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How much do English teachers get paid after a CELTA course?

Updated: Mar 2

How Much Do English Teachers Get Paid After a CELTA course?
Which countries pay the most for international English teachers?

So, you’ve researched CELTA and you think you might like to teach your way around the world. You know you’ll have to brush up on your English grammar and you’ve probably heard that the CELTA experience will be intense. You also know that by the end of the course you’ll have a qualification that is the world’s most recognised for teaching English, but you’ll probably be wondering ‘Does teaching English abroad pay well?’

It's true - you’re not going to earn millions teaching English abroad. I don’t know anyone who went into teaching for the money. However, there are lots of jobs out there that pay very handsome salaries. In fact, many of the teaching jobs I was applying for after my CELTA were paying the same or more than some UK based graduate level jobs. When you factor in accommodation and travel packages that lots of schools include in addition to their pay rates, teaching abroad begins to look more and more like a lucrative prospect and many teachers end up saving a decent amount of their salary each month.

So, which countries pay the most for English teachers? In this blog we’ll list some of the highest ranking destinations for English teacher salaries. Remember, the salaries stated are average figures and if you want to save money at the end of each month you’ll have to consider the cost of living for specific countries (some are naturally more expensive than others) and your lifestyle (weekend trips, nightlife, shopping).

5 Highest Paying Countries For CELTA Teachers

1. Hong Kong

Hong Kong: Average CELTA-qualified teacher salary - $2,500 - $6,000 per month

Why teach in Hong Kong?

Often seen as the connection between China and the west, Hong Kong boasts the world’s highest paid English teaching contracts.

Hong Kong’s job listings can very often be overshadowed by the sheer volume of advertisements for teaching vacancies in neighbouring China, but popular districts like Victoria and Kowloon offer hundreds of positions in primary and secondary schools.

The demand for English teachers is high because English is now recognised as an official language in Hong Kong. Competition can be tough and as a minimum, you will need a CELTA qualification to even be considered for interview.

The highest paid CELTA teaching jobs are offered to those with experience. Hong Kong is a great place to go if you are looking for a longer stay, with 2 year contracts commonly on offer. Native speakers can do particularly well in Hong Kong. The NET Scheme (Native English Teacher Scheme) is run by the country’s Education Bureau and offers the highest salaries in the EFL industry to successful candidates, ranging between $4,000 to $8,000+ per month.

However, the high salaries come at a cost. Until June 2023, Hong Kong was the most expensive city in the world, and even though it's been overtaken by New York, it's still not cheap. Rent, transport costs, food and drink prices and utility bills are still some of the highest in the world, so it can sometimes be difficult to save on a budget.

Typical CELTA teacher job requirements

  • CELTA is required as minimum

  • Bachelor’s degree (usually in any field, some jobs might require it to be in Education)

  • Basic background check and clean criminal record

  • Some teaching experience required for the top jobs

  • High level of spoken English

  • Good references

Hong Kong
Hong Kong offers the highest English teacher salaries in the world

2. The Gulf States – UAE, Kuwait, Oman & Saudi Arabia

Gulf States: Average CELTA-qualified teacher salary - $2,000 - $5,000 per month

Why teach in UAE, Kuwait, Oman or Saudi Arabia?

Over the last 20 years, the Persian Gulf states have invested billions of dollars into their educational infrastructure, with particular focus on English language learning. Saudi Arabia and the UAE in particular have shown a keen interest in investing into English and teaching positions in cities like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Jeddah often exceed $5,000 per month. However, the word is out.

The number of teachers competing for jobs in cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi far outweigh the number of positions available meaning it is almost impossible to find an English teaching job without a well regarded TEFL qualification like CELTA and some experience, and even in less competitive parts of the region, a CELTA is still essential.

Teachers in the region very often benefit from tax free earnings making the salary go even further for CELTA teachers. Add to that free health insurance, accommodation and flights, it’s not hard to see why teachers flock to this part of the world once they are CELTA qualified.

Those earnings can be put to good use with South Asia, Africa and Europe on the doorstep, ready to be explored. Even after living so lavishly, you’re probably still going to have left over cash to add to your savings.

Typical CELTA teacher requirements

  • CELTA required as minimum

  • Bachelor’s degree, for visa sponsorship reasons

  • Teaching experience is a bonus when being considered for positions

  • High level of spoken English

  • Citizenship from English speaking country (UK, US, Australia, Canada, Ireland, South Africa)

  • A teaching license for jobs teaching in international schools or universities

  • Medical checks and criminal record checks are common.

  • Some schools may specify that teachers must be under 55 years old to apply.

The Palm Island
Huge educational investment in the Persian Gulf see some of the highest salaries for English teachers offered in cities like Dubai

3. Japan

Japan: Average CELTA-qualified teacher salary - $1,900 - $5,000 per month

Why teach in Japan?

The Land of the Rising Sun. Home to Mt Fuji, sushi, karaoke and the bullet train, Japan has been on people’s travel bucket list for decades. It’s also been a lucrative destination for English teachers for many years too, with salaries often reaching more than $5,000 per month for people teaching English abroad.

The hugely popular Japanese Exchange & Teaching (JET) Programme has seen some 70,000 participants sent to teach in schools around Japan since it began and, like many other Japanese institutions, helps with accommodation costs, flights and subsidising visas. The 2024 JET Programme is now closed for applications, but applications for 2025 will open in September 2024.

Be prepared to adjust your work-life balance when teaching in Japan. Entry level teachers will typically be teaching young learners in the mornings and then workers wanting to improve their business English skills in the evenings. The country tends to operate more formally, having some of the world’s hardest workers and best service. A huge emphasis is placed on kindness and respect. This also means that your employer is also likely to expect you to wear a suit to work.

The cost of living is high in Japan too. Tokyo was consistently listed as one of the world’s most expensive cities, though it dropped out of the top ten most expensive in 2024 and is now becoming more affordable. Food, rent, transport and bills can all be quite costly, but you should still be able to save a few hundred dollars each month while teaching in Japan if you are sensible.

Typical English teaching job requirements

  • CELTA required as minimum

  • Bachelor’s degree in any field

  • Clean criminal record

  • You do not have to be a native speaker to find work as a teacher in Japan.

  • English for young learners and Business English are both very common in teaching contracts. You’ll need to be a well-rounded teacher, or at least intend to be one

Neon signs on Tokyo street
Tokyo has some of the highest salaries for English teachers, but the cost of living here is very high

4. South Korea

South Korea: Average CELTA teacher salary - $1,850 - $3,000 per month

Why teach in South Korea?

If K-Pop and kimchi is your vibe, South Korea is the place for you. Other than China, it lists more English teaching jobs than any other country on the planet. Teaching English is huge in South Korea and the salary isn't bad either.

There is a healthy jobs market and currently one in ten jobs for English teachers is vacant, so you could potentially be in strong position when applying for jobs. The top jobs offer high salaries, accommodation subsidies, visa sponsorship, health insurance, contract completion bonuses and flights in and out of Korea. These extra benefits mean that you can live your best life in bustling Seoul or Busan and still manage to save money away at the end of the month.

English teachers in South Korea come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Lots of positions are offered to newly qualified CELTA graduates and there are lots of jobs out there for more experienced managers and teacher trainers. The type of institution you teach at in Korea will also determine your pay at the end of each month. Teaching English at a university or an international school generally offer higher salaries than teachers at kindergartens or public schools.

Typical CELTA teaching job requirements

  • CELTA is usually required as a minimum.

  • Bachelor’s degree, for visa sponsorship reasons

  • Basic background check and clean criminal record

  • Teaching experience not required, unless applying for the top jobs

  • Health check

  • High level of spoken English

  • Teaching young learners is common, particularly in entry level teaching jobs

Seoul skyline at dusk
The demand for English teachers in Korea means that salaries often reach up to $3,000 per month

5. Vietnam

Vietnam: Average CELTA-qualified teacher salary - $1,200 - $1,900 per month

Why teach in Vietnam?

There are plenty of teaching jobs available in Vietnam. And with bustling cities, miles and miles of beautiful coastline and some of the world’s best loved cuisines, Vietnam has long been a mecca for newly qualified English teachers. Sure, the pay at first doesn’t look particularly appealing, but while Vietnam doesn’t have the highest average salary on this list, the cost of living there is minuscule compared to its Asian counterparts, Europe or America.

A TEFL teaching salary in Vietnam goes a long way and contracts typically include health insurance, visa sponsorship, free accommodation and flights. It might not seem like you’re earning much while teaching in Vietnam, but when considering all of the above, you can easily look to save between $800 to $1000 a month.

Higher paying positions are usually found in the big cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, but some recruiters are starting to encourage teachers to work in more rural schools for increased benefits. Vietnam is a great place to begin your teaching career after CELTA as schools often don’t require years of experience. However, you’ll need to be open to teaching young learners. Teaching kids is almost guaranteed to be part of the deal when applying for teaching jobs in Vietnam.

Typical CELTA job requirements


  • Bachelor’s degree, for visa sponsorship reasons

  • Willingness to teach young learners

floating houses in Ha Long Bay
A low cost of living allows teachers in Vietnam to live well and save money each month

How To Find The Best Paid English Teaching Jobs Abroad: 5 Tips

  1. What perks are being offered in the teaching contract you are considering? Does it include accommodation, visa support, flights, insurance? If the school pays for most of these, it means you'll get to keep the majority of your pay packet.

  2. How much will it cost you to live in your chosen destination? High salaries are great, but if it all goes towards bills, rent, food and travel costs how much will you have left over for you to enjoy yourself each month?

  3. Competition is fierce in popular cities like Hong Kong and Dubai. It might be worth gaining some teaching experience in other countries or cities first, adding that to your CV and then applying for the top jobs. Teaching experience is often required in the most competitive teaching job markets.

  4. Teach online to bring in extra cash. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we can all work from home very easily. If you find yourself in a city that's a bit more expensive than you'd hoped for, build a portfolio of private students that you can teach online from anywhere in the world. You'll build up your experience without a boss breathing done your neck and you'll be adding to your bank account and if you're students are happy encourage them to tell their friends so that you can build up that private student client base.

  5. Be CELTA qualified. The certificate is still seen as the 'gold standard' when it comes to teaching English as a foreign language. Employers around the world recognise it and 4 out of 5 jobs require it as a minimum. DC Teacher Training runs online CELTA and face-to-face courses in Birmingham, Bournemouth, Brighton, Colchester and Eastbourne on a full-time and a part-time basis. Click below to find out more.

Danny Wilkins graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2009 with a degree in English and Drama Studies and went on to get his CELTA qualification in Manchester in 2012.  Since then he has taught English in over 10 countries including Taiwan, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Austria, before settling in the UK. Danny has previously managed one of the largest CELTA centres in the UK and is thrilled to bring CELTA courses to Birmingham, having lived and graduated in the city.

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