There is much more to analyzing an international school teacher’s salary and benefits package than working out the exchange rate and converting it into your home country’s currency. While most teachers aren’t in the profession for the salary, it’s a significant consideration when choosing a new job.
This article will address a few questions you may have concerning international school salaries and help you make an informed decision regarding your salary and benefits. Most teachers in international schools enjoy a significantly better relative salary and benefits package than they would in their home country.
1. Will I be paid more abroad than in my home country?
This can vary greatly by country, but if you come from the US, UK or Australasia, this is not likely to be the case. International schools in countries with a high cost of living such as Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Japan are likely to pay higher salaries. However, in most countries, the cost of living is lower as is local earning power, meaning that salaries are likely to be on a par or less than you are paid at home.
Saving opportunities though are increased substantially by teaching in international schools. In many countries, the cost of living is quite a bit lower and your comprehensive benefits package will mean that your opportunities to save are significant. The Middle East and China offer excellent opportunities to save, providing tax-free salaries and generous benefits packages in many cases.
2. Are there countries where it isn’t worth saving any money?
Many schools in countries with weak currencies pay part of the salary in the local currency (which acts as spending money) and part of the salary in an internationally-recognized currency, such as the US Dollar, Euro or British Pound. This means that you could return home with more savings than you would have done if you had worked at home.
3. Should I set myself a minimum salary to aim for?
While many teachers do this, it may be unwise and possibly rule out some excellent opportunities. For example, a teacher earning €60,000 (£54,000 or $90,000) in Switzerland is going to have far less savings than a teacher earning €20,000 (£18,000 or $30,000) in Egypt. You can use the following table to help you make the calculations. It is only a guide, but should help you understand the value of your salary:
Most international school teachers will enjoy a high standard of living plus have spare funds to travel, engage in a very active social life or save, but likely not all of them.
It’s worth using the cost of living comparison site www.numbeo.com to compare what your salary may be actually worth in that city.
4. Do international schools provide free places for teachers’ children?
A number of international schools do provide free education for your children. However, the majority do not. Most provide a substantial discount between 50% and 90% of the fees. Some offer no discount at all, although this is rare.
5. Will I have to pay tax when I teach abroad?
This varies country by country, but you will most likely pay local taxes in most countries. There are, however, a number of countries that do offer tax-free salaries for foreign residents, many of them (but not exclusively) are in the Middle East.
6. Will my international school provide free health insurance?
Generally speaking, this is true in countries where the local state healthcare is inadequate. However, international schools in countries with good healthcare systems are unlikely to provide you with completely free healthcare insurance.