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Teach English Abroad

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.

Requirements for Teaching English Abroad

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

  1. University Degree: Most countries require a 4-year bachelor 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. TESOL, TESL or TEFL Certification*: The minimum requirement is a 120-hour 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.  

* A TEFL certification is your passport for teaching jobs worldwide, but not all TEFL courses are made the same. The best courses are recognized by TESL Canada, Trinity CertTESOL, and/or Cambridge CELTA, such as the OnTESOL courses developed by Coventry House International.

Read MoreTEFL Certification Requirements by Country

Read More:
Can I Teach English Abroad without a Degree?
Read More: Do I Need TEFL or TESOL?

Where are our Graduates?

Since 2003, we’ve helped thousands of teachers advance in their careers.

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.

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

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 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 a 120-hour TESOL certificate. 

Professional Jobs

There are plenty of lucrative opportunities for experienced K-12 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 B.Ed and teaching experience does not provide candidates with the skills to teach English, so TEFL / TESOL certification is required if you wish to teach English in one of these premium ESL programs.

Recommended for K-12 Teachers Going Abroad: 168-hour Hybrid TEFL Certificate

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?


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)Benefits
China$1,300 -$2,500 Yes
Japan$2,000 -$3,500 Yes
Hong Kong$2,200 -$8,500Yes
South Korea$2,000 -$2,700Yes
Thailand$950 -$1,300Yes


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)Benefits
Czech Republic$1,250-$1,900 No
France$1,200-$2,300 No

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)Benefits
Argentina$1,250-$1,900 No
Brazil$1,200-$2,300 No
Costa Rica$600-$1,000No

Middle East

The Middle East offers 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.

Teaching English in the Middle East is recommended for ESL teachers who have at least 2 years of teaching experience, a Bachelor or Master of Education and a recognized TEFL certification with young learner specialization.

CountrySalary (USD)Benefits
Saudi Arabia$2,000-$4,000Yes
United Arab Emirates$2,000-$5,100Yes

The Best Countries to Teach English in 2024

Where are the best TEFL jobs in 2024? South Korea, Germany, Costa Rica, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates are the 5 most popular destinations for teaching English abroad. Each country on our list offers a completely different experience. South Korea is the top destination for entry-level ESL teachers who wish to save some money, while Costa Rica is the best place for teaching online and travelling.

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 TEFL / TESOL certification.

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

Requirements: 120-hour TESOL 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


Germany is the best country to teach English in Europe because it has a thriving ESL industry that offers a great variety of jobs for teaching adults and young learners in Business English, after-school programs, summer programs, and more. Germany is also on the list of top countries to teach English in 2024 because a EU passport is not required to obtain the work visa. If you are a Canadian or US citizen planning to teach English in Germany, all you need is a BA degree in any area and a 120-hour TEFL / TESOL certification.

Base Salary: 20 Euro/hour
Requirements: Minimum 120 hour TESOL certificate
Best time of year to apply: All year round
Visa Requirements: Freelance Work Visa
Degree Required: Yes

Teaching abroad in Germany

Read Our Guide: Teach English in Germany


Vietnam reached the list of most popular countries to teach English in 2024 as other popular destinations in East Asia continue with severe COVID restrictions. Vietnam has a well-established private ESL industry that offers a variety of job opportunities for teaching English to adults and young learners. With its low cost of living, Vietnam is a great destination for saving money and travelling.      

Base Salary: US$1,500 per month plus benefits such as paid airfare, healthcare, and accommodation.

Requirements: Government-authenticated TESOL / TEFL certification, university degree and native English proficiency required by many larger academies. 

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

Degree Required: Degree preferred but not required.

Teach English Abroad in Vietnam

Read Our Guide: Teach English in Vietnam

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.

Base Salary: US$600

Requirements: 120-hour TESOL 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 ADEK, at secondary or post-secondary institutions with ADVETI, or even businesspeople 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.

ADEK: Earn $3,500-$5,500/month plus housing, airfare, and other benefits. You need a Bachelor’s degree, a teaching license, a TESOL certification 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), a recognized TEFL certificate, and a minimum of 3 years of teaching experience.

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

TESOL Dubai, UAE - Burj Khalifa

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I teach English abroad without a BA degree?

Yes, you can teach English abroad without a university degree. The reason most TEFL / TESOL jobs abroad require a university degree is that it is required for the work visa; 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, so we do not recommend signing any contracts without first checking with the embassy.

Why do I need a TESOL or TEFL certificate to teach English abroad?

The work visa is the primary reason a recognized TESOL or TEFL certification is required to teach English abroad. ESL teaching jobs also require TESOL or TEFL certification because it shows employers that the candidate received all the required training in grammar, phonology, and methodology. Knowing how to create full lesson plans using the Communicative Approach and Task-based Learning is crucial for your success as an ESL teacher.  A recognized TESOL or TEFL course will teach you how to custom lessons to your students’ needs and use authentic material such as movies, songs, and newspaper articles to supplement the boring ESL textbook.

 Read our Graduate Blog to learn how OnTESOL will prepare you for teaching abroad anywhere you want to go:

Karina, our graduate in South Korea, shared 7 communicative activities she used to supplement the textbook at the public school she taught in South Korea.

Jessica, our graduate in Madagascar, shared some examples she used to supplement the textbook to increase student motivation with fun ESL lessons.

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. Although there is no real difference among them, TESOL is generally referred as the umbrella methodology, while TEFL is generally referred as the practice of teaching English in foreign countries. Methodology is the main focus of a TESOL or TEFL course and the methods for teaching English are standard across the world. When choosing the right TEFL or TESOL course, the accreditation and source of the certification are far more important than the acronym used on the certificate.

OnTESOL has been a leader in TEFL / TESOL training since 2003. We offer fully recognized courses with a strong focus on lesson planning and the Communicative Language Teaching method. Study TESOL / TEFL online at your own pace or attend live interactive classes to get your certification faster. Our unique 10-hour Lesson Planning Workshop is an interactive live module that will give you comprehensive and practical training on the teaching methods and ESL lesson planning frameworks that you need for teaching English worldwide.

Recommended for Teaching Abroad: The 168-hour Hybrid TEFL Certificate (35% OFF) includes the live 10-hour workshop and 3 extra modules to prepare you for more teaching jobs in foreign countries. Learn to teach English to adults and children with this online TEFL course!

Can I teach English abroad without TESOL / TEFL certification?

While some entry-level jobs don’t require it, a TESOL / TEFL certificate is often required to teach English abroad. The TESOL / TEFL courses offered by OnTESOL are recognized by TESL Canada. This means that you can authenticate your OnTESOL certificate with Global Affairs Canada to become eligible for the work visa in other countries. You can also use your OnTESOL certificate 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 ESL teachers who know how to use the Communicative Approach. Our accredited TEFL / 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 graduate in the Czech Republic, says that speaking some Czech has helped him understand his students better.

Greg, our graduate 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, or Hong Kong and for high-paid 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:

  • Vietnam
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Hong Kong

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