ESL Instructor Salary: What You’ll Make and Why

ESL instructors make around $42,304 to $58,648 on average in the US, depending on experience, location, skills, and other factors.

According to various salary aggregate websites, an ESL instructor’s average salary in the US ranges between $42,304 and $58,648. As of March 2022, the average base salaries for ESL instructors are as follows:


Keep in mind: Salary aggregate websites typically rely on data submitted anonymously by individuals using their site. Some websites may have received larger amounts of data of either higher or lower than average salaries, which may affect the site’s calculated average.

Read more: What Is an ESL Instructor? How to Become One

What influences a salary?

ESL instructors can make a good salary, but there are several factors that will impact how much you make. These include the country you teach in, the type of institution you work for, your qualifications, and your experience.

Years of experience

Salary increases are generally tied to your experience level. In general, the more years you spend working as an ESL instructor, the more you can expect to earn. Here’s how experience can impact your ESL instructor salary, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Compensation Survey.

Level of experienceSalary
Entry-level (less than 1 year)$28,531
Early career (1 to 4 years)$36,217
Mid career (5 to 9 years)$45,845
Experienced (10 to 19 years)$56,579
Late career (20+ years)$75,148

Where you live can also impact how much you can make as an ESL instructor. Typically, working in a large metropolitan area correlates to a higher salary, as well as a higher cost of living.

Here is a list of some major cities with their corresponding average ESL instructor salary according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

CityAverage Salary
Los Angeles, CA$73,608
Portland, OR$58,764
Houston, TX$56,516
New York City, NY$54,748
Washington DC, DC$53,145
Tampa Bay, FL$35,166
Cincinnati, OH$34,262
Atlanta, GA$31,999
Salt Lake City, UT$30,891
Birmingham, AL$25,468

How does this compare to similar jobs?

Here’s how an ESL instructor’s salary stacks up against similar jobs.

Related JobsAverage Salary
ESL Teacher$36,796
Language Arts Teacher$41,152
English Teacher$38,250
ESL Director$69,377
ESL Specialist$44,124
TEFL Teacher$35,133
ESL Coordinator$41,566
ESL Tutor$40,461
TESOL Teacher$38,509

How to increase your ESL instructor salary

Now that you have a better idea of what you could expect to earn as an ESL instructor, let’s look at ways to boost your salary.

1. Strengthen your skills

Pursuing and improving in-demand skills could make you more competitive for promotions and higher-paying positions. These skills include:

  • Curriculum Development: Design lesson plans and curriculum that meet the needs of ESL students
  • Classroom Management: Understand how to effectively manage a classroom of ESL students
  • Assessment: Develop assessments to gauge student progress and identify areas of improvement
  • Cultural Competency: Be aware of how cultural differences can impact ESL instruction and learning
  • Technology: Use technology in the classroom to facilitate ESL instruction, such as online resources and apps
2. Know Your Value

When it comes to negotiating a salary, knowledge is power. Be sure to research the average salary for your position in your area, and come to the table armed with that information. You should also be prepared to discuss your experience and qualifications, and how they make you the best candidate for the job.

3. Grow your network

ESL instructors can improve their salaries by growing their professional networks. This can be done by joining relevant online communities, attending conferences and workshops, and connecting with other professionals in the field. By doing so, you will not only have access to more job opportunities, but you will also be able to negotiate for a higher salary.

Article Sources

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “National Compensation Survey,” Accessed March 23, 2022.

2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Employment and Wages,” Accessed March 23, 2022.

3. Payscale. “English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher Salary,” Accessed March 23, 2022.

4. Ziprecruiter. “Esl Instructor Annual Salary,” Accessed March 23, 2022.

5. Indeed. “Indeed Salary Finder,” Accessed March 23, 2022.

6. “Esl Instructor Salary,” Accessed March 23, 2022.

7. Glassdoor. “ESL Instructor Salaries,,14.htm.” Accessed March 23, 2022.


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