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Teach English in Indonesia: Requirements, Salary, Jobs

Teach English in Indonesia

Teaching English in Indonesia offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in a diverse and sprawling archipelago rich in cultural and natural beauty. Known for its thousands of volcanic islands, Indonesia is a country where ancient temples coexist with vibrant modern cities. The nation's vast cultural tapestry, which includes hundreds of ethnic groups and languages, provides a fascinating backdrop for educators.

Indonesia’s demand for English education has grown significantly as the country continues to develop economically and integrate more with the global community. English teachers are sought after in both public schools and private language centers across the islands, particularly in major cities like Jakarta, Bandung, and Surabaya, as well as in tourist hubs like Bali and Yogyakarta. Opportunities to teach English in Indonesia often come with the chance to impact diverse student groups, from young children to business professionals, enhancing their future prospects in the global market.

The cost of living in Indonesia can vary, but generally, it remains low compared to Western standards, allowing teachers to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. TEFL in Indonesia, short for "Teaching English as a Foreign Language" in Indonesia, offers an enriching experience. Indonesia’s rich array of food, art, and natural beauty — from the beaches of Bali to the jungles of Sumatra — provides endless opportunities for exploration and adventure.

Why Teach English in Indonesia?

Indonesia is an attractive destination for teaching English due to its diverse culture, natural wonders, and the significant role English plays in its ongoing development. Here are several reasons why Indonesia could be the perfect place for your teaching career:

Indonesia boasts a rich cultural heritage, with a vast array of ethnic groups, languages, and traditions across its thousands of islands. Teachers in Indonesia have a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in this diversity, exploring a way of life that offers a blend of traditional and modern elements.

The push for English proficiency in Indonesia is part of a broader effort to boost economic growth and international relations. English teachers here can have a significant impact on their students' futures, enhancing their opportunities in ways that are both immediate and extensive.

Indonesians are renowned for their warm hospitality and friendliness. Teachers often experience a deep sense of community and connection, both within the classroom and in broader social contexts, enriching their personal and professional lives.

Indonesia's cost of living varies but is generally affordable, enabling teachers to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. This economic advantage allows for extensive exploration of the country’s rich natural beauty, from volcanic landscapes and lush rainforests to stunning beaches.

Indonesian cuisine is a delightful exploration of flavors, influenced by its regional diversity and historical interactions. Teachers can enjoy a variety of dishes that are as diverse as the country's landscape, including vibrant street food and elaborate traditional meals.

Strategically positioned in Southeast Asia, Indonesia serves as an excellent base for teachers looking to explore the wider region. Its location provides easy access to other countries in Asia and beyond, offering a broad range of cultural and travel experiences.

Teaching English in Indonesia is not just a job, it’s an adventure that combines professional growth with a deep cultural immersion. It's an ideal choice for educators looking to make a significant impact while experiencing one of the most fascinating regions in the world.

Requirements to Teach English in Indonesia

For those considering a career in English education in Indonesia, understanding the prerequisites is essential. Although you might assume that a degree in Education or a bachelor’s in a language-related field is necessary, these qualifications are not always mandatory across all teaching positions.

In Indonesia, teachers come from a variety of backgrounds — some with extensive educational experience, while others may be travelers, writers, or professionals transitioning from different careers. The primary qualifications involve a robust command of English and a strong passion for teaching. Here are the essential criteria for teaching English in Indonesia:

  • Educational Background: A bachelor's degree is highly recommended and often required, especially for more formal teaching positions. Degrees in English, Education, or TESOL are particularly valued.
  • TEFL/TESOL Certification: While not always mandatory, possessing a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL certification can significantly enhance your job prospects as it is frequently sought after by educational institutions.
  • Language Proficiency: Native English speakers, especially those from recognized English-speaking countries, are generally preferred. However, non-native speakers with excellent English proficiency are also eligible for teaching roles.
  • Teaching Experience: Previous teaching experience is advantageous but not a strict requirement for all schools. New teachers may find opportunities in less formal settings or private tutoring.
  • Legal Requirements: A valid work visa is necessary to teach legally in Indonesia, and teachers may need to secure a teaching license or certification from the Ministry of Education.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: An understanding and appreciation of Indonesian culture are crucial. Teachers should demonstrate respect and adaptability to engage effectively with students and the local community.
  • Health and Background Checks: Prospective teachers might need to undergo health screenings and criminal background checks as part of the hiring process.

With these guidelines, potential English teachers can better understand what is expected of them and prepare adequately for their teaching journey in Indonesia.

Salary and Benefits for Teaching English in Indonesia

Indonesia is an increasingly popular destination for English teachers, thanks to its rich cultural landscape and affordable cost of living, which allows educators to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. Salaries for English teachers in Indonesia vary based on location, type of institution, qualifications, and experience. Here’s a general breakdown of what you might expect:

School Type Salary Range
Public Schools $800 - $1,100 per month
Private Language Schools $1,000 - $1,500 per month
International Schools $2,000 - $2,500 per month
NGOs and Volunteer Programs $500 - $800 per month
Private Tutoring $15 - $30 per hour

Public School Teaching Jobs and Salaries

Teaching in public schools in Indonesia offers a traditional educational experience with a connection to local students and communities. Salaries in public schools range from $800 to $1,100 per month. Benefits may include paid holidays and contributions to health insurance.

Private Language School Teaching Jobs and Salaries

Private language schools in Indonesia are found in urban and tourist centers like Jakarta and Bali. These institutions typically offer salaries between $1,000 and $1,500 per month. They often require teachers to work evenings and weekends, appealing to those who prefer a flexible schedule.

International School Teaching Jobs and Salaries

International schools in Indonesia cater to expatriate and affluent local families and offer the highest salaries, typically ranging from $2,000 to $2,500 per month. These positions usually demand higher qualifications and more extensive teaching experience but provide substantial resources and support.

NGO and Volunteer Program Teaching Jobs and Salaries

For those drawn to community development, numerous NGOs in Indonesia offer English teaching positions. These roles often provide a modest salary, ranging from $500 to $800 per month, but may include additional benefits like housing or meals, making them highly rewarding.

Private Tutoring Jobs and Salaries

In Indonesia, private tutoring can significantly boost a teacher's income, with rates ranging from $15 to $30 per hour based on qualifications and the specifics of the tutoring arrangement. This flexible option allows teachers to tailor their schedules and increase their earnings.

Teaching English in Indonesia not only offers financial benefits but also the chance to experience life in one of the world's most diverse and dynamic regions. Whether through formal school engagements or private tutoring, there are ample opportunities for teachers to thrive in Indonesia.

Cost of Living in Indonesia

Indonesia offers an attractive cost of living, particularly appealing to English teachers due to its affordability, which allows for a comfortable lifestyle on a teacher's salary. Whether you opt to live in bustling cities like Jakarta and Bali or prefer quieter locales such as Yogyakarta or Bandung, you'll find that your earnings can adequately cover living expenses, allowing for leisure activities and travel.

Here are some typical costs associated with living in Indonesia, listed in US dollars, which is helpful for teachers to understand their budgeting needs:

Item Cost
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre $200 - $700
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre $100 - $400
Monthly basic utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) $40 - $100
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) $20 - $50
Water (1.5 liter bottle) $0.30 - $0.60
Chicken Fillets (1kg) $2.50 - $4.00
Potato (1kg) $0.80 - $2.00
Rice (white), (1kg) $0.70 - $1.20
Banana (1kg) $0.60 - $1.20
Local Transport (One-way Ticket) $0.30 - $0.70
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult $20 - $50

The cost of living varies significantly between different cities and regions. For example, living costs in Jakarta and Bali tend to be higher due to their popularity and developed infrastructure, while smaller cities and rural areas offer more economical options. The above figures demonstrate that with sensible budgeting, an English teacher's salary is sufficient to enjoy a good standard of living in Indonesia. This financial flexibility also enables teachers to immerse themselves in Indonesian culture, explore diverse landscapes, and enjoy the rich culinary heritage of the region. Whether you're drawn to urban excitement or the tranquility of rural settings, Indonesia provides a fulfilling backdrop for English teachers with its low cost of living and hospitable environment.

Living in Indonesia

Indonesia, a captivating country located in Southeast Asia and Oceania, is the world's largest island nation, consisting of over 17,000 islands. It ranks as the fourth most populous country globally, with a diverse population exceeding 270 million people. This vast archipelago is celebrated for its breathtaking natural landscapes, ranging from pristine beaches to lush rainforests, and its vibrant cultural mosaic reflected in the lives of its inhabitants.

Cultural and Social Landscape

Indonesia's social fabric is woven with threads from over 300 ethnic groups, each contributing unique traditions and customs to the nation's rich cultural tapestry. This diversity is a cornerstone of Indonesian identity, offering a dynamic and engaging environment for expatriates and locals alike. The country’s official language is Indonesian, a variant of Malay written in the Latin script, facilitating communication across this diverse nation. Despite Indonesia’s majority Muslim population, the country boasts a pluralistic society with substantial representation of various religious and cultural practices.

Cost of Living and Lifestyle

One of the appealing aspects of living in Indonesia is its relatively low cost of living. Essentials such as housing and transportation are notably affordable, especially when compared to Western standards. However, it's important to note that costs can vary significantly between rural areas and major urban centers like Jakarta and Bali, where expenses tend to be higher due to their popularity and development.

Friendly and Welcoming Communities

The warmth and hospitality of the Indonesian people are often highlighted by expatriates. The locals are known for their friendly demeanor and openness, making it easier for newcomers to adjust and feel at home. Community life is integral to Indonesian culture, offering newcomers numerous opportunities to engage with local traditions and social events.

Natural Beauty and Recreation

Indonesia is renowned for its natural beauty, encapsulating some of the world's most stunning landscapes and biodiversity. From the famous beaches of Bali to the historic temples of Yogyakarta, the country offers a plethora of natural and cultural attractions. Indonesia's rich biodiversity includes numerous species that are unique to the region, making it a fascinating destination for nature lovers and adventurers.

Professional Opportunities

With a growing economy, Indonesia provides a range of career opportunities in various sectors such as tourism, manufacturing, and natural resources. The country's strategic location also makes it a favorable base for exploring Southeast Asia, adding to its appeal for professionals looking to advance their careers in a dynamic regional hub.

Practical Considerations

Living in Indonesia also involves adapting to local customs and navigating the legal landscape, including visa requirements and residency permits. Prospective residents should thoroughly research and prepare for these aspects to ensure a smooth transition. Additionally, given its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia is prone to natural phenomena such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, which are important to consider when choosing a place to live.

Indonesia offers a diverse and enriching living experience characterized by cultural richness, natural beauty, and a welcoming community. Whether you're seeking adventure, professional growth, or a peaceful retreat, Indonesia provides a compelling backdrop to build a rewarding life.

The Best Places to Teach English in Indonesia

Indonesia offers a unique backdrop for English teachers, characterized by its diverse cultures, numerous islands, and distinct educational needs. From bustling metropolises to serene beaches, the opportunities to teach English in Indonesia vary widely, catering to different preferences and lifestyles. Here’s a look at some of the top destinations within the country and what makes them appealing for English educators:


Jakarta, the bustling capital of Indonesia, is at the forefront of the country's economic and educational advancements. The city hosts a plethora of international schools, private language centers, and corporate training facilities, making it a vibrant hub for teaching English. Teachers in Jakarta benefit from access to modern amenities, cultural events, and an extensive network of professionals from around the world. Despite its notorious traffic, the city offers a dynamic urban experience with countless opportunities for career growth and cultural engagement.


Famous for its picturesque landscapes and laid-back lifestyle, Bali attracts not only tourists but also educators looking to combine work with paradise-like living. English teachers in Bali often find positions in language schools and hospitality-related training programs, where they help locals improve their language skills for better tourism opportunities. The island’s multicultural environment, alongside its scenic beaches and vibrant arts scene, makes it an ideal location for those seeking a more relaxed teaching experience.


Known as the cultural heart of Java, Yogyakarta is a city steeped in history and tradition. It's a prime destination for teachers who are also cultural enthusiasts. The demand for English education is high, particularly due to the city’s numerous universities and a thriving arts community. Teachers here can explore ancient temples like Borobudur and Prambanan in their free time, immersing themselves in Indonesia’s rich heritage and contributing to the educational growth of its youth.


As the second-largest city in Indonesia, Surabaya offers a blend of colonial history and modern growth. The city is a significant business hub, which ensures a steady demand for business English and general language instruction. English teachers in Surabaya can expect to find opportunities in schools, colleges, and professional training centers. The city also provides a less hectic but equally enriching alternative to Jakarta, with its own unique cultural and recreational activities.


Situated on the island of Sumatra, Medan is the third-largest city in Indonesia and serves as the gateway to the western part of the country. It boasts a diverse cultural tapestry, reflected in its cuisine, architecture, and community. English teachers in Medan often work in public and private schools, where they help students prepare for global opportunities. The city's multicultural atmosphere is ideal for teachers interested in experiencing a blend of ethnic backgrounds and traditions.

Other Noteworthy Locations

Beyond these cities, other regions in Indonesia also offer captivating opportunities for teaching English. Places like Bandung, with its cool climate and academic vibe, and Makassar, known for its maritime heritage and gateway to eastern Indonesia, provide environments that cater to both adventurous and academically inclined educators.

Teaching English in Indonesia not only allows educators to explore an array of environments but also offers them a chance to make significant impacts in diverse communities. Each location presents its unique blend of challenges and rewards, making Indonesia a compelling choice for English teachers around the globe.

Do you need to speak Indonesian to teach English in Indonesia?

It is not mandatory to speak Indonesian to secure a position as an English teacher in Indonesia. Schools and educational institutions across the country frequently seek native or highly fluent English speakers to join their teaching staff. Typically, having proficiency in Indonesian is not a requirement for these roles.

However, acquiring some basic Indonesian language skills can significantly enhance your teaching and living experience in Indonesia. Even minimal knowledge of the local language facilitates smoother daily interactions and can enrich your connection with students and community members. Learning Indonesian can also help you immerse yourself more deeply in the local culture, making your stay more fulfilling both personally and professionally.

Can You Teach English in Indonesia Without a Degree?

To teach English in Indonesia, a bachelor's degree is typically required due to governmental regulations that mandate a formal educational background for the issuance of work visas to foreign educators. This requirement helps maintain the standard of education and ensures that teachers are qualified to provide quality instruction.

While the official route to teaching English in Indonesia involves possessing a degree, there are some informal alternatives that individuals sometimes pursue. These can include private tutoring or volunteer opportunities, which may not strictly enforce the degree requirement. However, these options often exist in a gray area regarding legality and may not offer the same level of job security or benefits as formal teaching positions. As such, pursuing these avenues should be done with careful consideration of the potential legal and professional risks involved.

Read More: Can you teach English in Indonesia without a degree?

Teaching English in Indonesia as a Non-Native English Speaker

Yes, it is indeed possible to teach English in Indonesia as a non-native English speaker. Indonesia's demand for English language education extends to teachers who may not be native speakers but have a strong command of the language and relevant teaching qualifications.

For non-native English speakers, possessing certifications such as TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) can be particularly beneficial. These certifications demonstrate a standardized level of proficiency and pedagogical knowledge that can reassure employers of your capability to teach effectively.

Furthermore, fluency in English, coupled with a clear accent and a good grasp of grammar, are essential criteria that schools and language centers consider when hiring non-native instructors. It's also advantageous if you can showcase your enthusiasm for teaching and your ability to engage and motivate students, which are key traits schools look for in a teacher.

Additionally, having a degree in education or English language can enhance your application, making you a more attractive candidate for teaching positions. Schools in Indonesia often value diverse perspectives that non-native speakers can bring to the classroom, enriching the learning environment with different cultural insights and linguistic experiences.

Do You Need a TEFL Certificate to Teach English in Indonesia?

While not a mandatory requirement, obtaining a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate can significantly bolster your credentials if you are looking to teach English in Indonesia. Many educational institutions favor candidates who have a TEFL certificate, as it indicates a formal training in teaching English to non-native speakers. This certification not only enhances your competitiveness in the job market but also equips you with practical teaching skills and methodologies, enhancing your effectiveness in the classroom.

Pursuing a TEFL certification within Indonesia offers distinct advantages. It allows you to adapt to the local educational context and cultural environment from the onset. Courses offered locally often include modules tailored to address specific challenges of teaching in Indonesian classrooms, such as understanding local learning styles and cultural nuances. This can greatly improve how you connect with and teach your students, creating a more productive and meaningful educational experience.

Alternatively, online TEFL courses provide the flexibility to obtain certification from anywhere in the world, often at your own pace. This can be a convenient option if you are planning your move to Indonesia and wish to arrive prepared. However, whether you choose an in-person course in Indonesia or an online program, the insights gained from a TEFL course are invaluable in helping you become a more capable and responsive educator.

Can you teach English in Indonesia without experience?

Yes, it is possible to teach English in Indonesia even if you do not have previous teaching experience. Many language schools and educational institutions in Indonesia are open to hiring enthusiastic candidates who are new to the profession, particularly if they demonstrate a strong command of the English language and a genuine interest in teaching.

For those without experience, obtaining a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification can be a significant advantage. These certifications provide foundational teaching skills and methodologies, which are crucial for effective classroom management and lesson planning. They serve as a testament to your readiness to teach and can compensate for a lack of formal teaching experience.

Additionally, many schools offer in-house training programs or allow new teachers to work alongside experienced instructors before managing their own classrooms. This type of mentoring and practical training can be invaluable for gaining confidence and understanding the specific educational needs of Indonesian students.

Moreover, volunteering as an English tutor in community centers or similar setups can also provide practical experience and enhance your resume. Such initiatives not only help build your teaching skills but also demonstrate your commitment and initiative to potential employers.

When to Apply for Teaching Jobs in Indonesia

In Indonesia, the timing for applying for teaching positions varies depending on the type of educational institution. Similar to many countries, the academic year in Indonesia is split into two semesters. The first semester typically starts in July and runs until December, while the second semester begins in January and ends in June. Therefore, the peak hiring periods for schools are usually a few months before each semester starts, primarily around March to May for the first semester and October to December for the second semester.

International schools and private language centers in Indonesia may follow slightly different calendars and often have more flexibility in their hiring times. These institutions sometimes hire year-round due to continuous enrollment of students and the occasional mid-year turnover of staff.

Schools usually begin the recruitment process several months in advance to allow time for visa processing and relocation arrangements. Candidates already residing in Indonesia may have the advantage of securing positions closer to the semester start dates due to their immediate availability.

How to Apply for Teaching Jobs in Indonesia

With Indonesia's growing demand for English education, there are abundant opportunities for teachers. However, the competition can be strong, especially for positions at prestigious schools. Here are some strategies to enhance your application:

Present Yourself Professionally

In Indonesia, as in many places, the first impression is crucial:

  • Dress conservatively and professionally for interviews, reflecting respect for local cultural norms.
  • Maintain a polished appearance, as this conveys your seriousness and professionalism.

Communicate Effectively

Since you will be teaching English:

  • Speak clearly and at a pace that is easy to follow, which will be especially appreciated in a classroom setting.
  • Demonstrate your proficiency in English, highlighting your ability to teach and communicate effectively.

Customize Your Resume

Tailor your resume to the teaching profession:

  • Highlight any teaching experience or certifications, like TEFL, that align with educational roles.
  • Include a photograph on your CV, a common practice in Indonesia.
  • Attach a cover letter that details your motivation for wanting to teach in Indonesia and what you can bring to the school.

Utilize Digital Tools

Incorporate personal elements into your application:

  • A video introduction can make your application stand out. This should be a simple presentation where you introduce yourself and your teaching philosophy.
  • If possible, include a teaching demonstration video to showcase your interaction with students and teaching style.

Where to Search for Jobs

Explore various avenues to find teaching positions:

By taking a thoughtful approach to your application and timing it correctly, you can increase your chances of securing a teaching position in Indonesia. This preparation not only sets you apart from other candidates but also equips you for a successful transition to teaching in a new cultural environment.