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The Requirements for Teaching English in Portugal
Learn what qualifications you need to teach English in Portugal, including education, citizenship, visa, and age requirements.
Written By: Lynda Galea | Updated: November 10, 2021
Written By: Lynda Galea
Updated: November 10, 2021
Portugal represents a more challenging job market for any teacher who does not already have citizenship from a qualified European Union (EU) nation or working rights in Portugal. Its warm climate, low cost of living and crime rate, great healthcare system, and relaxed pace of life make Portugal a desirable destination amongst many. While not as large as Spain, Italy, or Germany, Portugal still offers a good job market, particularly for EU citizens. If you are considering teaching English in Portugal, you will need to ensure you meet the following qualifications:
Requirements for Teaching English in Portugal:
- A TEFL certification;
- A bachelor's degree in any field/major;
- You do not need to be a native English speaker however you will be expected to be fluent in English and speak at a native level;
- A valid passport.
Let's expand on each of these Portugal ESL teaching requirements and qualifications below:
1. TEFL Certification
A TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) certification is required to teach English in Portugal. Getting TEFL certified will provide you with the relevant training and qualifications you need to get hired by a reputable school in Portugal and should leave you feeling confident in your abilities to provide ESL lessons to your students.
Which TEFL course is right for me?
Job interviews in Portugal are conducted on the ground, in-person, however, given the nature of the visa process, it is recommended that you take an online TEFL course from your home country - our most popular option is our 170-Hour Online TEFL Course which you can take online from home. This course is part-time, which means you can still work and save some extra money in anticipation of your departure to Portugal, whenever that may be.
2. Language Requirements
You do not need to be a native English speaker to teach English in Portugal, however, you will be expected to be fluent in English and speak at a native level.
3. Degree Requirements
A bachelor's degree is required to teach English in Portugal. Your bachelor's degree does not need to be in education, it can be in any field (i.e.: Marketing, Psychology, Arts, etc). Any four-year diploma or bachelor's degree from an accredited university will satisfy this requirement (or three years if you studied in the UK, Australia, or New Zealand).
4. Required Documents & Visa
Portugal represents a more challenging job market for any teacher who does not already have citizenship from a qualified European Union (EU) nation or working rights in Portugal. Schools are becoming less likely to hire teachers without work papers and are becoming less willing to help obtain them. We highly suggest not counting on getting a legal work permit to teach in Portugal if you are not an EU citizen.
Citizens from the EU with a BA degree and TEFL certification are able to work legally in Portugal without a visa. Typically, your employer will assist you with these matters.
Work Visas for Teaching English in Portugal
This type of visa is very uncommon for non-EU English teachers to receive in Portugal as you need an employer to sponsor you in order to obtain one. The majority of private language schools will not be willing to sponsor English teachers as it is quite an expensive and long process, and they have a large pool of native English-speaking EU citizens from which to choose.
Student Visa Requirements for Teaching English in Portugal
Non-EU teachers who plan to study in Portugal at a recognized language school, university, etc. may be eligible to legally work in Portugal while studying by applying for a student visa and a residence permit. A student visa will allow you to legally work in Portugal for up to 20 hours per week and work full-time during holidays or non-study periods.
A student visa can be processed at a Portuguese Embassy or consulate in your home country and must be obtained before traveling to Portugal. The visa application may take anywhere from one to three months to process, so ensure you are allowing yourself a solid window of time to get this sorted.
When you apply for a student visa for Portugal, you will have to submit the following documents:
- A valid passport with at least one blank visa page;
- An acceptance letter from a high education institution in Portugal;
- Proof you have paid the tuition fees;
- Two passport-sized photos in color;
- Your completed student visa application form (downloaded and printed);
- Proof that you have enough financial resources to sustain your stay in Portugal;
- Proof of accommodation (i.e. a rental contract, accommodation from your university, a letter from a host family, etc);
- Proof of valid health insurance;
- A Certificate of Criminal Records;
- You will also need to pay a visa application fee.
Upon arrival in Portugal, you can apply for a residence permit by booking an appointment with the local branch of the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service.
To apply for teaching jobs once in Portugal, you will be required to have the following documents available:
- Valid passport (with your visa already in it)
International Resume and Cover Letter
Additional recommended documents:
- University diploma
- College transcripts
5. Age Requirements
There are no age limitations on applying for a student visa to take classes in Portugal, making this a great option for teachers 40+ looking to teach English in Portugal while studying.
6. Prior Teaching Experience
While prior teaching experience can help you stand out on your resume, you do not need it to teach English in Portugal. Your TEFL certification training will provide you with the relevant qualifications you need to get hired by a school in Portugal.
Any reputable TEFL certification course should include a mandatory practicum component to help gain firsthand experience practice teaching with real non-native English speakers. This will prepare you for the classroom and leave you feeling confident in your ability to deliver well-structured ESL lessons to your students. This practice teaching can count as teaching experience and should be highlighted on your resume.
7. Physical Requirements
A health screening and/or drug test are not required to teach English in Portugal.
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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