English as a second language (ESL) teachers tutor non-native speakers and help them to read, speak and understand English. As an ESL teacher, you are responsible for creating lessons and lecture materials that have been simplified to aid the learning of the students.

Sometimes you are required to play the role of guardians and mentors by helping your students to settle into the new environment and to familiarize themselves with the new culture around them. You would usually perform all the normal functions of a teacher, like preparing course materials and evaluating progress. You might be required to function in a virtual setting or small physical groups. In either setting, you have to make the learning environment as comfortable as possible and be proficient in the use of your technological teaching aids.

Most states require that ESL teachers must have at least a bachelor's degree in ESL, TESOL, or a related field like linguistics. Some teachers take it further by earning a master's degree. Good organizational skills, excellent communication and presentation skills, and leadership skills are only a few of the most required skills for ESL teachers. ESL teachers make an average of $23 per hour and $48,422 per year.

What Does an ESL Teacher Do

There are certain skills that many esl teachers have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed physical stamina, communication skills and patience.

Learn more about what an ESL Teacher does

How To Become an ESL Teacher

If you're interested in becoming an esl teacher, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 69.7% of esl teachers have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 19.5% of esl teachers have master's degrees. Even though most esl teachers have a college degree, it's impossible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Learn More About How To Become an ESL Teacher

ESL Teacher Career Paths

Average Salary for an ESL Teacher

ESL Teachers in America make an average salary of $52,701 per year or $25 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $68,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $40,000 per year.
Average ESL Teacher Salary
$52,701 Yearly
$25.34 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Roles and Types of ESL Teacher

There are several types of esl teacher, including:



A teacher isn't just someone you realize you look up to later in life. A teacher is someone who teaches important life lessons while making sure to include academic lessons along the way.

Typically, a teacher only works during school hours, which means they get to beat rush hour traffic. Although, it's not uncommon for teachers to spend their nights and weekends preparing lessons and grading papers. An added bonus of being a teacher is getting to enjoy summer vacation.

  • Average Salary: $47,989
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

Substitute Teacher


Substitute teachers are there when regular teachers need backup. If the regular teacher can't make it into school on a given day, a substitute teacher is called.

Sometimes you won't know you're going into teach a class until that day, that's why you kind of have to be "on-call" as a substitute teacher. You never know when you're going to be needed. Some substitute teachers get to fill in if a regular teacher has to take an extended absence, which means you'll be there until they get back. Long-term substitute gigs can mean anything from two weeks to five months or more.

It's important as a substitute teacher to establish some ground rules when you first step into the classroom. Since you're not the regular teacher, some students may decide they don't have to follow any rules, which definitely makes "subbing" even harder. But don't worry - you've got this.

  • Average Salary: $32,904
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

Student Teacher


Any teacher that has a student teacher is relieved they have them. As a student teacher, you get to go through school again, but this time you get to help others with the assignment rather than actually complete the assignment yourself.

Most student teachers are learning to become teachers themselves and generally shadow a classroom in an elementary or secondary school. But don't limit yourself. While much more rare, there are student teachers that work at universities or colleges. So it comes down to whether you'd rather assist dependent or independent students.

Generally, your student teaching experience will only last a semester or two. So make sure you're writing down good notes! At the end of being a student teacher, you'll have the opportunity to take over the class on your own. From preparing the lesson to correcting homework, you'll be doing it all by yourself in no time.

  • Average Salary: $59,035
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

States With The Most ESL Teacher Jobs

Mouse over a state to see the number of active esl teacher jobs in each state. The darker areas on the map show where esl teachers earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of ESL Teacher Jobs By State

RankStateNumber of JobsAverage Salary
5New Jersey1,068$61,083
6New York983$65,446
13North Carolina683$42,199
25South Carolina342$42,091
29New Mexico236$49,704
31New Hampshire223$51,967
42Rhode Island64$60,513
46West Virginia37$41,714
47North Dakota33$47,192
48South Dakota32$40,125

ESL Teacher Education

ESL Teacher Majors

18.5 %
10.0 %

ESL Teacher Degrees


69.7 %


19.5 %


5.1 %

Top Colleges for ESL Teachers

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition




2. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition




3. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition




4. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition




5. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition




6. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition




7. University of Washington

Seattle, WA • Private

In-State Tuition




8. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition




9. Brown University

Providence, RI • Private

In-State Tuition




10. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition




Top Skills For an ESL Teacher

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 44.0% of esl teachers listed kids on their resume, but soft skills such as physical stamina and communication skills are important as well.

  • Kids, 44.0%
  • Whiteboards, 19.5%
  • Classroom Management, 9.1%
  • Curriculum Development, 5.1%
  • English Language, 3.3%
  • Other Skills, 19.0%

Choose From 10+ Customizable ESL Teacher Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use ESL Teacher templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your ESL Teacher resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

ESL Teacher Resume
ESL Teacher Resume
ESL Teacher Resume
ESL Teacher Resume
ESL Teacher Resume
ESL Teacher Resume
ESL Teacher Resume
ESL Teacher Resume
ESL Teacher Resume
ESL Teacher Resume
ESL Teacher Resume
ESL Teacher Resume
ESL Teacher Resume
ESL Teacher Resume
ESL Teacher Resume
ESL Teacher Resume

ESL Teacher diversity

ESL Teacher Gender Distribution


After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among esl teachers, 68.6% of them are women, while 31.4% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among esl teachers is White, which makes up 69.7% of all esl teachers.

  • The most common foreign language among esl teachers is Spanish at 46.8%.

Online Courses For ESL Teacher That You May Like

Advertising Disclosure  

1. Teach English: Intermediate Grammar


This specialization is for ESL teachers and future ESL teachers who want to make their classes more effective and fun. You will learn how to use online videos and activities that ESL teachers at University of California, Irvine created to teach intermediate ESL learners. You will review language-learning pedagogy and best practices for using these resources effectively. This specialization will give any ESL teacher loads of creative ideas for their classrooms...

2. Teach English Now! Teaching Language Online


Whether you have already taught English as a Second Language and want to start teaching it online, you've already been teaching ESL online and want to sharpen your skills, or you are new to teaching and interested in teaching ESL online, ASU and VOXY provide you with the basic ideas and concepts you need to know in order to successfully teach ESL online. This course uses a fun and interesting theme of "International Travel" to deliver content in an entertaining way. There are also plenty of...

3. Excel at Teaching English: Be a Better ESL Teacher


Increase Understanding, Increase Productivity, Increase Teacher and Learner Satisfaction...

Show More Online Courses For ESL Teacher
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time

Best States For an ESL Teacher

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an esl teacher. The best states for people in this position are Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington. Esl teachers make the most in Connecticut with an average salary of $67,011. Whereas in Massachusetts and New York, they would average $66,831 and $65,446, respectively. While esl teachers would only make an average of $63,740 in Washington, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Connecticut

Total ESL Teacher Jobs: 500
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. New Jersey

Total ESL Teacher Jobs: 1,068
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. Massachusetts

Total ESL Teacher Jobs: 699
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For ESL Teachers

How Do ESL Teachers Rate Their Jobs?


5 Stars

4 Stars

3 Stars

2 Stars

1 Star

ESL Teacher Reviews

Apr 2021

Making a difference in the lives of students and their families.


I do not enjoy the copious amounts of ever increasing paperwork.

Working as an ESL Teacher? Share your experience anonymously.
Overall Rating*
Career Growth
Work/Life balance

Top ESL Teacher Employers

Most Common Employers For ESL Teacher

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
1Guilford County Schools$57,063$27.4355
2Los Angeles Unified School District$55,152$26.5225
3Thomasville City Schools$54,610$26.2515
4ESL Federal Credit Union$54,460$26.18262
5Nyc Parks$54,146$26.0339
6Houston ISD Foundation$54,036$25.9839

ESL Teacher Videos