If you're looking for work to supplement your income (to travel longer, for example), why not consider teaching English as a foreign language?
It's fun, it can be lucrative, you're surrounded by energetic students and it doesn't take much to get started, as you'll see in the article below.
Qualifications for teaching English
How much can you earn teaching English?
Best countries for women over 50
How to find English teaching jobs
Do you need a degree to teach?
Do you need a visa to teach?
Teaching English in Asia
Everything is possible, whether you fancy immersion in local life in a small village in Cambodia or want to base yourself in a bustling European city.
Most jobs to teach English abroad will belong to one of two categories: teaching in a classroom (both short and long term) or teaching privately (tutoring young people or adults).
Whichever you choose, you'll win more than once: first because you'll make money, but just as important, you'll learn to discover a new culture from the inside, like a native.
More than 1.5 billion people speak English, and another billion are trying to.
With this many people wanting to learn, it's no wonder demand for English teachers is so high!
English is possibly the most important language in today's world and after Mandarin and Spanish, it's the most widely spoken.
And it is the most often-learned second language on the planet - the second language of choice in Europe and the Far East, because learning English helps people:
Just 10-15 years ago, if English was your mother tongue, you could simply walk off the street and get a job in most countries. It's harder now. Many schools are asking for qualifications, some of which you can get online, while others require classroom experience.
Still, there are plenty of jobs out there - especially short-term ones, and especially if you happen to be in the right place at the right time.
The qualifications needed for teaching overseas vary by country. Certain countries, like Japan, require a university degree (in any subject) to obtain a work visa of any kind, while others are more lenient.
If you don’t have a university degree, then gaining certification to teach English (such as TEFL) is the next best course of action. While there are some countries where you can find work without it, you’ll find it much easier to land a job if you are certified.
Remember, just because you know how to speak English doesn’t mean you will easily find a job teaching it to others. Learning to teach English conversation and grammar is a specialized field which you can learn via a teaching English abroad course (like TEFL).
In a nutshell, women with university degrees and/or certification, plus experience, will receive higher pay than those without qualifications, and will also find legitimate jobs more easily.
Needless to say, it also depends on how “legal” you want to be. If you decide to go a more unofficial route (at your own risk), you may be able to skip certain requirements but more on that in a minute.
How long is a piece of string? The answer to this question depends on the country (or even town) you’ll be working in, your qualifications and skills, and the kind of teaching job you take on.
Highly qualified teachers employed by universities will generally make the most. And those who specialize in an industry are also likely to have a higher rate.
In some countries, accommodation may be included as part of your contract, while in others, you will have to cover all expenses with your salary. You might even get perks like health or medical insurance or a stipend to cover airfares.
Many English teacher jobs don’t pay enough and teachers end up tutoring students privately to top up their income, which can prove to be quite lucrative, depending on your target customer and where you are working. You won’t always be working with children either; teaching English to adults can be a great source of income, either privately or through specialized schools.
Bear in mind that bigger cities tend to have higher salaries but also cost more to live in.
As a rule, try to stay away from expatriate enclaves or the cost of living will skyrocket. Live with and like the locals and you’ll do fine.
Wherever you’re headed, make sure you arrive with plenty of cash in case the unexpected happens: three months of living expenses (and enough for an emergency ticket home) should be enough to see you through the job-hunting period and getting established.
You could also get a job as a volunteer English teacher. While this does rather miss the point of making money, you may get free accommodation or other benefits, and the experience could help you land a paying job down the line.
If like me you’re on the other side of 50, you’ll be pleased to know you still have plenty of options for finding English teaching jobs around the globe.
Teaching English in South Korea or Japan may be challenging for more mature travelers, as these countries seem to favor youth over experience. But equally, there are many parts of the world that appreciate – and even prefer – mature teachers, as in many Latin American nations.
Your options may also depend on how “legal” you aim to be. Many countries are at the mercy of their retirement laws and are not allowed to hire anyone exceeding retirement age, which differs from country to country.
Some companies and businesses may be willing to circumvent the law, but you may miss out on certain benefits, get a lower pay rate, and have to work without the correct visa.
Most Asian countries have a maximum age of 55 or 60. However, it is still possible to find jobs if you’re beyond that limit; visiting schools in person is a good idea. Target countries like Cambodia, Taiwan, and Vietnam, who tend to favor more mature applicants. In the Middle East, on the other hand, you’ll struggle to find work if you’re over 60.
For 60+ English teachers, Latin America is one of the best places to teach English abroad. There are often no age limits at all, and there is work for more mature applicants.
Europe is not out of the question if you hold a European passport. There are no age limits in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain or Switzerland.
There are plenty of avenues for finding jobs teaching English overseas, and most of these can be accessed while you're on the road - they're online.
Your first stop should be a site that specializes in placing English teachers all over the world (see the Resources section at the end of this article for useful links). These sites are usually accurate and up-to-date, and they scour the web to find the best listings. Many are organized by country or region, or by type of job, including the length of posting. If you’re in search of the best teach English abroad programs, you’ll find them online as well.
Find out what the requirements are in the country that interests you most. Do you need TEFL certification? Some countries make it almost a pre-condition.
If you already know where you want to go, check out the local job listings or classified sections in your preferred country or city. Most cities have an English-language newspaper, and many of these are online. The closer you are to your source, the better your chances.
Another good way of finding a job teaching English in a foreign country is through expat websites. These are websites dedicated to people who either live outside their own country or who are planning to - and are often full of ads, discussion forums and tips. Many members already live abroad and have access to plenty of useful information about their chosen country (not to mention job tips). Join some of these, and chat around.
Another way of finding programs to teach English abroad is through general job boards; some of them are so huge that their sections on English teaching jobs overseas are as large as those of specialized sites. But because they cater to all professions, they may lack the finesse and focus of the more specialized sites. These big boards should be your last stop after you've exhausted the specialized and local listings.
One more thing: rather than rely on supply, you could try to generate demand. How? By placing an ad yourself in a local paper or on a local job board, or writing ahead of time to language and international schools in the city where you're headed. Don't neglect local schools - they might well be in the market for some English classes. I have done this in several countries, where I’ve been paid as a special project because I wasn’t a full-time teacher - a bit like a substitute but only for a few hours here and there.
There are plenty of English language teachers, which means strong competition. If you have another skill, like IT or marketing, try providing that course in English at a business school. You may find you've got more takers than for language alone.
Many independent travelers don't know where they'll be next month, let alone next year. But if you're the organized type with a master plan, laying the groundwork before you leave could make things a lot easier when it comes to finding a job.
One last word before you go - talk to people!
Many of the links below have forums and discussion boards. Your best tips often come from other women who have been there, done that, or live there. Chatting to those who have been part of an English teaching program can provide valuable insight into the reality of the role.
It is possible to find a job teaching English in another country without a university degree in some parts of the world. A TEFL certificate increases the odds, but even without this, depending on where you’re heading, it is possible.
You’ll need to narrow down your target countries a bit, and will have more chance of success if you do your job search in-country. But luckily, there are still some gorgeous parts of the world where English teachers are in such high demand that degrees aren’t necessary.
Cambodia is hungry for English teachers, particularly in tourist areas like Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
Central and South America are some of the best places to teach English abroad without a degree, and demand is especially high in Mexico, where the government has passed a law allowing foreign teachers to gain work permits even if they only hold a TEFL certificate.
If you have a European passport, set your sights on Spain or Russia. The market is strong in both countries, and it’s slightly easier to find work without a degree.
Another great option for those who want to be mobile is teaching English online without a degree. You can teach English online by setting up your own website and going freelance, or join a platform that doesn’t list a degree as a requirement for online teaching jobs (see Resources section at the end for some names).
There’s always a way to dodge the law and do things under the radar, but you do so at your own risk. If for some reason you can’t get the right visa to teach English overseas (or can’t be bothered with the red tape), you should be aware of the risks you take.
Online English teaching jobs may be a way around a work visa, but make sure you double-check freelancing laws wherever you are heading.
Here are some of the drawbacks and outright risks of working 'in the black market':
As China takes its front-line seat in the 21st century, learning English is becoming increasingly essential. For this reason, jobs teaching English in China are becoming popular, available and lucrative.
As is the case in many countries, English teaching jobs in China aren't too difficult to come by - yet they're not easy, either.
Chinese authorities appreciate certificates, so if you have your TEFL or other certification, you'll get a better job than without one. But it's not absolutely essential.
You don't need to know a word of Chinese. In fact, many schools prefer that - they're worried you might make it too easy on students otherwise.
What you DO need to know is that new regulations are capping the hiring age at 60, and many teachers who were older and previously had no visa problems are now having jobs cancelled and visas withdrawn.
The easiest place to find a job is in an English language school, otherwise known as training centers. They're popping up everywhere, even in the country's remotest corners. But beware: not all employers are created equal.
Companies themselves may be unregistered and just keeping their heads below the line so they won't be caught. They may give you a job teaching English in China, but you won't necessarily have the right papers, which could spell trouble.
One long-time teacher of English in China said the Internet is the way to go. "Sure, you can show up, but you won't know what you're getting into."
If you'd rather work for a university - they pay well and are all above board - just choose your province and look for a university website. Most have either a contact form or an email address. Just write to them and ask for a job - you'd be surprised how many people have found jobs teaching English in China this way!
At university, you can expect to teach 16-18 hours a week, which leaves you plenty of time for private tutoring.
China has three types of visa:
The money isn't bad if all you want to do is make a decent wage and live normally. The typical teaching contract lasts 6 or 12 months.
It's easier to find a well-paid job along the East coast. The further inland you go, the harder it gets.
If you are a native English speaker and decide to teach English in China, you can expect to earn around 8000 RMB a month, plus accommodation. If you're in Shanghai or Beijing, make that 12,000 RMB. Conversely, if you're in Yunan - where English-speaking backpackers are a dime a dozen - you'll be lucky to make 5000 RMB a month.
Accommodation is usually included and can range from a room to an apartment, but usually has at least one bedroom, hot water shower, and Western toilet. If no accommodation is offered, you should be compensated and a rental subsidy provided by your employer.
Teaching English in Taiwan is a wonderful alternative if you want to experience traditional Chinese culture - as it intersects with Western modernism - yet feel teaching English in China isn't for you or that you have passed the 60-year-old mark. Taiwan does seem to be hiring teachers into their sixties.
There is plenty of work teaching English in Taiwan (although it's not as plentiful as it used to be) and the pay is good - up to US$20 an hour and in some cases even more.
You can look for a job or a place to stay before getting to Taiwan through one of the many recruitment agencies on the web or through English-language classifieds.
Or, you can wait until you arrive. There are several English-language newspapers with classified ads, and they list plenty of teaching jobs. You can also use Craigslist, or get in touch with expats for a few pointers.
You can either find a job before you come (apparently a very difficult prospect), or like many others, arrive as a visitor and hope for the best. It's not a terribly difficult process, but you do need to have your paperwork in order.
You must be a native English speaker on top of that degree. An English teaching certificate (such as TEFL) is beneficial but not always compulsory.
You’ll need to find an employer, who will then sponsor you for a work visa. Once you get a work visa, you can apply for your Alien Resident Certificate (ARC). Do note that you need to sign a minimum one-year contract to qualify for both the visa and the ARC!
While some people do find work on a visitor’s visa, this is illegal and inadvisable. The rules are strict and definitely enforced. Stick to the legal route in this case for your own protection.
Here's a list of what you need for a work visa:
Because you’ve gone through all the drama and red tape of acquiring a one-year contract, your ARC and your work visa, your school will probably want you to work full time. But you might be lucky enough to find part-time work.
You will likely find work in big-name English schools and be paid hourly, but you can also supplement your income with private tutoring work. Universities and English language schools are also popular options.
The cost of living in Taiwan is fairly reasonable, so your salary should comfortably cover your expenses, if you live within your means. Most English teachers in Taiwan even manage to save a little.
Useful facts for those who plan to teach English in Taiwan:
Honor Dargan is a primary school teacher who spent ten years living in Tokyo teaching English. She shares her own insights in the section below.
To qualify for a working visa to teach English in Japan, you must hold an authentic four-year university degree. It does not have to be in any particular subject, but it is a prerequisite - an absolute minimum to be eligible for a working visa.
Does teaching English in Japan require a CELTA certificate or other TEFL qualification? Not always, although awareness of this qualification is growing and many employers are now asking for it.
The majority of schools require that you speak English at a native level.
For qualified applicants, Japan is one of the best places to teach English in Asia.
If you want to apply directly to one of the big conversation schools, go direct to the source. The major schools are GEOS, AEON, ECC, and Berlitz. You will hear good and bad about all of these, so be sure to check your facts and make sure you are comfortable with the deal being offered.
You need to have a firm job offer before your application will be considered.
There is a rather bureaucratic - and time-consuming - process that is specific to Japan. It works like this:
For more information visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan or your local Japanese Embassy.
There are also working holiday visas in Japan, but you have to be under 30 to get one.
Salaries in Tokyo are generally higher than in other parts of Japan for teaching English in Japan - but so are living costs. If you're living in Tokyo, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is 200,000 JPY (Japanese Yen) per month.
Most decent jobs teaching English in Japan, whether you're working in a conversation school (eikaiwa), children's school, or other entity, should pay an absolute minimum of around 250,000 JPY, and much more in expensive urban centers.
There are higher-paying jobs, but you usually need to have done your time in entry-level jobs first and proved that you are staying before you will be offered these routes. If you're an international school teacher, you can expect considerably more, as with any other country. If you are a Masters or Ph.D. holder and want to teach in a university, again, the pay scales are higher.
Some smaller schools advertise lower salaries and while you may want the job and the visa, think carefully and make sure you can afford to live on whatever salary is offered.
Things may be opening up on the English language teaching front in Europe. For now (end 2019), most jobs are filled legally by British and Irish teachers. With Brexit, the UK’s decision to leave Europe, the number of qualified English teachers will drop. Those who have jobs will keep them but new teachers will come from a reduced pool - Ireland only, when it comes to native English speakers. UK citizens may end up on the same footing as other foreigners, such as Canadians or Americans or Australians. It is still too early to tell.
Another factor to remember is age. If you’re looking for a full-time job, all EU countries have specific retirement ages and you won’t be able to work past that. Working as an independent, or freelancer, however, has no age limit.
Visualize those croissants, baguettes, culture, literature, chateaux, all at your feet after a hard day's work teaching English in France...
If you're a citizen of the European Union, it's a piece of cake. Come to France, get a job. If you’re not, you’ll need to jump through additional hoops.
It is not impossible to teach English in Europe (legally) if you're not an EU citizen but it is very, very difficult. There are thousands of Americans, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders teaching in Paris right now, but many of them do so illegally.
According to French law, a company or school can only hire a non-EU citizen if it can prove that those skills can't be found in the country. With the high number of British and Irish teachers available, there's little chance of hiring anyone from outside Europe.
If you're still willing to brave the odds and go the legal route, at least make sure chances are on your side by doing the following:
TIP: Remember, you can usually stay in the country as a tourist for up to three months, so that will give you more time to find work.
To work legally, a company will have to request a visa for you. If a company offers you a job teaching English in France, it will get you the work permit. If you're specialized, say in IT or something similar, you'll have a far better chance. Otherwise, it may be a question of luck, of being at the right place at the right time.
It’s far easier if you’re in your twenties - you can get a working holiday visa, become an assistant, or get a student visa. For those of us who are older, however, better to come to France on a holiday than try to make a living teaching English (this is where teaching online could be an option).
Obtaining a student visa
This isn't perhaps the most orthodox way of getting a job, but you can usually get a student visa in France as long as you are a bona fide student. You used to have to be a student at a real university, but France now allows you to be a student at a language school!
What isn’t clear is the maximum age for a student visa. It isn’t mentioned anywhere and so technically, you could apply. Check with the French Embassy in your country for accurate information from the source.
The best time to find a job teaching English in France is just before each semester starts, in September or January.
The pay is wide-ranging, starting at around 15 Euros an hour for private lessons to 60 Euros or more in the business sector.
When schools send you out to clients, they may not always pay for your transportation. These days, though, tax tends to be deducted at source but check first so your hard-earned money isn’t eaten up by buses and income tax.
Teaching English as a foreign language in Spain is close to a dream come true for those who want to combine downtime with income - you can travel in a fabulous country and make money at the same time.
Unlike some countries, teaching in English in Spain does not require formal qualifications. Plenty of people find teaching jobs without them. But there's no question that having some kind of certification will help you get hired faster and get paid more.
Most job ads require you to have a CELTA, Trinity College CertTESOL or TEFL qualification. But once you apply, you'll often find you can get a job without one.
Most teachers agree: your best bet in finding a job is to go to Spain in person rather than apply from abroad.
Most work comes through contacts, so start meeting people. In Spain, it's a lot easier than in many countries. People are friendly and outgoing and love a good time.
The best time to get a job teaching English in Spain? Right after the summer. Because of the nine-month contracts, many teachers move on during the summer and when the 'season' reopens, teachers are in demand. Schools often wait until the last minute to hire, so this will be a good time.
If you have an EU passport it's simple: no visa or work permit required. Just find a job and start working.
If you're from another English-speaking country, say the US or Australia, for example, you should know this upfront: there is no legal way you can get a visa to teach English. Spain has a national law against this because it deems it has plenty of legal (EU) teachers available - the only way a non-EU citizen can get a work visa is if an employer proves no Spanish person can do the job.
A Schengen visa will allow you to stay in Spain for 90 days, ample time to find a job. Even better is a student visa, usually valid for six months at a time from the Spanish consulate in your country.
Once you're in the country, brush up that CV, and start knocking on doors to teach English. Spain, unfortunately, won't pay you top rates unless you're from an EU country, but that's the outcome of working illegally, I'm afraid.
Living in Spain is not cheap, and it's most expensive in the larger, more popular cities like Madrid or Barcelona.
Madrid is the favorite city for teaching English in Spain, for a number of reasons: there is plenty of work, a high turnover, decent wages, it's a wonderful city (not just my opinion!), it has great food and entertainment, and if you're illegal, it's the city where you have the best chance of finding work.
What could be better than teaching English to charming Italians in Italy? You’ll get to feast on pasta, pizza and gelato, explore the wonders of the Colosseum, uncover history at Pompeii, and pose in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa on your days off.
If you’re looking for a job at a language school or as a private tutor, you’ll need a university degree as well as TEFL or CELTA certification.
As in any country, you may get lucky without qualifications, but you’d need to be in the right place and the right time and will have a hard time getting a working visa without said degree.
If you’re a European citizen, no problem, you can work as a teacher in Italy. However, non-European citizens need a work visa to teach.
As in most countries, this isn’t simple to obtain. You’ll need to secure a job before entering the country. Your employer will then support your work visa application and will have to prove that no Italian resident can fill that role.
While non-EU citizens will struggle to find a job that allows them to get a work visa, there are other options, with many working under the table.
The best chance is to look for a job once you arrive, then obtain a work visa after securing a position. Just make sure you’re not breaking any Schengen rules and don’t overstay.
One more option lies in the study visa, which allows you to work as much as 20 hours a week in Italy while you study. You could even undertake your TEFL course in Italy, then convert the student visa to a work visa later on. As is the case for France, the maximum age for these is unclear.
You can opt to teach in a public school or private language school. If you go for a public school job, you’ll be blessed with a higher salary and fewer hours. But you will need to speak Italian reasonably well, and a degree will no doubt be required. Expect a salary of 1400-1600 Euros per month.
Private schools offer the majority of teaching jobs in Italy. TEFL certification is needed, but experience isn’t mandatory. Your monthly salary will be between 800-1200 Euros.
Private tutoring is the ideal way to earn a bit of extra pocket money. Advertise in local newspapers and you could make 20 Euros per hour.
Cities like Rome and Milan will provide higher salaries in relation to a higher cost of living but as is the case in other major European cities, this is also where you’ll face the most competition.
While Russia once had something of a bad reputation, it has long outgrown those darker days. For solo women, the big cities of Moscow and St Petersburg are just as safe as London, Rome, or Paris.
The demand for English teachers is on the rise in Russia, and there are plenty of language schools to choose from, mostly in the busy centers of Moscow and St Petersburg.
There’s also good money to be made in the business world; plenty of companies and businesses are after English speakers to teach their employees in-house. You’ll need to travel to various offices and work face to face about 25 hours a week. Salaries for this kind of work could be around $1500 USD a month, not including perks.
TEFL is generally needed, but a university degree is merely a bonus, not a requirement. There also seems to be no age limit and women over 70 have reported finding jobs.
Private language schools are a good option for beginners. While the salary is lower ($1000 to $1200 USD), you might get lucky and score shared accommodation or a stipend for your airfare.
Private tutoring is also an option once you start making connections and getting referrals from students. You could make $30 USD per hour.
There are rumors of unscrupulous language schools in Russia. To make sure you don’t get scammed by one of these, go for companies that have international memberships, or have classrooms in other countries outside of Russia.
You guessed it! You need a work visa to teach English in Russia, and you can only get a work visa after finding a job.
Unlike some countries, it’s not excessively difficult to find a job from outside of Russia. Language schools do recruit online and hire ahead of time, so try your luck with an online search or browse the popular language schools in Russia.
In spite of this, many schools don’t bother getting a work permit for their teachers, so it’s up to you if you’re willing to take the risk and work illegally.
Most of you should be able to live on an average teacher’s salary in Russia and be able to pay the rent, eat, and go out some without having to penny-pinch too much.
You’ll probably teach 20-30 hours a week, not including travel time or lesson prep hours.
Some schools include accommodation, help with your airfare, or supply medical insurance.
Most English teachers will be based in the bigger cities, but as long as you spend your money reasonably, you should have enough to be comfortable; rent is affordable, public transport is easy and inexpensive, and local food reasonable.
South America is also fertile territory for teaching English. Brazil, for example, is the largest country on the continent, with plenty of diversity – in culture, landscapes, and lifestyle. You’ve got the Amazon rainforest to discover, spectacular beaches, and a unique culture with a variety of intriguing influences.
English is considered an important language for Brazilians to learn, because of its strong trade ties to North America, and, of course, the booming tourism industry.
As always, TEFL certification is pretty much a given if you want to secure any kind of English teaching job in Brazil. While a university degree is helpful, it isn’t a necessity.
The demand for English teachers is immense throughout Brazil, so word on the street is that it’s not too difficult to find a position, regardless of your qualifications and experiences, as long as you speak English fluently.
Having said that, you may struggle to find a job if you’re searching from outside of the country. Instead, get your tourist visa and hit the streets to start networking in search of employment.
You may find a position in a public or private school, a language school, in a college or university, or as a private tutor.
If you want to teach English legally in Brazil, you’ll need a work visa. As usual, getting one is easier said than done. The process can be expensive and time-consuming, and many schools are reluctant to go through the complicated process.
Most people choose to bypass it all and work illegally on a tourist visa. Tourist visas are fairly easy to get and are valid for three months. Remember, if this is the route you choose to take, be aware, as always, of the potential consequences of getting caught!
You could also apply for a student visa to study Portuguese in Brazil, but unfortunately, this does not allow you to work.
The average salary is $800-1300 USD per month, and teachers tend to work around 25 hours each week.
You’ll find language schools in smaller towns and more urban areas throughout the country. Living in the bigger cities, such as São Paulo, will net you a higher salary, but the increased cost of living will soon gobble it up.
Private tuition can be even more lucrative, and it shouldn’t be too difficult to take on students to fill up your schedule and boost your income considerably.