In 2009, Nicole Brewer was at her wits’ end. She’d been laid off from her market research job and, after several months of unemployment in the U.S., there were no real prospects on the horizon.
“I decided to try my hand at teaching English overseas after seeing an advertisement online,” says Nicole. “All I needed to get started was a degree from a university and no real teaching experience.”
These days, Nicole is living it up teaching English in the Middle Eastern country of Oman, but she got her start teaching in South Korea. With a straightforward application process, no experience required, and great perks, Nicole highly recommends South Korea as a destination to start out teaching English overseas.
The demand for native English speakers in South Korea is so high that Olivia Babine—who also teaches there—found that recruiters are keen for people to start almost immediately. As soon as Olivia’s visa was processed, she was on a 30-hour flight to South Korea. Her new boss picked her up at the airport and the next day she was teaching.
Olivia uses her weekends to travel…staying overnight in a temple…visiting the tiny and picturesque half-moon-shaped Namiseom Island…and enjoying the Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Festival, a celebration of the blooming of trees brought by the Japanese. A full weekend trip costs her just $20 to $150 depending on where she is going.
With so many expats teaching in South Korea, you’ll find active expat communities, clubs, and social events all over the country—especially in the capital of Seoul.
But the major reward for Olivia has been financial. Olivia’s been able to pay off her loans, save some money, and pay for her travel, thanks to her salary. And the benefits that come with a typical teaching contract are especially attractive.
“Almost all English schools give teaching contracts that provide health insurance, a paid-for apartment, and your airplane ticket home, along with your regular salary,” says Olivia.
In South Korea, a teacher at an English school can earn between $1,600 and $1,900 a month, exclusive of any housing or medical benefits. For a university teacher, that figure can rise to between $1,950 and $2,950 a month.
But for Nicole, who left South Korea and is now living in Oman, the financial benefits of her new country surpass even the generous benefits of her previous home.
“I decided to move on to the Middle East because I can make more money in this region, and the cost of living is still relatively low,” says Nicole. “While there may not be as many opportunities for social outings, I can afford to globetrot and hop over to Dubai for festivals and events.”
In Oman, teachers working in an international school can expect to be paid from $2,100 to $3,500 a month. On top of that, they also get accommodation or a stipend for rent, a return flight to their home country, and medical insurance. Teachers with experience and an English-teaching qualification, such as CELTA, TESOL, or other recognized qualifications, can earn up to $4,000 a month.
Age is certainly not a barrier to teaching English overseas. Many people in their 60s and 70s are living their dream lives teaching overseas. Nor is education or experience a requirement to prosper. Many people who have never taught a class before, and have no official certification, are earning money teaching English. All you need to do is choose the exotic location you want to live in.
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