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How to Save $3000 ($2400 USD) a Month Teaching English in Singapore

Choosing somewhere to teach in Asia can be a daunting task. Korea, Taiwan, Japan, China, these all sound like great options, and they probably are, but where can you save the most money? Assuming you read titles, you probably already know that teaching English in Singapore is a great choice.

Getting started

The pay for most teaching jobs is $4500 Singapore dollars a month (which is roughly the same in NZ dollars, and $3500 USD). Add in the low tax (around 2%) and it becomes one of the best salaries you can get as a rookie teacher anywhere in Asia, and possibly the world, without a teaching degree. You do, however, need a degree, and unlike most countries in Asia it should be in something related to English or teaching (you might be able to get away with another type of degree if you are lucky and have experience). A BA in English is perfect, as is anything in linguistics or education.

Update: I haven’t worked in Singapore for 5 months now and apparently the pay scale may have changed at some of the schools. It used to be $4500 at the schools I knew of but now it may vary depending on experience and number of students. If you do end up getting paid less it’s easy to top up your income by doing private classes. I was asked a few times to do these but I was a bit lazy! I’ve heard private tuition pays well and is easy work.

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Accommodation in Singapore

While Singapore is thought of as an expensive place to live, you can do it cheaply. Forget about renting a nice apartment in the city if you want to save money. The cheapest places to live are called HDB flats, where you can rent a room for as low as $500 a month. I pay $600 (which includes power, internet and phone) and this gets me a half-decent room in the suburbs, close to the school I work at. On the other hand you could live like it’s the last days of Rome and have a two-year, cocaine-fueled whirlwind ride full of caviar, models and city views (minus the cocaine of course, this is Singapore) and save nothing. I’m happy living the anti-expat lifestyle and saving as much as I can, travelling as much as I can and planning my world trip. Update: I’ve now been travelling full time for almost a year – teaching English in Singapore has definitely allowed me to go pretty much anywhere in the world that I want to (and I still have enough money for another 2 years of travel!).

Day to day living

Living in Singapore is actually pretty cheap, as long as you don’t have that aforementioned drug habit or some kind of shopping addiction. You can get a decent meal in a hawker centre or food court for as little as $3, but I usually spend between $4 and $6 per meal, still so much cheaper than back home. You could probably cut down your spending a lot by cooking your own food, but I’m too lazy for that. I don’t drink coffee which saves me a lot, and I have cut my alcohol consumption down, so I’m finding it easy to keep to my budget.

Further reading: Moving to Singapore? Check out this post!


How it all adds up

The $4500 salary gets cut by $250 to cover the tax bill at the end of the year (the tax bill is never as much as you put away; the first seven months I worked I ended up paying $111, so I received about $1600 back). With $4250 in the hand, it gives me $1250 a month to live on. Take out $600 for rent and it leaves me with around $150 a week for food, transport and entertainment, with a bit left over. If I was really tight I could  do it on $100 a week, so you can see that $150 shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for anyone. For the first three months I decided not to save anything and build up a surplus that I’d use for holidays and big purchases. This worked well and has allowed me to keep to my $3000 a month saving goal really easily. If I finish my two-year contract I’ll get a $7000 bonus, $1500 for flights, and a few thousand in tax returns which will make up for that initial three months.

Teaching English in Singapore: The job

If you don’t have a teaching degree you’ll end up in a tuition centre. This is really easy work. The kids already speak fluent English, so it’s just teaching them phonics, reading, creative writing and simple grammar; in other words, all the easiest bits from normal English teaching jobs. There is also almost no marking or lesson planning! It does get a bit boring and repetitive, but I’m OK with that. The main drawback would have to be the working hours. The busiest days for tuition centres in Singapore are Saturdays and Sundays, which means you will have to work all weekend. Your weekend will become two consecutive days during the week, most likely Monday and Tuesday. This has its ups and downs, but there is no finer way to kill a social life than having to work 9 am – 6 pm every Saturday and Sunday. On the plus side, you won’t have to start work until 3 pm on weekdays.

Paid vacation

I never got any paid vacation time while I was teaching in Taiwan so I didn’t travel. Here I get a holiday every three months, including two weeks over Christmas. I’ve been to Java, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Sumatra, and taken a trip through Thailand, Cambodia and Laos with family. I’ve also gone on weekend trips to Malaysia and Bali and have just booked my flight home to New Zealand for Christmas. Because I built up a good surplus during  my first three months I’ve been able to take these trips without reaching into my savings.

If you want to save a lot of money and travel at the same time, look no further than a stint teaching English in Singapore. Comment or message me if you have any questions or want some more information.

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who hates talking about himself in the third person and has no imagination when it comes to naming websites.
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  1. JR
    November 13, 2013 at 8:25 pm — Reply

    Very informative breakdown

  2. Paige
    December 6, 2013 at 2:21 am — Reply

    Which program do you teach for?

    • December 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm — Reply

      It’s called My English School, it’s pretty new.

      • Clay
        September 23, 2015 at 3:09 pm — Reply

        Thanks Jon!! All good information.

      • Johno
        May 20, 2016 at 5:55 am — Reply

        Would a degree in accounting and commercial law be enough?

        • May 23, 2016 at 9:47 pm — Reply

          I’m not entirely sure, just depends who else is applying I guess — give it a go and see what happens.

  3. Paige
    December 8, 2013 at 11:01 am — Reply

    How did you apply for the program and did you have to get your TESOL Certification?

    • December 9, 2013 at 2:20 am — Reply

      You don’t really need a TESOL or anything like that as it’s not that kind of teaching, but I guess it helps. As long as you have a degree, preferably English or something like that then you should be fine, it seems like they are always looking for teachers. You can just apply through their websites. “I Can Read” “My English School” and “LCentral” are the popular ones.

  4. December 18, 2013 at 5:36 am — Reply

    That sounds very interesting! At the moment we are teaching English in Barcelona but are looking for something better-paid, or less expensive to live.
    Lovely blog, Jon! Thanks for connecting with us on Twitter! Keep up the great work and travel safe!

    • December 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm — Reply

      Thanks for the comment. I’m planning on teaching in Europe at some point, but I guess Asia is the best place to save money. Good luck!

  5. N
    January 2, 2014 at 10:29 am — Reply

    If you have a degree, but not in teaching, English, or linguistics, nor any experience in teaching, what is the likelihood of being accepted into this program?

    • January 2, 2014 at 11:41 am — Reply

      I think you’d still have a decent chance as long as you interviewed really well. Something like a TEFL certificate would probably help as well.

  6. January 3, 2014 at 9:25 pm — Reply

    Hey Jon,
    Great post. What time would you finish after starting at 3pm on weekdays?
    Do you have the opportunity to choose your holidays i.e. to match with a conference?

    • January 3, 2014 at 9:43 pm — Reply

      Thanks Caylie! I finish at 9pm on weekedays, not really ideal but I like sleeping in so it works out well for me. Holidays are all set in stone, it works in with the school terms. It at least lets you book early and get some really cheap flights!

      • January 3, 2014 at 10:21 pm — Reply

        Thanks Jon. Are you able to tell me the holiday dates for My English School? Am really interested.

        • January 4, 2014 at 11:04 pm — Reply

          The March holiday is 17th – 24th, there is one in the last week of June and the others are in September and 2 weeks from around the 16th of December until maybe the 2nd of January, not entirely sure of those ones! Give me an email if you want to know anything else, I’ve worked for My English School and I Can Read. Cheers!

  7. January 13, 2014 at 2:15 am — Reply

    Just dropped by from one of your tweets, and this article made interesting reading. You mention that a degree is needed…. i’ve always wondered, how do they go about background checking people for degrees?

    • January 13, 2014 at 9:54 am — Reply

      Cheers Dave. To get a work permit you need to show your degree. I’ve always wondered how closely they look at them though, and if those fake ones you can buy on Khao San Road would get you through.

  8. Shannon
    January 14, 2014 at 9:28 am — Reply

    Thanks for the article! I was wondering if you could post links to the companies that hire teachers with no 4 year degree.

  9. January 20, 2014 at 11:10 am — Reply

    Hey Jon! Your post has got me ready to move haha. I am planning on taking a Trinity tesol cert course in Bali and teaching in Singapore.. What months do you think is the best time to apply for jobs? Any advice ? My bachelors degree is in speech pathology so I’m worried I won’t look so good compared to education majors..

    • January 20, 2014 at 3:03 pm — Reply

      Nice! You probably won’t even need the tesol if you want to teach in Singapore, as long as you are from an English speaking country and have a degree. I’m pretty sure Speech pathology will get you in. Good luck!

    • Emma
      August 3, 2019 at 8:42 pm — Reply

      Hey Jon,
      I’m British living in America ,I’ve been a retail manager for 26 years but have no degree,I have a family but looking for something new ,could I do this with a family in toe ,I have 2 girls age 4 and 7?

      • August 5, 2019 at 5:44 am — Reply

        Hey Emma, you may struggle without a degree for this kind of job — pretty sure it was a prerequisite last time I checked. You could look into places like Thailand, but the money wouldn’t be anywhere near as good. Good luck with finding something new, there are so many options out there!

  10. Lauren
    January 24, 2014 at 2:40 pm — Reply

    Hi jon,
    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog. I stumbled upon it while researching work options.
    I recently graduated from a Speech Pathology degree and there’s a good chance i’ll be moving to Singapore this year. Your literacy work really interests me.. do you think I could get into it with Speech Path qualifications?

  11. Lauren
    January 24, 2014 at 2:41 pm — Reply

    I am so sorry, I didn’t see the comment directly above mine!

    • January 24, 2014 at 4:06 pm — Reply

      Haha no problem, thanks for the comment anyway! I think you’ll be fine with that qualification, they seem to really need teachers at the moment. Let me know if you have any more questions.

  12. Kelsey Bamberg
    February 20, 2014 at 4:45 am — Reply

    Hi Jon!
    Thank you so much for this post. I’m a junior at Michigan State University, majoring in Teaching with a minor in English and TESOL. For quite some time I’ve been researching living and teaching in Singapore and your post has definitely been the most informational. However, I do have a few more questions, where can I find your e-mail to contact your further? Or would you rather I post on this blog? Thanks so much! Have a great day.

    • February 28, 2014 at 9:51 pm — Reply

      Cheers Kelsey! You can email me at jonistravelling(at)gmail(dot)com

    • Kas
      January 17, 2016 at 12:44 am — Reply

      Hi, stumbled on this blog. If you need any info, get in touch, Kelsey~ A Singaporean.

      • Joanna Montague
        April 20, 2016 at 10:47 am — Reply

        Hi Kelsey,

        I am needing some advice on teaching jobs in Singapore. I am currently in the country and have been offered a job at L Central. However, as Jon has said the hours aren’t great. Working weekends and evenings means I would never see my partner who I am over here with. Any advice on teaching jobs with more social hours?

        – I have a 2:1 but it is in marketing
        – I’m currently doing my TEFL course at home
        – I have 5 years teaching experience but in dance

        Any help would be much appreciated.

        Best regards,


        • Ana
          July 15, 2016 at 9:32 pm — Reply

          Hi Kelsey I would just like to ask if there are any more vacant teaching jobs at LCentral?

        • Aubrie
          November 14, 2016 at 10:35 am — Reply

          I have the same question! Would like to move with my partner, who would probably be working more normal hours…

          I am doing my TESOL cert online now and have experience teaching in France as well as online tutoring.

  13. Salmon Loveham
    March 15, 2014 at 9:59 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    This is really interesting, thanks for all the info!

    I’m moving to Singapore in August/September. I’ve heard a few negative things about I Can Read on the internet. Extending probation unnecessarily and general bad practice. Do you think this is nonsense or is there any truth in it? Which was the best to work for in your opinion?

    Thanks again

    • March 16, 2014 at 1:34 am — Reply

      Cheers! I never had any problems with I Can Read, and never met any other teachers who did either. I think with most English teaching jobs in Asia there will always be someone who got screwed over, it seems to be pretty common in this region. I’d say just take your chances and if you are a half decent teacher you should be fine.

      • Salmon Loveham
        March 16, 2014 at 2:57 am — Reply

        Nice one, thanks Jon!

  14. Hannah Whittington
    March 17, 2014 at 2:11 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon

    You have some very useful information on your blog. I am a primary school teacher in NZ, looking at teaching in Singapore next year. I have had a look at My English School and I Can Read. What I am confused about is what kind of ‘school’ these are classed as. Are these international schools? Is working at an agency like these going to pay better?

    • March 17, 2014 at 6:15 pm — Reply

      Thanks Hannah. These aren’t really schools, they are tuition centres, which are quite popular in Singapore. Basically kids will go to these centres to learn to read before they start primary school, or they’ll go because they are at primary school but are struggling in English. International schools pay more I think, but they make you do a lot more work, and the pay for tuition centres here seems to be better (partly because of the low tax) than a lot of teachers get in NZ.

      Hope that helps!

  15. March 20, 2014 at 7:12 am — Reply

    Great post Jon. I am thinking of heading to Asia to teach for a while, but I am unsure as to whether I’d find work. I have been teaching ESL for 4 years full-time (3 years post-CELTA) but I am an Italian national. Many schools in Asia seem to want native English speakers only. What’s the situation in Singapore?

    • March 25, 2014 at 12:41 am — Reply

      I’m pretty sure you need to be from a native speaking country in Singapore, but you could always teach Italian! I think you’ll still get a job in some places, like China, Cambodia etc.

  16. Jessi
    March 27, 2014 at 6:33 am — Reply

    Hey, thanks for the article. I’m an American with an MA in applied linguistics and I’ve recently applied to a few jobs in Singapore and gotten a few interviews, so, I’ve got my fingers crossed. I’d love to teach in such a multicultural place, and I’ve got friends teaching nearby in South Korea and Indonesia, so, that’d be cool. Always wanted to visit your home of New Zealand too 😉

    Anywho, thanks for the informative post. With any luck, I’ll get the job and have another question or two for you 🙂

    • March 27, 2014 at 12:43 pm — Reply

      Nice, sounds like you’ll easily get a job! Let me know how the interviews go and if there is anything you need help with.

      • Jessi
        March 28, 2014 at 1:34 pm — Reply

        Thanks! I got an offer from one school there, but vacation isn’t paid and neither is there a flight reimbursement at any point, so, I actually applied to My English School and they want to interview me. Thanks for the heads up!

        • March 29, 2014 at 12:30 am — Reply

          Wow, I didn’t think it was legal to not give paid vacation time in Singapore! What school was that at?

          • Jessi
            March 29, 2014 at 12:40 am

            I thought it was weird, too, even knowing what little I know. It’s very rare not to give paid vacation time in the ESL world.

            It was The Language Boutique.

  17. leo
    April 1, 2014 at 5:06 pm — Reply

    Hi there, nice post very informative. Am a nigeria with a degree in Agronomy(B.Tech) been teaching a while here although not majored in education, pls what are my chances of getting a teaching job in Singapore with my discipline, and what are the procedures to apply. Will so much appreciate any help you can render. Thanks

    • April 4, 2014 at 1:50 am — Reply

      Hey Leo sorry for the late reply, I’d say it’d be impossible for you to get a job in Singapore as an English teacher – they only accept people from a handful of countries – USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa. You might have luck somewhere else in the world though!

  18. jessi
    April 4, 2014 at 4:10 am — Reply

    Hey Jon – Thanks again for the informative article and useful info. I got offered a position with My English School and have accepted. I’ll be in the Marine Parade area sometime in May – start date is still TBD! 🙂

    • April 4, 2014 at 4:33 am — Reply

      I’m glad I could help. I’m finishing at the end of April – as one contract ends another begins,the circle of life! Let me know if you need any tips on getting sorted out in Singapore etc.

    • V
      September 15, 2016 at 8:41 am — Reply

      Hi Jessi,

      I’m thinking of applying to My English School. How has your experience been? I’d love to know more!

  19. Kathleen
    April 6, 2014 at 1:36 pm — Reply

    Hey Jon,

    Great post! I want to apply to My English School, but their website says, “Only Singaporeans and Singapore Permanent Residents need apply.” Is this a new requirement, or do I need to go through a different avenue?

    • April 7, 2014 at 8:37 am — Reply

      Cheers Kathleen. I’m pretty sure that’s referring to the admin staff – all the admin staff seem to be locals and the teachers are foreigners.

      • jessi
        April 7, 2014 at 11:00 pm — Reply

        Kathleen – I applied for (and got) a job a few weeks ago and am starting toward the end of May.

        They might not be looking for anyone at the moment,but, it never hurts to apply for another start date.

        All the teachers are foreigners for ESL. 🙂

  20. Cary
    April 7, 2014 at 5:30 pm — Reply

    Thanks for the info Jon! I’m a brit in Singapore and have been looking at ways into teaching English. I have a BA in media.

    What would you say is the best teaching certificate to have? I have been looking at CELTA, but I’m not sure if this is preferable to any of the other English courses (in terms of employability), and a lot of job ads ask for a Diploma in Education. Do you have any advice on this?

    • April 7, 2014 at 9:03 pm — Reply

      If you are looking at working at the same kind of centre as I am, you won’t need any kind of English teaching qualification. All you really need is a degree – preferably in something to do with English (I rekon media will be good enough). I’d say you’ll have a great chance of getting a job, good luck!

  21. Greg
    April 17, 2014 at 9:37 am — Reply

    Hi John

    Are there age restrictions for teaching in Singapore


    • April 17, 2014 at 9:33 pm — Reply

      Hey Greg, not that I know of. I know there are some teachers in their 40s and maybe even 50s working here.

  22. Michelle
    April 27, 2014 at 5:12 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,
    Really enjoyed reading this! I’ve been living and teaching ESL in Korea for just over three years and looking to move to Singapore in September! Thanks for the website links in your comments; I was finding it a little difficult to find specific companies when searching Google so they really helped! Going to spruce up my resume and apply soon!

    I was wondering how many teaching hours you have on average a week? And how many students throughout the week? Also, is there generally much paperwork to do?

    I also have a question about accommodation…do the companies help you to find somewhere to live or should I try to find somewhere before I arrive? Also, what kind of rent do people pay for apartments that have a pool?! After living in sub zero temperatures for half the year in Korea I’m keen to take advantage of the year round sunshine!

    Sorry this is long! Thanks again 🙂

    • April 28, 2014 at 12:37 pm — Reply

      Hey Michelle,I’m sure with your experience you’ll easily get a job here. The teaching hours are generally around 25, maybe up to 30. I’ve never really done more than 25 though. There is pretty much no paperwork to do, no marking or prep either.

      I don’t think the companies usually help with accommodation but it’s really easy to find. Look on or

      I think rooms in condos range from around $1100 – $1600 depending mostly on location/facilities.

      Good luck with your application etc, let me know if you need any more help.

      • Michelle
        April 28, 2014 at 9:56 pm — Reply

        Thank you so much for the information and the apartment websites 🙂
        I have one more question if you don’t mind…

        Just wondering about what documents are required for the visa? Do you need certificates notorised/apostilled?
        Thank you!

        • April 29, 2014 at 10:13 am — Reply

          No problem! You just need your degree, you don’t have to do any of that extra stuff. That was one of the things that put me off teaching in Korea, looked like such a hassle.

          • Greg
            April 29, 2014 at 11:54 am

            Hi Jon
            Nice blog. Are there any age restrictions for teaching in Singapore ?



          • Michelle
            May 5, 2014 at 7:45 am

            Oh really, that’s great! Thank you! You’re correct; it is so stressful and expensive getting a visa in Korea because of all the docs they require! I’m going to start applying this week! 🙂

  23. May 1, 2014 at 7:45 am — Reply

    Cheers Greg, as far as I know there is no age restriction, within reason of course haha. I’m pretty sure they won’t be hiring 80 year olds, but I know there were some teachers in their 40s/50s.

    • Clofus Redacter
      August 9, 2016 at 11:49 am — Reply

      Well Jon, intended or not, I take offense at the implication that 80 years old is too old to be “productive”, and that even 40/50s might be pushing it. I hope that you gain more wisdom as you grow older. I am 65 years young, just “retired” from my last “career” in construction work (in Alaska, USA) – which I started in at age 55, after working in high-tech telephony for 20 some odd years. I have learned several languages besides English along the way, Russian, German, French, Spanish and a bit of about 20 others. I plan soon on buying another sailboat (had one for about 7 years when living in Hawaii) to travel the world and maybe “teach English” when I feel like stopping in one place for a while. Hope I will meet more enlightened folks then. Cheers, mate!

      • August 9, 2016 at 3:29 pm — Reply

        There’s no implication that 80 year olds can’t be productive, just that they would have very little chance of getting a job teaching English in Singapore. I only mentioned the 40 / 50 year olds because, from what I’ve heard (and from the little that I’ve seen), most countries in Asia prefer to hire younger teachers. I’m not entirely sure that me gaining more wisdom is going to change that. Good luck with the teaching, it’d be great to hear if you’re successful finding jobs.

        • Clofus Redacter
          August 9, 2016 at 9:46 pm — Reply

          Thank you for the clarification Jon. I was always under the impression that most cultures in that part of the world respected the wisdom of their elders – “my bad” I guess. Wishing you best of luck in all your adventures – travel IS the best education you can buy.

  24. Bernard Tan
    May 3, 2014 at 3:55 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon, i am a Singaporean living in bedok area. I am doing my part time degree and working as a business consultant.

    i have always been inspired to be like a nomad and to teach abroad.


    • May 5, 2014 at 12:22 am — Reply

      You should do it Bernard, I’m sure you can teach English somewhere, or Singlish if that fails haha.

  25. Bernard Tan
    May 3, 2014 at 3:58 pm — Reply
  26. Salmon Loveham
    May 6, 2014 at 12:38 am — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    Do the jobs at My English School, I Can Read etc come with Medical Insurance? Or do you have to buy that separately.

    Many thanks,


    • May 8, 2014 at 12:35 am — Reply

      No medical insurance,I’m pretty sure they are starting to give the teachers some money towards it though.

  27. May 11, 2014 at 7:17 am — Reply

    Hi Just want to know if the facilities offered are for all the schools or for the school for which you are teaching ? Further more the opportunities are only limited to the countries u mentioned above.

    • May 13, 2014 at 11:13 pm — Reply

      All the schools are around the same but things might change from time to time, they seem to have generally the same class sizes/working hours though and similar pay from what I’ve heard.

  28. Anita
    May 16, 2014 at 5:54 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon, thanks for a great informative blog. I have a linguistics and journalism degree, and am planning to do a CELTA course next year and look for a TEFL job in Singapore. Few questions – do you rent a room in a house or do you live in a flat? Did you arrange that accommodation before you got there? Also, do you know if there many ‘older’ teachers who get work in Singapore? I am 42 and believe that Japan cuts off at 40. Thanks very much, Anita

    • May 16, 2014 at 9:40 pm — Reply

      Thanks Anita!

      I rented a room in a house (with a local family) and it was pretty cheap. I arranged it in Singapore, it’s really easy to find a place if you want to live with locals.

      There are some older teachers that I know of, I’m sure that won’t hold you back in Singapore.

  29. Kellee
    May 17, 2014 at 10:18 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon

    I have to say I was pleased to see your blog as today I was offered to interview with an international school. The breakdown in living expenses and costs helped heaps. Thanks for that. I’m looking for some clarification about some of the ads advertising rooms for rent. When they say “light cooking” does it mean as in usually there are only hobs and a microwave (no oven), or does it mean you can’t cook anything that would smoke the place out……like a decent medium rare steak as us kiwi’s are so fond of LOL. I know some place won’t allow the cooking of fish or curries and that doesn’t bother me too much I gotta have some meat and veg. Couldn’t handle living on noodles for the duration of 2yrs.

    • May 17, 2014 at 11:41 pm — Reply

      Hmmm I could really go for a decent steak, it’s been a while! I’m actually not sure about cooking as I cooked 0 meals while in Singapore. I assume light cooking to mean rice/noodles/basic pan stuff, I think proper ovens are quite rare, especially in public housing.

      Good luck with the interview, Singapore could do with more New Zealanders, I hardly met any!

      • Kellee
        May 18, 2014 at 12:16 pm — Reply

        Wow so all your meals were bought meals? I figured ovens probably weren’t all that common over there. Its the same here in Korea but I bought one so I could still have roast dinners etc lol.

        When you first landed in Singapore, did you have accommodation already sorted or what happened? I see in the job description that my school would pick me up from the airport but I’m wondering where the heck they are going to take me if I don’t have accom. already sorted before landing. I’m assuming if they take me to a hotel/motel I would then have to find an internet cafe to find some accom? Also another thing, is it better to arrive with a cellphone or just get one over there? When I came to Korea I didn’t have a cellphone and just waited until I got my ARC card to then get a new cellphone.

        • May 18, 2014 at 7:50 pm — Reply

          Yeah, it’s probably just as cheap to buy your meals and there is so much good stuff to eat.

          My company gave me 5 nights in a hotel when I first arrived, I found a room easily within those 5 days, it depends which area of town you want to live though.

          If you have a phone already you can just buy a sim card, it was actually a requirement for my job that I had a phone and was contactable throughout training.

        • jessi
          May 25, 2014 at 11:45 pm — Reply

          answering as a new recruit, kellee (and i decided to apply after reading jon’s blog. i’ve been here 2 weeks), i can tell you how it was for me.

          i surfed some apartment listings before coming and told people that, hey, i’m not coming for a while but if your place is still interested when i get there, i’d be interested in taking a look. my school put me up in a hotel for 4 days and 5 nights – small room, but adequate and there was a pool! they also picked me up from the airport.

          if you haven’t figured out your accommodation before your time at your hotel is up, usually another teacher will have a spare room that you can rent out for a set weekly/monthly fee (utilities and the like included), until you find a place. for example, my boss had an extra room that i stayed in for 8 days while i waited for the room in my new place to be vacated by a previous tenant, but i had the option to stay up to 2 months so that i didn’t have to rush into finding a place. (it just so happens i got lucky and found one i liked pretty soon after getting here.)

          as for the phone, if it’s unlocked, definitely helpful. unlike many places i’ve lived, 2 year contracts are the norm here (just like the US), which can either be great or annoying. but, never fear – you can still get pre-paid SIM cards, too

          • Kellee
            June 1, 2014 at 8:11 pm

            Hi Jessi

            Thanks for the info. I find out tomorrow whether I got the job or not. If not then perhaps I’ll save Singapore as a holiday destination rather than a work destination 🙂

  30. Rob
    May 20, 2014 at 6:38 am — Reply

    Hi Jon. Great blog!

    I am currently exploring my options teaching english in Asia. I see you’ve taught in both Taiwan and Singapore.

    I am an ‘Australian born Chinese’ or ‘ABC’. Born and bred in Oz, English is my first and only language, and my Mandarin is poor to say the least (although I’m learning).

    I know some some ABC teachers have a hard time Taiwan (and ABCs in general day to day) for a number of reasons.

    In your experience, is this the same in Singapore? Did you encounter many teachers of Asian descent in Singapore? Were they treated differently to other teachers, especially if they can’t speak the local language?

    • May 20, 2014 at 11:23 am — Reply

      Cheers! I knew of quite a few ABC teachers in Taiwan and they didn’t seem to have a hard time, I’d say it depends on where you go though. I’m going to make a huge (and maybe untrue) assumption and say it might be easier in the big cities – smaller towns/rural areas might be harder. In Singapore, I haven’t met any, but I haven’t met that many teachers here, so I’m not too sure if there are any. You could always give it a try! But I’d say you’d definitely get a job in Taiwan.

  31. Leigh
    May 23, 2014 at 1:12 pm — Reply

    Great information….Thanks!

  32. Jordanna
    May 24, 2014 at 5:34 pm — Reply

    Hey, thanks for the info – I am wondering if many teachers take one year contracts and if they have pretty much the same costs/benefits as you’ve described here.

    • jessi
      May 25, 2014 at 11:50 pm — Reply

      jordanna – contracts in singapore are virtually all 2 years. that’s the minimum commitment singaporean parents want

      costs will vary based on what you choose to spend on rent and personal spending habits, but saving is still very doable. i live in a more expensive area than jon did (because my job is in a more “desired” area), so my rent does cost more (but i made that decision based on proximity to work and other benefits – pool, gym, etc, all in my apartment compound)… and being from the States means the 4500 singapore dollar salary translates to 3500 US (instead of 4500 NZ dollars), so there’s that difference to think about …

      but even with rent, necessary spending, and a budget travel allowance, I should be able to save $1,500 US dollars a month pretty comfortably (and that’s taking into account that my rent is twice as much as jon’s was) … if I travel less, I could save more.

      like him, i strike the first month’s paycheck from savings potential though – there are just a lot of incidentals to cover for in the first month, plus money you spent to get here, but, after you break even? doable. many teachers are on their second or third contracts, honestly.

      • May 26, 2014 at 10:24 pm — Reply

        Good answer Jessi! Hope the job is going well.

        • jessi
          May 27, 2014 at 9:41 am — Reply

          Thanks, Jon! And yes – going quite well now that I’m not getting the look of shock so much from parents. As I’m sure you know, they’re not thrilled that the current teacher is leaving. They really don’t like change! (Which, from a parents’ standpoint is a bit understandable, but, c’mon … you can’t have the same teacher forever! :P)

          • Rachel Cuthbert
            October 23, 2014 at 9:35 pm

            Hi Jessi,

            I am currently starting to look for a teaching position in Singapore and was wondering if I could talk to you about how you did it and your experience. My name is Rachel and I am 25 years old currently in Thailand. How did you start looking for work? I don’t have any teaching experience or a TEFL but I do have a degree. I would love to talk to talk to you more.



  33. Juan
    May 26, 2014 at 11:16 am — Reply

    Dear Jon,

    Great Website/Blog…

    Do you think it’s possible to find a couples job through the organisation you mention above?


    • May 26, 2014 at 10:25 pm — Reply

      I know a few couples that work there, often not at the same branch though – just depends where they need teachers.

      • jessi
        May 27, 2014 at 9:45 am — Reply

        Agreed – depends on where they need teachers, though at my branch, they do actually have a couple teaching together, sort of. The guy is a permanent fixture on our team and his gf floats between two centers (which is very uncommon, but can happen)

        There’s also another guy here as a relief teacher (or a sub, if you’re using my english). At the moment, he just wants to work part-time, so he’s piggybacking off of his wife’s employment pass. (PT work is legal, but not full-time)

  34. Jordanna
    May 27, 2014 at 11:25 am — Reply

    Okay so I’m strongly considering coming at this point, after I graduate at the end of the year. A few more questions:
    – Would I be able to get a visa (or a contract) with a pending degree? As in, could I start the process in October/November even though I officially finish school in December?
    – What are the losses if I were to leave after 1 year? (Mentioned $7000 bonus for completing contract and $1500 for flights – is there any known fine for breaking contract or anything like that?)
    – I would rather not work Sundays, for cultural/religious reasons – is it possible to get a job at a tuition centre where I would be able to have Sundays off?

    • May 27, 2014 at 11:56 pm — Reply

      I’m not sure about the pending degree, I did that when I taught in Taiwan but I’m not sure about Singapore. You can break your contract early but you need to give a lot of notice (maybe around 3 months). I think it’d be impossible to get this kind of job and not work Sundays, weekends are the busiest days and every teacher needs to work them in tuition centres.

  35. Allison bourke
    May 27, 2014 at 9:38 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon, I’m actually in Singapore now, I took a nursing job which I’m hating and want to get out of. How long did it take for your epass? Also what actually school did you teach for? You mention 3 so I’m unsure.
    I have a bachelors, a masters in nursing and a graduate certificate which is in health education, do you think that would be enough?
    I’m an Aussie as well living on the west coast near west coast park.

    • May 27, 2014 at 11:58 pm — Reply

      Hey Allison, not entirely sure about your qualifications but there are probably teachers working with less, just depends if they need teachers or not, so you’ll have to apply and see how it goes. I taught for I Can Read and My English School. Hope that helps!

  36. Fleur
    May 28, 2014 at 12:18 am — Reply

    Hi Jon!

    This sounds great, but probably not for me since I’m from The Netherlands… I’m just going to ask to be sure: I did take a TOEFL test in 2011 and scored 105/120, is there any chance I could use this for my application since I’m not a native speaker? I also finished a BA in 2012 but not in English, teaching or linguistics. Hope to hear from you, thanks!

    • May 28, 2014 at 5:23 pm — Reply

      Even though you’d be just as good as a native speaker I’m sure, they really are pretty strict on it in Singapore. You’d have better luck looking into teaching in China, Vietnam or maybe Thailand and Cambodia.

  37. Aletiaq
    May 28, 2014 at 3:04 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon, 🙂

    Your blog is very informative. I just have a few questions:

    I am South African. I have a 3 year BA degree in humanities (English up to second year level), with honors in sociology (1 year) as well as a Early Childhood Education Certificate (1 year). At the time that I would like to start work in Singapore I will have 3 years teaching english to children from kindergarten to middle school in South Korea behind me. What kind of job could I get?

    Thank you! 🙂

    • May 28, 2014 at 5:25 pm — Reply

      You’d easily get one like mine I’d say, the recruiter for My English School is even South African, so that could work in your favour too!

      • Aletiaq
        May 28, 2014 at 6:09 pm — Reply

        that is great to hear! Is there anyway you could tell me the name of your recruiter? 🙂

        • May 29, 2014 at 12:21 am — Reply

          Just get in touch with the school and you’ll find her.

  38. May 28, 2014 at 4:39 pm — Reply

    Hi Jonis,
    i’m quite enjoying your post actually.
    where to start to get a position as english teacher in Asia.
    i’m not a native speaker but i have a degree in Literature and Linguistic with specialization in American Language and Literature (5 years postgraduate from Italy). Few years of teaching experience in public and private schools. years of uk life (scotland and london) and a Tefl certificate too.

    Often when i browse the web to find asia contacts seems fake or useless studd, or tricky.

    do you have any reliable website or school list to contact?

    thanks a lot. feel free to contact me directly at my email too.

    • May 29, 2014 at 12:23 am — Reply

      Cheers Alex. If you aren’t a native speaker your options are more limited, but it’s still possible to get a job in China, Vietnam, Cambodia and maybe Laos and Burma. I haven’t taught in any of those places so I’m not sure who to contact, you can search on Dave’s ESL Cafe though.

  39. Sam
    June 11, 2014 at 1:43 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    I chanced upon your site whilst searching of ways to escape Singapore. Its a very interesting read and Im happy that you experienced the heartlander’s way of lief whilst in Singapore.

    Thanks for having this blog! 🙂

    • June 13, 2014 at 12:07 am — Reply

      Cheers Sam. I really enjoyed my time in Singapore, good luck escaping though!

  40. Francis
    June 14, 2014 at 1:50 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon, i am thankful that i have stumbled over your blog, I am a Filipino and been here in Singapore for 1 week already, I want to teach English here for a living, as english has always been a part of my day to day life. I am a BS Chemistry graduate but my work experience is all from Sales from pharmaceutical to publishing industry. Do you think I will be accepted if ever I applied? Thanks

    • June 15, 2014 at 10:19 pm — Reply

      For the job I had you need to be from a native speaking country, but I’m not too sure what the expectations are for other types of English teaching in Singapore. It can’t hurt to give it a go!

  41. Joseph
    June 16, 2014 at 11:07 am — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    I’ve been to Singapore and liked it; your job sounds exciting.

    I have 10 years teaching experience and an MA in Education. I am a US citizen with the native accent to match BUT…..

    I am of Asian descent with the looks to match, and I know that some places in Asia won’t hire someone simply because of that, regardless of the passport.

    That’s why I want to ask you if you are aware of other teachers there who are of non-European descent, just so I can get an idea of what my chances are. Thanks.

    • June 23, 2014 at 10:09 pm — Reply

      That’s a good question, I don’t know of any other Asian American teachers, but you can still give it a go. I knew quite a few in Taiwan, so you could always try there.

      • Joseph
        September 15, 2014 at 11:44 pm — Reply

        Thanks for the response, Jon. From the looks of what you’ve written, it sounds like you don’t know too many other teachers in general; I get the impression that you don’t get much opportunity to interact with the other foreign teachers because of different schedules, or could that not be the case?

        I am currently in Taiwan, and even feel lucky that I got hired – I know there are places here that will not hire someone with an Asian face, regardless of passport (though they won’t state this on paper). It’s been great for the last 2 1/2 years, though I am looking for something new, and I have already been to Singapore and liked it. I plan to give it a try in a few months time.

    • Gary
      August 30, 2016 at 4:33 pm — Reply

      Hi Joseph,

      Were you able to secure a job as an Asian American?

  42. Tommy
    June 23, 2014 at 4:34 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    Your blog has been incredibly helpful. Thank you.

    Unfortunately, my degree is in Business/Marketing. Considering my major, do you think a CELTA would be helpful (or even necessary) for me to secure a position in Singapore? You have certainly made your situation sound appealing.

    Thanks, again.

    • June 23, 2014 at 10:11 pm — Reply

      I don’t think it’s really required as this job isn’t really related to that kind of teaching, it couldn’t hurt though. Good luck!

      • Tommy
        June 24, 2014 at 7:32 am — Reply

        Yes, but my background is not in English or Education – I’m simply a native English speaker with a college degree in Business. Do you think I still have a chance?


        • June 26, 2014 at 11:16 pm — Reply

          You should have a chance, see how it goes.

  43. Prianka
    June 26, 2014 at 11:14 am — Reply

    Hey Jon, I have been following your blog for a while and it is really nice to see such up to date comments.

    Right now I am trying to find a job in Singapore and even with 4 years of ESL experience (Korea) and a TEFL, I have been unsuccessful. Do you have any suggestions for places to apply?


    • June 26, 2014 at 11:17 pm — Reply

      Thanks! I’d try My English School, I Can Read and Lcentral

  44. Alex
    June 27, 2014 at 12:23 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon, thankd for the post.

    I have an MA TESOL, CELTA and 5+ years experience. However, I’m struggling to find any advertised jobs in Singapore. Is there anywhere in particular you would recommend looking?

    Also, what kind of job do you think I could expect in Singapore with my qualifications/experience?



    • June 30, 2014 at 6:38 pm — Reply

      Hey Alex, sounds like you’re pretty well qualified. If you are looking for specific schools, check out the 3 I mentioned just above your comment.

  45. June 29, 2014 at 8:37 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon, I didn’t go through all the comments so apologies if you already answered this question before. Do you have to be an English native speaker to be able to teach in Asia? I am Italian, currently living in London so my English is more than decent…. Do you think I could find any teaching job? It’s not going to be anytime soon, but I’d like to try this experience at some point 🙂

    • July 8, 2014 at 12:17 am — Reply

      No worries, I wouldn’t read through all of those comments either haha! You do need to be a native speaker unfortunately, but you might be able to teach Italian somewhere!

  46. Kellee
    July 7, 2014 at 8:06 am — Reply

    Hi Jon

    I fly out from NZ this coming Friday and was just wondering whether its better to change currency in Auckland or Singapore? Who has the best exchange rate?

    • July 8, 2014 at 12:18 am — Reply

      Nice! I never changed any money, just used my atm card and withdrew it, I think that’s probably the best way.

  47. Alan
    July 9, 2014 at 8:37 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    I found your site in researching teaching options in Singapore and had a few additional question for you. Any and all information is appreciated, I know the life of a teacher can be hectic (My wife and I are in South Korea teaching currently) so get back to me whenever you are up to it.

    1) In you opinion, of the three main schools you listed which is the best? I know this is rather subjective but that’s part of the insight I want. If there are hard number to support one (e.g. better pay, more time off, making lessons plans, etc.) feel free to mention those as well.

    2) Both my wife and I have 4-year degrees (not English related), TEFL certification and a year of experience teaching in Korea (I also have a masters degree) – Would you recommend us go the academy route or try to apply to MOE/public school route? From what I can gather the main difference is training for the PGDE and a longer contract “bond” term for the public system? Anything else worthy of note?

    3) If you were me, before you came to Singapore is there anything you wish someone would have told/warned you about?

    4) Feel free to add anything else you feel would be helpful…

    I really appreciate you taking your time to reply to this. I wish you all the best and thanks again!

    • July 10, 2014 at 12:52 am — Reply

      Cheers Alan! I’m not teaching anymore, just visiting nice islands in Indonesia at the moment, still hard though haha! I really can’t seperate My English School and I Can Read, they are both good. If your degrees are in teaching you can work for an international school and earn huge money, if not you’ll be stuck in the private language schools I’d say. Singapore is a really easy place to live – just working on weekends gets annoying after a while.

      Hope that helps!

  48. Seb
    July 14, 2014 at 3:27 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    This article was a really interesting read, thank you. I have a question regarding holidays. My fiancé and I are hoping to come to Singapore in October, but we’re due to get married back home in May next year. What are the chances of us being given the time off to go home at that time of year? I know you mentioned in a previous reply about the holidays being set in stone. Any advice on this front?
    Many thanks.

    • July 15, 2014 at 5:28 pm — Reply

      Thanks! My old boss told us we could have maybe 1 week of unpaid leave, no questions asked, but every manager is different. I’m sure if you tell them at the start it’ll be ok.

  49. Eldo Pappu
    July 19, 2014 at 3:49 am — Reply

    Thanks dude….
    Let me know How about
    An economics teaching
    In singapore..
    Preaently i am working
    In maldives..

    • July 21, 2014 at 1:26 pm — Reply

      Stay in the Maldives, such a nice country!!

  50. Tarrah
    July 21, 2014 at 8:01 am — Reply

    Wow! What a great source of advice! Quick question – do you know of any foreign teachers (qualified) working in government schools in Singapore? I know the pay/workload is not meant to be great, but its what I enjoy, so just want to know if it has been done! Thanks 🙂

    • July 21, 2014 at 1:27 pm — Reply

      I don’t know of any but I’m sure you can, you’d probably have to be a qualified teacher though, and if you’re qualified you can earn so much more in international schools.

  51. July 21, 2014 at 9:51 am — Reply

    Good to know! I’ve been trying to figure out which Asian country to teach in!

    • July 21, 2014 at 1:28 pm — Reply

      Singapore if you want to save money!

  52. Owen
    July 21, 2014 at 5:31 pm — Reply

    I posted a comment 11 days ago but it was never published, maybe you didn’t see it or maybe it was just a stupid question? 🙂 I was wondering if there are sometimes short term (6 months) contracts in Singapore or are they always for 1-2 years?

    • July 21, 2014 at 11:49 pm — Reply

      Sorry, must have slipped through the cracks! As far as I’m aware they are only for 2 years, but the ESL schools might be different and it depends on timing (if a teacher suddenly leaves etc) so you never know.

  53. Casey
    July 28, 2014 at 8:36 am — Reply

    Jon – are all positions year-round out would it be possible to get a job during the summer months (June & July)? I currently yeah English in California and don’t want to leave my job but would love to do some teaching in Singapore over summer.


    • July 30, 2014 at 5:27 pm — Reply

      Hey Casey, not that I know of, but you never know! I’ve heard of teaching in summer camps in China, that could be a better option for you.

  54. July 31, 2014 at 2:28 pm — Reply

    Did you get TEFL-certified? If so, did you do an online or in-person course? Trying to figure out the best course of action here..

    • August 1, 2014 at 4:52 pm — Reply

      I got a poor man’s TEFL certificate, it was through my school in Taiwan but isn’t accredited to any university. I didn’t need it for this job though, most of the teaching is actually pretty unrelated to TEFL, it’s more like teaching English back home.

      • August 1, 2014 at 5:43 pm — Reply

        Do you have a teaching credential? I’m certified as a substitute but not an actual teacher. Doubt they’d give that much weight..

        • August 1, 2014 at 5:59 pm — Reply

          Nope just an English literature degree – not many people are actually qualified teachers

  55. Evan
    August 7, 2014 at 1:04 am — Reply

    Jon, I appreciate your positivity, however it seems that some “expats” don’t feel the same as you. I was asking around about saving money as a non-certified teacher and the responses I got were “forget it” and “this place is the most expensive place to live for a foreigner”‘.

    Money is crucial, as I’m trying to pay off 4 years of college. I like to “go out” in moderation and I don’t mess with fast food. Living in a big city I expect to live a somewhat big city lifestyle. This doesn’t include shopping sprees or frivolous spending. If I were to land a job with one of the three schools you mentioned could I save as a white (shouldn’t be important, but it’s Asia) American male in his late 20’s with a BA degree in communications?

    • August 8, 2014 at 11:17 pm — Reply

      Knowing what you’re talking about doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite for having an opinion these days, maybe it never was! I’ve heard so many times that Singapore is too expensive, always by people that have either never lived there or have lived the typical expat life. It’s completely different when you live out in the suburbs, and if you want to save money you’ll do it easily – you might have to sacrifice the expensive bars/clubs/restaurants though.

  56. Mai
    August 8, 2014 at 9:56 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon – I’m itching to get out of the country and I’m very interested in ICR, but I’ve read some awful reviews on the administration side where everything was not followed through as promised. While you were there, what were the turnout rates like for teachers? Did teachers ever run into any trouble with not getting paid or administration not following through on their end of the contract.

    • August 8, 2014 at 11:21 pm — Reply

      I’ve never heard of anyone being screwed over by ICR, nothing would surprise me in this industry though. You’ll always find disgruntled teachers, mainly because if you aren’t performing they won’t hesitate to fire you. It’s always a risk taking jobs in private schools/tuition centres in Asia, it’s worth it though!

    • incognito
      August 16, 2014 at 4:21 pm — Reply

      I too read some reviews, however took a chance because most of those reviews were 5-6 years old. Being paid isn’t an issue. Visa’s on the other hand are. If your visa is not processed in time you must leave the country and a hop across to Malaysia is not sufficient as Singapore will stop you from re-entering the country on another 30 day visa. Out of our training group, more than half have had visa issues. Two were almost arrested.This doesn’t happen to everyone but its not nice for those it does happen to so be sure to have lots of money so that you may return home if you need to.

      • August 24, 2014 at 5:41 pm — Reply

        I never knew anyone who had this issue, our work permits were sorted out by the company. I think you need to earn a certain amount to qualify for a employment pass, so if you work for a company that doesn’t pay enough you might run into trouble.

  57. Adrian true
    August 24, 2014 at 12:42 pm — Reply

    hey Jon,

    I am a fellow Kiwi living and working as an English teacher in Mexico. My (Mexican) wife is studying her Masters in Geo Physics, earth sciences, specializing in Climate change. She has mentioned to me that South East Asia is a very good spot to study climate change so Singapore is an option when studying for her PHD!

    I have visited Singapore before, albeit 8 years ago on my first big OE, and i am super keen to move there to live in the future! I have just completed a bachelors degree in English Teaching here and have plenty of relevant experience. I also study Muay Thai so the close proximity to Thailand would be fantastic! We also have a young son so the idea of Singapore being so safe is very appealing.

    Thanks for your blog!


    • August 24, 2014 at 5:43 pm — Reply

      Hey Adrian, it’s always good to hear from another New Zealander! How is Mexico to teach in? Singapore is a great place to live, I hear it’s kind of expensive to raise children in though, and the school system is a lot more stressful for the kids than it is in New Zealand.

      • Adrian True
        September 21, 2014 at 11:59 pm — Reply

        Hi Jon

        Sorry for the late reply. Mexico has it’s ups and downs. The money here is pretty poor. I work in a private school and earn a good wage but it’s the equivalent to around $1,200NZ per month. And with this I need to pay rent, daycare, food, etc. You can earn plenty if you find the right private clases but the hours and travel times aren’t appealing and with a young son I prefer the stablility of the job I have now. Plus we get alot of paid vacations.

        I can imagine the schoolong in Singapore is more stressful than home. However I like the idea of my son learning Manadrin as well so he can be tri-lingual in English, Spanish and Mandarin.

        Thanks for your reply!


  58. Angie
    September 1, 2014 at 12:20 am — Reply

    Hi Jon, got to your blog via a google search! I am in Singapore on a dependant pass since my husband got a transfer here 6 months ago. I am looking to do some work and teaching English sounds great. I have a degree (in Information Technology) but have done loads of ‘classroom style’ training within my job over the years – would that count as experience to them do you think? Also what do you think are the chances of working ‘part time’ (like weekends and/or evenings only?) Got kids of my own to care for 🙂 Any info regarding part time teaching would be greatly appreciated. TIA

    • September 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm — Reply

      Hey Angie, a lot of people who work there have no experience at all so it should be fine. I’m not too sure about part time work but I knew someone who used to sub classes sometimes – I guess it depends if they need to plug any gaps etc.

  59. Giulia
    September 3, 2014 at 2:44 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    Great post. Do these Singapore schools require potential teachers to have teaching experience? As I have read various posts on the internet saying they generally only hire people with teaching experience.
    I am from Australia, I don’t have any teaching experience but I have a 3-year Bachelor of Journalism degree and work as a journalist, which I have been doing for about five years. I was going to do a TEFL course to increase my chances of getting a job in Singapore at a school like the one you taught at.

    • September 8, 2014 at 3:05 pm — Reply

      I actually heard they are starting to prefer people without experience, who knows though! They train you up so it should be fine, give it a go!

  60. carel
    September 8, 2014 at 5:50 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon, I am from the Philippines. I’ve been to teaching (English) for almost 7 years and had M.A units earned. I got interested with all the blogs and really eager to teach in Singapore. I do understand that the qualifications are too high. I am not a native speaker. How could I be able to apply? Do I have a chance? Thanks

    • September 17, 2014 at 10:02 pm — Reply

      Hey Carel, I don’t think you’ll have a chance at same kind of schools that I taught at, they need native speaking teachers, but I’m sure there are other kinds of schools that you could teach at. I knew someone from the Philippines teaching in a local primary school.

  61. Leah
    September 17, 2014 at 5:16 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    I noticed from the comments that you teach at My English School in Singapore. I’ve just been e-mailed by them, potentially offering me an English teaching job and I was wondering if you could tell me a little about working there – is it a good place to work? What are the hours & pay like? It would be my first TEFL job so I’m a bit new to the whole school vetting process! Thanks.

    • September 17, 2014 at 10:06 pm — Reply

      The pay might have changed slightly and vary based on experience and student numbers – I’m not entirely sure though as I left there about 5 months ago. It was a pretty good school to work for (no teaching jobs in Asia are perfect)so I’d go for it if you get the chance. The main problem is that you’ll have to work weekends!

    • Ana
      July 18, 2016 at 2:42 pm — Reply

      hi, I’m just wondering if My English School has any teaching positions available?

      • July 18, 2016 at 3:56 pm — Reply

        Hi Ana, I’m not sure as I haven’t worked there in over 2 years, you can apply on their site though.

  62. Enrique
    September 20, 2014 at 10:22 pm — Reply

    Hello Jon,

    I am going to be earning a CELTA certification this coming year and I think it’s the right choice for me. I had not considered Singapore until I read your comments and now it seems very alluring indeed! I probably differ just a bit from most of the people that have commented – I am over 55 years old (turning 57 this month) and wonder about ageism in the ESL world in Singapore. My first choice had been Thailand until I found a page that said “over 55 – don’t bother.” Any pointers that you can give me would be much appreciated.


  63. Enrique
    September 20, 2014 at 10:24 pm — Reply

    Jon, just one final thing. I am a US citizen and a native English speaker.


    • September 21, 2014 at 1:22 pm — Reply

      That’s a good question Enrique, I did know of a couple of teachers in their 40s/50s but I’m not sure if they still work there. I heard they were looking for younger and less experienced teachers but who knows. Just apply and see how you go. I’d say you’ll have a better chance somewhere like China, but the money won’t be as good.

      • Enrique
        September 21, 2014 at 10:09 pm — Reply

        Thanks, Jon. I will look into it when the time is right and will submit an application and see. Anything is worth a try.

        Until I stumbled onto your blog, I had been mainly attracted to Vietnam since they have no laws against hiring older workers like other Asian countries.

        From what I had understood, China is not so welcoming of older teachers unless you want to go out to very rural areas where no one else wants to go.

        Again, thank you, and I’ll let you know how it goes so that your readership has a bit more information. And you’re right, the pay is less out there (imagine Mongolia), but the cost of living is even lower as well.


  64. Tiara Christenson
    September 29, 2014 at 10:48 am — Reply

    Hello! Thank you so much for this informative blog post. I’ve been teaching abroad for about 3 years now and am trying to pay off my college debt. My boyfriend just got a job in Singapore and I was nervous that with the cost of living, I wouldn’t be able to work on achieving my financial goals. I do have one question. How did you go about finding your housing for so cheap?

    • September 30, 2014 at 9:06 pm — Reply

      It’s nowhere near as bad as most people think, but then again most people don’t come to Singapore to save money. I found mine on, it’s pretty easy but it probably depends which area you want to stay in.

  65. Remnant Jeriel Jackson
    October 2, 2014 at 9:56 am — Reply

    Thanks a lot Jon for such an amazing information. I`m pretty crazy about traveling in Asia and I perfectly love Singapore. I worked in Hong Kong, Macau,and mainland China for more than four years and I hope I can get a teaching job in Singapore to keep me going.
    I wish you all the best.

    • October 3, 2014 at 2:01 am — Reply

      Sounds great, I’d love to teach in all of those places!

  66. Cloud
    October 18, 2014 at 8:44 am — Reply

    I am curious about something. Have you ever heard of any teaching job-opportunities about Mathematics? Like Secondary Mathematics and Primary Mathematics. I am a foreigner graduated from NTU recently with the major in Mathematics, looking for job like maybe Mathematics teacher in tuition center. Do you have any idea about how I can go with this? I know I need work permit, but is it even possible? Do you have any friend who has become Mathematics teacher in tuition center in Singapore?

    Thanks if you can answer.

    • July 30, 2015 at 10:19 am — Reply

      Sorry for the late reply! I’m really bad at maths and have avoided it since I was 15! I have no idea about maths teaching in Singapore but I’m guessing there are a lot of private schools teaching it.

  67. Barney
    November 19, 2014 at 8:56 am — Reply

    hi jon
    Did you also teach in china or know of anyone who did. if so do you think Singapore is similar or better for teaching english in terms of salary standard of living etc

    • July 30, 2015 at 10:18 am — Reply

      Sorry for the late reply! I think the pay is a lot lower in China but you get more perks (free housing etc). I taught in Taiwan and I saved less than half the amount per month than I did in Singapore.

  68. Cheyenne
    November 21, 2014 at 12:31 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    have been following your blog since I moved to Singapore in March, finally getting round to applying for some tutoring jobs! Just had a quick question – when they ask for you to include your references when you send in your CV, are they most likely referring to written references, or referees they can contact to talk about you with? I’m from NZ too and have been asked for either depending on the job.

    I would also like to say a big thank you for continuing to reply to the comments and commend you on your blog!

    Thanks very much 🙂

    • November 22, 2014 at 7:26 am — Reply

      Thanks for the comment Cheyenne, i hope you are enjoying living in Singapore! For the teaching jobs i have applied for I just gave referees that they could call, but if you already have a written 1 it wouldn’t hurt to throw it in. Good luck!

    • jessi
      February 3, 2015 at 12:24 pm — Reply

      pretty cool that we became colleagues because of this blog 🙂 😛

  69. Jasmine Koh
    December 5, 2014 at 11:01 am — Reply

    Hi Jon.

    I came across your site when I was getting quite down on my bf, Jason not being able to get a job in Singapore, having been here for the past 2 months, and would need to return to the UK soon if he doesn’t get a job. He is TEFL certified (120 hours) and would very much like to work as an English teacher in Singapore. I have sent him the links to the agencies you recommended. I was just wondering if you could help with any recommendations on your side for any English teaching jobs for him? His email is, would very much appreciate it if you could drop him an email about working in as an English teacher in Singapore, and how he should go about with the application. He is also currently residing in Singapore at my place. Thank you so much!


    • December 5, 2014 at 4:08 pm — Reply

      Hey Jasmine, thanks for the comment! Does your boyfriend have a degree? It’ll be very hard to find a teaching job in Singapore without one, and it would also help if it’s in something loosely related to teaching (English literature, history, journalism etc), If he has one it should be easy, try the 3 schools I mentioned in the above comments, another idea is to try and do some freelance tutoring. Extra education is huge in Singapore (as you’ll know if you’re a local I’m sure!), so the demand is there for English tutoring, it’s just about finding clients.

      • Jasmine Koh
        December 5, 2014 at 5:34 pm — Reply

        Hi Jon, yea he has a degree in Game Art & Design from Norwich university. He just submitted the application the 3 schools you mentioned. Yea regarding the freelance tutoring, any suggestions where he can apply to? I’m not really sure where to turn to for assignments.

        • December 5, 2014 at 11:24 pm — Reply

          Nice, I hope he has some luck! I saw lots of flyers posted up all over town by tutors, so I’d say put some up around HDB areas etc, and if you get a few happy customers I’m sure they’ll spread the word for you. I got approached a few times by parents wanting me to private classes, so I think it’s something a lot of parents would consider, it’s just a matter of finding them!

  70. Brandon
    December 10, 2014 at 12:14 pm — Reply

    Hey there Jon,

    First of all, thank you for the detailed and informative article you have laid out here. You have convinced me to try and my Singapore my top destination to teach abroad. With that said, I was wondering if you could give me some advice.

    Right now, I have a bachelors in History, a masters in History, and a TEFL certification with 150 hours from the University of Toronto. Do you think my qualifications would be sufficient to attract one of these companies to hire me? I am working on getting my Masters in Teaching in the mean time, but I wont be certified for another two years unfortunately.

    • February 1, 2015 at 8:04 pm — Reply

      Sounds like that would be enough, if you get a masters in teaching you might also be able to work in international schools and earn about double what you would on a reading school!

    • Phyl
      January 9, 2017 at 11:14 am — Reply

      Hey Brandon,

      I also have the TEFL cert from U of T as well! Any update on your teaching abroad endeavours? 🙂

  71. January 19, 2015 at 10:42 pm — Reply

    Thanks for this post! I’ve been teaching English in Thailand for 1.5 years, and I have a degree in Language and Linguistics. Just finished applying to I Can Read, LCentral, and My English School. Hopefully all three get back to me!

    • January 22, 2015 at 7:54 pm — Reply

      Good luck, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the money after working in Thailand!

    • Jessi
      February 3, 2015 at 12:20 pm — Reply

      Hey James – I currently work in Singapore (been here for 8 months after reading Jon’s blog).

      I have qualifications similar to yours. (Master’s in Applied Linguistics and TESOL) I’d like to give you some personal advice on reasons to choose either of those companies, since you’ve applied to all. Shoot me an email and I’ll respond 🙂

      • Matt
        February 18, 2015 at 1:44 am — Reply

        Hey Jessi,

        I’m interviewing with a school in a few days, but I don’t have much info beyond the party line. Would you mind sharing your insights? I’m curious to know what distinguishes these school chains from each other, so the opinion of somebody with a Master’s in this field would be interesting to me.

        I can email you if professional discretion is a factor. Let me know the address if so.


    • MarettaLouise
      June 24, 2016 at 11:27 pm — Reply

      Hey James,
      I’m hoping you can give me some insight on LCentral and My English School. I’ve got interviews with both of those- what was your preference and why? Are you able to inform me about salary and benefits of their contracts? My email is

      Looking forward to hearing from you!

  72. maria
    January 28, 2015 at 11:20 am — Reply

    Thanks for the veryinformative post.
    I’m a Filipino licensed teacher but don’t have teaching experience as I worked in a hospital administration office after graduation. After that I worked in Singapore for five years in a cleaning company and my contract ended last November 2014.
    In my case do you think I am eligible to apply for a teaching job? I would be very glad of your suggestions.
    Thank you.


    • February 1, 2015 at 8:06 pm — Reply

      Hey Maria, for this specific job they look for native English speakers, but there are so many other forms of teaching in Singapore you’d probably be qualified for (but I know nothing about them!). I’d say try talking to some recruiters/look online for jobs, I did meet a Filipina who was teaching in Singapore so it can be done!

  73. Alley
    February 15, 2015 at 8:13 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon

    thank you for a very informative blog.

    I have a bachelor’s degree in social sciences ( psychology ) and many years teaching experience with no formal teaching qualifications.

    I’m from south Africa, are there such programs for our nationals?

    Thank you

    • February 19, 2015 at 11:15 am — Reply

      Hey Alley, I’d say you’re pretty well qualified to teach English in Singapore! I know there are South Africans working at My English School, so you could try there. Let me know how it goes!

  74. Avi
    February 20, 2015 at 12:39 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon, thanks for such an amazing post! I’m seriously considering this option but wanted to get you take on my credentials.

    I have a BA in Communications Studies and an MA in Media Production, both from Canadian universities. I was born in Canada but my heritage is South Asian, will that be an issue? And what do you think about the degree?

    Thank you so much!

    • February 20, 2015 at 7:06 pm — Reply

      Cheers Avi! I’d say your qualifications are good enough, but it always helps if you have some kind of teaching experience. I’m really not sure if your Asian heritage would be an issue, but I’d love to know. Apply to some jobs and let me know what happens!

  75. Sara Yaacob
    February 22, 2015 at 1:26 pm — Reply


    Really interesting read, thanks.
    I have a Skype interview tomorrow with I Can Read.
    Any tips?…


    • February 22, 2015 at 5:08 pm — Reply

      Good luck Sara! The interview shouldn’t be too stressful. Let me know how it goes!

    • Jay
      April 4, 2016 at 11:58 pm — Reply

      Hi Sara,
      I have an interview with I can read tomorrow and was wondering if you had any tips? What kind of questions did they ask you? The e-mail says that there is a spelling test, what did they ask you about this?

      Thank you!!!


  76. sam tosh
    February 26, 2015 at 4:26 pm — Reply

    hi jon
    thanks for the info
    re the accomodation how do you get into the HDB apartments? was the 600 pcm for a room? which websites would you recommend for accomodation

    • July 30, 2015 at 10:23 am — Reply

      Yeah I paid that for a room with a local family. It included internet, power etc. I found it on gumtree – there were lots of options when I was looking.

  77. Jason R
    March 8, 2015 at 5:42 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,
    Your website is so helpful regarding Singapore.
    I am concerned and confused about the income tax rate in Singapore if you work at a place like I Can Read in Singapore.

    Do foreigners need to pay 15% income tax for their first year?

    What income tax rate did you pay for your first year(you probably worked less than a year your first year there)?

    Do they tax you at the 15% until you get your tax return upon you receive the 13% return?
    The Sing. IRS says” a foreigner is considered a taxable resident(meaning the low rate) if the foreigner has worked in Singapore for 183 days or more in the year preceding the Year of Asessment.”
    For example: Does that mean if I worked in Singapore from May1-Dec 31 in 2015 when I file my taxes in early 2016 for my work in 2015 my burden is about 2%?
    Sorry so long but I need to know before coming over there.

    • March 20, 2015 at 11:01 am — Reply

      Hey Jason, sorry for the late reply! Basically the school took $250 a month from our pay to cover our year-end tax bill, and we ended up getting most of it back. I can’t recall the exact numbers but I think I paid less than a thousand dollars in tax during my 2 year contract.

  78. K
    March 26, 2015 at 12:23 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon, I don’t have a question for you but I’m from Singapore and I just wanted to say I’m glad you enjoyed your time working and living here. Your answers have been incredibly helpful and encouraging to so many people.

    On another note, I’m planning to visit my cousin in Dunedin later this year so I enjoyed your post on Otago as well – NZ is such a picturesque country!

    • March 28, 2015 at 10:27 am — Reply

      Thanks for that! Not that many people seem to make to Dunedin, I hope you enjoy it there, I’ll be writing some more posts on the area in the near future so hopefully you’ll get some ideas on things to do.

  79. Emily
    March 28, 2015 at 10:52 am — Reply

    Hi – thank you so much for this post! So informative. I was wondering – is this an option for someone looking to live in Singapore for only 6 months, or does it require a longer term commitment?

    Thank you!

    • March 29, 2015 at 8:08 am — Reply

      Cheers Emily. I think they pretty much want a 2 year commitment, although if you’re experienced they might use you as cover or something, you never know!

  80. Topdogy
    April 12, 2015 at 6:31 am — Reply

    i am a Ghanaian and have a Higher National Diploma in accountancy, i have plans of moving to Singapore, do i have a chance of teaching English in any of the said schools?

    • April 18, 2015 at 12:22 pm — Reply

      I don’t think so I’m afraid…

  81. mariam
    April 13, 2015 at 4:04 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    I didn’t read all the comments so my sorry if you’ve already answered this question but did you have the job before getting to Singapore or did you looked for a position after arrival?


    • April 18, 2015 at 12:23 pm — Reply

      No worries Mariam, I wouldn’t have looked through all of those either! I got the job beforehand, you can usually do it that way in most countries in Asia.

  82. Clarice
    April 23, 2015 at 10:22 am — Reply

    Thanks so much for your very helpful blog post, Jonis! I’m a teacher too, and I’ll be going to Singapore this July 2015 to look for teaching work there. I’m from the Philippines and I have Bachelors and Masters degrees in Education with 2 years teaching experience both in preschool and primary school. Hope you may take time to reply to my questions below (which I also emailed you at your Gmail). Your insights will really be a big help.

    1) I’ve heard that Singapore is in great demand of childcare/ preschool teachers and so it is guaranteed that even without offer beforehand but upon arrival and applying through walk-ins I will get a job, especially in childcare. Is this true with your experience/ observation?
    2) Aside from childcare, is it possible for me to get hired as primary or even university teacher in Singapore?
    3) What is the usual rate for childcare/ preschool teachers in Singapore?
    4) What are your tips for successful job hunting in Singapore?

    Looking forward to hear from you. Thanks so much in advance!

    • May 24, 2015 at 1:20 am — Reply

      Hey Clarice, I’m not too sure about teachers from the Philippines as they can’t do this kind of teaching, but I’m sure you could work in preschool/primary schools – no idea how to go about that though sorry!

  83. Matthew
    May 23, 2015 at 1:53 am — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    Thank you so much for all of this information about teaching in Singapore.
    I am from the US. I have a BA in philosophy and MA in peace studies. I also have a TEFL certificate. I have previous teaching experience in Korea (1-1/2 years) and I recently finished a one year position as a lecturer at a university in Indonesia. I have an Indonesian fiance and we would like to get married and then move to Singapore. Based on what I have listed about myself should I have any problems getting a teaching job. Also, do you have any idea if my soon-to-be wife can accompany me while I work there?

    Thanks again. Any info will be highly appreciated.

    • May 24, 2015 at 1:23 am — Reply

      Hey Matthew, sounds like you’re pretty qualified to teach in Singapore! As for your soon-to-be-wife I have no idea, but I do know that there are a lot of Indonesians working in Singapore, so it can’t be that hard for them to get work permits etc.

  84. Ferdy
    June 7, 2015 at 11:26 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,
    Thanks for the very informative blog post and all the helpful replies.
    This type of job sounds appealing to me and I love Singapore.

    I’m an Aussie, my degree is in the physical sciences, most of my experience in R&D based but I did spend 3 years as a casual teacher teaching uni students in the lab. I also have a cert in graphic design.

    Do you think its worth completing a TESOL cert first or should I just go ahead and apply?

    • June 8, 2015 at 5:25 am — Reply

      Hey, I don’t think they care so much about TESOL etc in Singapore as it doesn’t really apply to this kind of teaching – it can’t hurt to have but I’d just apply without it first.

    June 13, 2015 at 5:47 am — Reply

    Hi, where do we find info on HDB flats? I would be coming with my husband and 8 yr old son. Will it be difficult-expensive to enrol him in a local school?

    • June 14, 2015 at 8:12 am — Reply

      Hey Charlene, is a good site for finding rentals – it’s all done by agents and is a pretty painless process, as long as you get a decent landlord at the end of it. I’m not too sure about schooling but I’ve heard it’s expensive to raise a kid in Singapore, although that might because most expats enroll their kids in private, international schools – maybe the local schools are cheap, not sure though!

  86. June 13, 2015 at 8:30 am — Reply

    Hi there Jon. Great website. Your post was very helpful in many ways.

    What chance do I have, as a new TEFLer with no teaching experience, of getting a job like you had in Singapore? I do have a TEFL certification, and I do have a BA (hons) in English (albeit minored in English)…plus I am a huge traveller, with a particular passion for Singapore.

    It was always my dream to get a couple of years experience elsewhere then come and live/teach in SG, as I thought it was not possible to teach there without some kind of experience.

    I can email my CV to the schools but with no relevance experience on it, I cannot see how I will be taken seriously. Am I just being pessimistic?

    • June 14, 2015 at 8:15 am — Reply

      I knew teachers in Singapore who were straight out of university, it’s definitely possible but it all depends on whether they are desperate for staff or not – they often were when I was there. Definitely just apply and see how it goes, as any other experience you get teaching English won’t really apply to these reading schools anyway as it’s a very different form of English teaching.

  87. Moni
    June 19, 2015 at 9:30 pm — Reply


    Very informative post, thank you!

    I’m a Singaporean and I want to teach English here, but I might not get a degree since I’m from a Polytechnic.
    If I take TEFL or TESOL, even without a degree, do you think it will give me any chance at all being hired as a teacher?

    • June 24, 2015 at 5:24 am — Reply

      I’m not actually sure of the requirements for Singaporeans but I’m guessing you need some kind of teaching qualification, but it depends what kind of school it is. Maybe a tuition centre will hire you without a degree, I have no idea though sorry.

      • Moni
        June 24, 2015 at 7:04 am — Reply

        Thank you very much for the reply!

  88. Rahul
    July 3, 2015 at 4:16 am — Reply

    Hello there Jon.

    I found your blog to be helpful alot.

    I was under the impression that i needed a teaching degree on top of the bachelor degree that one would posses

    I currently hold a Medical Bioscience Bsc Hons with a grade of 2:2.

    I don’t know exactly the PR route/Work Perimits in Singapore. I didn’t know exactly where to start.
    After reading your blog it has given me hope again.
    I am eager to know if it would be possible to teach science in singapore without a teaching degree. Or would i have to complete one in my country (UK) before leaving for singapore. I have been looking to stay in singapore for longterm. What would you recommend in your experience be the best course of action. Although teaching English i also wouldn’t mind going towards this route.

    Many Thanks

    • July 4, 2015 at 6:52 am — Reply

      Hey Rahul, I have no idea about teaching science but I assume you’d need a degree in it to teach in schools in Singapore. This kind of English teaching is just at tuition centres, I guess they might have science tuition centres but if you want to get into proper science teaching you’d probably need to be qualified.

  89. Justin
    July 25, 2015 at 9:51 am — Reply

    What about for those, like me, who have a history degree? In actuality, a history requires an immense command of the English language given the massive number of essays and reports one is required to compose. Would schools in Singapore see the value of such a degree? Thank you!

  90. Justin
    July 25, 2015 at 9:52 am — Reply

    Oops, I forgot to mention that I credentialed to teach in America, in addition to possessing a CELTA certification. Thanks!

    • July 28, 2015 at 1:42 am — Reply

      Hey Justin, it depends. A history degree would be OK I think (I know people teaching in Singapore with more irrelevant degrees) but it all depends on who you’re competing with for a job.

  91. Cletus
    July 27, 2015 at 12:54 am — Reply

    Hi. Just read your post and truly amazed. Am a Cameroonian and presently in Singapore. Have some teaching experience and a Bachelors degree in Bilingual studies, linguistics and communication.( French and English with a little notion of German and Arabic) can anyone help me out get one? Will be very grateful.

    • July 28, 2015 at 1:44 am — Reply

      It’s very unlikely you’ll get a job teaching English in Singapore if you aren’t a native speaker from a country like Australia, England, the US etc. You might have more luck looking into different kinds of teaching in Singapore – there are a lot of options for language teaching I’m sure.

  92. Khadija
    August 5, 2015 at 8:49 pm — Reply

    Hey Jon!

    Your article is super inspiring and really informative! I’m an Indian, English being my first language and a bachelor’s degree in mass media. Do you think it would be difficult for me to get a job there, not being from one of the countries you mentioned above? I’m looking for something a year long, or shorter, for the experience. Hope you can help me out!

    • August 20, 2015 at 4:36 am — Reply

      Hey Khadija, I think it will be pretty difficult but I’m sure you can teach in another field or a different kind of English school.

  93. Anna
    August 15, 2015 at 4:52 pm — Reply

    Hey Jon,
    I’m a fellow Kiwi working in Vietnam (with one year’s teaching experience). My partner and I are tossing up where to go next. Am actually working with a guy who used to work for “I Can Read” and he said it was a pretty good gig too.
    Did you just contact them before you arrived? Or is it easier to enter as a tourist and apply when you arrive? I assume all teaching positions are a minimum 2 year contract?
    I have a Bachelor of Nursing + CELTA (Pass A) and my partner has a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) + CELTA. Do you think it would easy enough to seek work at one of the language centres there?
    Really keen to save some big dollars so we can travel without worrying about working along the way 🙂

    Thanks for your help!

    • August 20, 2015 at 4:34 am — Reply

      Hey Anna, I contacted them a couple of months before I started the job, it was a pretty easy process. I just entered as a tourist and the company sorted the work permit out, again it was really easy. As for your qualifications… it really depends who you’re up against for the job, but since you have some teaching experience already then you should have a good chance. Good luck!

  94. sarah B
    September 5, 2015 at 12:01 am — Reply

    Hi Jon, do you have any idea about what benefits I’d get for teaching for 6 months in Singapore? I’m a fully qualified teacher with a TEFL certificate and am looking to teach in Singapore and China for 6 months each as a year out sabbatical. Any pointers or useful people to contact to find out more about the benefits for a 6 month term?

    • September 8, 2015 at 3:51 am — Reply

      Hey Sarah, I’m not too sure because all the schools I know of usually require 2 year contracts. You could just contact them though and see if they need anyone for a shorter time.

  95. D
    September 9, 2015 at 11:10 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    Great blog!

    I’m wondering if college transcripts need to be sent with applications or if only proof of a degree needs to be sent?

    Also, do you think a Psychology degree with little to no english teaching experience would qualify? Do they look at GRE scores ?


    • September 13, 2015 at 9:26 am — Reply

      I think I just sent a copy of my degree, no transcripts or anything. You should be fine with that degree, I have no idea what a GRE score is though so I’m guessing you don’t need it.

  96. Ted
    September 15, 2015 at 12:47 am — Reply

    Great info, thank you. I’m an American with a MA in elementary education. Certified, having taught in the states nearly a decade, as well as another decade abroad in Japan, Taiwan now the UAE, I’m looking to Singapore. The issue is, that, along the way, I’ve acquired a wife and baby. Is the family life affordable in Singapore? We still need to save money to visit her family in Japan every year and cover the extra costs of the home we rent out back in the states (at a slight loss). Perhaps there is a site you could direct me toward that discusses families teaching in Singapore. Oh, and we have the same traveling jones you do.

    • Ted
      October 3, 2015 at 6:11 pm — Reply

      Follow up question, Jon; I heard, more and more, China is now offering higher paying teaching jobs than Singapore. Is this what you’ve been seeing?

      • October 9, 2015 at 4:37 am — Reply

        I haven’t heard too much about China – it’s possible but I’d say they’d only be a small percentage of the jobs, they might be tough to get without much experience.

    • Catherina
      August 12, 2019 at 5:45 pm — Reply

      hi TED! Im struggling to choose my next country as I worked in Taiwan (ESL) for more than 3 years. I had a great job teaching 20h a week and got paid 60 000NT pm and worked in a t-shirt and jeans, I saved about 20 000NT every month. Now I’m wondering how do China, and Japan or even Singapore compare to Taiwan. Should I stay in Taiwan because its easy living and easy money, or is there a better option in China or Japan where I will also have easy money and easy living, plus comfortability at work.

  97. Matthew C
    September 17, 2015 at 4:04 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    Great post! I am currently looking at teaching jobs in Singapore. Right now I’m working in Thailand and will have around 2yrs experience + a TEFL qualification. May I ask what company you worked for? Was it I Can Read? I’m looking at them but I’m seeing so many negative reviews from ex-employees. Could you give me some ideas of places to look for and apply to?

    Many thanks,

    • September 20, 2015 at 11:07 am — Reply

      Hey Matthew, I worked for both I Can Read and My English School. I Can Read was good to me, it all depends though – teachers who get fired from schools like this tend to blame the school. They are businesses and if you’re not performing they’ll cut you, it’s the same in tuition centres all over Asia though.

  98. October 22, 2015 at 2:17 pm — Reply

    That’s some serious money! I didn’t realize that it was possible to save that much due to the relatively high cost of living there compared to other places in SE Asia.

  99. Britt
    October 23, 2015 at 12:32 pm — Reply

    My boyfriend is being relocated from Seattle to Singapore for 90days, they’ll assess, & then maybe he’ll be there for 6 months. He leaves Dec 1st. Is it realistic that I’ll find a teaching job by then??

    Is it easier to obtain a teaching job ONCE I get there?? Or should I do everything now??

    If this is unattainable in such a short amount of time, what other jobs are easy for Americans to get in Singapore??

    • December 30, 2015 at 12:46 pm — Reply

      Sorry for the late reply Britt! Hopefully your got this sorted by now, It’s always good to reply as early as possible to this kind of job — most of the people they hire are overseas at the time.

  100. Chris
    November 10, 2015 at 7:57 pm — Reply

    I was wondering what the best agency is to work though? Or is it better to try get a post there by communicating with the school directly.

    Thank you

    • December 30, 2015 at 12:46 pm — Reply

      Hey Chris — go straight to the schools!

  101. November 13, 2015 at 1:13 pm — Reply

    Hey, Jon,

    Love the post. Love the information that you’ve put up, and it’s another option for me. I know that you’re not really in Singapore anymore, but I wanted to find out some info.

    I have a BA in Asian studies, a Grad Cert of Arts from University of Melbourne, and a 100 hour TEFL Certification, as well as 4+ years of teaching English in Korea. Do you think this would make me a good candidate for a teacher at one of those 3 places you talked about, or would my experience allow me to teach at a higher place.

    I hope to hear back from you soon, and pray that things are going well with you.

    • December 30, 2015 at 12:49 pm — Reply

      Hey Miles; You need a proper teaching qualification to get those higher paying jobs. Basically, if you can teach at schools in somewhere like New Zealand or Australia you should be able to get those jobs. The other jobs still pay really well though and it sounds like you’re well qualified for them.

    December 25, 2015 at 9:27 am — Reply

    Hello. Is it really needed to have a degree on English/something like it?
    I want to teach English in Asia (I have a big love for Korea) but I was wondering if it’s not for the best to study the 4 years of the school and then have a degree and go. What do you tell me? 🙂

    • December 30, 2015 at 12:50 pm — Reply

      If you want to teach in places like China and Vietnam you don’t always need a degree — you can just do a TEFL course. Those jobs don’t pay quite as well though.

  103. Steph Geil
    January 4, 2016 at 3:22 am — Reply

    Wow, must be hard keeping track of an article that tops google search for ‘Teaching English in Singapore’!!!

    My question Jon- a) Will they hire people for short terms (6 months?) b) is there are time-related contract? c) Are there disadvantages to staying for less than the agreed time, or for less than a year?


    • January 4, 2016 at 3:44 pm — Reply

      Haha yeah it is! As far as I know they only hire people who are planning on staying for 2 years. The disadvantages of not seeing out your contract are that you won’t get your bonus (which is $7000) and you won’t get your flight reimbursed.

  104. January 4, 2016 at 3:52 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    I have applied for jobs at both LCentral and I Can Read (just waiting to hear back from them). In terms of the working hours, did you find it to be a disadvantage? A lot of my friends in SG seems super disappointed when I tell them I’m working late weekdays and every weekend…haha.

    Also, do you know of any other route to apply for teaching jobs in SG? Did you use any jobsite/agency or did you apply directly through the company?

    Kind Regards,

    • January 26, 2016 at 1:53 pm — Reply

      Hey Matt, the working hours are definitely the worst part about the job! It impacts on your social life quite a lot, especially if you like to go out partying. I just found my job online while looking at jobs in Taiwan – saw the pay they were offering and jumped on it. It’s easy to apply through the companies.

  105. Kimberly
    January 26, 2016 at 12:42 pm — Reply

    Nice blog!!! I found your blog at the perfect time. I’m currently teaching in Shanghai, with my husband and 3 year old daughter in tow. Let’s just say…we are so ready to go. My husband and I use to live in Singapore, funny that’s were we met. Since then, we have lived in 5 other countries, with no plans of slowing down. However, now our main concern is schooling for our daughter. China is not working out so we instantly thought of Singapore.
    I have a Master’s degree in International Communication, B.S. in I.T. and TEFL certified. I’m so going to apply to I Can Read. While you were there, did you know anyone with dependents? I see a few laws have changed since we were lasted there. In order to have dependents you need to make $5000SGD now as of Sept 2015. The pay at I Can Read is $4500SGD from what I’ve seen. Do you think I would be allowed to work extra hours to make up that difference and/or will higher qualifications bring more pay?
    And you are so right…you can live in Singapore without spending so much money.
    Sorry for the long post…just need advice asap. Can’t continue to live here any longer.

    • January 26, 2016 at 1:57 pm — Reply

      Hey Kimberley, it might be possible to work more hours but I’m not entirely sure, you could get tutoring work which would bump up your earnings but I’m not sure if that $5000 has to be paid by one employer. From memory the British Council pays a little bit better and they tend to be a bit more selective with who they hire, so you could give them a try.

      • Kimberly
        January 26, 2016 at 2:46 pm — Reply

        Thanks for the speedy reply Jon! Definitely will give them a try.

    • Chris
      September 14, 2016 at 5:58 am — Reply

      Hi Kimberly,

      I just read your post. Could you tell me what it is like to teach in Shanghai? After 3,5 years teaching in Madrid I’m in for a change. Singapore is on top of my list, but Shanghai would be another option…

      Thanks in advance!


  106. Abby
    January 30, 2016 at 3:09 am — Reply

    Hi Jon.

    Can you explain briefly a typical day at I can read. I am considering the job there.

    Do you learn a lot as a teacher at I can read? Was the training useful for you? And did the school use a lot of storybooks to conduct the lessons?

    You mentioned that the classes on sat is from 9am to 6.30pm, do you teach every hour?

    • February 5, 2016 at 12:12 pm — Reply

      Hi Abby — weekends were a lot busier and I’d typically teach back to back classes all day with an hour for lunch. It’s definitely not difficult teaching but it is quite fun, lots of story books and games etc.

  107. CMT
    February 3, 2016 at 11:46 am — Reply

    Great article mate! I was looking for info on teaching jobs in Singapore and your article (and replies to comments) answered many of my questions.

    It’s seems getting a teaching job in Singapore is pretty easy. I have a degree and 4 years teaching experience, however my degree is not language related and I don’t have a CELTA. I was considering doing a CELTA this summer to up my chances of landing a job in Singapore. But from what I have read here it looks like that’s not necessary, what do you think?

    Also, could you tell me what the chances for promotion are, and what career progression is like generally, in Singapore for an English teachers?

    I teach in China now, and there is plenty of money to be made here, but 0 chances of progressing your career. You could work for a school for 10 years, get more and more qualifications, but you’d always just be “the foreign teacher”. There is no path for taking on more responsiblities, moving in to management etc. Is it the same in Singapore schools?

    • February 5, 2016 at 12:14 pm — Reply

      I don’t think a CELTA would help you out much but I guess it couldn’t hurt either. I’m not too sure about promotion but individual branches don’t have head teachers etc, so I guess unless you get a job at head office as a trainer, recruiter etc you’re probably stuck as a teacher.

    • Chris
      September 14, 2016 at 5:54 am — Reply

      Hi CMT,

      I read your question/post and I was wondering: where do you live in China? And what is it like to teach over there?

      Singapore is on top of my list, but I might consider China as well…


  108. Lloyd
    February 3, 2016 at 3:53 pm — Reply

    Hi jon,
    I would like to work as an English teacher in Singapore. I am not a native speaker, but i have been teaching English for Japanese, Koreans, Chinese and taiwanese for almost 8 years. Do you think i can land a job there?

    • February 5, 2016 at 12:15 pm — Reply

      Unfortunately probably not Lloyd, they are quite strict with the native speaker requirement.

  109. steph
    February 15, 2016 at 4:11 pm — Reply


    Thanks for the great article. I am working as a teacher in the UK at the moment, but hoping to move to singapore to teach efl instead. Do you think I would be able to find a job which wouldn’t require me to teach at the weekends? my boyfriend is a non teacher so I would want the same days off.

  110. Nengi
    February 21, 2016 at 8:38 am — Reply

    Hi, “am Nengi, from Africa and i studied education in africa, what are my chances of geting a teaching job in singapore?

    • February 21, 2016 at 11:37 pm — Reply

      Not great unfortunately, unless you’re from South Africa!

  111. Lyn
    February 27, 2016 at 12:44 am — Reply

    hi Jon…would like to a single a 3 yr old boy…i’ve been in the academe for 7yrs (college instructor)…was just thinking if i could bring my son with me… any idea how much day care cost? thanks..enjoy teaching 🙂

    • March 13, 2016 at 5:56 pm — Reply

      Hi Lyn, I have no idea but a lot of people in Singapore hire live-in maids which are apparently pretty good value.

  112. Chloe
    March 9, 2016 at 11:56 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    I’m a British citizen looking at applying for a working holiday visa so I can work as a Tefl teacher in Singapore. Did you apply for a 6 month visa and get it extended or how long were you teaching there for?

    I studied languages at university and intend to study for a CELTA qualification this month, would you suggest I apply for teaching jobs before going over to Singapore?

    • March 13, 2016 at 5:43 pm — Reply

      Hi Chloe, I came in on a 1 month tourist visa and then my company sorted out a work permit for me, it was really easy. I would apply for a job before you go to Singapore, most people do that and it’s very common to be hired for a teaching role after a Skype interview.

  113. Anja
    March 11, 2016 at 4:53 am — Reply

    Thanks for the information. What you tel us about the day to day workings of teaching in Singapore?

    Example: dress code for men and women, if the classrooms are air conditioned or not, what to expect for the temperature in the classroom. Do they still hold physical education classes during the burning season or do they keep the kids inside during the haze?

    What’s the physical like to get a work visa? Can I pass the physical if I’m on medication for thyroid disease? Or will I be denied a visa?

    I’m from Southern California and there is no air con in the classroom. We don’t have to run for physical education on days with bad air quality because parents sue if their gold must be picked up by ambulance because they can’t breathe. The air quality is much improved these days due to strict emissions laws being passed.

    • March 13, 2016 at 5:41 pm — Reply

      Hi Anja, I’ll answer your questions 1 by 1…

      The dress code was fairly loose, especially for woman. Men had to wear a shirt and dress pants, no tie though. Women can pretty much get anyway with anything that is tidy.

      Each classroom that I taught in had its own air conditioning, so I had complete control over the temperature which was nice.

      The kind of school that I taught at didn’t run any sort of physical education classes — the kids just came in for their 1 hour class and then left.

      I never had a physical — I think it’s luck whether you need one or not, I’m not 100% on that though.

      I hope that helps, let me know if you have any more questions.

  114. March 24, 2016 at 1:21 am — Reply

    Howya Jon,

    I’m a student studying a health science in 3rd year hence not graduated.
    Would it be possible to do an online tefl course and with previous experience, get a job in one of these centres?

    any advice be great cheers!

    • March 26, 2016 at 9:07 am — Reply

      Hey James, TEFL isn’t actually that useful for this kind of job — my advice is to just apply online and see how it goes.

  115. Jessica
    April 9, 2016 at 7:32 am — Reply

    Hi Jon,
    Your website and blogs are just incredible! So glad I came across them!! I will depend some time looking at your useful info and inspiring life for sure.
    I am looking at moving to Singapore to teach next year. Just looking online I can see most international schools are 2 year contacts. What is the best way to go about just working for a year as I’m unsure how long I want to stay there as I am considering Tokyo as well after a year. What were your exact hours and was it full time guaranteed work? Im defjnitely wanting to save and travel a bit as well ☺️

    • July 29, 2016 at 8:11 pm — Reply

      Hi Jessica, sorry for the late reply!

      You could always quit after one year but you’ll be losing out on your bonus / the extra tax money that you’ve paid up til then. It was full time work and I probably taught on average 25 hours a week, although I had to be there for 40 hours. Let me know how it goes if you decide to get a job there (or Tokyo, as I’ve always wanted to teach there).

    • Chris
      September 14, 2016 at 5:50 am — Reply

      Hi Jessica,

      Great that you want to move to Singapore. I’ve got plans as well! Could you tell me where you found these international schools in Singapore (websites)?


  116. Meredith
    April 11, 2016 at 10:38 pm — Reply

    Hi, Jon! Thanks for the great article. Been trying to figure out where to go to teach and this sounds perfect. However, my degree is in Anthropology. Do you think that will be OK? I also have 140hr TEFL cert. But no experience as of yet.

    • July 29, 2016 at 8:12 pm — Reply

      Hi Meredith, it’ll be possible for you to get a job in SG, it just depends on the demand. Good luck!

  117. Greg
    April 14, 2016 at 4:40 pm — Reply

    Hey Jon, thanks so much for these posts! I am thinking about moving to Singapore after getting my music and teaching degree this year, and reading your posts really helps to decide!
    Do you know approx how much a music teacher (guitar teacher) can earn in in Singapore?
    And also do you think it’s possible to get a job, without traveling there for interviews, so to make everything online?
    I have seen that there are loads of guitar teacher jobs in different music schools, so I really hope it can work out!

    • July 29, 2016 at 8:14 pm — Reply

      Hey Greg, I have no idea how much a guitar teacher would earn in SG but I’m guessing the pay won’t be bad — tuition is big business and heaps of kids learn instruments. Let me know the details if you end up getting job. Also, I got my job entirely online so it should be easy.

  118. Autumn Brucato
    April 30, 2016 at 9:52 am — Reply

    Thanks for the great information! How hard was it to find an apartment in singapore for $500-600 a month? is that realistic? Are those apartments usually very far from schools?

    • May 2, 2016 at 1:06 pm — Reply

      I found apartments pretty easily and they were close to my school, it helped that I worked out in Tampines though. If you want to live closer to the city you’ll end up paying a bit more.

  119. Luke
    May 13, 2016 at 10:23 am — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    Great post! I am currently staying in Singapore and pretty keen to live here.

    I have an English Lit/Lang degree from the UK so applied for each of the three tuition centres you recommended but haven’t heard back from them in since last week or so.

    I know it has been a while but in your experience, what was the turn around on the application and do you recall any other tuition centres that have similar application process?


    • Joanna Montague
      May 18, 2016 at 5:54 pm — Reply

      Hi Luke,

      I moved to Singapore around 5 weeks ago. I was in the same situation you are in, looking for a teaching position. However, you are more qualified than I am in that you have a relevant degree.

      The turnaround is about two weeks so give them time to respond.

      I got a job with LC Central which is a good tuition centre here but the working hours were incongruous with those of my partner.

      Here is my email address Email me and I will give you the names of the people to contact who I’ve been in discussion with about teaching positions.

      Happy to help.



      • MarettaLouise
        June 24, 2016 at 5:40 pm — Reply

        Hello Joanna,

        I’ve also applied for L Central but haven’t yet hear anything. I’m wondering if you could please advise me of the salary range? (If you don’t mind)


        • Joanna
          June 27, 2016 at 11:46 am — Reply

          Hello Louise, good luck and I hope you hear back soon. The salary is around S$4,000 a month which is quite good. The hours aren’t very sociable if you have a partner working a 9-5 job as the role is evening and weekends. It is a great opportunity though.

          Hope the info helps


        • Joanna Montague
          July 29, 2016 at 9:56 am — Reply

          Hi Maretta,

          It took them around two weeks to reply to me. At the time of the application I think the salary was around S$4,000-S$4,500 a months.

          Hope that helps and good luck with your job hunting.

          If you need anymore advice, just let me know.



    • May 23, 2016 at 9:53 pm — Reply

      Cheers Luke, I think your question has been answered! Good luck.

  120. John
    May 29, 2016 at 6:23 am — Reply


    I am primarily interested in teaching adults. Is there such a thing in Singapore? If so, where would I start? Also, what do you know of visa applications for people from Europe?

    • July 29, 2016 at 8:19 pm — Reply

      There probably isn’t a huge market for that and I’ve never heard of anyone doing it, but you never know! I also have no idea, but I think Singapore is a pretty easy country to get a visa for as long as you have a job lined up.

  121. V. Saith
    May 29, 2016 at 12:02 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,
    i have recently moved to Singapore, i have my family here(which means housing and food are not a problem)! I have a 3 year degree in English Literature/Language! I am looking for jobs don’t know how to start with, where to look for…! I have experience in teaching but no teaching qualification (from Dubai/UAE, as i was previously based there). Guide me kindly how can i get an English teaching job here in Singapore which does get me a work permit as well!!!

    • July 29, 2016 at 8:20 pm — Reply

      Hi, if you’re a native speaker try your luck at any of the schools that I’ve mentioned in the previous comments — they seem to hire people quite often.

    • Chris
      September 14, 2016 at 6:48 pm — Reply

      Hi V.,

      I saw your post about teaching in Singapore, and the fact that you were teaching in Dubai/UAE (Singapore is on top of my list, but I’m open for other options).

      Could I send you an email with some questions about teaching over there?

      Thanks in advance!

  122. MarettaLouise
    June 24, 2016 at 5:37 pm — Reply

    Hello all,
    Firstly, thank you Jon for your amazing and informative blog! I’e thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I have an interview with My English School tomorrow, it sounds like a great place to work. Any tips?

    Thanks =)

    • July 29, 2016 at 8:21 pm — Reply

      Hi Maretta, how did the interview go?

      • Maretta
        July 29, 2016 at 8:41 pm — Reply

        Hi Jon!
        I got a job with I Can Read and I’m moving next month! I’m very much looking forward to it! Thanks for all the info and advice from your blog, it’s great!


        • July 31, 2016 at 12:56 pm — Reply

          Great news! Let me know how the job goes.

        • Stephanie
          April 27, 2017 at 2:19 am — Reply


          How is the job with ICR going? I got an interview with them but I’ve read some horrific stuff on eslcafe! Like firing teachers after 3 months?

          • April 27, 2017 at 11:39 am

            Hi Stephanie, I haven’t worked with them for ages now so not sure how things are there these days. Let me know how things go for you!

  123. Lauren
    July 28, 2016 at 1:23 pm — Reply

    Hi All.

    I have been living and working as an English teacher here in Singapore for almost 4 years. I have several friends who work for My English School. Save yourselves the headache and apply somewhere else. None of my friends are happy there. The salary is low for tuition centres here and it is also based on how many students you have. For example, if you have say 100 students, you get a certain bonus, but if you promote some of them to another level (and teacher) you would have less students and therefore forfeit your bonus. I’ve heard horror stories about the Manager at the Parkway Parade branch. Honestly, she seems like a horrible person to work for and I have had several friends quit or no renew their contracts specifically because of her. I haven’t worked there personally, but it does’t seem worth it at all.

    • July 29, 2016 at 8:25 pm — Reply

      Hi Lauren, thanks for the info!

      I haven’t worked in SG for well over 2 years and I only worked at My English School for a short time. From that experience I thought the company could have gone either way. The owner was really shifty and tried to screw me out of my bonus, but the woman who was basically in charge of the teachers and the curriculum etc was great and seemed capable of making it a good place to work. She has since left so I have no idea what’s going on, although it doesn’t sound great!
      Have you heard much about Lcentral?

    • Chris
      September 14, 2016 at 5:33 am — Reply

      Hi Lauren,

      Great to hear that you’re living in Singapore! I’m interested in teaching there too (I have been teaching English in Madrid for more than 3 years now. Question: so for which company do you work? (I guess not for My English School). And could you give me some advice about websites (or schools) where I could search for jobs?

      Thanks in advance!

      Chris Wacanno

  124. July 31, 2016 at 3:19 pm — Reply

    Nice article. I am in my way to Celta and considering Singapore as well. Also just started to writea blog 🙂

    • August 1, 2016 at 11:15 am — Reply

      Looks great, good luck with the job hunting and the blogging.

  125. Tiffany
    August 15, 2016 at 7:44 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    Your post is really interesting and useful!
    I leave a question here for my American friend. She is American, she has more than 2 years English teaching experiences in Korea and Taiwan. She always studies TESOL at home now. However, she does not hold any degree in university. How do you think whether it is possible for my friend to look for the job in Singapore?
    Many thanks, Jon!

    • August 17, 2016 at 8:15 pm — Reply

      Hi Tiffany, as far as I’m aware your friend will need a degree in order to get a work permit if she wants to teach English, I’m not 100 % on that though. Places like Vietnam, China and Thailand are probably a lot more flexible in that regard.

  126. Chris
    September 14, 2016 at 5:26 am — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    Great to read about your stories/experiences. I’m interested in teaching English in Singapore (I have been teaching English in Madrid for more than 3 years now). Could you tell me for which schools you have worked for? Or where I could look for jobs in Singapore?


  127. Anya
    September 15, 2016 at 2:40 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,
    I am from the Caribbean, St.Lucia but I live in Trinidad and Tobago. Would I be able to apply to work and teach english in Singapore? I know that some places usually only care for persons from Europe, Canada, America etc. I have a Bsc in psychology. I know you expressed having a degree in English and such are what they really seek but do you think I stand a chance? Thanking you in advance for sharing your knowledge.

    • September 28, 2016 at 10:31 am — Reply

      Hi Anya, thats a great question and I actually have no idea. I guess you’ll just have to apply and find out (and then let me know how it goes). Good luck!

      • Anya
        September 28, 2016 at 10:41 am — Reply

        Hi Jon,
        I decided to sign up and do the TEFL course and the company I am doing it with stated that they have found jobs for international persons. So I shall see how it goes (job wise) when I am done with the course. I just thought that having the TEFL might somehow increase my chances.
        However, I have started to also apply to LCentral. Whichever path works out, I will keep you updated. Thanks for the luck, I am going to need it.

  128. Xy
    October 25, 2016 at 9:44 am — Reply

    I would definitely not recommend My English School (I can say this as someone who has worked there since you have left Jon). The lady you mentioned no longer works there and the wife has stepped in. And since they both have been running the place, they micro-manage everything and have proven to be incompetent, ineffective, and horrible at communication. They most recent contract states that if you have a withdrawal of 3 or more students in a month, then you lose the bonus for that month at the end of your contract.

    Also, the turn over rate of teachers has been the highest I have ever seen it. Either people have been leaving under a year or 2 year contracts have not been renewed and teachers have been going to I Can Read. They are also having trouble getting Employment Passes approved for foreign teachers, so be wary. They will not tell you that until you arrive and string you along. They are sneaky and at the end of the day, you are expendable to management and they will do whatever is in their best interest.

    • V
      October 25, 2016 at 8:31 pm — Reply

      Oh my, it does sound really horrible… I have an interview with My English School soon, which I was quite excited for. But I’m not so sure now….
      What were your working hours like? And how big were the classes? Were there lots of preparation before each class??
      Would really appreciate your response.. Thanks!

      • XY
        October 26, 2016 at 9:17 am — Reply

        I would highly suggest you skip MES and L Central and just apply to I Can Read. Hours at MES are 2-9:08 on 3 weekdays and 8:45-6:08 on Sat/Sun. Classes are 9+1 students. And no, not lots of preparation.. But with the new curriculum writers and trainers, there are a lot more expectations and you have to do lesson plans during training.

        • Yvette
          October 26, 2016 at 10:12 pm — Reply

          Really appreciate your reply! I’ve also got an interview with L Central too… What’s bad about them? Are they going the way of MES as well?
          Thanks XY!!

        • V
          October 27, 2016 at 12:15 pm — Reply

          Thanks XY!

  129. Zack Hunter
    November 19, 2016 at 12:51 am — Reply

    Hi Jon,
    I am planning to leave my job and teach in Asia, my favorite place in the world. I had an opportunity to work as a tutor in past, which I really enjoyed. I don’t have any degree or certification in education, however, planning to get TEFL certification. I have heard that its pretty tough to get approval from Ministry of Education. Did u have to get approval?
    I appreciate your time to answer my question.

  130. Evan
    February 6, 2017 at 3:45 am — Reply

    This is a great informational article, thank you for publishing it! I have a few questions that I’ve been wondering that’s been hard for me to find answers to.
    I really want to move to Singapore for at least a year and everywhere is saying that teaching English is the best option. I’m 18 years old and currently at a junior college but after i graduate and before I start a career in the US (my home country), I want to live abroad for a while. It’s just that it’s so hard to get a visa anywhere and this is looking like my only option. Im confident in my ability to teach English (as I’ve been a communications instructor for the Boy Scouts of America for a few years). I just don’t want to have to push for that English degree because between full time work and full time school, I don’t have time to be in numerous English classes.

    1. Would an associates in audio engineering, along with the TEFL course qualify me?
    2. If it doesn’t, what’s the best course of action for me?
    3. Do these tuition centers hire people as young as 20 years old?

    Once again, thank you for the info, and I look forward to hearing a response as I really need the help!

    • February 9, 2017 at 6:29 am — Reply

      Hey Evan, it’s hard to tell, but a relevant degree is pretty important. I’m not entirely sure what an associates is, but if it’s not the equivalent of a 3 year degree you might struggle. You could also try places like China, Vietnam and Thailand.

  131. Boabin
    February 12, 2017 at 3:10 pm — Reply

    MES is a nightmare, I’d avoid them entirely. I worked there last year.

    • February 22, 2017 at 3:42 am — Reply

      Thanks, I’ve been hearing this a bit lately. Will update the post I think/

  132. Jennifer
    February 16, 2017 at 4:49 pm — Reply

    Hey all,
    I’m a career ESL professional with 16+ years under my belt and a Masters in Intercultural Communication. Not interested in “conversation English” stuff. Been there, don’t that. I’m looking for upper level teaching and/or management or teacher training and, frankly, highest level salary this market offers. I know virtually nothing about teaching in Singapore. What do you suggest? Focus on universities? Can you offer website suggestions where jobs like that are posted? Any help/info is greatly appreciated.

    • February 22, 2017 at 3:39 am — Reply

      Hey Jennifer, the money in Singapore is pretty good but with your experience you could probably get more in the Middle East etc. The English teaching scene in Singapore is pretty small compared to other countries in Asia so you might find it hard to find management roles in tuition centres, Universities could be worth a try though.

  133. SN
    February 17, 2017 at 2:38 am — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    Do any of these placement contracts / agencies cover dental / visual / medical insurance, especially medical in case you have a medical emergency while teaching? And if you have an existing condition where you take chronic medicines daily, is that cover too?

    Thank you for responding.


    • February 22, 2017 at 3:37 am — Reply

      I didn’t get any kind of insurance while in Singapore, I guess you have to sort it out yourself. I did hear something about the schools helping teachers out with it but not sure what happened to that.

  134. Susan
    February 18, 2017 at 6:16 pm — Reply

    Hey Jon! It’s really a nice article. Very informative
    I was wondering I have been working as an English teacher for nearly 5 years and is now thinking of teaching abroad. I have a degree in English but unfortunately I don’t come from an English spekaing country (I’m an Indonesian). Do you think it is still possible to have such good-paid job in Singapore like the one you got?

    Not sure if you’ll see this comment (since the article was posted quite a long time ago lol) but hopefully you do! *fingers crossed*

    • February 22, 2017 at 3:36 am — Reply

      Thanks Susan! I don’t think you’d get a job at the companies I worked for due to not being from an English speaking country. There are probably other kinds of schools that you could teach at though — Singapore is obsessed with education so there are probably a lot of opportunities.

  135. Camille Connaughton
    February 20, 2017 at 5:15 pm — Reply

    I love your blog Jon! I’m a qualified Primary school teacher and planning on getting my TEFL certificate shortly, I want to teach in Asia but wasn’t sure exactly where.. Singapore sounds like an awesome choice! I appreciate your articles they are awesome!

    • February 22, 2017 at 3:34 am — Reply

      Thanks Camille! Singapore is a great option, you could even try the international schools, they pay really well but are harder to get jobs at.

  136. TW
    March 14, 2017 at 1:28 pm — Reply

    What I can say about the ESL scene in Singapore is that it is not as rosy as what this article portrays it to be. Even with CELTA/TESOL and a degree, it is next to impossible to get any job if you don’t have any teaching experience. I have tried applying to all sorts of educational institutions (tuition centres, language schools, private schools) for over a year, but never had any favourable replies. It is an employer’s market and there are tons of people applying for the same position.

    • March 15, 2017 at 10:27 am — Reply

      Interesting, I know of a few people who have jobs now after reading this post and it seemed pretty easy. Did you apply for My English School, I Can Read etc? I guess people weren’t really aware of the opportunities in Singapore for a long time, that’s probably changing though.

  137. Hannah
    May 28, 2017 at 8:53 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon!

    Very informative blog post – thanks for all the info!

    I was wondering – is it best to go to Singapore first, and then apply at one of these tuition centres (I Can Read, My English School, etc) in-person? Or is it better to apply online, before heading to Singapore?

    Thanks for your help!

    • May 29, 2017 at 4:12 pm — Reply

      Hey Hannah, it’s better to get it sorted before you go if possible. If you wait til you’re in Singapore you might have to wait for a few months to start etc. Good luck with the application!

  138. Rach
    August 8, 2017 at 12:19 am — Reply

    Hi Jon! Thanks for writing this very interesting article. It is very informational! 🙂 I am interested in pushing my luck and finding a teaching job in Singapore. I am a fresh graduate of education in English Specialization. I am from Philippines. I have a an experience through online ESL teaching and real classroom setup in my training if it may count off. I am 24 yeard old.

    I want to ask: if they hire fresh graduates? Would you recommend SG for fresh graduates? Are they hiring for kinder, grade school or high school teachers? What do you recommend most? How do you applied for the job? Walk in, via jobwebsites or agency? I am really interested in teaching in Singapore because I love to teach English especially with ESL learners. Can you drop your email so I can reach you? Or I could drop my email here if its more favorable. Thanks in advance for the reply lah! 🙂

    • November 2, 2017 at 8:52 am — Reply

      Hey Rach, sorry for the late reply! The schools that I worked at only hired native speakers (and maybe some non native speakers to teach the very young kids), but there are heaps of other options in Singapore. I have no idea how to find them though, but I’m guessing job sites etc will have them. Let me know how the search goes!

  139. Jacob
    October 13, 2017 at 9:14 am — Reply

    Hi, it’s been a few years since you wrote this post. Are you still in Singapore? I checked out the websites you posted in the comments and they seem to want teachers with some experience or qualifications in Education. I’m Australian with a BA in Media but i don’t have teaching experience. I’m also thinking of getting aTESOL or TEFL cert. What do you think are my chances of landing a tutoring job in Singapore? Would really like to move there to be with my fiancee.

    • November 2, 2017 at 7:40 am — Reply

      Hey Jacob, sorry for the late reply. I haven’t lived there for a few years now but still have some friends over there. I keep planning to update this post! I recently heard that I Can Read won’t hire anyone over 30, but I haven’t heard anything about the schools requiring education degrees. I’d say just apply to the various schools and see what happens. You could also do private tutoring I’m sure, but you’ll probably need a proper job to get a visa.

      • Clare
        February 18, 2018 at 2:45 am — Reply

        I am a Singaporean and I can provide some information regarding the education landscape here in S’pore.

        Our working language is English and hence, English is the medium of instruction in our local schools. In general, most Singaporeans speak English to their children at home.

        The 3 schools that Jon mentioned are known as children’s enrichment centres.
        Children’s enrichment centres are a huge industry here due to our crazy focus on academics. Our school system puts a lot of stress on our children in terms of the academic requirements that a young child has to know before starting formal schooling at age 7. Hence the mushrooming of these enrichment centres.

        The 3 centres that Jon mentioned focused on language and literacy in the early years and for some strange reasons, our local parents prefer native speakers to teach their children. That is why Jon has said the three schools prefer to hire only native speakers.

        So I think certificates like TOEFL do not matter as long as you are a native speaker with a degree (yes, parents prefer the teachers to have a degree. It is a selling point).

        Enrichment centres operate differently from a full fledge school. The children attend lessons for 1-2 hours only (or maybe slightly more) and there are no extra activities like physical education. Hence, the teachers teaching in enrichment centres are required to teach the subject only. As children attend these centres after school hours, classes are conducted on weekday evenings and weekends. This is the reason for the teacher’s teaching hours.

        In contrast, international schools like the Australian International School have more stringent requirements in their teacher recruitment. The pay is higher but so is the workload. They are full fledge schools so teachers are expected to take on other duties.

        The children’s enrichment industry is a multi billion industry in S’pore due to the reasons I had stated above. Another money making one is Chinese enrichment classes. Many such centres have mushroomed in the last few years with teachers from China coming in droves here.

        By local standards, the pay of $4,000-$4,500 is a good deal. The starting pay of a fresh local graduate is around $3,000 (not counting specialised jobs like medicine and law).

        We do require many childcare teachers, though and there are many Filipinos working in this industry as locals shun this job due to the low pay and high stress level. However, you must have a local Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education certification.

        • February 21, 2018 at 10:05 am — Reply

          Hey Clare, thanks for the detailed comment!

        • Max
          March 30, 2021 at 5:30 am — Reply

          Hi Clare! It’s been a few years since this post. What is the landscape looking like nowadays for native English speakers, with graduate level education looking to teach in Singapore? Where are the sites, institutions, etc that I should look into? Thank you.

  140. Jacob
    February 18, 2018 at 11:37 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon, it’s me again. I applied to ICanRead and MES a month ago and received no reply. 2 weeks ago I applied to LCentral, got an interview and a job offer through email, but the offer was rescinded recently due to miscommunication and a realisation that there’s actually a lack of vacancies. (before he sent the contract). The hiring staff told me he cant’ confirm anything right now but he expects to have vacancies in July or September. How truthful are they when they rescind offers all of a sudden? This has caused me a great deal of grief.

    • Jacob
      February 19, 2018 at 9:19 pm — Reply

      Sorry, I’m replying to my own comment. I haven’t actually applied for ICanRead, I will soon and I do hope I get a reply. The thing is, their website states that they require people with 2 years of teaching experience. Is that how it’s always been or have they become more stringent over the years?

      • February 21, 2018 at 9:59 am — Reply

        Hey Jacob, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the case when I was there. Maybe the word is getting out about teaching in Singapore and they are being a bit more choosy.

    • February 21, 2018 at 10:02 am — Reply

      Hey Jacob, yeah that’s really annoying! It’s the first time I’ve heard of that happening so maybe it was just a mistake. I guess it might pay to put your name forward for the July vacancies in case you don’t find anything else. Good luck!

  141. Laura
    February 25, 2018 at 11:27 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon, just wondering… Where are you now? Lau 🙂

    • February 26, 2018 at 11:50 am — Reply

      Hey Laura, I’m back in NZ at the moment, got a few big trips planned this year though!

  142. Jacob
    February 27, 2018 at 6:59 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    Scheduled an interview with ICR later this week so I’m really excited! However I heard that they have this pretty difficult online grammar test as part of their screening process now so I’m not sure how things will go.

    I’m actually worried about the EP (Employment Pass) application (in the event that I get the job!) as I think they’ve gotten more stringent over the years! I’m 28 turning 29 this year so age is not a factor, a native speaker from Australia, have a BA in Media /Literature/Philosophy but I don’t have much job experience (or teaching experience). I’m worried that this will negatively affect my EP application. Do you know of anyone who has a similar background as me and got offered a job by any of the three tuition centres but got their EPs rejected?

    • March 6, 2018 at 10:14 am — Reply

      Hey Jacob, good luck with the interview. I think I did a grammar test in training but I seem to remember it being quite easy (I probably wouldn’t have got the job if it wasn’t!). I’ve never heard of anyone being denied an EP. I’m guessing if there’s a valid job offer and you tick all the boxes there shouldn’t be a problem. Let me know how it all goes!

    • Lisa
      April 4, 2018 at 7:13 pm — Reply

      Hi Jacob,
      I hope your interview went well. My boyfriend who is from the US is in the same predicament as you. He got a job offer from Lcentral but his employment pass was rejected by the Ministry of Manpower without any reason whatsoever. Fortunately Lcentral is still keen on hiring him and now they’re moving on to a second EP application process and he would get an answer hopefully by mid april. We’re all just hoping for the best right now. x

      • Jacob
        April 9, 2018 at 9:54 pm — Reply

        Hi Lisa,

        I got a job offer from I Can Read in mid-March. It took me a while to send the agreement back and last week they started the EP application process. I’m hoping to hear by the end of April as I plan to move over in June and I need a month-ish to do so. I’m sorry to hear that your boyfriend’s first application has been rejected! How long after the 1st application did it take for him to hear back? Also, what’s his age and does he have working esperience?

        Anyway, fingers crossed that the 2nd round will be successful 🙂

        • Lisa
          April 14, 2018 at 12:41 pm — Reply

          Hi Jacob,
          It took nearly a month to find out that the application had been rejected. We are both very frustrated with the process and Lcentral hasn’t been giving us any useful information at the moment and the future seems very bleak.. We were supposed to get an answer for the second EP application by now but it seems like Lcentral has been delaying it for no reason at all. We have no idea what to do, except to continue waiting for a definite response.

          Good luck to you as well!

        • Giulia
          January 15, 2020 at 4:26 pm — Reply

          Hey Jacob!

          How did the job applications go? Did you get a position and are you still there?

  143. Kan
    April 1, 2018 at 9:12 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    It’s nice to see you collecting a community of teachers/would-be-teachers & helping them with lots of needed info. Pl also tell them how to sustain & grow in the field. This would be your signal contribution to the noble profession of teaching toddlers in SG.

    • April 9, 2018 at 12:25 pm — Reply

      Hi Kan, that sounds like a job for someone else — I haven’t taught for a few years now and have forgotten most of my skills!

  144. Ian
    November 28, 2018 at 2:27 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,
    Im from New Zealand too. I enjoyed reading your posts about Singapore.
    I have been living and working in Japan for the last 16 years mostly doing ESL work. Im considering coming to Singapore to live. I was wondering in the 2 companies you worked for,
    Are the classes usually 90 minutes back to back with no breaks during the 5 days worked? or is there 5-10 minutes break usually between classes?

    Cheers Mate.

    • November 29, 2018 at 3:19 am — Reply

      Hey Ian, pretty sure the classes were an hour, sometimes you have a break between sometimes not. I remember it being a pretty light workload and the classes are easy to teach, depends on which branch you end up at though. How was Japan? I’m considering doing a little contract there one day.

  145. Ian
    December 12, 2018 at 8:46 am — Reply

    Hi Jon
    Thank you for your help.
    Japan is a nice place to live. Nature places are good here. Culture is respectful and usually polite. It’s ok for a year or two. As for savings here it is very difficult to save money here. Peppy kids club ( ITTI ) one of my first companies here hires from outside of Japan regularly. It’s easy work load about 16-18 teaching hours a week. But usually 1 -3 hours of travel daily to your 4 different school locations each month. Tokyo was extremely busy I didn’t like it. Yokohama area I liked alot. Kyoto is a very interesting place to visit. Kansai ( Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto ) is quite good to live.

    • December 18, 2018 at 9:04 am — Reply

      Hey Ian, cheers for the advice — I’ll be looking into Japan / some other options in the next year or two.

  146. Joseph
    December 23, 2018 at 12:45 pm — Reply

    Does Singapore immigration have an age limit for permits to teach English for a year or more?

    • January 4, 2019 at 3:44 am — Reply

      Hey Joseph, I’m not too sure but I did hear companies were reluctant to hire over 30s these days, something to do with tax / visas or something. I can’t confirm that though so just have a go at applying to one of the schools I mentioned and see what they say. Cheers!

  147. Donna
    February 10, 2019 at 7:58 am — Reply

    What are names of some tuition centers that do not require a degree?

    • February 13, 2019 at 9:02 am — Reply

      Hey Donna, I have no idea, all the ones I looked at required it, but those were just the popular ones so smaller operations might not be so picky. Cheers!

  148. Catherina
    August 1, 2019 at 6:21 pm — Reply

    HI Jon
    I have a degree in Education, mastering in PE, Biology. I have 3 and a half years experience teaching ESL in Taiwan. I am looking to change countries and see Singapore is a nice pick, but I am wondering about how easily I can participate in activities with others and do some sport coaching etc. for extra experience. Are there opportunities for that and where can I find them or find information?

    Thank you in advance for any help you can give.

    • August 2, 2019 at 3:41 am — Reply

      Hey Catherina, that’s a long time in Taiwan! Singapore is a good option to look into. You’ll definitely more money but if you get a job like I had you’ll have to work all weekend, which might make it hard to do coaching etc (although you should be able to find something during the week). I’d say you’d be able to find that kinda thing if you want though. Let me know how it goes!

  149. Giulia
    January 14, 2020 at 2:53 pm — Reply

    Hey Jon!

    I’m looking to teach in Singapore and I have a few questions for you. Is there an email address I can get hold of you on? 🙂

    • January 15, 2020 at 9:48 am — Reply

      Hey Giulia, yip give me an email at

      • Giulia
        January 16, 2020 at 9:44 pm — Reply

        thanks! I sent you an email 🙂

    • Max
      March 30, 2021 at 5:36 am — Reply

      Giulia did you end up getting a teaching job last year?

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