ESL/TESOL Teacher Salary and Career Information

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ESL Salary and Career Information

What is ESL?

English as a Second Language, or ESL, refers to classes taught by teachers who are responsible for helping students learn to read, write and speak English.

Typically, ESL teachers are interested in a TESOL Certification, a course that may help enhance their ESL teaching credentials. In addition, you usually receive constructive feedback about your teaching style and what kind of teacher you can become.

DID YOU KNOW? People who enroll in ESL classes are usually immigrants to the United States or others whose native language is not English.

The goal of ESL teachers is usually to help students develop their practical vocabulary to help them in their jobs and daily lives. Also, to help them prepare for the citizenship test. It is important for ESL teachers to feel comfortable working and communicating with students from diverse cultures, who may not share a common native language.

What does an ESL teacher do?

  • Planning and teaching lessons to help students meet their goal of learning English
  • Emphasizing skills like learning common phrases that can be used in the workplace
  • Evaluating strengths and weakness and monitoring student progress
  • Connecting students to community resources such as job placement services
ESL/TESOL Salary and Career Information

ESL Teacher Jobs

The good news is that there are a wide variety of types of places where ESL teachers may pursue work, depending on your goals. For example:

Online School

If you’d prefer the flexibility of working with students in an online environment, you could pursue a position with an online school.

Public Schools

If you enjoy interacting with students in person, you may want to consider applying to public schools. You may work in various levels of public schools, including as an elementary teacher, high school teacher, middle school teacher, or a post-secondary teacher.

Adult Literacy Teacher

An ESL teacher may work with adults as their primary students. If you enjoy interacting with adults and want to help them learn to read and write in English, perhaps to help them find employment or prepare for other services, consider a path as an adult literacy teacher.

Private Intensive English Language Provider

It may also be possible for you to work as a private instructor or educator. Instead of working with numerous students, you may be able to focus your attention on just a single person or a small group.

Work Outside of the U.S.

In some cases, an ESL teacher may work outside of the U.S. to provide the same type of education just to those who live in countries around the world.

Head Teacher

You may wish to work as a head teacher in a community with ample diversity, providing education to elementary or high school students across several disciplines.

Center Director

Some people who finish an ESL program may wish to work within the community, such as a center director within a young or adult program. This may allow you to work individually with students who have diverse backgrounds.

Curriculum Designer

If you enjoy working to create curriculums, you may wish to pursue a role as a curriculum designer. This may allow you to help improve what is taught and how it is taught to students who need an ELS focus.

Open a School

For those who wish to pursue additional educational and licensing requirements that may be necessary, it may be possible to open your own ESL school. This may allow you to create educational programs for the students you like to work with.

Teacher Trainer

If you enjoy teaching but recognize that there is more need within your community, you may wish to pursue a career as a teacher trainer. You may wish to pursue this path after you gain experience in the classroom and in the field that allows you to help support others in need.

Administrative Positions

Being an ESL teacher may also open you to administrative positions in education. For example, you may be able to work in administrative positions within a school, religious organization, community center, or other organizations to provide supportive services to people who do not speak English as their first language.

This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer or guarantee of employment, and that may help prepare students to meet the licensing or certification requirements of the field they choose to study. Students should check with the appropriate licensing or certifying body to make sure the program they apply to will help meet any licensing or certification requirements. Students should also consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum.

More community-minded teachers may want to look into different community organizations in their area that offer ESL classes. There also may be opportunities to teach ESL at community or vocational colleges.

ESL Teacher Work Schedule

The work schedule for ESL teachers is really dependent on student needs. As such, classes are often held in the mornings or evenings when students are not at work—although there is more flexibility if you’re teaching online. Due to the schedule restrictions, ESL teachers may often work part-time hours.

When it comes to the clients—as we mentioned above—students may be from a variety of different ages, backgrounds, and nationalities. They are also likely to be highly motivated because they are attending the classes by choice. Because the client base is so diverse, it’s important that ESL teachers are patient when language barrier issues arise—and prepared to get really creative when it comes to communicating with students and creating lesson plans.


How much do English Teachers make?

At this point you may be wondering about possible TESOL and ESL teacher salary opportunities, should you choose to pursue this career path. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for a similar occupation in this field (English Language and Literature Teachers) was $83,130 in May 2022.

The top ten percent of people in this position earned more than $97,010, while the bottom ten percent earned less than $35,530 (BLS). The job outlook for this occupation is projected to grow by 13% from 2022 to 2032.

According to the BLS, this growth is predicted in part due to continued immigration to the U.S. and the resulting demand it will create.

Top Salary Metro Areas in the United States: English Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary
Metro AreaAnnual Mean SalaryEmployment
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA$110,620140
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA$109,500540
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA$93,330450
Cumberland, MD-WV$84,66060
Provo-Orem, UT$82,9400

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Masters in ESL TESOL - ESL teacher salary

ESL/TESOL Masters Programs

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