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How to Earn more money as an ESL teacher

By November 30, 2018July 4th, 2019ESL Industry Advice

Earning more money as an ESL teacher isn’t as hard as other professions. This is because the demand for native English teachers is so high and the number of English learners overseas is increasing more and more every year. Plus, English teaching can’t be automated so you don’t have to worry about a robot replacing your job. That’s why TESOL teaching is such a great career choice to secure your future.

We know that you learned how to save money as an ESL teacher on this blog. But now you want to increase those savings by earning more money. Well, here is the post you’ve been waiting for. EARN MORE MONEY AS AN ESL TEACHER -ATA TESOL COLLEGE

Here are our tips to earn more money as an ESL teacher.

Get a TESOL certificate before you go overseas or start teaching online

Reputable schools overseas and online require you to have a TESOL certificate. With a TESOL certificate you will be paid more because you will be qualified to teach English overseas. You wouldn’t hire an electrician without an electrical license, so why would an English school hire an English teacher without an International TESOL Teacher’s License?! The answer, a reputable school wouldn’t.

When choosing your TESOL course, remember that TESOL certificates vary in quality. Make sure to study with a highly rated, Australian TESOL College like us. This way, you will have access to Australian support when you need help with your studies. Also, make sure that your TESOL college has industry contacts with schools overseas. Many TESOL schools have job boards where they post any job that they can find. We pride ourselves on being different and we have over 15 years of direct industry contacts with schools and corporations all around the world, so we can help you find the job for you. Once again, what good is a qualification if you can’t use it. For more advice about choosing a TESOL course, check out our post next week.


Pick a job in the countries with the 5 highest salaries

These are the countries that offer the highest ESL teaching salaries and the best benefits:

  1. China
  2. South Korea
  3. Japan
  4. Gulf Arab States
  5. Taiwan/Vietnam


Pick a job in a smaller city

There is less competition for jobs and higher demand for teachers. Therefore, it is likely that you will be headhunted and paid more to do the same job in a bigger city. Also, if you do a great job, some of our graduates have reported that they took on extra shifts at other schools or tutored students after school for up to $60USD an hour extra.

Another great reason to pick a smaller city is that you will get to experience the true culture of a country and more times than not, you will become a celebrity to the students, who are so interested in new people in their cities. One of our graduates taught English in a small town in China and became so popular that he now has over 8 million social media followers in China.


Remember you are paid in US dollars for many positions

This means that your salary is worth on average 30% more (at time of posting) in Australia dollars – so you can send your savings back to Australia and that translates into 30% more earnings in Australian dollars.


Apply to many different jobs

Don’t get your heart set on just one “perfect” job or city. Demand for TESOL teachers is so high that there are many jobs out there with similar offerings. Apply to many different jobs and cities to ensure that you get the pick of the best ones.

If you have a great interview, especially in countries with high demand for ESL teachers, then you may be able to negotiate your contract for a higher salary. But applying and hoping for one job will severely limit your chances.


Go directly to the school – don’t use recruiters

If you find a job that you like, make sure you are negotiating directly with the school contacts and not through a recruiter. Many recruiters will help you find a job but they earn their fees by taking a percentage of your salary. You won’t know because they will offer you a lower salary than what the school is paying and will just take the difference. To prevent this from happening, research the position and go to the school directly to negotiate your contract. It’s even better if you are on the ground in the country, because then you can speak with other teachers at the school to find out what they are being paid to assess if you are being paid fairly.


Study a TESOL niche and specialise in that English teaching

ESL teachers who teach and tutor in specialised English areas can earn up to double that of a general English teacher. Therefore, as well as studying for your TESOL license, you should also do further elective study to define your ESL niches. These areas of study prepare you to teach specialised English like Business English, IELTS & TOEFL Exam Preparation, and the most lucrative area of tutoring, Private Tuition.


Get a side hustle

Refer students to ATA TESOL College and affiliate programs

We offer a great referral and affiliate program for anyone to join. You will earn up to $200 for every successful referral that signs up to our TESOL Courses. Simply go to our link to join the program. Then just by sharing your unique link and referring the people you know, you could be earning even more money as an ESL teacher, just for spreading the word.



The private tuition are of ESL teaching is becoming the most lucrative area with tutoring fees ranging from $10USD to $80USD an hour depending on your qualifications, experience, and teaching niches. There are so many options to find students. You could work for an online tutoring school, find students online through social media and online classifieds in overseas countries, put up physical ads in your country to recruit students, and more. I personally taught English at my local library to working holiday students from Korea in high school and earned double that of someone my age working retail. I currently work for an online tutoring school based in China and I find that is a flexible option to earn some more money for my travel fund.

The best way to start your English teaching career is to become a TESOL teacher.

Make sure to check out our courses page to find out about TESOL.

Or email us at to find out more today!

Want to learn how to choose the best TESOL Course? Check out our post on Wednesday.

Comment below if you have any other tips to boost your salary.

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