Teaching English in Singapore

By | December 22, 2016

Singapore is located in Southeast Asia and is city-state founded in 1819 by the British as a trading colony. It is located on the southern tip of Malaysia. After it got independence, it became one of the world’s richest countries and it has the world’s busiest sea port. It is a modern city, with a tropical climate, great food, good shopping and a fantastic night-life.

Home to over 5 million people, Singapore is the world’s second most densely populated country, but for its size it still finds the space for greenery. In fact, 50% of Singapore is covered with 50 parks and 4 nature reserves.

The climate is tropical and extremely sunny. There are no real distinct seasons and it can rain almost daily throughout the entire year. It is extremely hot and humid and you’ll find nearly every building, home and office is thoroughly air-conditioned.

Why Teach English in Singapore

Singapore Skyline

Singapore Skyline. Image courtesy of WikiMedia.

Singaporean food is world famous and offers cuisine from all parts of Asia at a fantastic price. It has huge shopping centres, hotels, casinos and is home to a very large financial district. It is also a very cosmopolitan country with 25% of the residents being foreigners and the other biggest groups are made up mostly of Malays, Chinese and Indians.

The first world country is very efficient, very safe and also very clean. Native English speaking teachers are welcomed into the country so that students can be exposed to foreigners and get the perspective of an outsider.

Moreover, English is the working language in the country and therefore there is always a demand for highly qualified and experienced native English speaking TEFL teachers.

Where to Teach English in Singapore

Singapore is an extremely small island country; in fact, it’s made up of just one city, Singapore City. Therefore, you will only be working in Singapore City!

Types of teaching Jobs in Singapore


Kindergarten teachers in Singapore of often one of the lowest paid teaching jobs in the country, but you won’t need to have a master’s degree or a PGCE to teach in the country.

Sentosa Island.

Sentosa Island

Most TEFL teachers will find employment in private language schools, and usually they will work at more than one school at a time. The working conditions at language schools are not as good as either public schools or international schools and you will usually need to work on holidays because this is when they are the busiest.

Each school will have different standards, some will require only a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA and others will require that you have higher qualifications.

International Schools

International schools in Singapore require that you have at least a degree in English and a Master’s degree will usually help make you stand out from the crowd. As the competition is very high, you will also need to be very well qualified. However, you can expect to earn a lot more at international schools than any other type of school in Singapore.

Public Schools

Public schools in Singapore also hire native English speaking teachers and you will have to apply directly to the Ministry of Education. Although the salary is a bit lower, you will have some great working conditions including housing allowance, medical insurance and more.

Visit the Ministry of Education for more information.

Private Tuition

There will also be some opportunities to take private students. Many teachers teach privately to supplement their salary. As all students in Singapore study English, you will probably only find students that are struggling to learn the language.

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Teaching Requirements and Qualifications

Marina Bay, Singapore

Marina Bay

There are English teaching jobs available in Singapore, but the requirements are extremely high. Those wishing to find a job in an international language school or with the British Council would usually need to be previous IELTS examiners or hold a DELTA certificate. A post-graduate certificate in education (PGCE) will go a long way too.

It probably won’t be enough to have a degree and only a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA certificate if you wanted to get a job with the British Council. For other language schools having one of these would be a minimum requirement.

Expected Salary and Living Costs

[sociallocker id=”1118″]Salaries can range anywhere from $2000 to $3000 and more per month. This might seem like a lot, but the cost of living in Singapore is very high. You will be responsible for paying your own income tax (although it’s incredibly low) and you’ll get a bill for the tax once a year.

Kindergartens and most language schools pay the least, but some language schools pay higher. The ones at the higher end of this pay scale will usually require a higher level of education from applicants.

Public schools pay the least, but they do provide excellent benefits that other schools don’t. Some teachers at international schools can even earn in excess of $3000 per month.

Unfortunately the cost of living is extremely high in Singapore. Day to day costs like food and transport are fairly cheap, but rent, bills and alcohol are incredibly expensive.

A small apartment can cost a few thousand dollars per month and a beer can cost nearly $7! Transport and food is still fairly cheap and you can get a decent meal at a relatively low cost. However, the price of imported food in supermarkets can be expensive.

For more information about the cost of living in Singapore, take a look at Numbeo’s website.[/sociallocker]

Visa Requirements

In Singapore, all teachers have to be registered with the Ministry of Education and you’ll definitely need original educational certificates and degree transcripts.  You’ll need a sponsor to get a work visa and your school will arrange this for you. To be a teacher, you will need to be a native English speaker.

If you have the necessary paperwork, the whole process is fairly quick and will only take a few weeks to complete.

Take a look at the Ministry of Manpower website for more information.

How to Find a Job Teaching in Singapore

Schools hire all year round and you will find a lot of jobs advertised online. Usually interviews are conduction on the phone, via email and online video calls. Most teachers will secure a job before arriving in the country.

Teach English in Singapore

Changi Airport

Changi Airport

Although Singapore is very modern, it is very different in terms of culture and lifestyle from what you would expect in westernised countries. Singapore is a very cosmopolitan city and there are many different types of people with all sorts of backgrounds and beliefs. As a result of this, you can eat many different types of food.

Singapore is a very safe city and you will have a very high standard of living, good job security and the ability to save a few dollars a month if you find a job on the higher end of the pay spectrum.

On top of this, Changi Airport in Singapore is a major international airport with daily flights all over the world, which means that it is fairly cheap and easy to travel around Asia and return home for the holidays!


Although I have never worked in this country, every effort has been made to ensure that this information is correct. This blog post has been written after extensive research online, interviews with teachers who have worked or are working in the country, and local schools have been contacted. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. If you have worked or are working in Singapore, we would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and share your experiences with us.

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2 thoughts on “Teaching English in Singapore

  1. Amineh Adelnia

    Dear William Lake,

    I am a graduate student in the field of Translation Studies. I could get my B.A. in the same field and I was the top student when I graduated. I have published some books and articles. I am really willing to be able to find a job abroad and teach as an English teacher. I am teaching academically at universities and I am also busy in some language schools. I teach advanced grammar and courses related to English Translation like poetry Translation, Media Translation, Reading comprehension and a lot more. I teach grammar and conversation in Iran’s Language Institute (ILI) which is a high ranking institute. I appreciate if you help me and advise me on how I am able to find a job abroad. I am married and it is a risk to leave our home without finding a job.
    Thanks a million.
    Regards, Adelnia

    1. William Lake

      I have many posts about finding work in various countries! Please read about the country that interests you and you will find some valuable information!

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