TEFL is all about giving something back, and doing a job which
is enriching, uplifting and culturally interesting - but what
does it pay?
There are plenty of jobs you can do to bring in the money and
most people we speak to are looking for something to do with
their lives which brings them other, more human rewards. This
is a good outlook to have, as TEFL is not renowned for paying
When we try to get figures from schools on the average rate
of pay, the variance in each country is quite considerable,
such that quoting numbers becomes quite meaningless.
:: TEFL Pay - Rule of Thumb
There does however seem to be a basic TEFL law, which states
that if you're on a full-time contract of 24-26 teaching hours
per week, you will have enough money to pay rent in a modest,
possibly shared apartment, pay for food, get out and about to
explore at weekends, have the odd beer or glass of wine of an
evening, and, over the period of your contract, get some money
put aside for flights home at Christmas.
Generally speaking, you tend to live fairly basically, and
what you earn is not usually enough to support partners, family
back home or pay back debts or mortgage instalments. In many
ways, TEFL can be a bit of a return to your student days, where
there is less emphasis on material 'stuff' and more in being
absorbed into the culture of the experience.
:: The first few months
Any savings you have can act as a valuable cushion on your
arrival abroad. You might well need to pay out a couple of months'
rent as a deposit when you move into a house or flat, and if
you're looking for work when you get there, it might take a
few weeks to secure something, and another month before your
first pay pack arrives.
:: Earning more
As schools don't expect you to stay much beyond an academic
year, it's often quite difficult to try and negotiate any sort
of pay rise with the school you choose to work for. However,
there is no reason why you can't offer to take on extra responsibility,
or try to get further qualifications. Some schools also offer
to pay for your Diploma level qualifications (e.g. Cambridge
DELTA, Trinity LTCL DipTESOL) in return for you agreeing to
be tied to the school for a year or two longer.
Some teachers do work for more than one school at a time, put
up small ads in shops, and use their network of friends to look
for more hours, with or without the express consent of their
primary employer. This allows you to charge more per hour, and
all the money goes to you, rather than the school taking the
majority of the price charged to clients to cover the costs
of overheads, premises, marketing, etc.
Training (another area of Cactus) also organises bespoke
training around the world, so it's probably useful to sign up
to their database of teachers - and if work comes up where
you are in the world, it provide an extra source of income for
Away from doing more TEFL, many teachers supplement their income
with bar and restaurant work, or finding ways to use their qualifications
or expertise in combination with their TEFL skills.