A Guide to Teaching English in Singapore

Singapore is one of three surviving city-states in the world, which makes living there a truly unique experience. English and Mandarin are both official languages, so English teachers have an easy time exploring this safe and clean country. 

There is a high demand for English teachers in Singapore, therefore many institutions hire year round. Private Schools, Public Schools and International Schools are always looking for native English speakers to instruct everyone from children to adults.

In addition to official jobs at institutions, there are many opportunities to privately tutor students who are having difficulty learning the language. This can be a great additional source of income. Some companies also offer TEFL / TESOL courses in Singapore which is perfect if you are looking to live abroad whilst getting qualified.

Read more information about teaching English in Singapore on our guide below.


Singapore TEFL Quick Stats

  • Peak Hiring Times: Year-round
  • Average Monthly Salary: $2,400 to $3,200 USD
  • Average Monthly Cost of Living: $2,000 USD
  • Visa: In order to work in Singapore, foreigners are required to obtain a work visa. How much money a person will make determines what type of visa he or she should apply for. An employer must sponsor your stay in the country and fill out an online application, which takes about two weeks to process. Do not start working before receiving the all clear from Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower or else you could face a hefty fine. Check out all the information at the Ministry of Manpower website.


Where to Seek ESL Employment in Singapore

Private Schools/Commercial Language Centers 

Working at private schools is one of the most accessible jobs to newly TESOL/TEFL certified teachers, as they usually do not expect any additional specialization from teachers. Oftentimes, being a native English speaker and TESOL/TEFL certified is enough to obtain a position. Language center schedules can require a bit of shuffling around in a teacher’s personal schedule and work locations.

Many teachers have classes at multiple private schools and make an adequate living. It is not uncommon to work during the holidays, which is a busy season for private school teachers. Many institutions do not sign their teachers with a contract and therefore job stability is not guaranteed. Private schools in Singapore are great first positions for new teachers looking to hone their practical teaching skills and gain experience. 


Public Schools

Singapore’s Ministry of Education directly hires teachers looking to work at public schools. While the salary is not as high as at international schools, there are numerous benefits. Teachers receive round trip airfare to Singapore, a housing allowance, medical insurance and great working conditions. The Ministry of Education will hire inexperienced individuals, who still meet certain requirements, and train them at the National Institute of Education. NIE graduates are placed at schools for varying periods of time, anywhere from three to six years and are bound by a contract for that time.


International Schools

Teachers wishing to work at an international school will need a university or college degree in Literature or the English Language. Post Graduate experience is often desired and having a Masters makes an applicant shine, but is not necessary. Competition is fierce for these positions and the benefits are comparable with higher pay and job stability.  If you have the necessary qualifications check out Canada International School, Overseas Family School and Singapore American School.



Best Time to Get a Teaching Job in Singapore

Private schools in Singapore hire year round, which grants prospective teachers a great deal of flexibility. For public school positions, The Ministry of Education usually hires teachers and begins their National Institute of Education training in July. The public school year officially begins in January with the month of June and the last six weeks of the year being holidays.


Qualifications Required

Desired level of education and certification depends on the institution. International schools require a teacher with a formal university or college degree in English or Literature, while Private Schools will hire TEFL/TESOL certified instructors. Public schools generally hire university degree holders or send soon-to-be teachers through their NIE training program.


Salary/Cost of Living

Singapore is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, meaning it has a high cost of living. Monthly rent can reach up to $1,800 USD for a single bedroom outside the city center. An average meal will cost $20, a beer $6 and a cappuccino $4.50. Public transportation costs about $78 for a monthly pass. Taxi meters start at $2.50 and cost 50 cents per 1km. A teacher’s salary depends on the type of institution he or she works for. International schools pay the most at around $4,800 USD per month. Private schools and tuition centers pay between $2,800 to $3,200 USD. Public schools pay anywhere from $800 for trainees to $2,400, plus additional benefits, for teachers.


Classroom/Work Culture

Education is important to Singapore and classrooms are generally tidy with compliant students. Teaching is a highly admired position and teachers are accorded much respect. Students are taught that “teaching is talking and learning is listening.”


Top Reasons to Teach in Singapore

Singapore has risen to great heights since gaining independence in 1965 and is proud of its world-class education. Such excellent standards attract professional and passionate teachers. The country has low crime rates and maintains a tidy appearance, something to be appreciated. Don’t waste any more time and look at teaching English in the exotic, fascinating, prosperous Singapore!


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