What To Do After Teaching ESL: 4 Options5 min read

For some teachers, ESL teaching is a lifetime career. For many others, it will be a temporary experience before moving onto something else. Teachers in this latter group may often wonder what options they have after ESL. Some people will probably go on to work in the field which their degree is in. However, if you find yourself in the group of teachers moving on from being an ESL teacher you may be quite surprised that there are a number of paths both in the ESL industry and outside of it that you can choose from. Some of these can even be quite lucrative.

What can I do after moving on from teaching?

As mentioned above, there is an endless number of possibilities for people transitioning out of the ESL industry. For this reason, we’re going to look at the top five that will provide you with opportunity for growth and which also utilize skills that are directly related to teaching ESL. Some of these are other types of occupations within the ESL industry and some are completely unrelated to ESL.

Curriculum Design

All of those textbooks, worksheets, TEFL courses, and other teaching material had to be designed by someone. This person was a curriculum designer. In the ESL industry, this was most likely a person with extensive past teaching experience and solid credentials such as an MA in TESOL (though not always). Curriculum designers are responsible for creating teaching material that is up-to-date and in line with industry standards. Salaries for curriculum designers can range from $30,000 at the lower end, all the way to over $80,000 at the higher end.

School Administration

For people who still enjoy working at the school level, but wish to advance to a higher paying position, there are countless school administration positions available at international and private schools around the world. In order to qualify for a position at this level, a master’s degree in education or an MA in TESOL will be necessary along with a certain number of years of experience. Administration jobs include school principal positions, director’s of programs, a superintendent overseeing a number of schools, and more. At the lower level, administrators can make as low as $40,000 per year. However, salaries for well-qualified administrators at highly respected institutions such as international schools can be as high as $100,000 per year or greater.

Opening a Language School

For the entrepreneurial-minded former teacher, a private language school can be both exciting as well as lucrative. Language schools operate as private schools for students to study outside of their normal academic hours. These are where many teachers get their first start in the ESL industry so chances are that you have probably already worked at one of the schools. Chances are also pretty good that it was started by someone like you who was at one point a teacher. The amount of money that you can make opening private language schools is going to be extremely wide-ranging. At the lower end, some schools can net as little as $30,000 per year. However, some schools at the higher end can make six figures. Successful language school operators typically will open multiple schools thereby greatly increasing their revenue. As with any other business, the success of a language school is going to depend on a well laid and executed business plan and a realistic expectation for long-term growth.

Leverage Your Knowledge

You made it through a career as a teacher. Maybe this was five years or maybe twenty. You’ve traveled the world and taught at institutions as remote as Western China and as exotic as Northern Japan. Guess what? There are people out there happy to pay for that information one way or another. How you exploit this is up to you. You could write a book or start a blog or even get into coaching to help teachers secure high paying jobs. A prime example of someone who has done just this is Ben from Ben Teaches English Overseas. As Ben states in his FAQ, he stopped teaching after becoming financially independent from ESL. Every year there are people trying to break into the ESL industry who are desperate for accurate and relevant information that can help them. The amount of money you can make going this route is largely dependent on you. However, this can be a little, $20,000 a year or less, or a lot, $500,000 a year or more. It isn’t the easiest or most straightforward path and anyone looking to go this route should understand that it will take a few years on average to build up a viable business as an author or website owner.

What are some final thoughts?

These are just a few of potentially hundreds of jobs available for an ESL teacher looking to change careers but not yet ready to retire. These are all jobs that are directly in the ESL industry, however, there are a great many more that exist outside of this including in education in your home country. Many of these jobs offer a great opportunity for growth and, as shown above, can even be extremely lucrative in the right circumstances. Before changing jobs, however, make sure that you really want to leave ESL teaching and aren’t just looking for a higher paying job. There are many high paying jobs for ESL teachers in the right parts of the world and there are even teachers out there making over $100,000 each year with all the perks that come with it such as paid accommodations and seasonal holidays.  This list should provide a good starting point but, as already mentioned, it is by no means exhaustive and you should do your due diligence in finding the right option for you.

I want to help you find an awesome job in the ESL industry and then excel at it. I’m a TESOL certified teacher with over two years of experience working both online and offline. I have worked with students ranging from young learners to advanced level university speakers and have worked in recruiting and hiring, teacher training, and content creation. I’ve seen the good and bad of the ESL industry and I’m here to tell you about it.