Is Thailand One of the Top 3 Countries to Make Money Teaching English?

Autumn maple leaves (momiji) at Kongōbu-ji on Mount Kōya. Photo copyright 633Highland, Creative Commons License

Is Thailand One of the Top 3 Countries to Make Money Teaching English?

While teaching English overseas can be a wonderful way to learn about a new culture, many would-be teachers don’t always think of it as being a great way to earn money.

In fact, if you go to the right country to teach English you can make excellent money doing just that. So much so you may end up back home with more than just a couple of thousand dollars in your bank account. So is Thailand one of the top 3 countries to make money teaching English or not?

As a former teacher in Thailand, let me just say while Thai schools are amazing places to teach in, Thailand itself is not the country to make money in. Salaries are low, increases are poor and, over the last 15 years even though the cost of living has gone up by more than 20 percent, salaries for foreign English teachers in Thailand have remained the same.

So, if Thailand isn’t one of the top 3 countries to make money teaching English in, which countries are?

South Korea – At least 50 percent of the teachers I know who have made excellent money teaching English overseas have done so in South Korea. Most of them were able to get jobs in Korea that not only paid their airfare to Seoul but, once in country, they were set up in a furnished apartment close to school that was also paid for as part of their contract.

English teachers in South Korea also make more than double the salary of a typical western English teacher in Thailand. That means, even with the cost of living increase in a city like Seoul, the amount a western teacher in South Korea makes will often allow them to save at least $1,000 a month if not more, while still having a nice standard of living and enjoying much of what South Korea has to offer.

Saudi Arabia – I know three teachers currently teaching in Saudi Arabia after having taught in Thailand for a few years before that. The packages they were offered were outstanding compared to teaching salaries in Bangkok and with paid accommodation in a compound, health insurance included, and air fares back to Bangkok for annual vacations, it’s no wonder more and more people are looking at Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states for teaching jobs nowadays.

It is often male teachers who teach English in Saudi Arabia as it can be extremely restrictive for western women and many schools or companies want men and not women, but with salaries of $3,000 a month or more and, remember, all tax-free, if you want to save money while teaching English overseas, Saudi Arabia is one of the best places to do so.

Japan – Out of the many teachers I know who have taught English overseas, and particularly for the purpose of saving money, I haven’t met one teacher that had anything bad to say about teaching in Japan. In fact, I know several who are either planning on staying their permanently or who would go back there in a heartbeat.

Why? Simply put, teaching salaries in Japan are high, the opportunity to make extra money by taking on private students is immense, and with some schools paying for airfares to and from Japan, health insurance, apartments or a housing allowance, and in some cases transportation to and from work, it’s easy to see how saving $1,000 a month can be easy to do.

While teaching English overseas isn’t always about making money, and many teachers love working in the lower-paying countries simply because they like the country, the culture and the people, if you do want to earn enough money teaching English abroad to save, these three countries are definitely worth looking at.