If you’ve taken a look at Dave’s ESL Café or another TEFL job board you know there are a lot of postings. Many of these job posting don’t exactly look professional either. Most of them look more like a message board titles than anything else. Many of the postings are made by recruiters and not directly by schools. The recruiters are trying to get as much attention as possible, which includes strangely stylizing their jobs postings. They get paid more by placing more people so they aim for quantity rather than quality like a direct hire would prefer. This is why they post many positions in one ad and make it as flashy as possible. However, as I mentioned in a previous post it is worth looking into these postings. Recruiters have access to more jobs and know more people than you or I. networking is important even in TEFL.
However, not all posted positions are worthy of your time. You need to know what to look for in a job so you don’t get screwed. I’ll try to give guidance to help you on your way. I’ll start with more general advice. I have direct experience with Korea and China so I’ll give more direct advice for those respective countries.
When looking at posting the information you should look for first is: who is hiring, the hours, the pay, and benefits. You need to know what kind of organization is hiring. Are they a kindergarten, academy, public school, or University? Each organization will have different students, goals, and work culture. It will also make cutting through all the postings easier. Don’t look at offers from academies if you hate working evenings. Not qualified for teaching university? Don’t look at university jobs then.
Hours, pay, and benefits re all roll together as part of the total compensation package. Hours are the most important part of any teaching position, in my opinion anyway. The average teaching job will have 20-25 hours of contact hours. A job that advertises 30+ hours of teaching should obviously pay more. The opposite is true too. Most jobs will pay for your flight either before or after contract. Finally, most jobs will pay for or give you housing. Some countries don’t however. The less perks you get the higher your base pay should be.
Lastly you should look for anything that would increase your work hours outside your teaching hours. This can include office hours, meetings, running clubs, testing and entrance exams, promotional events and more. Schools are very good at finding extra things for teachers to do outside the classroom. Figure out your effective hourly pay before deciding if a job is good or not. Hourly compensation paints a much more honest picture of the job than just the monthly salary schools generally tell you.
I’ll use my current job, at the time of writing, as an example. I make 12,000 RMB/month (about $1700). I teach 10.5 hours a week. I help English clubs for about 1-2 hours a week on average. I have no office hours but I lesson plan and generally help students for 2-3 hours a week. In total I work about 47 hours. In a whole month. 255 RMB/hour or about $37/hour, turns out I’m paid well despite on paper not making a whole lot. I’m also not including flight payments or housing assistance. I made about $300 gross more in Korea but only worked out to $12/hour. It was not a fun time.
However, having a baseline pay to work off of is helpful to perusing jobs so I’ll give specifics for Korea and China. In Korea you should get paid a minimum of 2.1 million won/month and have your apartment and flight paid for. Anything less than this means you’re getting screwed. China has a lot more variance. Fair university pay will range from about 9,000 to 12,000 RMB a month with 1 flight paid for and your housing covered. Private academies will cover your flights and housing. The pay will very a lot. If you are brand new I recommend aiming for 15,000 to 18,000 RMB for academy work. With experience and a TEFL certificate (especially a CELTA) you should be able to snag 20,000 RMB+. However, you will work a lot to make that money just like any private academy.
Hopefully this post helps guide you on your jobs search. Please send any questions or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.