English has long been one of the languages to know within international business circles. Today, it is also prominently positioned within scientific, diplomatic, and financial circles, with many organizations around the world maintaining publications and day-to-day operations in English. Teachers who specialize in ESL (English as a second language) and TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) fill the vital role of instructing students of all ages in the many nuances of the English language. Some teachers work outside of the US, in areas where English is not the primary language spoken in day-to-day life. Others provide remote instruction, whether from a home office or a domestically-based organization. While dependent on various factors, the overall job outlook for TESOL/ESL teachers is bright.
TESOL and ESL represent an expanding field of growth and opportunity, and are typically hailed as paying very well. However, there is a lot of competition as well. Given this, what is the job outlook for TESOL and ESL teachers like, within the foreseeable future?
Job Outlook Domestically (ESL)
ESL can be used to describe anyone who teaches English as a non-primary language, but is most often used to describe professionals who teach English as a second language within areas where English is the primary language of daily immersion. Their approach is typically crafted for people who are exposed to English regularly, as a day-to-day occurence. They will often incorporate this exposure into classroom lessons. Job prospects for ESL teachers are good; the median salary for ESL is approximately $56,000 across the United States. ESL teachers can find jobs within school systems, within organizations that attract foreign workers, with colleges and universities, and as independent tutors.
Job Outlook, Internationally (TESOL)
TESOL instructors have a literal world of opportunity available to them, but must make the deicision as to whether they wish to instruct students domestically or abroad. Many TESOL instructors work through agencies that operate predominantly through a single method: either the traditional academic approach, which often requires relocation to a foreign country, or online. Either way, the TESOL is instructing students who may not be exposed to English outside of the classroom, so lessons must be structured with this taken into account. Employment in either capacity is strong right now, and is projected to remain so for years to come, as the role of English expands internationally. Median income is about $65,000 annually, but this varies widely; teachers who are willing to relocate often earn more, while those who work online have access to a broader range of marketplaces geographically.
What is the difference between TESOL and ESL?
“English as a second language” refers to the general teaching of English to speakers of other languages; the term is typically used without regard for geographic location or other such concerns. Overlapping significantly with this definition, that of “teaching English to speakers of other languages” typically refers to individuals who fill this function outside of the “Anglosphere,” that portion of the world where English is spoken as a primary or major language day-to-day. Otherwise, there is little difference between the two acronyms, which are often used interchangably when describing related educational professionals. The only widely recognized convention is that of TESOL applying to people who live in non-English-speaking areas, instructing the local population, but ESL would not be an inaccurate descriptor in this context either.
The current job outlook for TESOL/ESL teachers are good, with a variety of opportunities available for those who are willing to travel, and for those who would prefer to avoid relocating internationally. As a general rule, teachers who are willing to relocate can expect to earn a slightly higher median starting wage, often beginning between US$25 and US$35 per hour. This varies widely depending upon location. Teachers who operate remotely via the internet face a slightly lower median starting pay, but they have the opportunity to consider many more potential venues of employment. Growth rates for ESL and TESOL fields are significantly higher than average, with future estimates ranging from an 11-14% increase in available positions through the year 2030.