When I started my first teaching job in Thailand, I was amazed at the benefits I was given as part of my contract; benefits I had never received in any job I had in the United States. That is why for most teachers considering teaching English overseas, you shouldn’t worry about a lack of benefits causing you a loss of income, as you may very well end up with more than you’ve ever had before.
Of course, benefits differ with teaching jobs overseas depending on which country you teach in and the school you work for. There are, however, a number of benefits most schools will offer foreign teachers and extras many others will add on.
For most teachers accepting a job teaching Engish overseas, these are the basic benefits you can expect as part of your contract, whether you teach directly for a school or through a western teaching agency.
Paid vacations – Good vacations can be part of the delights of teaching English overseas, particularly if you are American, as most countries get more paid vacation weeks and have more national holidays than the US. Whether you are teaching in Korea, Japan, Thailand, Spain, Mexico or Saudi Arabia, you can usually expect 3-4 weeks paid vacation as well as 12-15 national holiday days or more.
Teachers working in language schools will usually get at the lower end of the spectrum, while those teaching in public or private schools may well be paid for four full weeks and more. International schools, if you are qualified, often pay for 8-12 weeks paid vacation time., which gives you a huge amount of time to travel.
Health insurance or health coverage – Every teaching job I have had in Thailand has come with health insurance that has covered most illnesses or accidents I may have had. In Korea, all employers must provide their employees with medical insurance by law and, in Europe, if you are from another EU country you will be covered for any health problems with your health coverage in your own country.
Many other schools in other countries also offer health insurance and, as health care is a fraction of the cost of the US just about anywhere in the world, you’ll find even if you have to pay for 50 percent of the cost of your insurance, it is still incredibly cheap.
Free or subsidized housing – Schools in many countries offer either free apartments, shared apartments with other teachers, or a monthly housing allowance that can be applied to your rent. In Korea, you can expect to be given a free studio apartment with just about every job, and in Japan you’ll either get the same or be offered a share.
Russian schools usually also provide free housing and the same goes for teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait.
At both of my main teaching jobs in Thailand, I was given a monthly housing allowance to apply to the cost of my rent. Just $150 in the first instance and $225 in the second, it still paid 50 percent and 75 percent of my monthly rental costs, so cut my living expenses quite drastically.
Work visas – Schools in many countries will pay for your work visa and all your legal paperwork before you start work, or will reimburse you once you arrive in country. Even in Thailand, which isn’t known for its particularly high-paying jobs, I have never paid for my own work permit or visa as each school I have worked for has paid it for me.
Additional benefits – Depending on the country you teach English in and the type of school you work at, you may also be given a free round-trip airfare, a transportation allowance to cover your monthly travel costs, and paid overtime if you work more hours than your contract specifies.
When you complete each annual contract in some countries, you will also be paid a bonus and as that is often up to a month’s salary it can be a huge addition to your regular salary and an awesome benefit for having taught abroad.
Finally, if you work in a Middle Eastern country, you’ll not only receive all the usual benefits but will also be paid a tax-free salary. That alone can be well worth the year or two abroad.
Make sure you check with each school you interview with in each country and get in writing the benefits you will be given as part of your contract. After all, there are so many teaching jobs available in more than 150 countries worldwide, there’s no need to accept one that offers poor benefits.