News: International Salaries & Benefits Discussion

12/9/15 –  Yesterday I was asked about salaries for international contracts…
(if anyone has any other info or opinions to add please contact me and/or leave a comment.)

Knowing what is a reasonable salary expectation needs to be carefully explored when you are considering moving to another country. The important question to ask about salary is not how much you will earn, but how much of that salary will you be able to save. In other words, what is the cost of living and will my salary cover that? Salaries in Bolivia, for example, are incredibly low because it is cheap to live there, whereas in Japan, you may be offered double the salary but will be crammed into a tiny apartment and not be able to afford meat. (See Book Resources for Cost of Living sites.)

 Questions to ask:

  1. Will the salary be paid in your currency or the country’s local currency? Often it is a mix of the two and you can allocate an amount to be send to your home country while the money you need to live on is received in local currency. Research the local currency: is it pegged to a major currency such as the US dollar. If it is not then check the fluctuating history via a site such as Yahoo Currency to obtain an average as changes in currency as well as inflation will greatly affect your salary and ability to pay bills back home and live comfortably.
  1. Analyze included benefits. Some salaries may initially appear to be low but upon reviewing the included benefits, turn out to be more than adequate. International benefits typically offered include:
  • visa procurement
  • transportation costs to and from the country
  • shipping allowance
  • free or subsidized housing
  • quality health insurance
  • free or reduced tuition for your children (up to 2) at an international school
  • at least six weeks paid vacation every year
  • professional development funds
  • R&R transportation costs to home of record, one per year
  • subsidized auto loans

Salaries and benefits for international schools are generally set and included with the job description when the position is advertised. Larger, established academic institutions will usually include a salary range as well as list of benefits. Smaller colleges will sometimes not initially list salary as they will negotiate this depending on your level of experience, your needs, and their resources. For example, some will include housing as they have already negotiated a discount however others find it easier and most cost-effective to offer a higher salary and assist you in locating local housing.

Health insurance is an important consideration for every situation. Please discuss the health care situation of the country you are considering and how the institution plans to support you in care of accident or illness.

Normally salary negotiation is done after the initial interview but in the international world it is acceptable to at ask about salary and benefits in the Q&A session of your interview because you need to know whether you can afford to make this move before either you or HR invests more time and effort in pursuing you application.


For specific international college salary discussion visit the Chronicle of Higher Educations’ ‘Working Abroad’ forum and search the keyword ‘salary’ and/or ‘benefits’

For school contracts:

Read Questions #7&8 from the FAQs on Teaching Abroad (from The International Educator)

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