Saturday, April 12, 2008

Salary of montessori teachers.

Recently when I was going through my web analystics, I found some keywords looking for salary payment in Malaysia. Just to be honest, to all the teachers who are thinking & planning of coming to Malaysia to work as a Montessori teacher, the salary scale for people even as a directress would not go above RM1,500 month. Most supervisors in a normal main-stream pre-school who work maybe until 3pm may only earn around that much.

Then again one has to know that if you were looking for a high-paying salary, teaching is not really the best profession to come into in any place unless if was done for the love of the job & children vs the monetary pay-outs.

Costs of living are going up, but the salaries of workers are not there. In Malaysia, there is no standard Union that negotiates for the salaries of the people, and is mostly done by the company itself in preparing a pay package in wanting to head-hunt or employ a staff personnel. Furthermore teachers are at a disadvantage due to union laws, as Malaysian regulations state that in order for teachers to have their unions established, they need to have an 8 work day. As most main-stream and also currently trained Montessori teachers either get off at 1pm or later, the establishment of teacher unions will have to take a long wait into the far future.

Montessori teacher training programmes in Malaysia do not come cheap, and are expensive for the average local Malaysian. It costs average about RM12,000 for the entire cost at most private colleges. This includes tutelage fees, membership to the MCI board (UK) and examination fees. Students who have failed their examinations are only allowed to retake their examinations once for the entire duration of the International Montessori Diploma (MCI) programme. After which, they will have to re-enrol for the entire program if they failed both times.

In summary, unless you had a supplement income aside from being a teacher (even as one in a Montessori position), it is difficult to make ends meet on that one job, even in a permanent position. A lot of these teachers need to have another part-time job, or like my friend, Annie, who comes from inter-state, although she did work as a Montessori teacher, her parents had to help her pay her rent because of her low pay. She knows that she can't survive on the pay that she is given.

To digress, if a candidate wanted higher pay per hour for work as either a casual childcare staff or teacher, a good place would be Australia.

However in order to be eligible to work as a teacher in preschools & kindergartens (it is different from Child Care Centres & Long Day Care Centres!), the candidate would need a 4-year teaching degree equivalent to the Australian Teaching Board requirements, & you have to be registered in each state's teaching registry if you are planning to work there. Casuals get higher pay rates as they do not get the whole package that permanent staff are entitled to i.e. unpaid leave, sick leave, medical benefits & all.

I'm not too sure about Montessori staff requirements, but as stated previously in one of my earlier entries, the candidate by legislation needs to possess a 4 year degree in order to work as a registered teacher in New South Wales preschools & kindergartens (since I am based here currently). Candidates not only need to possess the 4 yr degree, but need to have the Montessori diploma on top of it to be qualified to work as a Montessori teacher in the Montessori schools (there are Montessori primary & secondary schools in NSW).

Of course, that is in the books. In practice, the schools may work otherwise due to lack of Montessori trained teachers available that they have to settle for main-stream trained teachers to work in the schools.

However in retrospect, I was just thinking that if you do possess a Montessori qualification even with only a normal 3 yr or other degrees, the pre-school & kindergarten may consider you for work, but placing you in either a "unqualified" or "trainee" position (meaning less pay!). Anyways, this is all at the discretion of the employer who will decide if they want to employ or not. It is financially onerous on the hiring & education system in Australia by the way it is set out, but that is something that they have to work out.

Just remember, in order to work in a Preschool & Kindergarten (i.e Queensland's Creche & Kindergarten), the position of a registered teacher needs a 4-year-degree, & in a Child Care Centre & Long Day Care Centres, (i.e ABC Learning Centres, CFK Childcare Centres), the Early Childhood teacher needs a 3-year degree (otherwise known as Early Childhood Teacher).

Other positions available in a childcare centre (either long day care or similar) which is not a teaching position includes the Classroom Assistant (generally thought of as an untrained position) who requires a Cert III in Children Services, and Advanced Child Care Worker which requires a Diploma in Children Services (a trained position). If you are wondering, these are all Australian TAFE qualifications. If you have no idea what it is, it doesn't matter as only mostly locals and foreigners who have been in Australia for a while would have considered taking it.

The hourly rates for Early Childhood Teachers casuals (ECT- 3 yr degree Bachelor of Teaching/Early Childhood) who work in Childcare Centres & Day Care Centres, have rates starting from AUD26.6/hour to as high as about 37/hour. For registered teachers (4 year Bachelor of Education) work in public/private schools, preschools & kindergartens, rates should be about AUD 40+. This depends on the pay rates that agents are willing to pay their casuals, so do your research & pick a good one to develop a relationship with!

Permanent staff are paid lower but they get more stable shifts, as it is costly for centres to take on casual staff. If you are good at your work, the centre will repeatedly for you to return to work. I have been to centres where there are casuals who have been working there for months! Some from the same agent that I am from, and others from the other childcare agents in Sydney.

For the international and foreigner, you have to know that if it weren't for the adult:children ratio that is mandated in the Australian childcare legislation, casuals like us would not be able to find employment. So it does provide some advantages of providing employment to companies and relief staff like us. I doubt you'd be able to find work as a relief teacher in Malaysia as such a system has yet to exist, and probably not even in the far future yet.

Till now, I have not been assigned to a Montessori school for relief work. So I am unable to tell you how it is like although it is my desire to check out the Montessori schools around here soon. I do hope that my agent will send me to a Montessori school, as though I am trained to work in a play-based educational setting, my desire is still to work in a Montessori school.

As much as I would like to encourage you to take up permanent work, from what I have heard, pay for staff in childcare is horrendously low whether in the States, Australia, or Malaysia. Hmm... But it really depends on what you want.


Anonymous said...

Hi Chea Yee,
I totally agreed with what you commented over salary of montessori teachers in m'sia. I'm fr M'sia too. And I find it sad to see this whole scenario not adjusted properly.

It's unfair to the teachers n consequently, not benefiting the children. I'm just being practical. I'm in my late twenties, I believed many teachers who are at my age, would be seeking for a decent salary n putting all our time in onli one job so that we could give our best to the children. But the salary scale is not making it work.

I had a degree in Business IT. My 1st job back in 8 years ago as a fresh grad demanded 2k plus salary compared to now. I really do hope to see things changed.

I know country legislation is something beyond our place to do something about it. But is there anythg that can be done?

CheaYee said...

From my understanding, staff which are trained here with a Cert III (about six months training) or Diploma in childcare(which is about a year or more training) in a permanent job earn about as much as a someone who works in Gloria Jeans (which doesn't need a similar qualification. So in retrospect, the amount of training required doesn't match up to the level of pay, and hence, a lot of ppl do want to leave the childcare industry for better pay in other fields.

Unknown said...


I agree with you that the salary skill for kindergarten or childcare teachers are rather low compare to Australia's. However, we must compare the student fee rate paid in these 2 countries.

In Malaysia, fees range from +-RM100 to as high as RM350++. Let's take the average of RM250 and assume that it has 50 students. Monthly collection would be RM12,500. If the teacher/student ratio is 1:12. This school will need 5 teachers + 1 helper / assistant. After minus overhead and profit margin, there isn't much left for the teachers.

I am running 2 kindergartens with 9 teachers and 105 of students. I cannot effort to pay teachers more than RM1000 a month. Of course they are SPM(high school) school leavers. To hire a montessori qualified teacher, you need to reserve RM1400.

Quality teachers mean parents pay higher school fee. Degree holder in early childhood is still rare in Malaysia.

By the way, how's the school fees rate in Australia.

CheaYee said...

LEt me jst say one thing....
Childcare in Australia is paid by the day. It ranges from as low as 60-90 per child per day....

However, staff are paid by the hour. min about as low as 14 dollars to as much as about maybe 34 dollars an hour?

As for quality care in australia, if u want to know, surprisingly what I have found out it is that it also rare to find many Early Childhood Teachers in Australia(ECT meaning 3 year degree qualified teachers (0-5 yrs age group).

Those who are qualified, normally prefer to study another one more year (meaning 4 yr degree) and be a registered teacher in the primary (0-8 years)schools here, mostly due to pay factors.

Mark said...

Hi CY,

How to make ends meet like that?

I'm hoping to run a high-quality childcare in Malaysia someday. I would like to have highly-trained, highly-paid staff, but PyngPyng63's comment seems to indicate that it might be difficult.

Over here in UK, I'm currently working as a relief staff. Staff are paid minimum wage, ie 5.73 pounds an hour, unpaid lunch hour. And they tend to favour the younger staff, as they get paid even less!

Any idea what's the official requirement for child:staff ratio in Malaysia, and where I can find it online?


CheaYee said...

there's not much of an official student teacher ratio in malaysia la. in terms of quality, its really hard to say.

parents here have different demands. communities in malaysia and singpaore do not have a balanced academic learning program, as in there is too much study.

where-as a lot of the preschools in australia could benefit from implementing more structured learning, but they emphasize too much on "learning through play". australian preschools are good in a sense that they have a set of guidelines and enforcement committee. but that is where it ends.

the guidelines sometimes overtake what is to be common sense, which the staff sometimes obey to the T, without actually using their brains.

further to that, i have noticed that a lot of the so called "teachers" are not actually trained to be able to do that.

for me as i am exposed to both systems, I am able to do taht. but most aussies have never been to asia, so they think that "learning through play" is the only viable learning system.

not to mention that a lot of the TAFE colleges "psycho" the students into that way of thinking, and lecturers at TAFE are just as guilty of it as they have never actually travelled to other parts of the world to know what could be better, to be improved on.

Mark said...

Sounds like you feel there's a lot of room for improvement in the Australian system. But the same could be said about the Malaysian and UK systems as well.

How would you rank the effectiveness of the 3 systems?

As you said, the focus in Asia is academics, and many would feel that childcare effectiveness is/should be directly linked to academic performance.


CheaYee said...

i'm not so sure about UK though.

in malaysia, most students perform well in academics, or most subjects that require rote memory.

whereas in australia, it really depends. as far as i know, preschoolers (kindergarten age) have what is called a so-called "learning through play" curriculum, which is good in theory, but debatable in practice.

when they head up to elementary school, however, its back to structured learning, and no play at all. as what i have seen during my practicums.

still, if you were to ask what i think, I'd say New Zealand is good because they accept the Montessori theory, which is not the case in australia, because many regard it with disdane stating that it is for the "high class" or some sort of bullocks. and Aussies have a "no-class system".. as per what i have experienced.

in terms of education, malaysians could use some sort of balance in allowing some play element, and australia would do much better in their preschools in allowing structured elements, leading to probably culture shock when their preschoolers head to Year 1 (about 6 yr olds).

I'd say NZ is pretty good from what i can see.

Mark said...

I'm not very familiar with New Zealand. I just know they filmed Lord of the Rings there. :)

Yea, unfortunately Malaysia is very very big on the rote memory thing. But isn't that also the method of Kumon, a pretty big worldwide franchise?

I believe homeschooling and Montessori is starting to gain popularity in Malaysia. Especially with the recent decision to revert back to BM...

Is it so hard to combine learning through play with structured/academic methods?


CheaYee said...

whether it is hard, it depends on the teacher. and her frame of mind, and her training.

many people are not exposed to the different ways of teaching, so they end up thinking that the way they are teaching is the best.

unfortunately this holds true, wehter in australia, or in malaysia.

Mark said...

Hm, at least the concept of best style of teaching still arises in Malaysia and Australia.

Here it feels like the staff are just trying to pass the day doing as little as possible. They only half-heartedly approach those learning activities because it's required by management.

So if it's up to the teacher, one day I'll open a childcare in Malaysia combining the 2 elements! You should come and contribute ;)


tracy said...

Dear CY,

hi, im tracy from malaysia. Im now teaching full day in a kindi here, at the same time i study International Montessori Diploma part time in colledge. I found that it's hard for me cope with two side, as when i come back from work, i always felt very tired. and that make me can't concentrate on my study and assignment. I saw that you had many great achievement. how do you pass thru all these ? can give me some advices and tips for study ?? hope to hear from you. thank you..

CheaYee said...

Hi there..Just came back from work today... currently training in progress in a montessori day care centre in australia.

Surprise, surprise.

I guess it is a matter of "sucking it up".. its hard I know, but i guess its a matter of managing your time, and have enough rest.. and prioritizing which is more important.

If you have lots of activities lined up,those have to wait till you have finished your studies.

Have your vitamins (Vitamin C) and don't rely on coffee, or caffeine.

At the end of the day, it will be all worth it.

tracy said...

Thank you CY. Hope I can make it through. Recently I am looking at Tweedle Wink which focus on children right brain development. Do you see any kind of this training centre in Aus ??


CheaYee said...

In Australia, I have found Brain Gym implemented in elementary, and preschools.

In NZ, my cousins used to go for KUMON about ten years back.

Unknown said...

hi cy,
first of all, i like your blog.
i'm a full time mother of two (4 yr-old and 1 yr-old).
i'm recently looking for a school for my 4 yr-old, and i come across this montessori school.
the founder of this school suggested that i take up montessori courses, since i'm a degree holder for "english language and literature". (she could then hire me later, as she says)
and so i googled montessori and have a little idea about this teaching method, and i like it.
and then i see your blog, about the fees of the courses and the 'possible' salary later. that gives me hesitation.
what would you suggest?


millyturtle said...

hi CY,

I regularly volunteer at a center teaching underprivileged children in Malaysia. I'm interested in teaching young kids (below 12 yrs old) & environment issues. Generally, I also agree that the education system here is too focused on rote learning, and lacking in more fun elements. Besides that, children are not encouraged to "think outside the box" and exposure to the real world is limited. Basically, I'm a believer in experiential learning.

I'm now considering to do a Montessori diploma on a part-time basis, and would like to seek your views if it would help me in possibly a future career in running kids programs that are more experiential in nature.

Any advice is most appreciated.

fmvh said...

After reading your blog, would like to get some advice from you. Could you contact me via email?
My email is

networknewbie said...

It is good to see so many ppl paying great attention to childcare education. I grew up in msia and i live in uk now. I was a volunteer in a uk preschool nursery for a while, i had also observed montesori nursery and montessori primary schools in the past too. Now i plan to take the AMI diploma (not MCI) next year probably in the States.

Based on my exp and knowlege, montessori is the most ideal way of teaching. the so called learn thru play system in uk is not really effective, the kids were bored, the toys were meaningless, there was virtually no learning in hand writing or whatsoever. This explains why most uk kids dont even know how to hold a pencil when they enter primary school. Btw, i am currently a supply teaching assistant in a SEN and normal primary schools, hence i know the system here.

Player said...

Hi to my global colleagues, I am a Singaporean ECE professional And have been in the field for almost 30+ years. I train ece teachers and I have to inform you that Singapore is trying to find a balance between play and learning. We are focusing on an approach called ITEACH which you can find on the net. We are not there yet but we are in this process of learning how to get there.I am familiar with the edu systems in uk and aus and agree that all play is not the way to we came up with something called purposeful play😃 but we still believe in free play too.

CheaYee said...

I haven't read this entry in such a long time...

its 2016, 8 years after this post was written.

In terms of qualifications, I still thnk that it is beneficial to take up Montessori studies.

First, it is recognised worldwide, whether people agree or disagree with it. It's also assessed strictly, and if you do it under MCI or UK, it will also be considered that you completed a qualification in English language.

This is important if you plan to further future studies in an english speaking country. (if you understand where I am going towards).

Should anyone come to Australia in pursuit of work, you can still use your Montessori diploma to gain exemptions or credits if you plan to undertake a Diploma in Childcare. Frankly speaking, Australian education system is quite "snobbish" in a way that it doesn't really recognise qualifications from other countries unless it has already been assessed as equivalent to theirs.

(Queensland site)

The International Dip in MOntessori Pedagogy (MCI) which is what I received is considered as equivalent as "equivalent to 1 year cert" for QLD based on the above doc... Australia is weird that they sometimes don't even recognise qualifications from between states....

BUt that's just Australia. If you plan to go to NZ, or America, a Montessori Diploma is still looked on highly.

The other thing is to study Montessori, it is expensive... yes, I said it. It is expensive to study Montessori because there aren't many places in Australia that are really trained to teach it. Because it is rare, expensive and that also makes it unique.

If there is a local centre in your place that offers training in Montessori, and it is UK based (which is normally where our centres used to come from), I suggest you take it up.

CheaYee said...

One more thng, the MCI Int Dip in Montessori Pedagogy in my opinion, is much better than the TAFE Cert III level in Childcare.

A full time Cert III used to take six months to finish.

Recently the NSW govt (or maybe it was last year) they upped the number of internship hours at the childcare centre it took to complete the Cert III. Which in my opinion, make its much much better quality. I don't know if this applies across all the states.

It's not that I'm downplaying other studies in childcare, but the thing is, I still remember whatever it is I learnt in my two years doing my Montessori studies than any other chldcare related studies I ever completed at university (which some only just want your money).

When I moved on to completed my 3 years Bachelors, they were just focusing on research skills, how to write lesson plans, but not enough studies were dealing with behaviour management or working with families. It was very much all theoretical. Sad to say but true about university studies.

In essence, if you were to come to Australia and live and want to do childcare, I suggest you complete the Int Dipl in Montessori Pedagogy (which is the only one I know) and then continue to a TAFE Diploma in Chldcare.

You don't need a bachelors to learn to take care of children. Its more a thng to prove to others that you can complete a course of study or if you want to go on to do postgraduate or Masters.

You have to understand that in most childcare centres, there are only at most 2 teachers who actually have a 3 year or 4 year degree who are being hired. The higher you are qualified, the more you have to be paid and the less hours you get to work. ITs a catch 22 scenario in Australian childcare settings to save dollars.

The Diploma is good enough to work as a Childcare Coordinator, or Manager in an australian childcare centre. Thats really as high as you need.

CheaYee said...

Anyways, I say, get your Int Dip in Montessori Pedagogy, and then get your local Australian Dip in childcare, so you get the best of curriculum knowledge of both worlds.

You can then be employed either in a Montessori childcare centre, or a local chldcare centre. But from one Montessorian to another, I would say that you may get more satisfaction working in a Montessori childcare centre.

If you still want to get paid higher, wait till you are a local resident, and then apply to study for a 3 years bachelor so you can have more payment options or lesser fees (if it still exists, but the universities may have discontinued it). I haven't kept in touch about that because I don't intend to do the fourth year of childcare studies (which is required for primary school teacher registration)>

Amazon Recommends...


Related Posts with Thumbnails