ESL/TESOL Teacher Salary and Career Information

ESL Salary and Career Information

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. Another popular acronym is TESOL or teaching English to speakers of other languages.

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 other tasks are there for English teachers?

  • 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 Career Options

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

If you enjoy interacting with students in person, you may want to consider applying to public schools. 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 ESL teachers make?

At this point you may be wondering about possible TESOL 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 $81,340 in May 2020. The top ten percent of people in this position earned more than $141,190, while the bottom ten percent earned less than $39,320 (BLS). The job outlook for this occupation is projected to grow by five percent from 2020 to 2030. 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


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