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Any idea on potential pay?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by rusmus, Sep 28, 2019.

  1. rusmus

    rusmus New commenter

    I hope you can help. I’m considering a move abroad as I’ve seen a fantastic job in what appears to be a great school. I have never worked abroad in education (done a couple of years in a previous career) so I have no idea what the phrase ‘competitive salary’ means. As I understand it, there are packages with a range of benefits but for a class teacher in Singapore or the Middle East, what sort of rate would be the norm? I am not greedy and I am definitely not looking to move for the money but I’d like to have a rough idea! Any help or advice will be gratefully received! Many thanks,
  2. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    The words "competitve pay" are pretty meaningless. It generally means they will pay you as little as they can get away with. Every school, and every country will pay differently. You can earn truly terrible money with no benefits in places like Spain, or you can earn amazing money with fantastic benefits in many many countries around the world. It is possible to take home over $100 000 a year plus have free accommodation, flights, medical, utilities etc on top, but these are pretty rare. As an average in my experience, a take home of $40 000 a year plus the full benefits package is about average after a couple of years on the circuit.

    Singapore is probably the most desirable and over subscibed place on earth when it comes to job applications. The ME is not what it once was when it comes to pay. There are far better packages out there now, mainly in the east.
    Look at IB or American schools teaching the IB. There are a hell of a lot more of them than British schools, and from what i see have far superior packages.
  3. rusmus

    rusmus New commenter

    Thank you!
  4. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yes, I agree with dumbbells66 that "competitive" is indeed another one of those rather meaningless words, a bit like "international". As regular readers of the pachyderm's online ramblings will know well, I have already written (at some length) on the subject of salaries, but for the benefit of rusmus (who does not seem to know how to use this forum's "Search" facility) I will repeat myself yet again.

    Comparisons between salaries in the UK and international salaries are often misleading, confusing and unhelpful.
    As an expat teacher, your salary is an important part of your overall "package", but it certainly is not the only part. You need to take into account your expenditure, as well as your income, if you are trying to get a clear picture of whether or not you will be better off after you have made the move into international schools.

    Accommodation is an important part of your package. Some schools don't provide any accommodation and don't pay any accommodation allowance. Some provide accommodation and pay your utility bills as well!

    If you already have a house or an apartment in the UK, then getting a teaching post overseas might mean that you are able to rent out your property. Letting out your house or flat in the UK will make a very big difference to your overall "balance of payments".

    Proper medical insurance can make a big difference, especially if you find that your school's so-called "comprehensive" cover does not actually include this, that and something else as well.

    If you have children, then you need to think very carefully about what sort of discount on the fees you and your little darling(s) will get. Some schools only allow one "freebie" place, some give two and some don't give any.

    Transport is also a major hole-in-the-pocket for many international teachers. Will you need to buy a car (or two?) What about insurance and repairs? Here in Sofia, I can walk to my school in about 15 minutes. If you have a car in the UK and you have to drive hundreds of miles each week, then getting an international job might give you more disposable income and more time.

    Council Tax does not seem to be going down in the UK, so teachers who are new to international education will no doubt be pleased to learn that many countries around the world do not have a similar tax or else it is a heck of a lot less than what you could be paying in the UK. Here in Bulgaria, Mr. and Mrs. Hippopotamus have to pay the Bulgarian equivalent of Council Tax and it is 44 leva (20 pounds) a year.

    Holidays are (or could be) another major expense. If you are flying back to the UK every five minutes, especially at Christmas or some other time of the year when everyone else wants to get onto a plane, then you could end up paying an arm and a leg. If you can have a "local" holiday and not get on a plane, then you probably will not spend that much. Or else you could try to persuade your friends and family to come and stay with you! We had some fabulous (and very cheap) holidays in Oman when I was teaching in the UAE.

    Last, but by no means least, there is the matter of pensions. In some ways this issue has become less important in recent years, thanks to our great and glorious government in the UK eroding, downgrading and almost destroying the Teachers' Pension Scheme. In a nutshell, you will not be able to pay into the TPS if you are teaching overseas. Most international schools (well, the ones that I have come across) do not pay employer's contributions to any sort of pension scheme for their teachers.

    And yes, rusmus, I have sent you one of those TES Conversations.
    claytie likes this.
  5. harpplayer

    harpplayer Occasional commenter

    I always thought that when a company isn’t open about salary and uses the word ‘competitive’, it either meant a nothing word like a ‘great’ school, or more likely, better pay than local but poor by good international standards. Think around two thousand dollars a month. Personally, I wouldn’t waste the effort and considerable time applying for a job that didn’t state the salary or range from the start. If you like the sound of the job, email and ask first before applying, saying you have a mortgage to pay and don’t want to waste their time if the salary won’t cover it. If they are still coy, avoid.

    Try Dubai. I got very lucky when moved to Dubai five years ago. After a pretty horrendous two years in a standard academy in the UK, I wanted out quickly. It was the first job applied to and got offered it and was advertised at $35000 pa plus flat, medical and flights. After six months, it was $45000 with a bit of extra stuff. Then I found lucrative tutoring for rich kids via a friend which doubled the salary and more. All tax free. If money is your motivation, the ME still has a lot of cash sloshing about in tutoring and private courses so don’t worry about a few thousand dollars here or there. I’ll be here at least for another ten years, and loving it, the sun, job, beaches, hot women, food and location.
  6. harpplayer

    harpplayer Occasional commenter

    Take note of hippo’s comments on pensions. I met lots of old, bitter, burnt out teachers in the UK. Their only saving grace was their pretty fantastic pension. I just hope most of them learnt to laugh and smile again so they could actually enjoy it!

    Don’t let up on the pension savings. You obviously won’t be able to be in the TPS, but you should aim to be saving and investing in shares and or property. I think it’s perfectly doable for a teacher of Physics or Maths to save a million dollars in 15 years in Dubai, if you work hard and don’t sell yourself cheap.
  7. aliali5208

    aliali5208 New commenter

    Would be interesting to know what packages people got when joining a school in the last few years in the ME, as many have said the salaries have gone down.

    I know it depends on years teaching but maybe someone could let us know what package they got and how many years they were teaching?
  8. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    I have a friend that started in one of the good schools in Saudi two yesrs ago. She is an experienced international teacher, but she started on a take home salary of $96 000 a year. Doesnt have to do any tutoring, her holiday time is hers, and from what she said, she takes no work home with her at all. But this a good school....there are low numbers of this standard of school in Dubai. Im nowhere near the ME, have never ever had to do extra tutoring, and between my lovely wife and i we can save a million in 7 years. These jobs are out there, but they arent easy to come by. Are you going to get one with no international experience.... you would be extremely lucky too, but dont bank on it. We all started at the bottom.
    rusmus likes this.
  9. Unconventional33

    Unconventional33 New commenter

    I'm curious...what was a good salary in the ME back in the day? I keep hearing that there has been a decline and that it was really great at one point. Would anyone care to elaborate.

    I've no intention of going to the ME. Just really curious what someone could have made or saved up.
  10. rusmus

    rusmus New commenter

    Many thanks for the comprehensive response. I appreciate the information.
  11. clovispoint

    clovispoint Occasional commenter

    I think it has become more important for international teachers. I completely agree with your previous comments about reducing expenditure but you do need some form of income (investment or rental income) to have any money to spend. Building a source of income takes time and effort.

    As harpplayer says, this is a fundamental part of the package that has to be factored in. You need to be looking after your pension on your own so the salary needs to be sufficient. There are plenty of former international school teachers who are in constrained circumstances due to poor financial planning. You can live the high life and save nothing, or live a very good life and set aside enough to provide for your future. It can feel like you are missing out when you are not having the trip of lifetime every holiday but I'm okay with that. Colleagues are flying business class out of their own pocket. Nice but unnecessary.
  12. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    I would echo dumbbell66's comments about starting at the bottom. Often you just have to take what you can get, if you are thinking about your first international appointment.

    Yes, of course saving for your retirement is vital. The really bad news is that the TPS has been drastically "changed" (that is government-speak for "ruined"). No more lump sum and no pension until you are 65. It is dreadful.

    clovispoint is surely right in saying yes, we might be able to afford business class now, but it would be wise to put that cash into some investments instead.

    Lastly, I was perhaps a bit scathing and unkind about rusmus and this forum's "search" facility. (I have to confess that I have never actually tried to search for anything on this forum.) My apologies, rusmus.
    aliali5208 likes this.
  13. taiyah

    taiyah Occasional commenter

    @rusmus focusing on your original question. It's hard to predict what salary you will be one because you haven't really spoken about your actual teaching experience as a qualified teacher.

    If you are applying in good--great schools do take into consideration that the rest of the international circuit is your competition. There's a likelihood that you will need to get your foot in the door and 'settle' for what you can get.

    The use of the terminologies 'competitive' in the ME has its accuracies. Our NQTs for example start on £2280/month tax free, bills, a furnished accommodation all paid for, international medical cover and yearly flights. This is a middle tier school. As for the embassy schools, their use of the word "competitive" is bang on. Anyone who land a job there will have to work for it but the financial gain is outstanding.

    Haven gotten used to these tax free salaries will change my meaning of the word "competitive". For example, my husband and I entertained moving on and back to Asia. The school was one of the top tier ones witha "competitive" package.... Between us were going lose £4000 a month. So to us, the use of competitive has a different meaning.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2019
  14. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    There is an obvious answer to your question @rusmus that none of us have said so far. Join Search Associates as quickly as you can. Unlike TES, they dont use the completely useless and vague term "competitive". On their database it will give you the schools expected salary, savings potential and a loads more useful information about the school. When are TES going to learn the value of this information and put it on their job adverts. It stops you going through the whole process of applying and finally finding out that the word "competitive" actually means next to nothing
  15. MsBuzy

    MsBuzy New commenter

    I agree with much of Hippo's sage advice, as ever.
    But...like all other pensions, those in TPS have the right, in law, to take their pension at any time after the age of 55. Of course, this does have financial implications, but, working overseas and benefiting from a fairly healthy sum of money appearing in my bank account each month from TPS has brought me joy. It has also enabled us to save more, and do more than we otherwise would have.
  16. harpplayer

    harpplayer Occasional commenter

    I once started the process of signing up for Search Associates, but don’t recommend it at all, from a purely data safety point of view.

    As you start each process, you think you just have to sign up with basic info, name, address experience etc. When you think you have finished once stage, you are told ‘you are nearly there’ and have to provide yet more and more info and documents. The process can take weeks. Then they have your entire life, sitting on their computer!

    You must extremely careful with any organisation who glibly and innocently asks you to hand over so much information. No organisation can 100% protect itself from someone stealing data. At the end of any intrusive sign-up process, you will find you have handed over more than enough information for an unscrupulous or disgruntled employee to fake your ID, apply for bank cards or a mortgage in your name and any official documents in your name like a new driving licence, potentially access current finances and play havoc with your life, and it might be months or years before you find out. When you read the data protection promises made and think about it, they are empty and weak.

    Be very afraid of signing up to anyone for promises of access to jobs if you just provide copies of seriously important documents in advance! It’s just not worth the very real risk.
  17. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    Our school pays a "competitive salary......by local standards"

    Look out for that phrase. It's an excellent way to starve to death
    dumbbells66 likes this.
  18. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    'Unlike TES, they dont use the completely useless and vague term'

    'When are TES going to learn the value of this information and put it on their job adverts'

    Once again just for you old dumbell. The TES is NOT a recruitment agency it is the classified advertisement section of a newspaper. It has no responsibility to put any information in the adverts that it accepts (apart from obeying the legal guidelines) that is the responsibilty of the school.
  19. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    I always thought they didnt want to lose the money for the very obvuiously low level schools that if the actually showed their "pay scale" they would get no applications. It would be to much of a loss advertising money. If some of these schools had to actually show what "competitive" actual meant, no one would bother with them..... anyone else thinking about schools in Spain or the Middle East?
  20. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    I was just think about this. I have been watching the job forum on this site for years, and i cant remember the last time i actually saw a school advertise on the TES that was anywhere near above a tier 3 international school... i am happy to be proved wrong though

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