren’t an EU citizen. You might have to do more research in order to find your dream job.


Vietnam is a good option if you like teaching young kids. Vietnam typically pays less than most Asian countries, but the cost of living is quite low.



  • Low cost of living
  • Contract completion bonus
  • Paid vacation
  • 30 days vacation each year
  • Some schools offer annual paid home-visit on renewed contracts
  • Some schools offer free language lessons
  • Visa and work permit sponsorship


  • Housing is usually not offered
  • Airfare generally isn’t included with your contract
  • You’ll need some start up capital for your first few months in Vietnam



  • University degree
  • CELTA/Trinity (or equivalent)
  • US/UK/AUS/CAN/NZ resident


  • Your salary is more than enough to live on comfortably
  • Low cost of living
  • Some schools offer housing
  • More than 20 days of vacation time
  • Some schools offer one month contract completion bonus
  • Health insurance
  • Some schools offer return airfare
  • Visa and work permit covered by school


  • Teaching contracts vary greatly from school to school
  • In-country travel restrictions
  • You must be willing to sign a one year contract
  • A low monthly salary ($600-$800 USD) is more than enough to live on



  • University Degree
  • TEFL/TESOL certificate required
  • No previous teaching experience required


  • Low cost of living


  • Minimum 10-12 month contract
  • Low monthly salary ($600USD – $800USD)


Teaching and living abroad can be the most incredible experience of your life or it can be the worst, depending on how you deal with the difficulties of living and working in a foreign country. Adjusting to a new country and a new culture can be trying, especially when we aren’t willing to adapt or be accepting of a culture that is completely different to our own. This can lead to feelings of depression, loneliness, isolation and complaining.

Continue reading about ways to ways to deal with culture shock.



    (November 27, 2009 - 3:27 pm)

    Useful summary. I have been thinking about teaching English recently and this has given me a lot of good starting points. Thanks.


      (December 1, 2009 - 8:38 am)

      Hi Dan,

      So, you’re thinking of making the jump after you finish your world travels? I’ll have to check in with you in a month or so to find out if you’ve made any plans.


    (November 28, 2009 - 5:03 am)

    Wow, this is a great list Carrie.

    I think your summary of teaching in China is pretty spot on. One thing for sure is you need to do your homework or go by referral from a trusted friend. I’ve also heard bad stories from other expats of shady businesses and schools jerking teachers around. Unfortunately it seems like the business culture in China is that if someone can take advantage of you to make/save money, they will. You have to be careful and be smart.

    The extreme low cost of living in China is great. Although a teacher’s salary is pretty low (anywhere from 2000 RMB in small, backwater cities to 10,000 RMB in Shanghai/Beijing per month) it’s still enough to live comfortably and enjoy some Western luxuries from time to time.

    I totally agree that if you are looking to travel in China while teaching, you’ll be hard pressed to save any money at all.


      (December 1, 2009 - 8:39 am)

      Thanks Graham. While I lived teaching in China, there were times when I struggled to come up with the cash to travel or go home. That said, nothing beats the experience! The low rate of pay is one of the reasons why we moved to Taiwan, but we mistakenly assumed that Taiwan would be a lot like China. Boy, were we ever wrong!

    Financial Samurai

    (November 29, 2009 - 5:45 am)

    Such a fantastic overview! Sweet!

    What I heard about China is that if you are Chinese American ,or Chinese English i.e. not Caucasian, they don’t accpe tyou to teach English. Is this true?

    See you at Financial Samurai one day!


      (December 1, 2009 - 8:43 am)

      Financial Samurai,

      It’s not impossible. I had a Chinese Australian friend who found work in China, but she had some difficulties with parents who wouldn’t accept that she was Australian. She worked for a year and called it quits.

      I’m sad to say that what you have heard is most likely true.


    (December 1, 2009 - 8:14 am)

    Ahw man. You must be a native English speaker… I was hoping that “fluent” would be enough. There goes carreer option B. Who on earth wants to learn how to speak Dutch? Anyone?


      (December 1, 2009 - 8:50 am)

      Aww…Kim. I’m sorry to disappoint. It’s possible to find work here if you’re fluent, it’s just not legal. However, when you stop to consider that a good number of teachers over here are already working illegally, it doesn’t sound quite so bad.

    Nomadic Matt

    (December 1, 2009 - 9:03 am)

    You can get out of your contract easy anywhere you go. I mean I’ve never really followed with that. But in Thailand you can get a lot of teaching jobs that don’t have any contract. There is a lot of test prep here that is contract free…pays super good too. …Also the salary is usually around 40,000-50000 baht for a language school teacher.


      (December 1, 2009 - 9:32 am)

      Awesome! Thanks Matt!

      I would like to add here that breaking contract in some countries can have nasty consequences. For example, in China and Taiwan, you will most likely face a penalty of some sort unless you can sweet talk your way out of it.

      While researching this post, I noticed that Thailand seems to have an unusually wide range of monthly salaries. I’ve seen jobs for as low as $35,000 and as high as $80,000. I assume the normal factors apply here: previous teaching experience, teaching certification, education, and the type of school you will be working at.

      Matt, you wrote a post about the lowdown on schools in Thailand. I’d be happy to add it as a resource if you like.

    […] Thinking of teaching abroad?  Carrie provides a quick guide to some popular destinations. […]


    (December 5, 2009 - 5:53 am)

    This is so helpful! My brother is interested in possibly coming to Asia to teach, so I’m going to pass this on to him. Thanks for this!


      (December 12, 2009 - 3:56 am)

      Thanks Cahleen. I hope he finds some use for it!


    (December 6, 2009 - 10:03 am)

    Nomadic Matt, I’d be interested to know about opportunities to do test prep and similar in Thailand. I always heard Thailand was cheap but the low pay prevented any kind of real traveling or saving. I’m finishing a contract in Japan at the end of March ’10.


    (January 25, 2010 - 2:08 am)

    Hi Carrie,
    I’m wondering which organization(s) you went through to secure your teaching positions, and if you’d recommend them? There are so many options to sift through and it’s difficult to know which ones are reliable/legit.
    Thanks for sharing all your info resources!


      (January 25, 2010 - 9:09 am)

      Hi Robyn,

      Before moving to China, I did a lot of research on my own because I was warned to stay away from recruiters. I ended up working at Bai Da Wei English School and I would highly recommend them. Perfect English is also another great school.

      The only recruiting company that I can personally recommend (and I give it a glowing recommendation) is Reach To Teach. They hire teachers out to schools in Taiwan, Korea, and China.


    (January 26, 2010 - 11:56 pm)

    This is very helpful – thanks Carrie. I’d also heard Footprints Recruiting was recommended…but I wonder why you were warned away from recruiters? I did explore Reach to Teach and so far am very impressed. A couple emails I sent were answered promptly.

    Thanks again for your info and insights 🙂


      (January 28, 2010 - 9:34 am)

      Hi Robyn,

      I wasn’t warned away from recruiters. I just didn’t see the point of going through a recruiter when I could do the research on my own. While researching, I found several testimonials from teachers talking about the horrors of dealing with recruiting companies. That doesn’t necessarily mean that all recruiting companies are bad. There are plenty of teachers out there who have found something to complain about over nothing, so I think it all needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

      Initially, my husband and I were looking for our own jobs in Taiwan. We contacted Reach to Teach by chance, but they were so professional and impressed us so much that in the end, we figured we’d give them a try. We were firm about where we wanted to work, we knew what we wanted from our school, and we also knew what our teaching experience added up to in terms of salary. We were offered positions at two schools before we accepted teaching positions. We also made a point of not signing any contracts until we had spent some time at the school and talked to the teachers there.

      I can imagine that new teachers might not think they have a choice. I wish I could let them know that you always have a choice, and if what you are being offered doesn’t sit well with you, it’s OK to say that you’d like to look at something else instead.

      Reach to Teach has excellent teacher testimonials. I’m sure that if you contacted any teachers with the company, you would hear the same thing from them.

      I don’t know a lot about Footprints. I’ve heard both good and bad things. A former colleague of mine arrived in China through Footprints and he had nothing but problems.

      Anyways, I hope this has helped. Good luck!


    (January 29, 2010 - 3:00 am)

    Hi Carrie,
    Again – lots of great info. Sounds like you guys really did thorough research. I’ve now stumbled upon Aclispe – http://www.aclipse.net/index.html – and they look good too!
    I’m intrigued with all of this.
    I appreciate all the insight!


    (January 29, 2010 - 3:16 am)

    Actually, I’ve just been reading some reviews of Aclipse and they’re not good ones. hmm.. the research continues…


    (July 31, 2013 - 4:44 pm)

    Hello Carrie and everyone,

    I took a gap year to teach in a school in Nigeria, West Africa and it was a great and very fulfilling experience. I ended up going back to teach for another four years. I have been asked to help recruit english teachers and school Registrars for some of the Schools i worked with so if you are interested or you might know anyone who is, please contact me for more information.


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