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The Best Places to Make Money Teaching ESL in Asia

By Edited Jul 8, 2014 0 2

With flights, accommodation, generous salaries and benefits included in many packages, the question often becomes, why wouldn't you go? The following countries offer some of the best salaries followed by numerous benefits and incentives to stay. Most contracts are for a year, but some may ask you for a longer commitment. Not only that, the lure of generous salaries means you'll be meeting a lot of other like-minded folks who want to experience something different while making money to continue their travels. There is a catch to large salaries, though, some countries such as Hong Kong or Japan have much higher costs of living than places such as Vietnam or South Korea. With that in mind, the general requirements to get a job in any of these countries is a university degree and/or a TEFL certificate, though some countries have different requirements. But, fear not, with the salaries averaging $2000 a month, it might be worth your while to look into getting certified or finishing that university degree!

South Korea

The Land of the Morning Calm, and South Korea is just that. With a mix of Buddhist, Confucist, and Christian religions, South Korea gives you an accessible taste of Asian culture, while providing you with a golden opportunity to teach ESL and save money along the way. The South Korean government has undertaken a massive funding program to place a foreign ESL teacher in every public school within the next five years. The government runs a special program called English Program in Korea (EPIK) through which native English teachers from Canada, USA, England, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and new Zealand can apply to be placed in a public school. The minimum requirement is that you have a university degree in any discipline. You'll have to go through the regular police checks and clearances before securing your job, but don't worry, your employer will take care of most of the paper work for you.


Still a world power despite its economic problems as of late, Japan's thirst for learning English is unquenchable. The government sponsored JET program (similar to South Korea's EPIK) will be all you need to get going over to the land of samurais and sushi for an unforgettable experience. If you're concerned about the recruitment process, why don't you head on over to Japan and check it out for yourself before committing to any one company? There are lots of schools around and all you gotta do is look around. Bring a suit and a handful of resumes and you should be able to find a job in no time.


Earthquakes galore rock this uber-developed nation of 23 million people. I don't think it's far from the truth to say that half of the world is manufactured on this tiny island. That is a great benefit to you, the hopeful ESL teacher, as the demand for native English teachers is huge. That's where you come in. Folks with university degrees or TEFL certificates shouldn't have any problem finding a job in Taiwan, but those without could apply anyway. Look around on the numerous ESL websites and see what you can find for job postings. Ask around and do your homework to make sure you end up with a placement that will make your visit enjoyable for yourself, your employer, and, most importantly, for your students.


Steeped in both ancient and modern history, Vietnam is quickly becoming a rising star in southeast Asia as it is part of the southeast Asian "backpacking experience". With 86 million people in the country, a huge tourist industry, and an emerging economy, the demand for English teachers is rising. While incentives are attractive (ca. $1700/mth + benefits), the coffee is amazing, and the cost of living is cheap, Vietnam is rapidly becoming the “new South Korea”. Not only that, teaching in Vietnam offers you excellent access to explore neighbouring countries Laos and Cambodia.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong offers opportunities for the adventurous soul who wishes to see, experience, and learn all about Chinese culture and make money to boot. Closely connected with the rest of the Chinese mainland, teaching ESL in Hong Kong will allow you to work in one area but give you a hub from which to explore the rest of China (bearing in mind that most folks need entry visas to visit mainland China). Over the last decade, the Hong Kong government has run the NET Scheme, or Native-Speaking English Teacher Scheme through which it offers a generous salary (roughly $3000/mth) and numerous benefits, not to mention the exotic location!

That should be a pretty good list to get your started. But if money's not your thing and you're looking for something completely different, then read my next post in which I offer a glimpse of some countries that are just getting onto the ESL bangwagon and offer a unique and pioneering experience!



Mar 19, 2013 12:57am
south korea is probably the best for first timers but if you have the experience and qualifications then there are plenty of great places to earn money in asia. a very good breakdown of the different markets.
Mar 20, 2013 4:17am
You're right that South Korea is the best place to start. I recommend the country and the EPIK program to anyone who's thinking of trying out teaching ESL. I also recommend to go volunteer first to see if people actually like the role of being a teacher. Thanks for commenting!
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