Make Money Teaching Efl Abroad?
John finished university and looked around for something to do. What he saw was the standard 9 – 5 job: grey mornings, long commute, office politics, four weeks holiday a year. It didn’t appeal.
He decided to put off the inevitable and take a year off. Lacking the money to travel for a whole year without working, he did a short teaching course and got a job in Thailand.
He loved the culture, the people, the food – and the job. The money was tiny but life was cheap and he had the rest of his life to make money. The year flew by and he decided to do just one more year’s teaching. And after that another year. And then another.
It’s a common scenario. Teachers enter EFL for a year – and some of us end up staying there. Some of us also pick up wives and children along the way – and money suddenly starts to become more important.
However, it’s not easy to make money in EFL – in fact it’s harder than it used to be. I have a friend who returned home from Japan in the nineties and bought a house for cash and a large chunk of stocks and shares – this does not happen anymore. Even Saudi Arabia does not pay the same wages it used to.
But the Middle East is where one place where you can still make good money. While at first glance a good package may seem similar to what you would earn on an average salary in the UK, by the time you have thrown in a tax free salary, free accommodation, low travelling costs (fuel costs nothing), a bonus and no bills to pay you can easily be earning the equivalent of fifty thousand a year.
Of course, it’s not quite as easy to get a job in the Middle East as it is elsewhere. First, you really need several years of experience. While some places require as little as three years of experience, the more you have the better your chances.
It’s also worth pointing out that when you are in the Middle East you need both the language awareness and the confidence that comes with experience. The students here are not as forgiving as in some other countries. (See our article: Teaching English in the Middle East: A Survival Guide for more information.)
If you are really serious about working here you should also obtain an additional qualification. Diplomas, PGCE’s and MA’s are all worth having, although an Arab employer may give more weight to the latter two as they will have the magic word University on the certificate.
Make sure you do your research. A friend turned down a forty thousand pound a year job in Saudi Arabia after finding out just how bad the job was on Dave’s ESL Cafe. Also be sure you are able to cope in the country you have chosen. Many people dislike Saudi Arabia intensely. Other Gulf countries can be more pleasant – as our article Life in Qatar shows.
And as for John? He’s in the Middle East, still extending his year off – possibly for a life time!