Teach English Abroad

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Teaching English abroad is a great way to travel the world while doing a meaningful job. Every year, over 300,000 native English speakers take a gap-year to live in another country, travel, save money, and learn a new language! 

Teaching English abroad is not just for a gap-year adventure. More than 40% of people who start as gap-year teachers continue teaching English in a different country or return home to teach English in immersion programs. 

Teaching English abroad is perfect for:

  • Recent university graduates who want to take a gap-year and live in another country,
  • Professionals who want to make a career change,
  • People who want to travel and learn a new language.

Teaching English Abroad Requirements

In general, most English teaching jobs abroad require a minimum of:

  1. University Degree: Most countries require a 4-year university degree (in any area) to issue the work permit. If you do not have a university degree, contact the embassy of the country where you want to teach for more information about your immigration options.
  2. Accredited TESOL, TESL or TEFL Certification: The minimum requirement is a 120-hour TESOL certificate.
  3. Native English speakers from the USA, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand, or South Africa. If you are non-native speaker see our section below about English teaching jobs for non-native English speakers.  

Read More: Can I Teach English Abroad Without a Degree?
Read More: Do I Need TEFL Or TESOL?

Benefits of Teaching English Abroad

Save money

Many teach abroad programs offer accommodation and airfare on top of a competitive salary, so teachers can save money to travel and pay off their student loans.

Get paid to travel

Most teachers work an average of only 29 hours per week, including lesson planning and administrative tasks. That leaves you with lots of time to travel with your friends or on your own. You can also pursue part-time job opportunities or offer private lessons online or in person to earn more money.

There is nothing better than traveling like a local! If you like to visit unique places that are often omitted from the typical travel brochure, if you don’t like to rush on your visits, and if you like to experience all the culture and history that each place has to offer, then teaching English abroad is for you!

Start a meaningful career!
Study abroad
Gain international work experience

Teaching English abroad isn’t only for gap-year university graduates who want to travel. Many people like it so much that they pursue a career in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) or TEFL when they return home.

Some ESL teachers even take language lessons or certificate courses at foreign universities.

If you are searching for the right TEFL or TESOL certification, consider one that is accepted in Native English speaking countries such as those accredited by TESL Canada, CELTA, or TrinityCertTESOL. 

Teach abroad and travel

Read more: Jamie taught English in four different countries! He helped build a school in Uganda, took on a professional teaching job in South Korea, and traveled around Europe before he went to Turkey with the love of his life (Yes! He met her while teaching abroad!).

How Much Can I Earn Teaching English Abroad?

How much you can earn teaching english abroad depends on the destination and the position you take. It can also depend on the benefits included. For example, does the language school reimburse you for your flight or pay for your accommodation? 

Entry-Level Jobs

The average salary of an entry-level English teaching job abroad is US$2,000 per month plus benefits.

The largest group of English teachers consists of young university graduates who want to teach English abroad for a year or two. These teachers have little or no teaching experience and they come from very diverse educational backgrounds.

Most entry-level teachers go to South Korea, China, Japan, Turkey, and Thailand because because they hire thousands of ESL teachers every year, they are great travel destinations, and they offer the best pay and benefits for new teachers.

All you need to get started is a university degree and an accredited TESOL certificate of at least 120 hours. 

Professional Jobs

There are plenty of lucrative opportunities for experienced teachers. Public school jobs in Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates pay between US$45,000 and US$70,000 a year. This is a great opportunity to consider if you want to pursue a lucrative career after your gap-year experience.

A Bachelor in Education and teaching experience does not provide candidates with the skills to teach English so TESOL certification is required if you wish to teach English in one of these premium ESL programs.

IELTS Preparation

IELTS is one of the two major English proficiency tests that non-native speakers need to pass to attend an English-speaking university, qualify for high-skill jobs with international businesses, or immigrate to North America.  IELTS offers test preparation courses throughout the world and very competitive salaries.  In Canada, the average IELTS preparation teacher earns $45/hour. 

Business English

Business English courses also offer well-paid opportunities to English teachers abroad. Business English courses are more popular in Europe and East Asia. Depending on the country, an experienced teacher can earn between $30 and $50/hour teaching Business English courses.  In Russia, a Business English teacher can easily earn $100/hour with private students! 

Where can you Teach English Abroad?

COVID-19 Travel Requirements Per Destination

As we know, coronavirus is a rapidly changing situation. OnTESOL wants to ensure that you are prepared in advance with all of the most up-to-date visa and immigration information for all of the top destinations to teach English abroad.

You will notice that within each country section, we have mentioned ‘partially-restricted’ or ‘restricted.’ These restrictions are for American and Canadian citizens. If you hold a different citizenship, you may be exempted from some of these restrictions.

Partially restricted refers to a country that is open to receive new visa applications and teachers but has certain requirements in place for entry into the country such as a quarantine, vaccination, a PCR test, health insurance or some combination of a few of these.

Restricted refers to a country that is not allowing any new visa applications. We will be updating our students and graduates on an ongoing basis as to how and when the situation changes in these destinations.


Asia is the most popular destination for English teachers because they offer great packages that include work visa, accommodation, and airfare. These benefits allow teachers to return home with a few thousand dollars in their pocket.

Another great thing about teaching abroad in East Asia is that you can use a recruiter to apply for jobs from home, so there isn’t the risk factor of moving to another country and not knowing when you will find a job.

CountrySalary (USD)BenefitsEntry Restrictions
China$1,300 -$2,500 YesPartially Restricted
Japan$2,000 -$3,500 YesPartially Restricted
Hong Kong$2,200 -$8,500YesEntry Prohibited
South Korea$2,000 -$2,700YesPartially Restricted
Thailand$950 -$1,300YesPartially Restricted
Vietnam$1,400-$2,000YesPartially Restricted


Schools in Europe and Latin America are smaller, so they do not have the infrastructure and funds to recruit teachers from all over the world. This means that you have to move to the city where you want to teach, apply for jobs in person, and secure your work visa on your own.

Also, most European countries only provide the work visa to those who hold a EU passport, so teaching abroad in Europe is more challenging for US, Canadian, and Australian teachers.

CountrySalary (USD)BenefitsEntry Restrictions
Czech Republic$1,250-$1,900 NoPartially Restricted
France$1,200-$2,300 NoPartially Restricted
Germany$1,300-$2,500NoPartially Restricted
Italy$1,300-$2,700NoPartially Restricted
Poland$600-$1,000NoPartially Restricted
Russia$1,000-$1,300NoEntry Prohibited
Spain$800-$1,600NoPartially Restricted
Turkey$500-$2,500YesPartially Restricted

and South America

As mentioned above, schools in Latin America are smaller and do not have the infrastructure set up to recruit teachers from abroad. Occasionally, some schools might be open to doing an online interview before you head down, but for the most part it is expected that you travel to your destination to apply for jobs in person.

Latin America is also a great region for those who have little experience and no degree to apply. There is a wide variety of schools, including volunteer positions, universities, opportunities for private one-to-one teaching and language academies in major cities. The visa is often acquired either a few months before you leave or in-country upon arrival. 

CountrySalary (USD)BenefitsEntry Restrictions
Argentina$1,250-$1,900 NoPartially Restricted
Brazil$1,200-$2,300 NoPartially Restricted
Chile$1,300-$2,500NoPartially Restricted
Costa Rica$600-$1,000NoNormal
Ecuador$1,000-$1,300NoPartially Restricted
Peru$800-$1,600NoPartially Restricted

Middle East

Teaching in the Middle East is another region that has recruiters and the opportunity to fly to the region to apply for jobs in person. Just like East Asia, schools offer attractive packages that include accommodation, airfare, health insurance, bonuses and the work visa. It is one of the most competitive regions in the ESL industry to apply to.

ESL teachers who have at least 2 years of teaching experience, a Bachelor or Master of Education and a 250-hour TESOL diploma should consider applying to teach in the Middle East. 

CountrySalary (USD)BenefitsEntry Restrictions
Saudi Arabia$2,000-$4,000YesPartially Restricted
United Arab Emirates$2,000-$5,100YesPartially Restricted

The Best Countries to Teach English in 2021

Where are the best TEFL jobs? If you are new to the world of TEFL, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, parts of China, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Chile offer the best opportunities for entry-level teachers. 

The requirement is a university degree and a TESOL certificate of at least 120 hours. Europe is mostly off-limits to those who do not have an EU passport. But the best entry-level TEFL Jobs position are found in Turkey, France, and Germany.

Each country offers a completely different experience. South Korea is the top destination for those who wish to save some money.

South Korea

South Korea is one the best countries for teachers who love to live in a modern city that is close to nature. Great wages and low cost of living. South Korea is the top choice for new university graduates who want to teach abroad and save some money to pay their students loans. All you need is a Bachelor degree and an internationally recognized TESOL certification.

Base Salary: $2,000/month plus accommodation, airfare, and other benefits.

Covid restrictions: Partially Restricted (14-day quarantine in a local hotel. Costs covered by the teacher)

Requirements: 120-hour TEFL Certificate, university degree, citizen of the UK, Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa. 

Best time of year to apply: All year round (Hagwons). January and August (EPIK)

Visa Requirements: Work visa in advance


Turkey is a fascinating place to teach English and travel. Ancient architecture, paradise-like beaches, and a thriving ESL industry supported by the government to raise the English language proficiency of nationals and compete in the EU market.

Turkey is home to paradisiacal landscapes and magical UNESCO Heritage sites.

Take a bath in natural spring waters and swim on top of Roman ruins, travel on an air balloon, or swim in turquoise seas.

We chose Turkey as the second-best teaching abroad destination because there are plenty of jobs in the cities of Istanbul, Izmir, and Ankara, ESL teachers get a competitive salary, and there is just so much to see and do!

Covid Restrictions: Partially Restricted

Base Salary: US$1,200/month plus accommodation, airfare, and other benefits.
Requirements: Minimum 120 hour TEFL or TESOL Certificate,
Best time of year to apply: All year round
Visa Requirements: Work visa
Degree Required: Yes

Teaching English in Turkey

Read Our Guide: Teach English in Turkey


France is a top teaching abroad destination for Canadian English teachers who want to pursue lucrative career opportunities in Canada, whether in Education or business because French language proficiency pays big rewards!

Teachers from other non-EU nations such as the United States and Australia can also apply for a work visa if they are under 30 years of age (Contact the French embassy for more information).

All you need to teach English in France is a university degree and a TESOL certificate of at least 120 hours.

Covid Restrictions: Partially Restricted

Requirements: University Degree, TESOL Certificate of at least 120 hours, native English speaker, EU citizen or EU passport unless you are under 30 and are applying for the work visa. 

Base salary: €1,100
Best time of year to apply: Feb-April, August-Oct.
Visa Requirements: Work visa in advance
Degree Required: Yes

Costa Rica

If you feel that nature is calling you, then Costa Rica is the best place to teach abroad! Safe, small, and beautiful, Costa Rica is the best country in Latin America to teach English. This is the preferred destination for North American teachers because it is less than 4 hours away on a direct flight.

You can get there with a 3-month tourist visa that you process at the airport, apply for jobs, and process the work visa as you go.

Find great surfing spots, meditate on a waterfall, relax on the spring waters, or take a hike in the forest. All just one hour away from the capital city of San Jose!

There is so much natural diversity in this small Latin American nation. Waterfalls, volcanoes, beaches, rainforests, rivers, Costa Rica has it all!

We recommend teaching in San Jose because here is where most TESOL jobs in Costa Rica are found, but also because it is in the center of the country and you can travel anywhere in a 2-hour radius.

Covid Restrictions: Partially Restricted (Health insurance including COVID coverage)

Base Salary: US$600

Requirements: 120-hour TESOL or TEFL Certificate, university degree and native English proficiency required by many larger academies. 

Best time of year to apply: All year round
Visa Requirements: Tourist visa, independent contractor license
Degree Required: Degree preferred but not required.

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is the highest paying country in the TESOL industry.

You can teach at a language academy, the Abu Dhabi public school system called ADEC, at secondary or post-secondary institutions with ADVETI, or even business people in the oil industry.

Salaries In The UAE

Language school: Earn $2,500-$4,000/month plus housing and other benefits. All you need to get a job at a language school in the UAE is a BA, an advanced TESOL certificate, and one to two years of teaching experience.

ADEC: Earn $3,500-$5,500/month plus housing, airfare, and other benefits. You need a Bachelor’s degree, a teaching license, a TESOL certificate of at least 120 hours if you are planning to teach ESL and a minimum of 3 years of teaching experience.

ADVETI: Earn $4,000-$6,000/month plus housing, airfare, school allowance, and other benefits. Bachelor’s degree plus teaching license (MA in Education preferred), an advanced TESOL certificate, and a minimum of 3 years of teaching experience.

Covid Restrictions: Partially Restricted

Best time of year to apply: All year round
Visa Requirements: Work visa in advance

TESOL Dubai, UAE - Burj Khalifa

Can I Teach English Abroad without a Degree?

Yes, you can teach English abroad without a university degree. The reason many TESOL jobs require a university degree is that it is required to obtain the work visa in most countries; however, there are many people teaching abroad without a university degree in countries that do not require it.

Some places that do not require a degree are:

  • Japan
  • Cambodia
  • Nicaragua
  • Ecuador
  • Costa Rica

NOTE: Teaching without a degree may be illegal, so contact the embassy of the country you are interested in working to learn about their immigration requirements. Regulations change and there are some recruiters and TESOL / TEFL institutes that charge a lot of money promising jobs and visa clearance. Do not sign any contracts without first checking with the embassy.

Why do I need a TESOL or TEFL Certificate to teach English Abroad?

The reason taking a TESOL or TEFL certification course is required for most teaching jobs abroad is that the certificate shows you received training in grammar, phonology, and methodology. In order to be a good teacher, you need to know the rules of the English language and be able to teach the language. Most schools are professionally run and only hire certified teachers.

The reason for taking a TESOL certification course is not only for meeting job requirements. Knowing how to create professional lesson plans is crucial for your success abroad. Most language programs have outdated and boring textbooks. This is the biggest challenge that entry-level teachers experience adapting to the teaching job and overcoming culture shock. An accredited TESOL course will teach you how to plan lessons using authentic material such as movies, songs, and newspaper articles. The methodology you learn with OnTESOL will give you the structure to be a reflective and adaptive teacher anywhere in the world! 

Knowing how to create professional lesson plans using the Communicative Approach is crucial for your success abroad.  

Sojak, our TESOL Expert in Saudi Arabia, says that knowing how to use the communicative approach helped him avoid the textbook many times and his goal is to eventually avoid the textbook altogether. 

Catherine, out TESOL Expert in Thailand, said that the school didn’t even have a textbook and she had to create the syllabus all on her own! 

Brandon, our TESOL Expert in Germany, said that the 120-hour TESOL certificate he took with OnTESOL helped him gain confidence in the classroom and keep his job.

Do I need TEFL or TESOL?

TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) are interchangeable terms that refer to the same industry of English Language Teaching. There is no real difference among them.

When looking for the right TEFL or TESOL course, the source of the certification is far more important than the acronym used on the certificate. Methodology is the main focus of a TESOL or TEFL course and the methods for teaching English are standard across the world. The quality of the course depends on the course material, the teacher trainer, and the accreditation. 

Since 2003, OnTESOL has led the industry in quality teacher training by offering advanced TESOL certification courses with a strong focus on lesson planning and the Communicative Language Teaching Method. 

Read more: TESOL Certification Guide

Can I Teach English Abroad without TESOL certification?

While some entry-level jobs don’t require it, an internationally recognized TEFL certificate is often required when applying for a work visa. The TESOL courses offered by OnTESOL are recognized by TESL Canada. This means that you can autheticate your OnTESOL certificate with Global Affairs Canada or apply for teaching jobs anywhere in Canada.

It is also recommended to take a TESOL certification that is recognized by TESL Canada, CELTA, or Trinity CertTESOL to qualify for English teaching jobs in native-speaking countries such as Canada or the United States.

Read more: Planning To Teach English Abroad? Government Authentication Required For Your TESOL / TEFL Certification

Do I need to learn a new language?

You don’t need to speak the local language to teach English abroad. 

The English-only policy prevails in most programs and schools want certified teachers who know how to use the Communicative Approach. Our TESOL courses will prepare you for the job.

That said, you should take advantage of your time abroad to learn a new language for your own personal development. It is useful for building rapport with your students, overcoming culture shock, and getting better job opportunities at home when you return from your gap-year.  

Breno our TESOL Expert in the Czech Republic, says that speaking some Czech has helped him understand his students better.

Greg, our TESOL Expert in the United Arab Emirates, said that learning Arabic has helped him build great rapport with his students.

Is teaching experience required to teach English abroad?

Teaching experience is not required to teach English abroad if you want an entry-level gap-year job that pays about $2,000/month plus benefits. Teaching experience may be required in native-English speaking countries, the Middle East, Hong Kong, IELTS teaching jobs, or management positions. 

If I am a non-native English speaker, can I teach abroad?

While job opportunities do exist for non-native English speakers, the options are more limited due to work visa requirements. 

Some countries that welcome applications from non-native English include:

  • Turkey
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Hong Kong

Your chances of successfully teaching English abroad will increase if you also have a TESOL certificate, a degree, and a passion for teaching. An IELTS score of 7 or higher is also often required for non-native English speakers.

If you are open to teaching English online, there are also many online schools that hire non-native English teachers. OnTESOL offers its students and graduates access to a job board with over 20 online schools to choose from. We also offer assistance with your cover letter and resume to support you in performing well in the interview.

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