The simple reason why some countries or schools offer higher salaries is to attract the very best candidates for their vacant positions. What is considered to be the best candidates does vary considerably from one country to the next, but there are a few common factors regarding teaching qualifications and classroom experience that appear when looking at jobs that pay the most.
These common factors are: being a native English speaker, with a degree in education or a related field, and a TESOL certificate (although higher qualifications such as a Diploma in TESOL are sometimes needed). A minimum of two years previous teaching experience is also often asked for.
If you are lucky enough to tick all the boxes stated above you will be in with a very good chance of securing a top teaching job in any of the top five countries on our list. If you only have some of the points covered, you should still be able to find employment in the other five countries listed.
Top ten paying countries for ESL teachers
The following figures are taken from a range of positions advertised on different ESL job sites.
The United Arab Emirates
Also known as the Emirates or UAE, this popular teaching destination is a federation of seven individual emirates (states). The most well known of the emirates are probably Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Typical pay range is between $3,500 and $5,500 per month.
Although famous for offering its teachers a tax free salary, Saudi Arabia is also one of the best places for receiving extra benefits in your overall package. These additional perks could include an end of contract bonus, a rent free apartment, transport to and from school, and free utilities. Typical pay range is between $2,500 and $5,000 per month.
If you want to land a teaching job here it is worth knowing that the average list of requirements for a primary school level teacher is a degree in some form of education, a teaching license (state license/QTS etc), at least three years of experience, two references, and a police check. Typical pay range is between $2,500 and $5,000 per month.
Kuwait has a number of international schools that follow a British, American or Australian curriculum. As well as offering plenty of ESL positions, this type of school also has opportunities to teach other subjects in English. Typical pay range is between $2,500 and $4,000 per month.
The working week for teachers in Oman is five days a week, from Sunday to Thursday. Typical pay range is between $2,000 and $3,500 per month.
Japan has one of the biggest job markets for ESL teachers in the world. Teachers are expected to work relatively hard in comparison to some other countries, however, the salary provided is usually quite generous. Typical pay range is between $2,000 and $5,000 per month.
TESOL qualified teachers should have little trouble finding a suitable job in South Korea as demand is very high across the country. With a good salary and a low cost of living, most people can save a healthy portion of their salary. Typical pay range is between $1,500 and $3,000 per month.
There are countless English language schools and hundreds of thousands of potential English language students to be found in Taiwan. The majority of positions are located in private language schools and kindergarten. Typical pay range is between $2,500 and $5,000 per month.
As the cost of living in Hong Kong is quite high, particularly accommodation, it is important to weigh up any potential salary accordingly. Jobs that come with accommodation and other benefits are the ones to look out for. Typical pay range is between $2,000 and $5,000 per month.
It is generally true that the further west you go in Europe, the higher the salary on offer for ESL teachers. However, this is also true of the cost of living, which makes some countries very difficult to make a good living in. Typical pay range is between $1,500 and $4,000 per month.