How is the market for English native teachers in Jakarta, and what are the requirements for jobs there?

I currently teach on contract in S. Korea but would like to try something different.  I have 10 years experience as an ESL teacher to all ages, including teaching at Texas State University. My BA is in Linguistics and my MA is in English from Birmingham University. I’m not a certified teacher in the US, and as yet I have not needed to obtain a TEFL certificate, but would like to get the CELTA.
I hope this background information helps with answering my question. I’d like to know the ESL job market conditions, requirements for most jobs, salary, and living conditions from people with experience working in Jakarta or elsewhere in Indonesia.

My Quora answer:

I’d say the demand of native teachers is huge, especially in the first and second-tier cities. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean being an English teacher is easy. The challenges are on the working visa and the society readiness.

There are some types of employers for English native teachers in Jakarta. The biggest English course franchise in Indonesia, EF, usually hires trtravelers. Your education background is not their priority. At least, you love kids and travelling. This kind of employers won’t support you a working visa in Indonesia. You’ll get travel visa instead. They take care of your visa, arrival, and accommodation. On top of that, they rent a house for their English native teachers and pay all the bill (electricity, house maid, internet, etc). A friend of mine, Richard Buckley, used to work for them. He might give you a better picture about such employers.

The second one requires basic education background in linguistic, such as TBI and Wall Street English. As a high-end-targetted English course, Wall Street English might give you a better salary than those of EF. However, they don’t rent you a house or apartment.

Some other English course requires stronger education background, for instance, IALF, as their business are focusing on IELTS Preparation and English for Academic Purpose. Most of my English teachers in there have master degree in English and they’re trained to be IELTS examiners. Unfortunately, I dunno much about the salary.

The things probably different if you work for international schools. But I don’t have so much information about it.

Speaking of living in Jakarta, I can’t say it would be convenience for you since you might be indulged with the sophisticated lifestyle in South Korea. Jakarta is complicated city with its congestion, and bureaucracy. My Scottish friend used to work as an English teacher in South Korea and moved to Jakarta. Apparently, she couldn’t bear with our city and moved to Rusia within less than a year. Nonetheless, you’ll like Jakarta or Indonesia more if you love travelling and enjoy living with local people with their hospitality and wisdom. There are so many attractive tourism spots in Indonesia which can be reached from Jakarta easily. Beach, mountains, jungle, indigenous villages, virgin islands, scarce plants and animals, you’ll love them.

Regarding society readiness, some employers are racist, although they don’t mean to. Most of Indonesians believe that English native teacher = Caucasian, no matter where you’re from and how good your English. As long as you’re a Caucasian (bule), you must be fluent in English, more than anyone else in this world. Lol. When it comes to daily activities, you’ll get a lot of privileges in bars, markets, hotels, tourism spots, everywhere. Local people can’t stop staring at you and you’ll be treat very nicely, even more than to other local people. The more rural you live in, the more privileges you get.

Most of English native teachers enjoy such hospitality, as long as they’re in a good mood. Sometimes, it’s just ridiculous as you’ll feel like a god/goddess from heaven.


Richard Buckley’s answer:

Hi there,

With a BA and MA in relevant subjects (Linguistics and English), the good news is you will have the pick of the jobs, as you actually meet the basic visa requirements!  You can probably go far even without CELTA (though in the long run CELTA might prove a good investment). Visa requirements are constantly updating themselves and are something of a grey area – many teachers don’t entirely meet them, but the schools that employ native speakers are generally well-connected and in touch with agents who are able to meet the criteria, somehow.

My advice is to go for the high-end, adults-only Wall Street, which pays the best for entry level, or ‘national plus’ or international schools (easier to get in once you’re in Indonesia and able to make contacts in the ground).  Wall Street have a relatively rigorous interview process, so it might be worth asking in advance if they’d consider you without CELTA.

The British Institute is undergoing quite serious management issues at present, and if you consider an offer from them make sure that you research them – and the specific centre – carefully.  They have in the past been the best place for professional development, since they’re accredited to award CELTA in some locations, but their reputation at present is suffering some setbacks.

English First pays the lowest wages, but does sort everything out for you (housing, visa etc) without fuss – but as your degrees are in the right subject area, you can do better.  Some EF centres are more highly regarded than others, and terms vary considerably.  EF schools in Surabaya and East Java are the best-regarded for professional development.   Even the worki week isn’t consistent between schools.  At EF Kelapa Gading, for instance, we basically never worked weekends; at other EFs a six day week is the norm and seven days not too unusual.  EF has opportunities across the country, so if you’re looking to transfer out of Jakarta that can generally be arranged after your contract finishes.

Hope that helps 🙂