What are the start-up costs for teaching English abroad?

For anyone planning an adventure teaching English overseas, the amount of cash needed to cover the initial start-up costs is an important question to consider. As with any move there are certain expenses that cannot be avoided, although these will vary depending on where you plan to teach. In most cases the basic start-up costs will include:

  • Obtaining TEFL certification
  • Travel costs to your chosen country
  • Funds to support yourself until your first payday

How much does TEFL certification cost?

The cost of obtaining TEFL certification can vary considerably depending on the style of course you choose. At ITTT our least expensive online option can be completed for under $200, while an in-class course will typically cost between $1500 and $2000, not including flights, accommodation, meals etc. However, you should not base your choice of course solely on the cost, as there are fundamental differences to consider.

What are the pros and cons of online TEFL courses?

Online courses offer an affordable way to obtain TEFL certification, and they can be completed in your spare time without any loss of income. They can also be completed from any location worldwide that has an internet connection. However, most employers insist on TEFL certification of at least 120 hours, so the cheapest options are unlikely to be sufficient for securing a well paid job. Also, online courses do not include any practical teacher training or teaching practice with real students, something that might put you at a disadvantage in a competitive job market.

What are the pros and cons of in-class TEFL courses?

The big advantage of an in-class TEFL course is that you receive direct instruction from a highly qualified and experienced teacher trainer. During the course you will also have the opportunity to practice your skills in a genuine classroom environment with real students of English. However, the higher cost of attending an international TEFL training center can be prohibitive for some potential teachers. Completion of an in-class course also requires attendance for a 4-week period which might not always be possible.

Will I have to pay for my own airfare when teaching English abroad?

Heading off to teach English abroad will often involve a long and costly flight to your chosen destination. However, in countries where it is normal to hire teachers in advance from within their own country, many employers routinely provide free airfares. This is common practice in much of Asia and the Middle East, and less common in Europe and Latin America.

What will I have to pay for on arrival when teaching English abroad?

Once on the ground you will need sufficient funds to see you through until you receive your first pay packet. If you are heading to Europe or South America, it is likely that you will travel there before starting the job hunting process. In this case you should budget for around two weeks to find work, plus a further month until your first pay day. During this period you will need to cover your initial accommodation, a deposit and one month's rent for an apartment once you have found a job, as well as groceries, transport costs, and phone credit. The sum required will vary depending on country and lifestyle, but you should budget around $2000 to $3000 in Western Europe, while Eastern Europe should be roughly half that amount. Those heading to Latin America could get by on as little as $750 to $1000. If you are heading to Asia or the Middle East there is a good chance that you will already have secured employment before departure. In this case you will need the funds to see you through the first month of work only. Many employers in these regions also provide free or subsidized housing which can further reduce your expenses.