Jobs Market for Teaching English: Is it too Good to be True?

A reader over at TEFL Newbie wrote this comment:

I am a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of positions in S. Korea, China, and Japan. The job market situation appears to be the inverse of the market here in the USA. In the postings for positions in China I am surprised by the sheer volume of listings and by the often times scant requirements and sometimes the offers seem a little to good to be true.

Things are – in fact – booming in Asia.  The demand for teachers is as great as it has ever been.

While it can seem a bit “too good to be true”, it is only because the jobs market in the developed countries is terrible right now.  Has been for a couple years and probably will be for a couple more.

China and Korea continue to be the largest of the job markets for teaching English.  Korea requires a degree and no TEFL certification and China doesn’t require a degree but does require a TEFL cert, though some employers can get around the requirement.

While wages in China can seem modest, when you throw in free accommodation, airfare reimbursement, subsidized utilities (sometimes) and possibly even free lunch some days and a transportation payment – and all of a sudden you are doing okay.  Add in really low taxes (from zero to three to seven percent at most) and you can see that all of a sudden, your wages are basically for food (inexpensive) and fun (can be expensive!).

Teachers in China can often save US$200 and up.  Not a lot, but how much can you save working at Walmart or McDonald’s?

Korea too, offers what can seem to be a modest wage, but by the time you throw in all the perks – well – most people in Korea can save US$1000 a month without really trying.   If you can’t save that much, you need to take a break from the nightclubs and stay home every now and then . . .

Korea, for the above reasons, is a more competitive market than China.  Lots of fresh graduates from university head to Korea to pay off or at least put a dent in their student loans.

China is a better option for teachers who would prefer teaching at university, but don’t have the graduate degree required to do so in Korea.   Chinese universities pay modestly compared even to Chinese language schools, but you work less and there are often options for increasing your income — and the status of a university position helps a lot.

TED’s Tips™ #1:  Don’t make yourself a victim of the “It’s too good to be true” syndrome.  The jobs market for teaching English overseas is alive and well.  High unemployment in the USA, UK and Ireland means that Korea is more competitive, but there are still more jobs than can find teachers in China.

TED’s Tips™ #2:  Try ESLJobsNow.com for a good sampling of what is available around the world.  You will truly be amazed.

Teaching Internships in China