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How Much Do English Teachers Make in Germany?
Learn how much money you can make as a TEFL-certified teacher in Germany across various job types and explore recommended start-up costs and cost of living expenses.
Written By: Lynda Galea | Updated: November 19, 2021
Written By: Lynda Galea
Updated: November 19, 2021
Sitting right in the heart of Europe, Germany offers front-row seats to centuries of European history and culture. With its brilliant beer selection, low cost of living, stunning scenery, and major cities ranking amongst the best quality of life in the world, it's easy to see why Germany is a desired location for TEFL-certified teachers.
In this article, we explore how much money you can make teaching English in Germany and the expenses you will need to consider both in terms of start-up costs and your monthly cost of living.
Salaries for Teaching English in Germany
There are several different teaching opportunities available for TEFL-certified teachers in Germany. Americans who ultimately spend time teaching English in Germany do so via one of the following three avenues:
- Teaching English at a private language school on a freelance or work visa;
- Teaching English at a private language school on a freelance visa while private-tutoring students in-person on the side;
- Teaching English at a private language school on a freelance visa while teaching English online on the side.
Your salary will fluctuate depending on which teaching route you choose to pursue. On average, English teachers in Germany can expect to make anywhere between $1,000 - $2,200 USD per month from working at a private language school with the option to earn additional income through private tutoring (€15-€30 / $17-$35 USD per hour) and teaching English online ($10-$20 USD per hour).
Let's explore each option and what you can expect to earn from them:
1. Germany Private Language School Salaries
There's no shortage of private language schools in Germany. While the demand for learning English in Germany is large, it does vary from region to region. Larger cities like Berlin and Hamburg are saturated with language schools and teachers, while in smaller towns, you may find fewer private language schools to look for teaching work.
If you are looking to teach conversational, Business English or young learners, then Germany is the place to be. For teaching Business English, you'll find jobs throughout the country, but the demand is higher in places like Berlin, Frankfurt, and Hamburg. Germany is home to many international companies as well as large German corporations such as Volkswagen Group, Siemens, and Daimler AG, which find English training essential for their team. If you like to teach young learners, then best to research places like Munich, Düsseldorf or Hamburg. However, there are hundreds of preschool equivalent places to work throughout Germany.
Finding the right private language school that fits your teaching style may take time. The interview process would be a good time to ask the things that are important to you as a teacher. Know the contract terms and what your role will be for lesson preparation. Class lengths can range from 45 to 90 minutes. Pay rates offered can start as low as 12€ ($14 USD) per 45-minutes, with most cities around 15€ to 25€ ($17 - $29 USD) for general lessons. The major chains typically pay the least, followed by independent agents that will hire you to go out to different schools or companies.
German Freelance Visa vs Sponsored Work Visa
The majority of expats coming to Germany to teach English as a foreign language apply for a freelance visa. Work visa sponsorship can be few and far between in this field and slightly harder to get approved by the Foreigner's office. Under a freelance visa, you can teach English at multiple private language schools (with side work permitted), but under a sponsored work visa, the norm would be working for one private language school only (with side work permitted).
If you are working under a full-time sponsored work visa, you should be receiving a stable 40-hour work week throug one private language school. However, on a freelance visa, you are required to work at multiple private language schools. Under a freelance visa, you should not be working a full-time schedule at any given school. If you are motivated enough and would like a full-time schedule spread between your different teaching contracts, then you can find it. It will take time to build your schedule, but it is possible to stay busy and make enough to live comfortably and travel. On top of working in private language schools, you can also pursue in-person private tutoring, but this requires time and effort. Private tutoring is not for everyone, and it's not something you can do right away without taking the time to build your student base.
2. Germany Private English Tutoring Salaries
Private tutoring ESL students is a common job type amongst English teachers in Germany. To be able to private tutor in Germany, you must already be on a freelance visa or sponsored work visa, allowing you to teach at one (or more) private language schools in Germany. Both these visa types allow you to take on side-work outside of your language school job.
If you want to offer private ESL tutoring in Germany and do so effectively, find students and businesses you will enjoy teaching. Keep in mind that accepting every student and offering big discounts for your services just to get started is not wise. Try to build a solid student base from the start; some students may stay with you for a long time, especially young learners, so make sure it is a good fit for both parties.
Getting clients for private lessons is a marketing exercise, and all the avenues that seem appropriate to your circumstances have to be explored. Here are some ways you can market yourself:
- Post notices in schools and universities, coffee shops, supermarkets, or corner shops;
- Run an advertisement in the local paper;
- Send notices to local public schools, announcing your willingness to work with local students on their English;
- Compile a list of addresses of professionals (lawyers, architects, etc.) who may need English for their work and have the resources to pay for it and then contact them;
- Call on export businesses, distribution companies, perhaps even travel agencies;
- Get ESL business cards made before you leave your home country that has your name, email address, and phone number on them;
- List your services or find job postings on local job boards or websites.
Plan for your private tutoring lessons to run from anywhere between 60 to 120 minutes. Lessons can be held at a students home or office, a library, park, museum or cafe. Your rates will vary depending on the city and age-level of the student, not to mention the type of lessons you provide: general or specialized.
How much money can I make private-tutoring ESL students in Germany?
As a private ESL tutor in Germany, here are the average rates you can expect to charge and make for a private 60-minute lesson in a large city:
- General English: Low end 25€ ($29 USD) - High end 30€ to 45€ ($35 - $50 USD)
- Business English: Low end 45€ ($50 USD) - High end 60€ ($70 USD)
- Young Learners: Low end 15€ ($17 USD) - High end 20€ ($23 USD)
Additional Reading: For additional details regarding language schools and private tutoring, please read Private English Teaching vs. Teaching at a Language School in Germany.
3. Germany Teaching English Online Salaries
Like private ESL tutoring, teaching English online as a side-job while teaching at language schools on a freelance or work visa is an extremely popular way for teachers to make some additional income.
Teaching English online provides TEFL-certified teachers with the opportunity to make money from the comfort of their own home, with most teachers being able to make anywhere from $10-$20 USD per hour. Hours are flexible and it is up to you how much or how little you teach - you are in total control of your schedule.
A key advantage of teaching online is that you can begin teaching and making money before you move to Germany. This is a great way to help cover the start-up costs of your move and will ensure that you have an income immediately upon your arrival to Germany.
Additional Reading: To learn more about how much you can earn from online ESL teaching, please read How Much Money Can I Make Teaching English Online? Need help finding an online teaching platform? Check out Non-Chinese ESL Companies to Teach English Online With.
Expenses for Teaching English in Germany
There are two categories of expenses that need to be taken into consideration for those looking to teach English in Germany:
- Start-up costs
- Cost of living
Let's explore each of the two in more detail.
1. Start-Up Costs for Teaching English in Germany
Start-up costs are expenses you will incur from your arrival in Germany until you receive your first paycheck and may include things like a security deposit and first month's rent, apartment supplies, transport, groceries, getting your new local cell phone number set up, etc.
It is worth noting that the process of gaining employment and then processing a freelance or work visa for teaching English in Germany can often take between two and three months. You should be prepared to deal with extensive bureaucracy and have the means to financially support yourself during the process as you will likely not be earning a full salary until it is complete. Also, note that this process may vary from state-to-state within Germany.
Because of this extensive visa-processing period, your start-up costs should be enough to cover your first three months of living in Germany and will range somewhere between $3,000 and $4,500 USD. This is the minimum amount of savings you should have on hand before leaving home and arriving in Germany. If you have more, great, but if you have less, you may be setting yourself up for failure from the get-go which can cause unnecessary added stress during an already stressful period of adaption and change.
2. Cost of Living for Teaching English in Germany
Cost of living refers to everyday monthly expenses you will incur during your time in Germany. The most popular expenses that fall under this category include:
- Monthly rent expenses
- Utilities (electricity, gas, water bills, etc)
- Food and grocery expenses
- Health insurance
- Internet bill
- Cell phone bill
- Transportation (transit card, ride-sharing services, etc)
- Travel/entertainment expenses
Your cost of living expenses can vary drastically based on where in Germany you are based. For example, those living in larger cities like Berlin and Hamburg can expect to have a higher cost of living compared to those located in smaller cities or towns. The most expensive cities in Germany to rent are Munich, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Frankfurt, and Hamburg. The lowest housing costs in Germany are Bremen and Leipzig. As a general rule of thumb, you should budget $1,100 - $2,000 USD per month to cover your cost of living.
Germany is very much a break-even country, meaning you can cover your rent and bills, support yourself, live comfortably, and enjoy your life abroad to the fullest, but you shouldn't expect to save money at the end of each month. If you are hustling and taking on private tutoring lessons and/or teaching English online in addition to your regular teaching schedule, you may increase your ability to save and come out on top at the end of each month.
Additional Reading: The Finances of Living and Teaching English in Germany
Cost of Living Comparisons Across Cities in Germany
To provide a clearer picture of what the monthly cost of living across various cities in Germany may look like, here are the expense breakdowns of some of our International TEFL Academy (ITA) alumni that have lived in or are currently living and teaching English in Germany.
Please note: These snapshots should be used as an example and not an exact representation of what your expenses will look like. Everyone lives a different lifestyle and what is a necessity to one person, may not be to another.
Berlin, Germany Cost of Living
This monthly expense breakdown comes from ITA alumnus, Brandon Drake. Brandon is in Germany on a freelance visa and teaches at a private language school as well as online.
Bonus: Want to check out what a day in Brandon's life is like teaching English in Berlin? Watch his video.
Bonn, Germany Cost of Living
This monthly expense breakdown comes from ITA alumna, Claire Venery. Claire taught general English to adult students, Business English, and also young learners across three different language schools.
Bonus: Want to check out what a day in Claire's life was like teaching English in Bonn? Watch her video.
Dusseldorf, Germany Cost of Living
This monthly expense breakdown comes from ITA alumna, Lynsey MacLaren. Lynsey taught English at a series of language schools on a freelance visa.
Bonus: Want to check out what a day in Lynsey's life looked like teaching English in Dusseldorf? Watch her video.
An accomplished traveler (she's visited 40 countries!), Lynda hails from Melbourne, Australia. Since she joined ITA in 2017, Lynda has become a primary expert on the field of teaching English online. Not only has she published numerous articles on the topic herself, but she has worked with International TEFL Academy alumni around the world to produce an entire library of information and content about teaching English online. Lynda also serves as a primary organizer of ITA's ground-breaking Teach Abroad Film Festival.
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