Salary and benefits: What to expect as a teacher at an international school
A guide on international school contracts for teachers working overseas
International school salaries and benefits vary from country to country and from school to school. However, it is important to do your research to find out what a potential benefits package will include as this can impact how much you are able to save, travel and enjoy your monthly wages as an international teacher.
There are many factors which affect salaries. Most international school salaries are similar to those offered to teachers in the UK, but often the cost of living is lower than in the UK and there can be other benefits to help your money go further.
In general, the more expensive a city or country is to live in, the higher the salary paid to international teachers. A destination’s popularity can also be a determining factor in how much you are paid. Schools in popular destinations are able to pay less because of high demand, while schools in the less popular destinations often offer more enticing salaries. Generally, international schools with high student fees will pay their teachers a high salary, but bear in mind this will often mean there is strong competition for these teaching posts.
Many international school packages include some level of housing benefit, but again these range from country to country. Some schools will provide their teachers with accommodation while others might offer an allowance. For example, in the Middle East, teachers can be provided with private, furnished apartments. In some countries, shared accommodation is provided; private rooms but with a communal kitchen, living room and bathroom. If no housing benefits are provided, your salary will likely be higher to cover the cost of renting and in this situation the school will often help you find a suitable place to live.
Some international school packages provide return flights home. In the Middle East, flights are frequently included in an international teacher’s contract. The number of flights offered to teachers can vary,
Medical insurance is often provided with overseas teaching contracts. It’s a good idea to have your own health insurance plan too, as a back-up.
In some instances, your accommodation package will include utility bills and access to the internet. Other packages may include a contribution towards bills.
Andrew Seaward Director of Warwick Mann International Ltd, financial advisors for international schools and teachers offers advice on pensions:
After you leave the UK you are no longer required to pay National Insurance contributions, however, this can affect your state pension when you reach retirement age. The New British state pension came into effect last year which is a little over £8000 per year for which you need 35 years contributions by the state pension age of 67. If you are going to work in the EU or Switzerland the basic rule is that you will pay contributions in the country (currently). If you are going to work outside this area you can contribute on a voluntary basis, providing you meet the criteria. At the moment Class 2 is allowable at £2.80 per week or Class 3 is £14.10 per week. You can check your own situation at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ni/volcontr/basics.htm
It is no longer possible to contribute to the UK Teachers Pension Scheme or transfer it whilst you are teaching abroad. The retirement age is now linked to the state pension age at 67 so if the state pension age is put back further that will apply to the Teachers pension. It is possible to contribute to an alternative scheme which may enable you to buy additional pension when you return to UK teaching, or provide you with supplementary retirement income prior to 67. UK teachers contribute to the TPS at approximately 7% and it is advisable to continue to save for retirement whilst abroad.
Each country has different laws which dictate how workers are taxed. Teachers in the Middle East can usually expect a tax-free salary. More information about paying taxes as an expatriate are also available from Warwick Mann (see above)
At the end of a contract, teachers may, on occasions, be offered a bonus. In certain countries, they are a legal requirement, for example in the Middle East.
Benefits may extend to family members making the move with you. For example, medical insurance may be offered to children and spouses. Some contracts also provide an education allowance for children or even free education for children at the school.
At TIC, your recruitment consultant will know a school’s benefits package in detail and can often negotiate benefits on your behalf. For the very best selection of international school job opportunities for this coming September, now is the time to register. TIC Recruitment provides a completely free service for qualified teachers. We are here to give you all the support you need to find the right international school teaching job for you. Register today and we will be in touch to help you.
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