Is an MEd TESOL in line with my goals?

by Jim

I am currently considering study an M.Ed Education on-campus in the UK. Weeks before the beginning of the course, I am having second thoughts.

Having taught EFL in Asia for the past few years and hitting the glass ceiling very early on, gaining an MA has seemed like the logical next step.

Since graduating with little employment prospects domestically, I’ve learned that further education is only worth it if there is a guaranteed benefit at the end. With the M.Ed the financial benefits don’t seem so clear cut compared to gaining a DELTA or PGCE and QTS for example.

So then, what are my goals?

I would like to earn big money, but obviously teaching isn’t the best paid career in the world. I’ve noticed that the higher paid jobs in the Middle East specify an MA in TESOL / Applied Linguistics and DELTA, or PGCE with QTS. In SE Asia PGCE with QTS will get the good contracts.

I am thinking if it would be possible for me to work for a few years in the Middle East to save a lot of money and then buy property in SE Asia and semi-retire with a small business. For example, I would like to take a back seat from teaching and open a small language school and employ teachers to work there.

The question is, is any of this possible and what can I do to make it happen? Is going down the M.Ed a step in the right direction or is there another path I need to consider?


There are benefits to taking an MA in TESOL, but nothing is guaranteed. And youíre right: Teaching won't make you big money – ever.

If you really want to earn 'big money,' choose another sort of work. Some people do make a lot of money in the field of TEFL, but not in teaching. See my article TEFL – 10 Ways to Make Money for some ideas on this.

However, you can make some money in TESOL.

A PGCE can be useful, but you'll be working long hours, just like a regular teacher :) to earn the money. Expect 8 hour days – at a minimum. You will be teaching children, of course, which might be great or not so great.

The Financial Advantages of taking a Masters in TESOL

  • You can teach English in the Middle East and earn a good salary

  • You can teach English at special joint venture universities (joint ventures between British or American universities and those in other countries: China, Russia and elsewhere) and earn a good salary

Of course, just having a masters doesn't guarantee a job, but at least you'll be eligible to apply.

There are, of course, non-financial benefits, but that's another topic.

Is any of this possible?

Yes, it is possible, but it may take more than a couple of years to save the money you need, depending on the country you choose to live in after, the type of property you require, and the costs of setting up a language school. A couple of years can turn into something much longer; I've seen this happen.

Incidentally, I set up and ran a chain of language schools for several years and I give some advice about it here setting up a language school

What can I do to make it happen?

  1. Get a masters

  2. Get 3 years relevant teaching experience. Most employers in the Middle East require at least 3 years post-masters experience. If you want to work at university level, they will require that you have at least 3 years experience teaching at university. The Far East might be a good place to gain that experience: Korea and Vietnam might be good choices. Alternatively, you could find work in an easier Middle East country such as Oman.

  3. Apply for jobs in the Middle East. Note that for the very best jobs – in Dubai, for example – the requirements are higher: 5 years experience + a PhD are often asked for.

I hope this helps. I took an MEd in TESOL in the UK and it has helped me find university work – which has many benefits – but it hasn't brought me big money. It has given me time to do many other things in my life, which for me has been one of the great benefits of taking a masters degree.

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