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How Much Do English Teachers Make in Turkey?
Learn how much money you can make as a TEFL-certified teacher in Turkey across various job types and explore recommended start-up costs and cost of living expenses.
Written By: Lynda Galea | Updated: June 29, 2023
Written By: Lynda Galea
Updated: June 29, 2023
Turkey boasts one of the fastest-growing job markets for teaching English in the region due to its low cost of living, impeccable health care system, mild winters, and laid-back lifestyle.
In this article, we explore how much money you can make teaching English in Turkey 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 Turkey
There are several different teaching opportunities available for TEFL-certified teachers in Turkey. ESL (English as a second language) teachers who ultimately spend time teaching English in Turkey do so via one of the following avenues:
- Teaching English at a private language school while on a work visa;
- Teaching English at a private language school on a work 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 Turkey can expect to make anywhere between $550 - $1,600 USD per month from working at a language school with the option to earn additional income through private tutoring ($15-20 USD per hour) and teaching English online ($5-$20 USD per hour).
Let's explore each option and what you can expect to earn from them:
1. Turkey Private Language School Salaries
Since Turkey is not yet part of the European Union, Americans and other non-EU citizens do not have to worry about the potential to find jobs or worry about receiving a work visa. Many employers will help sponsor English teachers for work visas and residency permits to work and live in Turkey legally.
Although most schools and employers are looking for teachers during the months of September and January, the need is so great that teaching positions can typically be secured year-round. Teachers can also apply to schools and secure positions in advance of being in Turkey or they can visit schools directly once they are on the ground.
Pay can fluctuate greatly depending on where you are located, with teachers in larger cities like Istanbul earning more than those teaching in smaller cities and towns. English teachers working at a private language school in Turkey can expect to make anywhere between $550 - $1,600 USD per month.
Work Visas for Teaching English in Turkey
There are two steps to securing a work visa to teach English in Turkey:
- Residence Permit
- Work Visa
Residence Permit: You can get a residence permit by yourself (without a job or sponsorship of an employer) by submitting several documents to the police headquarters in Istanbul or other major cities in Turkey. Although a residence permit allows you to stay in the country legally, you technically are not allowed to work on just a residence permit but as long as your work visa is “in progress” it is okay. The permit takes about one week to process before it can be picked up and you must obtain a tax number and pay your taxes at a tax office before you receive your residence permit.
Work Visa: Once you have secured a teaching job, your employer should apply for your work visa on your behalf once you are in Turkey. It is rare for teachers to receive a work visa in advance of being in Turkey. Some schools will cover the cost for their teachers and some will expect the teacher to pay for the visa.
Additional Reading: The Requirements for Teaching English in Turkey
2. Turkey Private English Tutoring Salaries
Private tutoring ESL students is extremely common amongst English teachers in Turkey. Teachers that choose this route are often teaching English in Turkey at a private language school and taking on some private tutoring students to help supplement their income.
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.
How much money can I make private tutoring ESL students in Turkey?
As a private ESL tutor in Turkey, you should expect to charge and make around $15-20 USD per hour for one-on-one lessons. If you are providing private tutoring lessons for small groups (2-3 students at a time), it's possible to increase your rates as your small group of students will be splitting the hourly cost amongst themselves.
Something to keep in mind - a student may only be after a single private tutoring lesson, or a handful, and can withdraw from their lessons with you at any time. As a result, you should be cautious when trying to budget your private tutoring income too far into the future.
3. Turkey Teaching English Online Salaries
Like private ESL tutoring, teaching English online is an extremely popular way for teachers to make money. Many ESL teachers in Turkey teach online to supplement the income they earn from teaching at a language school.
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 $5-$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 Turkey. 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 Turkey.
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 Turkey
There are two categories of expenses that need to be taken into consideration for those looking to teach English in Turkey:
- Start-up costs
- Cost of living
Let's explore each of the two in more detail.
1. Start-Up Costs for Teaching English in Turkey
Start-up costs are expenses you will incur from your arrival in Turkey 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.
Start-up costs should be enough to cover your first month of living in Turkey and will range somewhere between $1,100 and $1,800 USD (although this can vary depending on the benefits provided by your school/employer). This is the minimum amount of savings you should have on hand before leaving home and arriving in Turkey. 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.
It is important to note that some schools (not all schools) in Turkey will also offer additional benefits that are difficult to find in most other European countries, such as flight and/or accommodation stipends or reimbursements, end of contract bonuses, transportation, etc. which can help lower start-up costs and cost of living expenses.
2. Cost of Living for Teaching English in Turkey
Cost of living refers to everyday monthly expenses you will incur during your time in Turkey. 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 Turkey you are based. For example, those living in larger cities like Istanbul can expect to have a higher cost of living compared to those located in smaller cities or towns. As a general rule of thumb, you should budget $550 - $900 USD per month to cover your cost of living.
Turkey 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.
Cost of Living Comparisons in Istanbul, Turkey
To provide a clearer picture of what the monthly cost of living may look like in Istanbul, 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 Turkey.
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.
Istanbul, Turkey Cost of Living
1. This monthly expense breakdown comes from ITA alumna, Zoe Snow. Zoe works at a language school in Istanbul teaching children.
Note: 1 Turkey Lire = $0.075 USD (conversion rates fluctuate)
Bonus: Want to check out what a day in Zoe's life was like teaching English in Turkey? Watch her video here.
2. This monthly expense breakdown comes from ITA alumna, Erin Kelly. Erin teaches at a school in Istanbul.
- Rent: $380 USD
- Utilities: $66 USD
- Groceries (for two people): $98 USD
- Immigration Process: $164 USD
- Dining Out: $4 USD pre-meal
- Public Transport: $0.33 - $1.15 USD per ride (shared taxi, ferry, metro, tram)
Bonus: Want to check out what a day in Erin's life is like teaching English in Turkey? Watch her video here.
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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