School compensation packages

International schools generally pay well to attract great teachers.

There are many reasons why educators consider a move to an international school. It’s a great opportunity for adventure, professional growth, and experiencing a different culture. And for some, the financial benefits can be a real draw.

The possibility of getting ahead financially – anything from saving up for a deposit on a house to clearing student loans is a definite hook when thinking of teaching in an international school.

How do schools attract teachers?

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International schools need to attract top-notch teachers who can adapt quickly to a new environment. Teachers who can leave their home country and their support networks of friends and families for an extended time. To do this, schools offer compensation packages that reflect the challenges of relocating to a new country. The salary may not look high on paper, but international schools offer benefits such as airfares, accommodations, insurance, tuition etc.  And often your package is tax-free, so there is significant savings potential.

The more difficult the lifestyle in general, the more compensation will be offered to teachers.

Schools that are not able to offer financial compensation commensurate with their situation are not able to attract the type of teacher the school and school families are looking for.

What is a salary scale?

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The international schools working with Search Associates will almost certainly have a salary scale. Where teachers begin on this scale is dependent on things such as years of experience and university qualifications. These scales will often allow teachers to experience significant pay rises for each year they work at the school. In addition to other benefits offered, there are also opportunities for teachers to take on extra responsibilities in order to increase their salaries. These opportunities may include taking on middle-management roles, running a major after-school activity, organising school trips, etc.


What currency will I be paid in?

All the salaries on the Search Associates database are listed in US Dollars, regardless of the currency in which they are paid in order to standardize and compare them. This doesn’t mean that you will be paid in US dollars though. The method of payment will also be listed along with information on whether it is easy or not to convert to another currency.

Example statement by a school:

“These salaries are NOT paid in US Dollars. They are paid in $X. Currency fluctuations may mean that the US dollar figures may be higher or lower at any point during the contract period than the figures indicated here. The school has indicated that this currency is easily convertible to US Dollars or Commonwealth Currencies”.

How current is the information on the Search Associates database?

Annual Salary expectations are updated yearly by the schools. The salary is displayed pre-tax and excludes the value of benefits (also listed) and the value of any variable bonus the school may offer.

Annual Savings expectations are also listed to help teachers understand approximately how much money people can “SAVE” yearly while still maintaining a comfortable standard of living, (including some travel over Christmas, spring, and summer holidays). The “benchmark figure” is for a teacher who has a BA and 8 years of experience. (In the case of couples, schools are asked to indicate joint savings potential.) Schools are told not to consider out-of-country expenses, such as mortgages, college tuition, etc.

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These are listed in the following categories

  • Single teacher
  • Couple (both teaching) with 2 children
  • Teaching intern
  • Single teacher with one dependant

Also usually stated is whether local employment opportunities exist for non-teaching partners.

Note: sometimes schools undersell the above figures to err on the side of caution, but sometimes local-hire secretaries insert the details and err on the high side!

If you’re considering teaching at an international school, be sure to confirm all the details of your compensation package with the school in writing before accepting an offer. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and get the information you need to make an informed decision. Remember to use your Search Associate as a resource to review your contract and offer advice. Good luck!

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