School Salaries Revealed

International schools often advertise that they offer a “competitive salary” or pay “on par with other international schools.” We’ve all seen the ads. Actual figures are rarely posted, and this is often because the salary scale (if there even is one) is so low it’s laughable and no experienced teacher would ever take it.

Recruiting fairs also tend to keep pay scales secret, often right up until the night before interviews begin. I remember anxiously awaiting my hot-off-the-press salary and benefits information for schools attending a fair slated to begin early the next morning. Why it took until 11pm the night before interviews made no sense…or maybe it did for schools paying so poorly that they’d prefer to keep it a secret!

To help resolve the problem of concealed pay scales, ISR has added a Salary Range field to our 16-point evaluation rubric that accompanies each school review. Beginning today, all new reviews will display this Salary Range entry:

Yearly salary range for teachers in US dollars

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22 Responses to School Salaries Revealed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Maybe when asking about the salary, ask for NET in US$ because some schools charge tax and many don’t and it makes a lot of difference.


  2. Wayne Riley says:

    The problem as I see it is deciding to apply to a school. If the salaries are not posted then why would I waste my time with the application process. I think we should avoid applying to schools that don’t post clear benefit packages. That way when they are not getting teachers to talk to they will have to change. The problem is the market. There seems to be lots of desperate teachers who will take a low salary to get a job in January and be certain where they will have a job, even if low pay. Can we create a force by banding together and everyone not apply for a job until March or April? When they get nervous about not having teachers then they will change.


  3. mbkirova says:

    If anyone has experience, I would love to know salary ranges at IB schools in post-communist new EU countries, as that it where I am looking.


  4. mbkirova says:

    Everyone: salary range is almost never mentioned and you have to dig deeply if you ever want to find it, and even then you can’t which makes blogs like these so useful. But also agree that the ‘package’ can be more much more relevant than pay. If you get free housing, you’re already saving. But check if they will let you bring partners/pets 😉 The Numbeo website has excellent cost of living comparisons. Don’t just bite because you feel desperate.. do your homework!


  5. AA says:

    I am surprised at recent school reviews that have not posted a salary range. I think it would be beneficial for all to share information to gain a clearer view of the school. We have a phobia about discussing salary!


  6. 2xaround says:

    I have been fooled by the “we offer a competitive salary” scenario. I wasted time and money and it was almost too late to look for another job when I finally discovered the dismal salary the school I was about to sign with was prepared to offer me. There are people willing to work for dirt to end up in one of the great locations in Europe. I wouldn’t do it but some people are willing to allow themselves to be exploited in exchange for the experience

    Then there are the locations that are just awful and should be offering a ton of money to get teachers to go there. And what do they do? They offer a ridiculously low salary and tell you it’s a cheap place to live. My home country is not cheap. Earning $1600 a month oversea and saving $1000 is not going to help me with my real life waiting for me back home… mortgage, student loans, etc…

    Thanks ISR for getting the ball rolling on exposing the salaries schools pay. This will make the job search just that much easier.


  7. duras says:

    I really like this blog topic. I teach in Latin America Currently. my school does not offer retirement, we pay 100 a month for international health insurance, there’s no dental insurance, the housing stipend barely covers rent and expenses, and the trip home after two-year contract (they get the cheapest ticket possible with fifty million connections) is okay. I make a little less than I did in the states, but I had excellent benefits while working as a teacher in the States. I do still manage to save quite a bit and still travel, but it’s not complete bliss. I am single, so I think teacher couples can definitely do better. The biggest perk for me is the “easier” teaching schedule overseas. The students are no more motivated than my students were in the States, but my teaching environment is a lot more tolerable overseas.


  8. Roundtrip says:

    Anonymous, what country are you in? Just curious.


    • Anonymous says:

      I’m in Europe, currently Switzerland. Salaries are high, but so is the cost of living. You can save if you are careful what you spend.


  9. Anonymous says:

    Totally agree with Bob. The benefits package is just as important as the actual raw salary. Things I have had in my international school teaching experience (but not all at the same time!) include: union membership, discounted lunches, generous matched pension plan, professional development allowance, bursaries for teachers’ children, pay for covering absence and after-school activities, a “no-absence” bonus, flights home every two years to place of hire, relocation allowance, a double “settling in” salary for the first month, paid “personal days” absence, help with medical insurance premiums. Schools offer all, some or none of these.


  10. Bob says:

    I went from making 75K in the US to making 30K in Egypt…trust me I travel all the time and save way more money that I ever could in the states. Sure money is one thing and it can be misleading-think of all the other factors of coming to a school with so-called low pay…are your meals provided, housing, yearly-trip home, retirement, med/dental, separation allowance…


    • Jeanne says:

      Hi Bob,
      We too taught in Cairo in 2009. I am wondering what ‘separation allowance’ is. If one spouse does not live with you overseas?


  11. Don McMahon says:

    Great addition to the ISR’s panoply of tools and aids. My experience and view is that making general judgements about schools that say their wages are competitive is both unfair and dangerous. However If they refuse to discuss compensation packages in detail, either by e-mail or phone, then be wary, as they may be hiding a crappy package or waiting to get you there to renege on the original deal. Too many so-called International schools are actually cash-cows for untrained and inexperienced owners who care more about their pocketbooks and little for respecting a contract. As always do your research and talk to ex or current employees via the net and non-school references if you can. This has saved me much grief in the past.


    • mbkirova says:

      Absolutely agreed, don’t touch any position until you see the contract and check whether you’re going to be double-taxed. I was very badly burned after accepting what looked like a nice post in Baku, started in June and didn’t see contract until September. When I did, I already knew I wouldn’t staying past the winter break– it was a combination of Soviet and Ottoman.


  12. Roundtrip says:

    This move is long overdo. I never even consider schools that post “competitive” under salary. I will add this though, I’ve been teaching in America for 23 years now, and for the last five years, our contracts (in Georgia) have no salaries printed on them. We don’t find out what our salaries are until a few weeks into the year.


    • Charles says:

      That’s nuts. I’d never take a position not knowing up front what the offer was for the job. . . is Georgia a “right to work state”, e.g., (no unions)?


      • Roundtrip says:

        Charles, Georgia teachers have two choices…sign the contract with no salary, or find another state to work in. Several weeks into the year, we get another contract with a salary on it. Georgia has a union, but it has not addressed this issue. I have to say though, that I’ve been happy working in this state.


        • GAguest says:

          Georgia IS a right to work state and has no unions. We do have PAGE and GAE, which are organizations that can help members with possible legal troubles, contract issues, etc. but they are not unions.


          • Charles (not in charge). says:

            Thanks to Roundtrip and GAguest. . .good to know if I ever move to Georgia, it will not be likely, but you never know! I have learned to never say “never” despite what I said in the original post here. . .


    • Molly Burke Kirova says:

      which school, and how much? I ask because I’m going to apply to the International school of Georgia– almost nothing about pay or any other conditions are mentioned on the site.


      • Brenda says:

        I have been teaching in Georgia for 18 years now and have seen my salary drop $10,000 in four years. It’s true that Georgia schools don’t show you your salary until weeks after school starts. No other profession in the world would do this. I am retiring at the end of this school year. At least I’ll be able to lock in my retirement before they change the PLAN. As it is, our retirement is based in part on an average of the two highest years of pay. I was making $62,000 a year four years ago and $61,000 before that. Now the system is thinking of changing that to only figuring the retirement on the LAST two years of teaching which would mean a huge cut in my retirement check each year for the rest of my life. I am hoping I can find a job overseas to teach, but at the age of 62, it’s pretty hopeless.


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