Top 10 Countries for TEFL Jobs

Teaching Abroad Direct

Deciding to embark on a new adventure as a TEFL in a foreign country can be exciting, rewarding, and a little challenging. Where you decide to teach can make all the difference in terms of the lifestyle you live, money you make, and the attitudes and customs of your students.

Dubai beckons with its futuristic skyline, luxurious lifestyle and dynamic educational landscape. While Japan, a blend of tradition and modernity, offers TEFL professionals a chance to truly immerse themselves in a different culture. Sun-loving teachers will enjoy a teaching position in Thailand – known for its warm hospitality and stunning landscapes, while foodies will relish the opportunity to teach in Spain – the home of good cuisine, bustling cities and tranquil islands.

We've compiled a guide to the best countries to teach in as a TEFL, including average salary, benefits, cultural pointers and more. We hope it helps you decide where to head to on your next career move.

Why teach English abroad?

For teachers looking for an adventure that enriches both their personal and professional lives, teaching English as a foreign language abroad can offer a multitude of benefits.

Teaching and living abroad offers an unmissable opportunity for immersion in the culture, traditions, customs and lifestyles of another country. Integrating work with the exploration of a new culture can be a challenging but rewarding adventure. Living in another country can mean discovering a region's hidden wonders as a resident and professional rather than a tourist, and making lasting friendships with locals.

TEFL professionals must be able to navigate unfamiliar educational systems and overcome significant language barriers, but this can help to develop resilience and adaptability, boosting self-confidence and a well-deserved sense of accomplishment.

TEFL professionals are in-demand

Demand for English language proficiency and TEFL professionals is on the rise around the world. This demand not only offers a rich choice of job opportunities but also the chance for meaningful career progression.

The impact that TEFL teachers can have on the lives of their students can't be underestimated, with language skills contributing to increased academic success and better opportunities in the future.

Teaching English as a foreign language outside of the UK can offer opportunities for travel, personal development, cultural immersion, and career advancement. Below are some of the best countries for TEFL opportunities.

1. Dubai, UAE

Population: 3,630,786 (as of October 2023)

Expat population: 75% (2,723,089 approx.)

Average salary for TEFL: £2669.65 per month

Teaching in Dubai

As a modern and wealthy city, Dubai can offer a high standard of living and is one of the highest-paying TEFL countries, allowing a generous monthly income that is made more attractive by being tax-free. It's a chance to teach a modern curriculum in a safe, secure environment that encompasses state-of-the-art facilities. Dubai is a multinational city with a particular emphasis on work-life balance.

Demand for TEFL roles in Dubai is growing year upon year. Not only do schools often prefer teachers to be fluent in English, but there is a necessity for TEFL educators across the whole UAE to provide quality education.

A work visa is required to find employment in Dubai. Although there are three types available, TEFL teachers will most likely need the standard work visa. This visa lasts two years and must be sponsored by an employer based in Dubai. A UK citizen that secures a job will have the application processed by the employer and, at the end of the two-year period, it can be renewed.

2. Japan

Population: 122,942,954 (as of January 2024)

Expat population: 3,223,858 (2.6%)

Average salary for TEFL: £1904.48 per month

Teaching in Japan

Japan is a fascinating, multi-faceted country, rewarding TEFL tutors with an immersive, rich culture. Both private and public schools are full of respectful students. When taking a job in a Japanese school, teachers will often find that they are offered reimbursement for flights, accommodation, and performance bonuses wrapped into their salary package.

There's a huge drive to improve English proficiency in Japan. The country currently ranks 53rd in the world in 2020 according to the English proficiency index, and this is something the nation is eager to address. This all means that there has been a boom in TEFL roles, not only for children, but also for adults in the business world.

To work in Japan, a TEFL must have a work visa. There are two types: an Instructor Visa, which will most likely be granted to those working in elementary or high schools. If you're working in a private language school or for a company, a Specialist in Humanities Visa is more common. It's illegal to work in Japan without a visa, and to get one of these a candidate must hold a bachelor’s degree along with a TEFL certification with a minimum of 120 hours completed.

3. Thailand

Population: 71,885,799 (as of January 2024)

Expat population: 3-4 million (5-6%)

Average salary for TEFL: £784.32 per month

Teaching in Thailand

Sometimes known as the 'Land of Smiles', Thailand is seen as one of the best countries for TEFL. With the year-round heat of a tropical climate, ancient architecture, excellent food and low cost of living, this country is a popular destination with teachers.

In recent years, the Thai government has implemented a new English Programme in schools, along with tightening teaching regulations in an effort to fill TEFL positions with teachers that have professional qualifications. In practice, this means there's been an increase in the number of TEFL roles available.

Along with clean criminal background and health checks, stricter teaching regulations mean a teaching license is needed. Teachers looking to work in Thailand will need to secure a Non-Immigrant B Visa, and to get this, they will require a bachelor's degree. A 120-hour TEFL certification will also be required by most employers.

4. Vietnam

Population: 99,195,606 (as of January 2024)

Expat population: 100,000+ (0.1%)

Average salary for TEFL: £1210 per month

Teaching in Vietnam

Vietnam has more than its fair share of beautiful natural landscapes, bustling cities and exotic cuisine, including a thriving street food culture. Along with a low cost of living and a booming TEFL market, these attractions mean that Vietnam has a lot to offer TEFL professionals.

In recent years, English lessons for primary school children have become more common, and, when given the choice, more students are signing up for language lessons. Young people looking to make a career in industries such as banking or tourism are also eager to improve their English skills. With this in mind, it's no surprise that there is a huge demand for TEFL teachers across the country.

As with many other countries, TEFL educators aiming to teach in Vietnam will need a bachelor's degree, a 120-hour TEFL certification, and a clean criminal background check. Previous teaching experience is preferred, but there is so much demand for teachers that this isn't essential.

5. Spain

Population: 47,495,285 (as of January 2024)

Expat population: 6,080,000 (12.8%)

Average salary for TEFL: £1162.98 per month

Teaching in Spain

Regularly listed as the top TEFL destination in Europe, Spain has busy cities like Barcelona and Madrid, beautiful beaches, a warm climate, and enthusiastic students.

Demand for English teachers in Spain is high, but it's also one of the most popular countries in which to teach English with TEFL, so competition can be fierce, especially for private school positions. However, there are so many jobs available that even teachers with little experience will be welcomed.

EU nationals can teach in Spain without a visa. Since Brexit, this has made things more difficult for teachers from the UK, although Spanish employers will provide visa support.

Although on paper, there are no qualifications necessary for TEFL educators working in Spain, in reality most schools will expect at least a TEFL certification. Others will look for a bachelor's degree and previous TEFL experience or a teaching qualification.

6. China

Population: 1,425,409,503 (as of January 2024)

Expat population: 1,000,000 approx (0.07%)

Average salary for TEFL: £1847.50 per month

Teaching in China

This hugely populous country is also a common destination with TEFL teachers. Whether you'd prefer busy city living in Shanghai or Beijing, or a more traditional approach in Yangzhou or Xi'an, teachers will find adventure in a rich, ancient culture.

Many schools will offer performance bonuses and flight reimbursement as part of a salary package.

School children aged nine and over have compulsory English lessons, and in a country with a population of over 1.4 billion, that means the demand for TEFL educators is equally as big. There's also a significant opportunity to teach adults Business English.

The only way to work legally in China as an English teacher is with a Z Visa. Qualifying for this visa requires a bachelor's degree in any subject, a 120-hour TEFL certificate, a valid passport, and a clean criminal background check.

7. South Korea

Population: 51,741,963 (as of January 2024)

Expat population: 2,260,000 approx (4.4%)

Average salary for TEFL: £2161.97 per month

Teaching in South Korea

Although it's known as the 'Land of Morning Calm', South Korea's capital is one of the most fast-paced and densely populated cities in the world. However, the country also offers beautiful countryside and a captivating culture with centuries-old traditions.

In addition to a base salary, TEFL teachers often receive reimbursement for their flights, bonuses, accommodation, and also help with medical care.

South Korea is a long-standing TEFL market, with most of the positions based in Seoul or Busan. However, it's estimated that over 20,000 English teachers work all across the country every year.

English teachers looking to work in South Korea will need a bachelor's degree, TEFL certification, citizenship of an English-speaking nation, a clear criminal background check, and clear health and drug tests. With all this in hand, it's relatively easy to get a school-sponsored E-2 Visa, which allows one year of work.

8. Taiwan

Population: 23,950,214 (as of January 2024)

Expat population: 822,319 (3.5%)

Average salary for TEFL: £1729.57 per month

Teaching in Taiwan

Taiwan has it all – modern cities, unspoiled beaches, beautiful national parks and mountains, and enthusiastic students. Add in a salary that's comparable to South Korea or Japan, along with a lower cost of living, and it's easy to see why it's becoming more popular as a TEFL destination.

Taiwan has a government initiative to transform the country into a bilingual English-Mandarin nation by 2030, which has led to a boom in the number of jobs available.

Candidates for a TEFL position in Taiwan will need to show they have a bachelor's degree, have a passport from an English-speaking nation, and be able to pass a criminal background check. Schools also usually prefer candidates with a TEFL certificate, other teaching certification, or previous experience.

9. France

Population: 64,822,746 (as of January 2024)

Expat population: 7,000,000 approx (10.3%)

Average salary for TEFL: £1084.91 per month

Teaching in France

With access to the culinary capital of the world, excellent weather, Mediterranean beaches, sophisticated culture and fashion, incredible scenery, and a depth of European history, France is a dream destination for TEFL teachers.

Twenty years ago, teaching English in France was more likely to be at a summer camp or as an au pair. Since then, however, the opportunities to work as a TEFL teacher have grown considerably to cover Business English for adults, teaching toddlers at nursery level, or working at a private language school.

Those who are interested in working as a TEFL teacher in France will need to have a bachelor's degree, a 120-hour TEFL certificate, be a native English speaker, and have some previous experience. Some English teaching programs also require proficiency in French.

Candidates coming from outside the EU will also need to secure a visa, and most teachers will end up working on a Student Visa. To secure one of these, it may be necessary to sign up for a part-time French Language course.

10. Costa Rica

Population: 5,246,714 (as of January 2024)

Expat population: 472,204 approx (9%)

Average salary for TEFL: £628.94 per month

Teaching in Costa Rica

Translating as 'Rich Coast' in Spanish, Costa Rica often ranks as one of the happiest places in the world, as well as one of the greenest. Lying between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, this country boasts incredible scenery with views of mountains, lush jungle and pristine beaches. Great healthcare and a leisurely pace of life are added bonuses.

Although government policy is to teach English in primary schools, most roles teaching in public schools are likely to be voluntary. More paid TEFL jobs can be found in private schools, academies, and universities.

Teaching as a TEFL educator in Costa Rica requires a 120-hour TEFL certificate and, while it's one of the TEFL countries without degree requirements, some schools will still expect a bachelor's degree or prior experience for higher-level positions.

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